Health

How the Moon Affects Behavior and Health

Since Galileo discovered the Moon in 1610, we have been curious about this celestial object. Scientists have been studying the Moon for years, trying to track… Trista - August 26, 2019

Since Galileo discovered the Moon in 1610, we have been curious about this celestial object. Scientists have been studying the Moon for years, trying to track its movement and test its environment. When the United States landed on the Moon’s surface in 1969, it led to even more questions about the astronomical body that orbits Earth.

Have you ever felt different when a full Moon is approaching? Maybe your sleep schedule feels out of whack, your emotions are all over the place, or you find your memory is not working as well as it should. It may seem strange, but the phases of the Moon could be affecting your health. When it comes to sleep, menstruation, and even mental health, the Moon is definitely at play. Curious to learn more about the Moon and how it impacts your health? Keep reading!

 

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1. Earth’s Moon

The only natural satellite in the Solar System that is a permanent fixture is the Moon. This satellite is the fifth-largest and second-densest satellite that orbits a planet. The Moon formed shortly after Earth about 4.51 billion years ago.

Scientists theorize that the Moon formed from debris left behind after a Mars-sized object called Theia collided with Earth. The Moon rotates in synchronicity with Earth; therefore the near side of the Moon is always shown to Earth. Following the Sun, the second-brightest celestial being in the sky is the Moon. Earth’s Moon is roughly 1.28 light seconds, or 238,856 miles, away from Earth’s surface.

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2. What’s In a Name?

In Ancient Times, the Moon was used as a measurement of time. The Moon gets its name from the Proto-Indo-European words for “Moon” and “month.” The name Luna is also used to refer to the Moon, especially in literature where it’s being personified.

In modern English, the word lunar is used to describe the Moon. This word comes from the Latin word “luna,” which means Moon. Rarely, the Moon is referred to as selenic, which derives from the Ancient Greek word for Moon, selḗnē. Because of this word, the study of the Moon’s physical features is known as selenography.

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3. The Formation of the Moon

About 60 million years after the Solar System originated, the Moon was formed. Roughly 4.51 billion years ago, material from Earth was launched into space due to an impact from a large celestial body named Theia. This material was then pulled around by gravity and formed into the Moon.

The Moon is thought to have formed from the fusion of two different celestial bodies. The reasoning for this is that the far side of the Moon has a crust that is 31 miles thicker than the crust on the near side. Experts believe that the impact that created the Moon would have formed a lunar magma ocean on its surface.

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4. The Moon’s Structure

The Moon is unique in that its core, crust, and mantle are geochemically different. Its inner core is solid, iron-rich, and has a radius of about 150 miles. The Moon’s outer core is made of liquid iron and has a radius of 190 miles. The area around the core is partially molten and has a radius of roughly 310 miles.

The cause of this structure is a result of the lunar magma ocean that occurred on the Moon’s surface right after it was created. Samples taken from the Moon show that the surface is mostly made from the igneous rock anorthosite. After Jupiter’s Moon Io, the Moon is the second-densest satellite in the Solar System. Its composition is mainly made up of metallic iron mixed with small traces of nickel and sulfur.

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5. Its Surface

The surface of the Moon is fascinating and has been studied in depth by scientists. The most visible feature on the Moon’s surface is the South Pole–Aitken basin. This basin is the Moon’s most massive crater and also the second-largest impact crater in the entire solar system.

This crater has a floor that is over 8 miles deep, reaching the lowest point on the Moon’s surface. There are many other large impact basins on the Moon. Because of this, the far side of the Moon has a surface that is roughly 1.2 miles higher than the surface of the near side. The Moon also has volcanic features including solidified pools of ancient lava. Although water cannot exist in its liquid state on the Moon, signs of water have been found by researchers in the past two decades.

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6. Gravitational Pull

Because of the gravitational acceleration on the surface of the Moon is roughly 1.625 meters per second squared, objects on the Moon only weigh 1/6 of what they weigh on Earth’s surface. Radio signals from spacecraft that orbit the Moon measure its gravitational field. The Moon is known for having large gravity anomalies in its gravitational field.

Called mascons, these anomalies are associated with giant impact basins on the surface of the Moon. Mascons are integral in influencing how spacecraft orbit around the Moon. Many of the lava flows that are present on the surface of the Moon are caused by mascons.

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7. Orbit

Roughly every 27.3 days the Moon completely orbits around the Earth. Since the Earth is orbiting around the Sun at the same time, it takes the Moon a few days longer to show the same phase to Earth. The rotation of the Sun and Earth impact how the Moon orbits our planet.

