The wolf-moon connection has been around in myths since ancient times. Some people believed that the full moon could cause humans to change into animals, such as werewolves. So where did this connection between wolves and the moon come from? Blame it on the ancestors.
Many ancient civilizations stretching back to the Neolithic Age continually paired wolves with the moon in images and literature, which eventually evolved into today’s popular belief. Hecate, Greek goddess of the moon, kept the company of dogs. Same thing goes for Diana, Roman goddess of the moon and the hunt. Norse mythology tells of a pair of wolves that chase the moon and sun to summon night and day The Native American Seneca tribes believe that a wolf sung the moon into existence.
Since wolves inhabit every continent except South America and Antarctica, their prevalence in human culture isn’t surprising. As nocturnal animals, they have a natural association with darkness and the moon. And just like humans whisper, shout, scream, murmur or chat to communicate, howling is just one of way wolves vocally express themselves.
Forget the absurdity about wolves howling at the moon. Canine experts have found no connection between the phases of the moon and wolf howling. Wolves pipe up more often during the night because they’re nocturnal. They point their faces toward the moon and stars when they howl because of the acoustics; projecting their calls upward allows the sound to carry farther.
Now that the werewolf myth has been resolved there is a connection between humans and the full moon. The full moon has been blamed for murder and mayhem since ancient times. The term lunacy was coined in the 16th century to refer to an intermittent form of insanity believed to be related to the moon. For generations, people around the world have passed down tales of werewolves and other moon-related curses. Scientists have attempted over the years to discover a link between the satellite’s impact and human behavior. These latest findings may provide a boost to the field.
These finding show no indications of the full moon causing you to become a werewolf, but there is evidence that the full moon really does take a toll on people; even if they don’t know it’s out there. Scientists reviewed data in which subjects slept in a darkened room where they couldn’t see the moon.
Researchers at the Centre for Chronobiology at the Psychiatric Hospital of the University of Basel originally set out to examine 33 volunteers’ circadian rhythms, which are physical, mental and behavioral changes that respond to light and darkness over a 24-hour cycle.
During round moons, the 33 volunteers, who didn’t know the study’s goal, took an extra five minutes to fall asleep and slept a total of 20 minutes less than they did during the new moon phase. They ranged in age from 20 to 31 and 57 to 74.
Subjects had lower levels of melatonin during full moons, the BBC notes; melatonin helps regulate the body clock and is produced more in the dark than in the light. Researchers, however, say the brightness of the moon may have had nothing to do with subjects’ sleep.
So, why might a full moon have this effect on sleep? One apparently obvious explanation – moonlight shining into the rooms disrupts sleep – does not seem to hold up. Conditions in the sleep laboratory are tightly controlled to ensure that the amount of light was the same every night.
Still, there is the possibility that the patterns of moonlight the volunteers experienced in the months running up to the sleep laboratory nights could still be having an effect on their body’s sleep rhythms.
These results suggest that as well as our body clocks having a natural response to the time of day, when it comes to sleep, it may also have a response to the cycle of the moon.
“There is such a strong cultural story around the full moon that it would not be surprising if it has an effect,” adds an expert. “It’s one of these folk things that you would suspect has a germ of truth.” It’s high probably that one won’t become a werewolf, but there appears to be evidence that the full moon really does affect the sleeping patterns of individuals.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)