I hope you have been lucky enough to catch sight of the Supermoon that has graced our night skies this week. Social media has been awash with images both real and fake of this once in every seven decade phenomena. What caught my eye as I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed though, was the number of people seeing a link between the Super Moon and a feeling of malaise and discontentment with their lot in life – in short there are a lot of super moaners out there!
So can a Supermoon really impact on human behaviour and emotions? For centuries there has been an association between lunacy and lunar cycles, with any full moon (not just a supermoon as big as this particular one) believed to have the ability to trigger emotional reactions and extreme behaviour.
While it is easy to laugh at these age old theories, in recent years there have been many reports from hospitals seeing an increase in admissions when the moon is full and also police forces reporting a rise in crime. In 2007, Sussex Police announced they would put extra officers on patrol on nights when the moon was full, following research that showed “a correlation between violent incidents and full moons”.
Now, I realise that the past few months has seen unexpected events unfold both at home and abroad but I am not sure that how someone feels about Brexit v Remain, Trump v Clinton can be attributed to the fact the moon is the closest it has been to earth in the last 70 years, as suggested by many social media users!
Putting my cynicism aside and looking to the work of Dr Niall McCrae, a lecturer in mental health at King’s College London and the author of ‘The Moon and Madness’, perhaps I should not be so quick to dismiss the moon’s impact on us humans too quickly. Dr McCrae states that studies have shown the impact of moonlight on sleep as a demonstration of the moon’s effect on the brain. In 2013 Swiss researchers found that, on average, people slept for 20 minutes less when there was a full moon and lack of sleep, even a small amount can impact on people’s moods and resilience. I for one know this is a fact as I share my house with teenagers!!
So whether the effect of the moon on human behaviour is myth or reality, it seems to me that having a good night’s sleep can make the world of difference to how we cope with the demands of our ever busy, ever changing and ever demanding lives. Here are a few top tips to make sure you get super moo(n)d boosting shut eye!
- Keep in sync with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Even at the weekend don’t be tempted to have a lie in, it will upset your next sleep cycle
- Avoid bright screens within 1-2 hours of your bed time. Yes, hard though it may be put down your phone, tablet, laptop and turn off your TV
- Limit caffeine, nicotine, big meals and alcohol before bed. A nightcap might sound like a nice idea but it can wreak havoc with your sleep patterns.
- Wind down and clear your head, the over stimulated brain does not make it easy to sleep; learn relaxation and Mindfulness techniques
- Improve your sleeping environment by eliminating noise and keeping the temperature cool
- Deal with worries or a heavy workload by making lists of things to be tackled the next day
- If you can’t sleep, don’t lie there worrying about it. Get up and do something you find relaxing until you feel sleepy again – then go back to bed
We will have to wait until 2034 to see a Supermoon the size of this week’s however I am sure the Super Moaners will still be out in force in the meantime. I however will be taking my own advice and pay better attention to the quality of my sleep; which is good news for my family who always tell me I am much nicer when I’ve had a good night’s sleep– who said feedback is a gift?!
If you want to hear more about how we use relaxation techniques and Mindfulness in our work, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org we would love to hear from you.