LAST week was a weird week. There was an odd energy surrounding most people and it was difficult to place the nub. As I sat consulting in my GP practice, I couldn’t help but notice that there were a lot of heightened emotions, unusual ailments, worsening mental health symptoms and even some freak injuries presenting – more than what I would usually expect to see.

The letters coming in from A&E seemed to reflect this pattern too. I spoke to some of my medical colleagues who also noted the bizarreness of the week, but one casually commented: “Some weeks are just like that, aren’t they?”

Also true, so I parked it.

By Friday evening, the busyness was almost unmanageable. From computer systems crashing to the most exotic symptoms ever heard of, and people collapsing in twos and threes in the waiting room, I felt I was in some fictional movie. Everyone felt sluggish, everyone felt clouded. I mean, even the royal family were getting in on the action ... what was going on?

I went for dinner with my friend who is a psychiatrist and the first thing she said was: “It’s been a very odd week!”

Coincidental that in general practice, A&E and psychiatry, unusual presentations were making us scratch our heads...

In terms of volume, the psychiatrist reflected it had been a very busy week for them and Friday would inevitably be the worst. I enquired as to how she knew that. She casually replied: “This always happens when it’s a full moon!”

Yes, even science geeks can have such conversations!

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By Monday, thankfully, calm was restored. Was the moon really the culprit?

There are global historical belief systems, spanning centuries, whether religious, spiritual or cultural, that hold the moon to be sacred. In many communities, gatherings take place for powerful meditations and healing especially during a full moon or eclipse.

One only needs to turn on Netflix these days to see plenty of pop-up documentaries on alternative healing – and the moon appears to be quite high up on the list as a contributor.

I was born into a Hindu family and the time of a baby’s birth is always charted against the phase and positioning of the moon, seemingly to dictate (in my most basic of understandings) a child’s future and destiny. However, is this all a myth, or is there any tangible evidence?

We know there are health trends that happen at different times of the year, whether it be hayfever season, flu season, mental health, baby boom, etc...

But then there are times when you note unusual behaviours across the board which present to front-line healthcare teams. Even police officers report more accidents and crime rates during full-moon nights. What’s the correlation between lunar phases and human behaviour and health?

It piqued my interest, so I decided to have a look into it.

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The lunar phase describes the shape of the moon as we see it from Earth and these phases change slowly over a period of 29.53 days (I don’t know how you get 0.53 of a day, but let’s go with it!). The lunar effect describes potential correlation between the four phases of the lunar cycle and physiological changes in all living things on Earth, including humans.

According to one study published in 2011 by the World Journal of Surgery, a whopping 40% of healthcare professionals believed that lunar patterns had an impact on human behaviour. However, when they researched this hypothesis, no evidence was found.

Another study which received much attention reviewed the influences of the lunar cycle on sleep. It found that around the time of the full moon, the quality of deep sleep was reported to be 30% lower, time taken to fall asleep increased by five minutes and total sleep time was reduced by 20 minutes. However, there were not many participants in the study and it wasn’t particularly robust. Further studies reviewing this link also found little evidence.

So after reviewing a wide range of reports and studies on the moon and its links to higher levels of hospital visits and admissions, accidents and injuries, birth rates and mental health problems, I found little evidence to support this as fact.

It’s a shame, because it can be comforting to blame the weird on something – but for now, I’ll accept that last week was just an odd week across the board.

However, maybe monitoring how we feel around the time of a full moon might be an interesting experiment to do.