The full moon can somehow influence children’s behavior – and even affect their sleep – although it is not enough to strengthen ancient belief on the lunar phases' effects on human biology.

A recent study published in the journal Frontiers in Pediatrics showed that children are no more active during full moon than during any other phase of the moon.

The full moon may, however, interfere with their sleeping time, potentially owing to the moon's brightness, particularly "if the window curtain is not sufficiently opaque."

"[S]leep duration was 1 percent 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," wrote the researchers, with this specific finding translating into about 5 minutes less sleep.

According to researchers from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute in Canada, the study offers "solid evidence" that the links between moon phases and children's sleep duration and activity behaviors do not come across as meaningful from a public health perspective.

The team analyzed data from more than 5,800 children, who were aged 9 to 11 and came from 12 countries. Unlike previous research relying on human judgment, subjects wore accelerometers, which are akin to fitness trackers recording body movements or monitoring sleep for 24 hours a day for at least seven days.

The kids got 5 minutes shorter sleep on nights with a full moon, deemed an effect “unlikely to be important.” And it remains unclear why children had less shuteye on full-moon nights.

It could be that the full moon's brightness was interfering with sleep, although the researchers considered this implausible given the abundance of artificial light – such as from smartphones and mobile devices – in modern societies.

The team urged future studies to see if the human body is somehow synchronized with the moon's cycles, or if the full moon has a more pronounced effect on certain groups of people.

The belief that the moon affects people's behavior dates back to ancient times, although studies have seen little evidence to back up this idea.

The moon mystery, suffice it to say, has fascinated many civilizations and generations.

For instance, no peer-reviewed study yet has seen any notable association between the full moon and epileptic seizures, psychiatric ward visits, or emergency room cases. Even when it comes to menstrual cycles, there is no research so far that makes a significant correlation between lunar phases and the condition across a huge swath of participants.

In addition, the effects of the moon on the ocean are notable not only during the full moon – the tides, too, are highest during the new moon.

Photo: Rachel Kramer | Flickr

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