Moon Phases and Quantified Self

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quantified self tracking the moon effectsOk, some of you may find this post a bit unorthodox. I was always curious to see if the moon has any effect on my behavior and psychological states. While a traditional researcher inside me still has doubts about this kind of “analytics”, I still went ahead and crunched some numbers, just for fun. Using my September and October data, I analyzed the cyclical patterns and differences in my sleep quality, mood, and stress across four moon phases (new moon, first quarter, full moon, last quarter).  Interestingly, there were some notable differences in mood and sleep during full moon and new moon phases. 

First of all, I must inform you that I was not aware of the moon phases when collecting data, so the “placebo”/”observer” effect can be eliminated as a potential cause of the differences that I found. In other words, there is no way my knowledge of the current moon cycle could have consciously or subconsciously affected my mood, sleep or stress levels.  You can say that  the “scientific quality” of this analysis has been ensured by the fact that it was conducted retrospectively: I took self-tracking data that I have already collected, and then appended the moon phases.

The first thing I did was to look up the “peak” days for each of the phases, using the moon phases calendar. For instance, in October, New Moon peaked on October 15, and Full Moon on October 29.

Moon Phases and Quantified Self

I then defined each moon phase by grouping dates around the “peak” ±3 days: for example, all records between October 12 -October 18 were assigned to the “New Moon phase”. After all days in my September and October logs have been categorized, I computed arithmetic averages for subjective sleep scores, daily mood and mood “swing”, and daily stress scores. I then looked at the differences in these scores across the moon phases, and whether the patterns of these differences were the same for both months.

As you can see from the chart below, my sleep quality was on average higher during the full moon phase. While these differences were not statistically significant, they occurred both in September and October. There were no notable differences in average daily stress levels. These findings somewhat contradict the folklore and some scientific studies, according to which full moon is often associated with higher stress and anxiety.

sleep stress and moon phases personal analytics quantified self experiments

 

Another interesting pattern was differences in mood variability: according to chart below, I am less likely to have mood swings around new moon. The differences were statistically significant for October data.  These findings correspond to the published reports of people feeling calm during the new moon. There was no notable differences in the average daily mood scores.

mood and mood swings moon effect lunar effect and quantified self

 

I am not certain yet how to treat these findings. Most likely, I will wait another couple of months and replicate the analysis. In the meantime, I would like to hear if anyone else has conducted similar analysis and what were you findings.

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7 Responses to Moon Phases and Quantified Self

  1. spg says:

    I found this experiment fascinating; it inspired me to pull the moon phases into my personal data set. I took a bit different approach by matching my sleep efficiency (from Fitbit data) to the actual Moon phase for that date. I found that from the New Moon through the full moon my sleep efficiency was higher peaking on the Full Moon, the second half of the Moon phase my sleep efficiency drops by several points. Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. Measured Me says:

    Hi Spg,

    Glad you liked it. Several other people emailed or twitted me sharing similar results.

  3. M.W. says:

    Can we do the same with horoscope signs?

  4. Tera says:

    I think it will be opposite for me, i tend to sleep less on full moon. But interesting nonetheless,thank you!

  5. Measured Me says:

    Tera, that’s what the Quantified Self is about: personalized science. What works for me in one way, may work in another or not work at all for you.

  6. J says:

    I found something completely different. I looked at several past calendars when someone I know has ‘feeling out of it’ and it was happening near the new moon only not near the full moon. Completely different than what you have reported and others have reported I am puzzled now.

  7. Measured Me says:

    Hi! Not sure what you mean by “feeling out of it”. Feeling blue?

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