Relative to the Sun, the Moon completes one revolution in roughly 29.53 days. A common center of mass is what the Earth and Moon orbit from. Known as a barycentre, this area lies about 2,900 miles from the center of the Earth. The average distance from Earth’s center to the Moon is roughly 239,000 miles.

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8. The Size of the Moon

It can be hard to tell when you look up at the Moon from Earth, but this celestial body looks more significant than it actually is. Concerning the Earth, the Moon is more than a quarter of its size. The Moon’s mass is about 1/81 of planet Earth.

Earth’s Moon is the largest in the solar system in relation to the size of the planet it orbits. If you combine the areas of North and South America, you will get slightly less than the size of the surface area of the Moon. The Moon’s surface area measures roughly 14,600,000 square miles.

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9. View from Earth

In the same time it takes the Moon to orbit Earth it also rotates on its axis. Because of this, the Moon nearly always keeps the same face turned towards planet Earth. From Earth, we can only see about 59% of the Moon’s surface.

The side of the Moon that faces Earth is referred to as the near side while the opposite is the far side. Many mistakenly referred to the far side of the Moon as the “dark side,” but this area becomes illuminated just as much as the near side. Both sides see light once every 29.5 days. The near side of the Moon is dark during a new Moon phase

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10. Tidal Effects

Tidal forces caused by the Moon can affect the Earth’s crust and oceans. The Moon has a greater attraction for the side of the Earth that it is closest to compared to the far side of the Moon’s gravitational attraction to Earth. We can see the effects of this in the behaviors of the oceans on planet Earth.

Tidal forces cause two bulges in the Earth’s oceans. There is one on the side of the Earth that faces the Moon and one on the opposite side of the planet. This causes elevated sea levels that are known as ocean tides. While the Earth spins on its axis, high tide occurs in the place under the Moon. This results in two high tides and two low tides every 24 hours.

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11. Eclipses

An eclipse occurs when the Earth, Moon, and Sun are in a straight line. Solar eclipses happen when there is a new Moon, between the Sun and Earth. During a Full Moon, a lunar eclipse occurs, and that is when the Earth is between the Moon and the Sun.

The Moon orbits around the Earth at an incline so an eclipse will not occur every time there is a Full or New Moon. The Moon has to be near the intersection of the Sun and Moon’s orbital planes in order for us to see an eclipse. Roughly every 18 years an eclipse of the Sun by the Moon and the Moon by the Earth happens.

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12. Ancient Studies

One of the earliest developments of astronomy was an understanding of lunar cycles. Astronomers in the fifth century BC Mesopotamia recorded an 18-year cycle of lunar eclipses. It wasn’t until Ancient Greece that the physical form of the Moon, as well as Moonlight, was understood.

In the second century BC, astronomers developed the theory that the Earth’s attraction to the Moon was the reason for tidal changes. They determined that the height of a tide was dependent on how the Moon was positioned in relation to the Sun. In the Middle Ages, before the telescope was invented, the Moon was increasingly recognized as being round. Scientists also believed it had a smooth surface.

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13. Astronomy

One of the fundamental natural sciences is astronomy. Historians in early civilizations methodically observed the night sky — Egyptians, Greeks, Chinese, Maya, and indigenous people in the Americas all studied space. In ancient times astronomy included making calendars, celestial navigation, and astrophysics.

The first person to use a telescope to explore space was Galileo Galilei. He constructed his own telescope in 1609 and was the first person to observe mountains and craters on the surface of the Moon. Before Galileo, philosophers in Ancient Greece determined that the Moon and Sun were giant rocks and the Moon reflected the light of the Sun. Because of this view, many were imprisoned and exiled. Back then, any theory that an unknown area was created by something other than God was seen as unfathomable.

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14. Mythology

The earliest depiction of the Moon is a 5000-year-old rock carving in Ireland. Numerous prehistoric and ancient cultures have personified the Moon as a deity. Even today the Moon is prominent in astrology.

In many cultures, the Moon was seen as a God. In Roman mythology, the Sun was seen as male, and the Moon was seen as female. That is where the name Luna originates from. If you have seen art depicting a blazing Sun and crescent Moon with faces, that style of artwork originated in late medieval times. This artistic arrangement also dates back to the Bronze Age.

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15. Lunar Phases

A lunar phase is how the Sunlit portion of the Moon is shaped when viewed from Earth. Phases of the Moon change gradually over a period of 29.53 days. These phases change as the positions of the Moon around the Earth and the Earth around the Sun begin to shift.

