How does the full moon really affect us?

There are many myths about how a full moon can affect us.

So with a full moon due to grace our skies tonight, do we really have anything to fear?

Ancient civilisations believed the phases of the moon, which last for about 29.5 days, were linked to a female’s average 28-day menstrual cycle, as they both lasted for roughly the same duration.

Philosophers in ancient Rome thought that the water in the brain might change in a similar way to the kind of tidal motions as the sea, altering human’s behaviour and biology.

A lot of people believe that a full moon can cause drastic changes in human behaviour, the words ‘lunacy’ and ‘lunatic’ even stem from the word ‘luna’.

Photo shows a man sitting on a wall at night looking at the full moon.
For years, people have marvelled at the full moon. Source: Getty

This myth was taken to a new level when Hollywood decided to cast werewolves as predators during a full moon in horror movies.

Some people even feel their pets become more aggressive during a full moon.

Despite the many myths, there hasn’t been any solid scientific evidence to prove any of these correct.

Full moon ‘causes hospital chaos’

However, people who work in hospitals have long reported that patients exhibit strange behaviour during full moons.

“Anyone who has worked for a few years in a hospital will understand if you say ‘It’s a full moon’,” clinical nurse educator Dianne Buttigieg told Yahoo News Australia.

A hectic night is just accepted if you work in the medical field during a full moon.

Another nurse, Natalia, who doesn’t want her surname published, agrees with Ms Buttigieg and said dealing with patients during a full moon was often too much to handle.

“When I was working permanent night shifts, I remember calling in sick as I couldn’t mentally cope,” she said.

While Ms Buttigieg said she has never ‘chucked a sickie’, she spoke of the camaraderie that occurs amongst staff in a hospital during a full moon.

“You have to mentally prepare,” she said, adding: “It’s just an expectation that it’s going to be a busy night and staff support each other as health professionals”.

Two photos show a wolf howling at the moon and a man dressed as a werewolf.
Hollywood would have you believe that werewolves transform during a full moon. Source: Getty Images

Although she said there is no way to prepare for the unknown, staff often try to have more rest to deal with the nightmare that lies ahead.

“If you’re lucky enough to think about it (a full moon) the night before, then you try and get a couple of hours of extra sleep but you can never really prepare for what you will see,” Ms Buttigieg told Yahoo.

Most research indicates that there isn’t an increase in emergency room visits during a full moon, however that doesn’t stop existing patients from feeling the effects of the lunar cycle.

“Dementia patients are generally hard to settle but during a full moon they don’t want to sleep, they don’t know what day it is, they’re loud, rowdy, they think its the middle of the day...” Ms Buttigieg said.

Natalia has also experienced aggravated mental health issues during a full moon.

“Demented patients’ behaviour changes for the worse, full moons just make for a messy shift!” she said.

“Everything that could go wrong, does go wrong,” Natalia adds.

Photo shows people looking at the full moon over the Sydney Opera House.
Humans have long been fascinated by the moon's cycles. Source: Getty

Keeping an eye out for a full moon became a regular occurrence for both nurses.

Ms Buttigieg said she isn’t sure what causes patients to change behaviour during a full moon but she does have some theories.

“I guess, if the moon effects tides then it has a way of affecting our lives, and some people are more susceptible the moon’s magnetic focus,” she said.

Dogs ‘likely to stay up all night’ during full moon

Director of Kirrawee Veterinary Hospital Simon Ilkin told Yahoo News Australia pet owners had reported their furry friends displayed strange behaviours during a full moon.

“A lot of my clients say outdoor dogs are likely to stay up all night, become agitated and cause a bit of a ruckus,” he said.

“We know they are affected by lunar cycles so I definitely think there are changes that affect outdoor dogs.”

Dr Ilkin said dogs were more likely to bark and escape from homes during full moons.

“Anecdotally there are more dogs roaming and strays getting hit by cars,” he said.

“There’s definitely a pattern.”

Myths about full moon effects debunked

Psychologist Dr Jeremy Adams of Eclectic Consulting told Yahoo News Australia research had found there was actually no relationship between the moon and bad behaviour.

“We like to believe it because there is so much folklore,” Dr Adams said.

He said that the affects of a full moon are more of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

“The full moon is something we notice and then tend to notice our own behaviour and draw a correlation between the two.

“The whole idea of lunar madness – people go crazy, there’s more crime – it just doesn’t exist.”

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