The Moon and its Effects on Sleep and Behavior

By Lillian Pao (’18)

Fig. 1: A werewolf howling at the moon is thought to be an example of the mystical powers of the lunar phases.








For centuries, the mythical powers of the moon and its influence over human behavior have fascinated mankind. Because of this fascination, an international group of scientists decided to test whether the lunar phases affected children’s sleeping patterns. The full moon, half moon, and new moon were the three lunar phases that were tested. Over seven consecutive days, a 24-hour accelerometer monitored nocturnal sleep duration, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), light-intensity physical activity (LPA), and total sedentary time (SED) of 5,812 participants. Of the 5,812 participants, who inhabited countries all around the world, scientists also took note of the age, sex, highest parental education, BMI z score, and household socioeconomic status.  From their week–long study, the researchers discovered that children’s sleep duration was five minutes shorter during the full moon compared to the new moon.


The study of the moon’s effect on sleep and behavior has been questioned. Although the five minute sleep duration difference between the full moon and the new moon was significant, it may be only because there was a large sample size. There are other mechanisms that may explain the sleep duration difference such as the brightness of the moonlight and it shining through a window curtain that is not fully opaque or even hormonal statuses. Future research and experiments need to be performed to further evaluate the correlation between human biology and the lunar cycle.



  1. J-P. Chaput, et al., Are children like werewolves? full moon and its association with sleep and activity behaviors in an international sample of children. Frontiers in Pediatrics (2016), doi:10.3389/fped.2016.0024.
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