“On October 27, the Taurus full moon shines its light on your third house of communication, helping you refine your message and million-dollar ideas. This full moon is the last of three consecutive supermoons, so its effect will be potent…”
If you’re a loyal horoscope follower, you know that if the moon makes an appearance in your monthly reading, you’re in for something BIG. ‘Mercury in retrograde’ might be the trendiest of astrological phases right now—seems like we can blame everything from breaking a fingernail to breaking up with a significant other on the problematic planetary alignment. But before Mercury, there was the moon, and for thousands of years folklore and mythology has blamed its lunar orbit for the strange and unexplainable.
Although astrologists can’t officially blame our emotions on the moon (sorry, mystic mamas, this myth has been debunked by science!), there are actually more than a few ways that the moon can totally mess with you. Don’t worry, we’re not talking full-on werewolf effect, but read on for the crazy ways the moon influences our lives.
In a study published in the Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, researchers looked at the menstrual cycles of 826 healthy women. During the full moon, 28 percent of women started their cycle, compared to the proportion of 8 to 12 percent of women who started during other phases of the month. The study shows a strong link to the lunar cycle and women’s menstrual cycles, but researchers are unclear as to why exactly the moon influences hormones.
Despite what horoscopes say about each sign’s love life during the full moon, it might be a good thing for your heart muscle. Researchers from Central Hospital of Augsburg, Germany, studied 16,000 cardiac patients and found that there was a significant drop in heart attacks in the three days after a new moon. Why? It could have something to do with gravity. The gravitational pull from the moon and from Earth is the strongest during the full moon and new moons, and this could have a beneficial effect on circulation and heart rates.
Feeling a little more tired this morning? Blame it on the full moon. Swiss sleep scientists studied 31 subjects over a full lunar cycle and found that during a full moon it took longer to fall asleep, they slept 20 minutes less, and had 30 percent less time in a deep sleep mode.
If you’re imagining it’s harder to fall asleep simply because of the extra brightness of a full moon, think again: Researchers’ sleep studies took place in rooms with zero exposure to outside light. No doors, no windows, and definitely no moonlight. This fact lead researchers to suggest that in addition to a circadian rhythm, humans also have a circalunar rhythm. But its effect on our health and sleep habits couldn’t be explained. Want to fall asleep a little more easily when the full moon appears? Try a melatonin supplement before bed!
Going in for a medical procedure? Plan it around the full moon. According to a study done at Rhode Island Hospital, patients that had surgery during the waning full moon were less likely to have complications and were more likely to survive their procedures. Plus, if surgery was completed during the full moon patients stayed in the hospital an average of 10 days, versus during the rest of the month when patients who had the same procedures took 14 days to recover.
Although the term lunatic originates from the Latin root for moon, luna, there’s no certain evidence that the moon truly affects our emotions or psychological health. But it’s undeniable that the orbiting planet plays a role in our daily lives and health—it’s reasonable to assume that if the moon can affect our hearts and circulation, sleep cycles, menstrual cycles and hormones, and the way our bodies regenerate, then maybe it might have an effect on our emotions, too.
Illustration by Foley Wu
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