And why are dreams so intense during the Full moon? Feel free to skip the intro to read the most reasonable explanation why the moon has such an impact on our dreams, by following this link “Why are my dreams so intense during a Full Moon?”
I write a dream journal for a while now. You know it’s just a small note-book where I put down some of the impressions I have during my dreams, basically anything I can remember of the night. And besides the fantastic insight that this little journal provides about my mind, I began to notice a monthly pattern in which my dream recall and the vividness would begin to change tremendously. To be more precise, I believe this pattern is highly influenced by the lunar phase that is occurring and the thereof resulting visibility/“invisibility” of the Moon.
Shortly before, during and some days after the rise of the full moon my dreams would become almost certainly less vivid; my dream recall becomes little to non-existent. Instead of remembering three or four dreams in greatest detail (like during a New moon), I would only be able to reconstruct memory excerpts of a frantic night (dream-wise). This feels to me like comparing an HD 1080p movie to one second-lasting snippets from a low resolution independent movie. Also, when there is a full moon going on, I have trouble falling asleep, cannot sleep through the night and wake up more often. On the other hand, while in the lunar phase of the new moon, when the moon resides in the darkness, I recall most of my dreams, some of them very intense and vivid.
These are the conclusions I’ve drawn from my own experiences and therefore I was truly astonished when many of my friends reported to undergo exactly the opposite of what I experience during a full moon. Out of curiosity I began researching and noticed that people either have really intense, sometimes strange but always very vivid dreams during a full moon (which make up to an estimate of 70% of accounts), whereas the other 30% would report less intense dreams or difficulties to remember any dreams at all, during a Full moon.
It’s obvious to ask the question: Does the moon have an influence on our dreams? And if it does: What is the reason that the moon affects our dreams in such a strong way? Why would a moon phase, such as the full moon, cause aforementioned extremes in the dream-pattern of a person such as experiencing very intense dreams or not being able to remember any dreams at all, during a full moon?
This is the most probable and reasonable explanation I’ve discovered at present:
Theory #1: Charged Moon influences Earth’s magnetic field
The Earth’s magnetic field is influenced, amongst other factors, by the Moon. This alone would not rate a mention, but the connecting of the dots that follows becomes really interesting. The Earth also has a magnetic tail, formed by the solar wind, which is basically a stream of electrons and protons ejected from the Sun. This stream of charged particles (plasma) that is ejected from the Sun hits the earth with speeds of up to 500 mph. Luckily, the Earth is protected to a large degree from this solar wind, as the magnetic field shields our planet, leading to a deflection of the stream. Hence, this is how the magnetic tail of the Earth is created, which extends way beyond the Moon into space.
Every 27.3 days when the Moon completes its orbit, it moves through Earth’s magnetic tail, which just happens to coincide with a full moon.
Anyone can tell when the moon is inside the magnetotail. Just look: “if the moon is full, it is inside the magnetotail,” says Stubbs. “The moon enters the magnetotail three days before it is full and takes about six days to cross and exit on the other side.”
Tim Stubbs on The Moon and the Magnetotail, NASA
So we have the perfect synchronicity of the Moon entering the Earth’s magnetic tail, right at the time when a full moon occurs. We also know that the Moon is not protected by an atmosphere or magnetic field that could shield it, which means that the surface that faces the earth (during a full moon) is bombarded by the solar wind deflected from Earth. The solar wind – that has left little to no influence on the Earth – then plasma charges the Moon, causing a tremendous increase of the magnetic and electric field, which then influences Earth’s magnetic field, as the plasma charged surface faces our planet.
Quick summary so far: We have the solar wind that is deflected by Earth’s magnetic field that shields us from it. As the Moon is not protected by a magnetic field or atmosphere, it is massively hit by the magnetotail that charges it, which then has an influence onto Earth’s geomagnetic field.
The first dots are connected, but how exactly does a change in the magnetic field influence us humans and the way we perceive our dreams, especially during a full moon?
Scientists know that Earth’s magnetic field affects the pineal gland of a rat (see: Article on Sciencedirect.com) and there is also evidence that electromagnetic fields effect the human pineal gland (see: Evidence for an Effect of ELF on Humans), which logically leads me to the conclusion that changes in the Earth’s geomagnetic field have an influence on the human pineal gland.
The pineal gland – which was regarded by the Ancient as the “third eye” and the seat of mystical powers – is the bodies master gland that secrets melatonin into the body. The French philosopher Descartes even considered this gland to be the seat of the soul. The inside of the gland is filled with water and has the highest blood-flow per cubic volume than any other gland in our body.
Rick Strassman MD, a researcher of the effect of psychedelic and hallucinogenic substances, argues that the pineal gland also releases dimethyltryptamine (DMT), which is a very powerful psychedelic that can be found in nature. According to Strassman, it is very likely that tiny amounts of DMT are released into our bloodstream while we sleep, causing a dreaming state.
There is only one missing link that could not be verified as of today: do changes in the Earth’s magnetic field influence the secretion of DMT into our bloodstream? If such a link exists, it may be the explanation why dreams are so much more intense during a full moon. It would also explain why dreams during an occurring full moon are perceived to be much more vivid and intense, as the natural psychedelic DMT might be released to a stronger degree into our brain than usual, without the pineal gland being influenced by an increase of Earth’s magnetic field.
