Full Moon Has Little Impact on Kids’ Sleep or Behavior

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jean-Philippe Chaput, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Ottawa Research Scientist, Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute Ontario, Canada

Dr. Jean Philippe Chaput

Jean-Philippe Chaput, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Ottawa
Research Scientist, Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group
Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute
Ontario, Canada

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Chaput: Folklore has associated behaviors of animals and humans, and even werewolves, to moon phases of the lunar cycle. However, the empirical evidence that the moon exerts an influence on behaviors is weak and very limited. In order to verify if the full moon is associated with sleep and physical activity of children (and possibly debunk this myth), we used a 12-country study involving 5,812 participants and providing 33,710 24-hour accelerometer recordings of sleep and activity behaviors. Overall, we observed that sleep duration was 5 minutes (1%) shorter at full moon compared to new moon, while activity behaviors were not significantly associated with the lunar cycle in this global sample of children drawn from all inhabited continents. However, the magnitude of this effect on sleep duration is unlikely to be clinically significant from a public health standpoint and people should stop worrying about the full moon.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Dr. Chaput: The widely popular belief that the lunar cycle is related to sleep and activity behaviors of humans is more a myth and is not well supported by the present large multi-national study.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Chaput: Laboratory studies that also include measures of sleep quality are needed to determine if the lunar cycle influences human sleep. Those studies need to be conducted under highly controlled conditions (e.g., light, temperature, magnetic fields, and hormonal status) and without external time cues (i.e., ad libitum sleep protocol). In our study, children were likely woken up at a fixed time on weekdays to attend school, which can confound the findings observed. Future research should also examine if the full moon may have a larger influence on subgroups of the population, e.g. people with mental disorders or physical ailments.   

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Whether there is science behind the myth or not, the moon mystery will continue to fascinate civilizations in the years to come. 

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Citation:

Jean-Philippe Chaput, Madyson Weippert, Allana G. LeBlanc, Mads F. Hjorth, Kim F. Michaelsen, Peter T. Katzmarzyk, Mark S. Tremblay, Tiago V. Barreira, Stephanie T. Broyles, Mikael Fogelholm, Gang Hu, Rebecca Kuriyan, Anura Kurpad, Estelle V. Lambert, Carol Maher, Jose Maia, Victor Matsudo, Timothy Olds, Vincent Onywera, Olga L. Sarmiento, Martyn Standage, Catrine Tudor-Locke, Pei Zhao, Anders M. Sjödin. Are Children Like Werewolves? Full Moon and Its Association with Sleep and Activity Behaviors in an International Sample of Children. Frontiers in Pediatrics, 2016; 4 DOI: 10.3389/fped.2016.00024

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