The Sunlit portion of the near side of the Moon varies, leading to several phases of the Moon. Scientists have discovered eight phases, four are intermediate, and four are principal. Each of the intermediate phases lasts roughly 7.4 days. The entire Moon sees about 14.77 days of daylight and then directly after she’s 14.77 days of darkness.

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16. New Moon

The Moon’s first phase is referred to as a new Moon. This occurs when the Sun and the Moon have the same ecliptic longitude. When the Moon is in this phase, it is not visible to the naked eye. That is because at this time the Moon is too close to the Sun.

Even though we cannot see the Moon during the new Moon phase, it presents itself as a very thin crescent. The average length of time from a new Moon to the next New Moon is just over 29 days. This is referred to as a lunation. Every month in the lunar calendar relates to a lunation.

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17. Waxing Crescent

The next phase of the Moon is waxing crescent. From Earth, this phase is visible after dusk and stays visible until the late morning. Because the Moon is getting closer to being in line with the Earth and the Sun, we are able to see a bit more of it.

The illuminated portion of the Moon comes from the reflection of the Sun’s rays on its surface. How high the Moon is placed in the sky determines what part of it is illuminated. The waxing crescent Moon tends to be placed higher in the sky during summer than during winter.

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18. First Quarter

The first quarter phase of the Moon shows precisely 1/2 of the surface being illuminated. Depending on where you live on Earth, either the left or right side will be visible. This is the second primary Moon phase indicating that the Moon has orbited 1/4 of the way around Earth.

In the northern part of the world, the right half of the Moon is illuminated during the first quarter. Southern regions will see that the left half of the Moon is lit up. After Moonrise near the equator, the upper part of the Moon is bright. The first quarter Moon will rise in the middle of the day and set in the middle of the night. The first quarter Moon tends to be seen more often than the third quarter Moon.

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19. Waxing Gibbous

The next Moon phase is waxing gibbous. In this phase, the Moon goes from being illuminated 50 percent to being lit up 99.9 percent. This phase will last until full Moon occurs. It may be hard to determine if the Moon is waxing gibbous or full phase because so much of the Moon’s surface is illuminated.

The area in which you live in the world determines where the illuminated part of a waxing gibbous Moon will appear. You may see it on the left, right, top, or bottom part of the Moon. The waxing gibbous Moon tends to rise during the day, mostly after noon.

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20. Full Moon

When the Moon can be fully seen from Earth, we have reached the Full Moon phase. Full Moon occurs when the Earth is perfectly positioned between the Moon and Sun. When this happens, the nearest side of the Moon is entirely lit by the Sun and looks like a perfect round disc.

The Full Moon phase happens about once per month. As the new Moon marks the beginning of the month in the lunar calendar, the full Moon tends to fall on the 14th or 15th day. This leads to a month in the lunar calendar being either 29 or 30 days long.

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21. Waning Gibbous

The waning gibbous Moon phase starts as the Moon turns from being 99.9% illuminated to just 50.1%. The waning gibbous Moon tends to rise after Sunset and will not sit until after Sunrise. This phase begins as soon as the Full Moon phase has passed.

As with the waxing gibbous phase, it can be hard to differentiate between waning gibbous and full Moon because so much of the Moon surface is lit up. When the waning gibbous Moon is close to the horizon, it can appear glowing and red. If you venture out late at night, you may catch a glimpse of this beautiful Moon phase.

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22. Third Quarter

The final principle phase of the Moon is third-quarter. Compared to the first quarter, this phase is when the opposite side of the Moon is illuminated. When you look up into the sky during the third quarter, you will see that exactly one half of the Moon’s surface is lit up.

In this phase, the Moon is roughly 270 degrees away from the Sun. During the First and Third Quarter phases, the Moon and Sun are pulling in opposite directions. This leads to a process known as a neap tide, which occurs when there is a minute difference between high and low tide.

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23. Waning Crescent

The final phase of the Moon is waning crescent. During this phase, the Moon goes from being 49.9 percent illuminated to just 0.1 percent. Once again the Moon is now barely visible. You will only be able to see the tiny waning crescent Moon from before dawn to the early afternoon.

The bright side of the Moon in the waning crescent phase will always point towards the east, in the direction of the Sunrise. The waning crescent Moon is a morning Moon and most visible before Sunrise. Because of that, you may miss this phase unless you’re an early riser.

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24. The Calendar

As far back as 30,000 years ago, The phases of the Moon have been used as a timepiece. Bones with the notches on them to indicate the Moon phases, known as tally sticks, are thought to be the first evidence of a calendar.