Validity and conclusiveness of the theory: 90%
I must admit that this is – in my opinion – the best and most explanatory theory that I’ve discovered so far. You might now have a possible answer to the question: “Why are my dreams so intense during a full moon?”. The full moon is charged by the magnetotail of the Earth, which influences the Earth’s magnetic field, which then has an impact on our brains pineal gland, leading - potentially - to an increased release of DMT – a natural psychedelic – which then gives us the impression of more intense and vivid dreams. Voila!
In the following I’ll present you some other theories as to why the Moon influences our dreams.
Theory #2: The bright light disturbs your sleep
The second potential explanation why so many people report intense dreams during a Full moon sounds pretty straightforward and reasonable: When there is a Full moon, it’s much brighter in the night, therefore people wake up more often as the light disrupts their sleep pattern, which then leaves the impression that the dreams were more vivid than usual.
This is what really happens: In general, the dreams that are most memorable are those that took place closest to waking. That’s the explanation why it’s so much easier to remember the last dream you had before awakening and why it’s so extremely difficult to recall anything about the first dreams of the night at all (if you slept through).
The production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates your circadian rhythm, reaches its peak when it’s dark and drops during the day when you’re exposed to light. However, the bright light of the Full moon can disrupt the melatonin cycle, causing us to awake more often during the night – at the end of a dream. This then leaves the impression that your dreams were a lot more intense and vivid, but what actually happened is that you were only remembering more dreams as you awoke more often than on a regular, dark night.
Validity and conclusiveness of the theory: 25%
The “bright-light-disruption-theory” sounds logical, but it does not account to all those who are sleeping in a light-isolated room and still experience either more intense dreams or sleep deprivation during a Full moon. Also, it takes not into account that a Full moon influences most people’s sleep even when the sky is clouded throughout the night. The theory might only be relevant to people who sleep in a sleeping-place that gets illuminated by the moon and it still is not really conclusive as to why people’s dreams are so intense during a Full moon.
Theory #3: The human psyche is responsible
After we have ruled out that the “bright-light-disruption-theory” cannot explain why any person that sleeps in a light-isolated room might experience an influence of the Full moon to their sleep pattern, it’s only consequent to have a look if the human psyche could be the actual reason for this phenomenon. I have to admit, though, that I consider this theory as a rather irrelevant one to explain the severe influence of the Moon on human behavior in general, but - as the interested researcher might find out – many people (most of them scientists) bring up this theory as an explanation, so it should be closer examined.
The theory goes as follows: People have a strong believe in the Moon’s influence on human behavior. And, as we expect a major impact or associate strange happenings with the Full moon, scientists conclude that our psyche is what really influences our dreams, and not the Moon. Not even the many reports of policeman, nurses and firefighters – that link the Full moon to troublous nights with increased numbers of crimes and incoming patients – dissuade scientists from the theory that solely the human psyche responsible for all of this. The fact that many farmers plant in accordance with the moon phase, surgeons and/or patients reschedule appointments for surgery that overlap with a Full moon and the many people that take the lunar calendar into account for every major decision is – in the view of scientists – mostly based on urban legends or as they call it: “moon myths” that are – according to them – not based on experience but rather on folklore, misconceptions and cognitive biases.
Validity and conclusiveness of the theory: 1%
Do my dreams change – regularly and repeatedly at the same time – just because I expect it to happen? It may be possible to a certain extent, but what about those that wake up in the morning – from a bewildering night full of intense and vivid dreams – who confirm their assumption drawn from their experiences that there might be a full moon occurring by looking into the calendar, newspaper or internet. What about all those that did not expect anything to happen and had no idea about the current lunar phase?
Theory #4: The Moon affects water molecules in the body
We all know that the Moon affects the ocean tides, as the moon – in simplified terms – tries to pull anything on the Earth closer like a magnet, whereas the Earth’s gravitational attraction manages to hold onto, but is not able to stop the ever-flowing water in the oceans from being pulled by the Moon’s gravitational force.
What we also know is that approximately 55-70% of the human body consists of water. This is a fact, not a rumor, legend or made-up fiction, it is a fact (see: Wikipedia – Body Water)
Obviously, if the Moon is able to influence water molecules in the ocean, the following question is justified: “Does the Moon have a gravitational effect on the water molecules within our bodies, resulting in a change of our dream pattern during a Full moon?” Is it possible that the Moon causes a disruption of the water molecules in the nervous system, which causes us to experience more intensive/less intensive dreams during a Full moon?
Validity and conclusiveness of the theory: 5%
There are four major arguments that pull the theory apart:
- The amount of water in the human body varies and is highly influenced by the environment that person is living in (altitude, climate and temperature). But, people from every culture, everywhere on the world experience the same effect of the moon onto their dreams.
- The Moon’s gravitational force only affects open water, not the water encased by objects (such as the human body).
- The Moon’s gravitational force during a Full moon is the same as during a New moon. The force does not depend on the lunar phase.
That’s it. I hope you’ve enjoyed the four presented theories and that they will assist you in forging an opinion about this speculative topic.
Photo by Robert Schöller