The unique moon that orbits around the Earth’s atmosphere has always been a calming object that calms the mind and has something of “magic”. However, any lunar influence on our health has long been dismissed as unscientific . But there is some evidence that invites us to reassess the subtle effects of the moon on our sleep and mental health.
What we do know is that the Moon has an impact on life on Earth . Corals produce eggs and sperm in a reproductive race during the full moon. Marine tides, or the rise and fall of the sea, are caused by the gravitational attraction between the Moon and Earth.
Historical associations of the moon and health
From early folklore and medicine to contemporary stories about full moons and the rise in violent crime, belief in the Moon’s effects on human disease and health is ancient and universal . There is even a Mesopotamian tablet from 172 BC that explains how to protect the king from the harmful effects of a lunar eclipse, which was believed to be life-threatening.
In ancient Greece and Rome, girls received crescent-shaped charms on their birthdays to ward off evil spirits. They were also worn by women to facilitate conception and protect them during childbirth. Furthermore, by the 16th century, tracking the lunar cycle had become an integral aspect of medicine. Scholars and physicians had made an instrument to track and read the lunar cycles and correlate them with people’s illnesses. Certain phases of the moon could increase or decrease the disease.
The lunar cycle has also been associated with the menstrual cycles of women . The very name of menstruation originates from the Greek word for luna – mene and the Latin word for month – mensis . The idea that the ovulatory cycle and the phases of the moon are somehow related is because a menstrual cycle lasts 28 days on average, which is about the same length as a lunar cycle. The moon completes one rotation around the Earth every 27 days, 7 hours and 43 minutes, while a lunar phase cycle lasts 29.5 days. Although we will talk about this later.
Other associations exist, such as the moon’s effect on sleep and mental health . The changing phases of the moon and a person’s mental stability have long been correlated. But all this has remained more or less old stories and attempts to prove them do not seem to work.
Effect on the menstrual cycle
As we mentioned, it is believed that the menstrual cycle is synchronized with the phases of the moon. But this may not be true in practice, as women have different menstrual cycles. The cycle can last between 25 and 32 days and the lunar cycle does not adjust to it.
There have been many small-scale, closed-group studies revealing evidence that the sex of the baby can be decided based on when the mother was pregnant. Mothers gave birth to a boy if they conceived during the full moon phase, while those who did not gave birth to girls. But a 2013 year-long retrospective study of 74 breeding females refuted the theory, saying its claim didn’t hold water. This study showed that there does not appear to be any connection between the moon and menstruation or even childbirth .
effect on sleep
According to a 2014 study of 319 subjects, the moon has some effect on sleep. 319 subjects were asked to attend a sleep center for a comprehensive analysis. The data revealed that full moon days had effects on the quality of a person’s sleep . This implied that they were not in deep sleep and had a higher REM latency. For a person to sleep well, they need to enter the REM cycle. The time between falling asleep and entering the first phase of REM sleep is known as sleep latency. Therefore, a higher latency means that it takes longer to reach REM sleep.
Lack of deep, restful sleep can lead to other daytime problems.
Effect on cardiovascular health
In a 2013 study of male college students, researchers studied the impact of changing lunar cycles on their cardiovascular system. According to the researchers, during the new and full moon phases, their blood pressure dropped by about 5 mm Hg.
A passing test was also given to the students. It revealed that both her heart rate and blood pressure were lower. Also, on full and new moons, their heart rates recovered more quickly. In this study, researchers found that humans were more physically efficient and had more energy during full and new moons.
However, a subsequent study was conducted in 2020 with male athletes. This study had similar tests and criteria as the previous one. But this study did not reveal any significant variation in athletic performance during different lunar phases. This contradicts the finding of the previous data, suggesting that they may not have a significant effect.
The vanguard of the lunar effects on the human being: Cryptochromes
Half a century ago, a biologist named Frank Brown described living things, including humans, as an inseparable part of an electromagnetic cosmos . He asserted that organisms and their environment “intimately merge to time life.” His view was superseded by the view held today, in which circadian rhythms are regulated by sunlight.
However, biologists today have realized that animals can sense very weak magnetic fields through a variety of methods . For example, fish use networks of jelly-filled channels to measure current flow as they swim through a field. On the other hand, some bacteria use small magnetic crystals to orient themselves, and similar crystals are found in many species, including us. Another mechanism appears to involve light-sensitive molecules called cryptochromes . The light pushes the molecule into an activated state, and sometimes even a small push from a magnetic field can influence the rate at which this occurs.
Cryptochromes have a wide range of functions , from regulating growth rate and flowering in plants to enabling magnetic navigation in birds and butterflies. Interestingly, they are also involved in biological clocks.
One of the most interesting lines of research on all this in our times is on the possible effect of cryptochromes on human beings . In 2011, a human cryptochrome was inserted into fruit flies whose own cryptochrome had been deactivated and found to restore their ability to navigate using magnetic fields. So it ‘s possible that cryptochromes function as “magnetic sensors” in humans , but that remains to be seen. We will be patient to see what science has in store for us.
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