The 30-day month calendar is based on the cycles of the Moon. Since ancient Greece, the Moon has been used as a marker of the month. Many cultures have used this sighting of the crescent Moon to determine the start of a month. The contrast to the lunar calendar is the solar, or Gregorian, calendar which is the standard calendar used around the world.

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25. Earthlight

The reflection of sunlight from the Earth’s surface and clouds is known as Earthlight. Earthlight is visible from Earth at night in the days leading up to and after a New Moon. During these nights, you can see that the entirety of the Moon is directly and indirectly lit by light from Earth. When the Darkside of the Moon is illuminated indirectly by Earthlight, this occurrence is known as Earthshine.

The best times to see Earthshine are during the waxing crescent phase after dusk and before dawn during the waning crescent phase. The best times to see Earthshine are during the waxing crescent phase after dusk and before dawn during the waning crescent phase. Earthlight can also be referred to how an astronaut on the Moon or any spacecraft can see the Earth during the lunar night.

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26. Misconceptions

There are quite a few misconceptions about the Moon. The first is that the man’s faces are caused by a shadow from Earth or its clouds. In reality, the light on the Sun changes while it orbits the Earth. Another misconception is that the Moon produces its own light as the Sun does. The Moon actually reflects the Sun’s light, just like all of the other planets.

Many people don’t believe that the Moon rotates but in actuality it spins on its axis. The Moon completes one rotation every 27.3 days. Additionally, some believe that the same half of the Moon stays dark always. As the Moon rotates, the front and back are alternately lit.

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27. Blue Moon

You may have heard the song Blue Moon, but do you actually know what a Blue Moon is? When an additional full Moon appears in a year, you get a Blue Moon. It can happen when you get 13 Full Moons in one year instead of 12.

Even though it is referred to as a blue Moon, the color of the Moon does not change. Occasionally changes in atmospheric conditions can lead to the surface of the Moon having a hint of blue. This is primarily due to volcanic eruptions or fires emitting particles into the atmosphere. The next Blue Moon will occur on August 22, 2021.

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28. Lunacy

You’ve heard the word lunatic before, right? The terms lunatic and lunacy come from the Latin word for Moon, which is luna. Ancient philosophers like Aristotle and Pliny the Elder hypothesized that the full Moon could induce insanity in specific individuals. While it may seem ridiculous, their theory was based in science.

These philosophers believed that the Moon’s power over tides could affect the brain. Because the brain is made of mostly water, the lunar effect could cause psychosis. Even in modern times, people claim that there is an increase in hospital visits, homicide, traffic accidents, and other unfortunate occurrences during a Full Moon.

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29. The Moon and Your Health

Quite a few people believe that the faces of the Moon can affect your health. Especially during a full Moon, people, animals, and even plants can display changes in their behavior. The reasoning behind this is in the gravitational connection between the Earth and the Moon.

Sea tides are caused by the Earth and Moon’s gravitational pull. Could this gravitational attraction be the reason for unusual behavior in those of us on Earth? While there have been no definitive studies done on the effect of the Moon’s cycle on people, there are many examples of the Moon having a part in certain human behaviors. There are many examples of the Moon having a part in certain human behaviors. It’s up to you to decide if you believe that the Moon has that much power over us.

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30. Menstrual Cycle

Many people have referred to the menstrual cycles as “Moon cycles.” Since ancient times there has been a strong belief that the phases of the Moon synchronize with female menstruation. There are even websites and smartphone apps that can help you track your Moon cycle.

The average menstrual cycle lasts 28 days, which is almost as long as they move cycle. That means that one revolution of the Moon around the Earth is roughly equivalent to one menstrual cycle. Some small studies have been done about this phenomenon, and they suggest that a woman’s period coincides with the late phase that leads up to a Full Moon.

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31. Ovulation

In addition to menstruation, many believe that a woman’s ovulation cycle relates to the phases of the Moon. There is a theory that hormone levels rise during a particular Moon phase. Because of that, it can be thought that a woman is more likely to get pregnant during a Full Moon.

A recent study found that women who were ovulating at the same time as a Full Moon and got pregnant during a Full Moon had a higher chance of giving birth to a male child. This study also found that women who conceived before a Full Moon most likely were going to give birth to a female child. Keep in mind that it’s unlikely that most periods will sync with a particular Moon phase, especially when many women have irregular menstrual cycles.

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32. Emotions

During a Full Moon a person’s strongest qualities are enhanced. We all have light and dark inside of us, and a Full Moon brings each of those sides out. During this phase, all of our emotions, good and bad, or magnified.

