Physical activity, sleep duration and metabolic health in children fluctuate with the lunar cycle: science behind the myth

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Behaviours of several animal species have been linked to lunar periodicity. Evidence for such links in humans is weak; however, recently, shorter sleep duration was reported around full moon in two small samples of adults. As restrictions in sleep duration have been shown to adversely affect glucose regulation and physical activity to improve glucose regulation, one could speculate that cardiometabolic risk factors might also be affected by the lunar phase. We retrospectively examined 795 Danish children, aged 8-11 years, with more than 13 000 24-h accelerometer recordings of activity and sleep as well as 2000 measurements of different cardiometabolic risk factors, including insulin sensitivity, appetite hormones and blood pressure, during nine lunar phases. During the period around full moon, children were 5.0 and 3.2 min per day less active, slept 2.4 and 4.1 min per night longer, had 0.03 and 0.05 higher homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance and 0.6 and 0.8 mmHg higher mean arterial blood pressure compared with days around half moon and new moon, respectively (all P ≤ 0.02). Furthermore, ghrelin was lower and leptin was higher during the period around full moon compared with days around half moon (both P < 0.001). The results suggest that physical activity rather than sleep is responsible for the metabolic alterations observed around full moon. However, we have no understanding of potential mechanisms that may mediate a potential true link between childhood behaviour and the lunar cycle or confounders that may explain this, apparently leading to fluctuation in a number of cardiometabolic risk markers conjointly with lunar phases.

Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical Obesity
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)60-66
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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