Doctors described a case of a person with bipolar disorder, whose episodes of illness alternated in accordance with the movement of the moon. Its internal biological clock was set not only for a 24-hour solar day, but also for a period of 24.8 hours, during which the Moon makes one visible revolution in the celestial sphere. The work was published in the journal Translational Psychiatry .
There are many urban legends that the moon negatively affects human behavior. Most of these, such as spikes in emergency medical calls during full moons, are not supported by evidence. Nevertheless, it is impossible to deny that the Moon affects animals – both with the help of light, which many species are guided by, and through the tides that occur due to the influence of the gravity of a nearby body.
In the course of the new work, doctors studied in detail the behavior of a 51-year-old patient with bipolar disorder. In this disease, people’s mood cyclically changes from depressive to manic, in which they show hyperactivity. In this state, sleep patterns are disturbed: in the depressive phase, a person sleeps too much, and in the manic phase, too little. It turns out to be a kind of vicious circle, since sleep disturbance becomes both a consequence of the disease and the cause of more dramatic changes in mood.
Sleep is usually regulated by an internal biological clock, circadian rhythms, which are set to 24-hour daylight hours. In the patient described, the metabolism was characterized by a cycle of 24.8 hours, which coincided in duration with the cycle of lunar by-catch. The sun determined the time when the patient went to bed, but he woke up according to the position of the moon. Each new moon, which occurs every 29.5 days, the patient suffered from insomnia and passed from a depressive phase to a manic one.
Separately, the author notes that after the patient was introduced to a strict daily regimen, the cyclicality of the mood came to naught. The results suggest that under normal daily routines, both the solar and lunar cycles are responsible for the patient’s mood swings. The scientist admits that his colleagues may be skeptical about his explanation, but believes that the influence of the moon on biophysical processes can be significantly underestimated.