People with headstrong personalities may get easily agitated during a Full Moon. The Full Moon also makes us feel our emotions more intensely. Those who usually are very emotional may become overwhelmed during a Full Moon because their emotions are on overdrive. On the other hand, this emotional intensity can lead to you having a dramatic boost in energy.

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33. Mental Health

A common theme about a Full Moon is that it makes people more angry and aggressive than they are for most of the month. Urban legends claim that werewolves are incited by the Full Moon. Although there is no scientific evidence that a Full Moon causes mental health problems, research shows that psychiatric facilities admit more patients during a Full Moon.

Many scientists have concluded that people like to think a Full Moon causes mental disturbances because they want to believe that there is a higher power causing certain behaviors. People who are affected by psychological conditions like bipolar disorder have noted changes in their behavior during a Full Moon. This could be because a Full Moon will illuminate the sky and potentially disrupt sleep patterns.

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34. Sleep

Speaking of sleep, a Full Moon can contribute to a night of unrest during its phase. During a Full Moon, you may find yourself tossing and turning. Studies have shown that people tend to sleep less and have a poor quality of sleep during a full Moon. It can also take them longer to fall asleep when the Moon is full.

Because a Full Moon is so bright, the light may result in decreased melatonin levels. This can make a person’s sleep signals ineffective. If you have issues with insomnia, be sure to wear a sleep mask during a Full Moon in order to get a good night’s rest. You can also find blackout curtains to cover your windows that won’t let glowing Moonlight in at night.

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35. Heart

Did you know that the Moon’s cycles can affect your heart? During a Full Moon, the heart pumps at its peak performance. So you may notice a difference when you hit the gym during a Full Moon!

Additionally, the rate of heart attacks has been reported to have gone down during a Full Moon. Interestingly, a significant reduction in heart attacks occurs in the three days following a New Moon. Experts theorize that the heart operates best when the Moon is aligned with the Sun and has a strong gravitational pull. That’s why exercise may be more effective during a Full Moon.

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36. Brain

As we mentioned before, experts believe that the brain is influenced by the Moons power over tides. Our brains are mostly made of water and gravity on the Moon could potential he affect the movement of water in the brain. Because of this, people with brain disorders could experience an increase in the intensity of their conditions.

On the other hand, people who have epilepsy may see a decrease in seizures. Research shows that the brightness of the Moon can lead to fewer epileptic episodes. Because the brightness of a Full Moon inhibits the release of melatonin, that will reduce the number of seizures someone with epilepsy may experience.

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37. Kidneys

Along with the brain, other organs may be affected by a Full Moon. Urologists have found that pain caused by kidney stones increase significantly during a Full Moon. Other studies have shown that more patients with urological issues are admitted to the hospital more frequently during a Full Moon phase.

On the other hand, people with kidney issues can see their conditions calm down during a New Moon. Our kidneys contain about 60% water, which is why the Moon may have an effect over them. As the Moon and its gravitational pull affect the tides on Earth, they can also affect kidney calmness and pain.

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38. Blood Flow

If the Moon’s gravitational pull can affect our brains and kidneys, it’s a no brainer that fluids that flow through our body would also be affected. Brain chemicals, mucus, and blood can all be impacted by a Full Moon. A recent study shows that the rate of gastrointestinal bleeding may significantly increase during a Full Moon.

Conversely, during a Full Moon, researchers have found that surgeries are more successful and result in less bleeding. Patients who have surgery during a Full Moon are 79% less likely to die than those who have surgery during a New Moon. Surgeries during a Full Moon typically result in a shorter hospital stay.

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39. Increased Injuries

If you are clumsy and prone to accidents, be extra careful during a Full Moon. Emergency calls tend to go up during a Full Moon. The Full Moon phase will see an increase of about 3 percent in emergency calls. During a New Moon, that rate will drop by roughly 6 percent.

Researchers discovered a link between medically unexplained symptoms and the lunar cycle. During a Full Moon, patients will be admitted to the hospital with various types of pain. They will complain of numbness, coordination problems, and headaches, but doctors will not be able to find any physical issues.

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40. Increased Birth Rate

Since many people believe that the lunar cycle relates to a woman’s menstrual cycle, it would make sense that the birth rate could be tied to the phases of the Moon. Researchers in Japan found that there was a substantial increase in births during a Full Moon. Even though it could be scientifically difficult to prove this, this theory may help women trying to conceive be successful.

It is believed that a Full Moon can boost fertility because of how the Moon and Earth align during this phase. As the gravitational pull of the Moon and Earth are strongest during a Full Moon, that could potentially lead to an increase in births. An Italian study found that a higher number of babies were born within two days following a Full Moon.

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