It's Just a Phase

The impact of the moon and its phases has long fascinated the public. It was once widely believed that the moon’s cycles affected things as diverse as fertility, sleep patterns and even the stock market.

In spite of this, there is little to no evidence supporting the idea that the moon has any impact (or ‘lunar effect’) on human behaviour. A study* involving 37 published and unpublished scientific papers investigated the phases of the moon, collecting data on a range of human health and behaviour characteristics. It found almost no evidence of lunar effect.

However, the study didn't look at whether the moon’s phases affect the mood of people with dementia, which is something that has been the subject of significant speculation. Dementia Support Australia (DSA) analysed the characteristics of people with dementia living in care who were referred on the day of a full moon (+/- 2 days) and compared them with those who were visited on other days.

In keeping with the majority of research into the lunar effect, the results revealed no differences in any of the analysed characteristics, including but not limited to:

  • number of referrals
  • types of behaviours described
  • severity and number of behaviours
  • causes of behaviour
  • type of dementia

Understanding what’s happening for the person with dementia, as well as the clinical causes of behaviour is central to the work of DSA. From this data, we can rule out speculation based on myths about the moon and look to understand the person and their story.

* Rotton J, Kelly IW. Much ado about the full moon: a meta-analysis of lunar-lunacy research. Psychol Bull. 1985 Mar;97(2):286–306.