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13 May 2016

Don't blame kids' behaviour on full moon

Many parents swear their children's behaviour changes when the moon is full, but new research suggests otherwise.

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"Our study provides compelling evidence that the moon does not seem to influence people's behaviour," said Dr Jean-Philippe Chaput, from the Eastern Ontario Research Institute, in Canada.

Children from five continents

To investigate possible effects of lunar cycles on human behaviour, the researchers focused on those most vulnerable to changes in behaviour and sleep habits, children.

In all, the study involved more than 5,800 children from five continents.

"We considered that performing this research on children would be particularly more relevant because they are more amenable to behaviour changes than adults and their sleep needs are greater than adults," said Chaput.

The children were from a wide range of socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. The researchers considered their age, gender, size, nighttime sleep habits, level of physical activity and sedentary time. The education level of their parents was also taken into account.

The kids were tracked for 28 months, or 28 lunar cycles. During this time, the researchers divided the data they collected into one of three moon phases: full moon, half moon and new moon.

No health risk

The study showed nighttime sleep duration was on average five minutes shorter around the time of a full moon than a new moon. The researchers found no other significant changes in behaviour among any of the children.

The study results were published recently in Frontiers in Paediatrics.

"The only significant finding was the 1 percent sleep alteration in full moon, and this is largely explained by our large sample size that maximizes statistical power," Chaput said in a journal news release.

The researchers noted a five-minute reduction in the kids' sleep during a full moon doesn't pose a risk to their overall health.

"Overall, I think we should not be worried about the full moon. Our behaviours are largely influenced by many other factors like genes, education, income and psychosocial aspects rather than by gravitational forces," Chaput added.

More investigation is needed to determine if human biology is in sync with the cycles of the moon or if the moon has a greater effect on those with mental or physical health issues, the researchers noted.

Read more:

Sleep problems make kids naughty

Spanking linked to behaviour problems

Post-term babies develop behavioural and emotional problems  

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