For centuries folklore has said that the alignment of planetary bodies, especially the moon, can have a physical impact on the human form, from the menstrual cycle to emotions and behaviour. Studies have been carried out to investigate whether certain claims, such as the full moon’s supposed power to lower our quality of sleep and contribute to episodes of mania and psychosis, actually have any grounding in reality. While a solid yes-or-no answer has not yet been found, many firmly believe in the power of a solar eclipse to disrupt the rhythms of the human body.
One of the most common complaints reported is increased tiredness or lethargy during the period of a solar eclipse. This could be related to the disrupted sleep reported in relation to a full moon, as many believe that the gravitational pull of the moon on the water in the body could affect us physiologically. Strangely enough, restlessness is also reported in conjunction with tiredness during a solar eclipse. A possible explanation for this unusual combination may lie in the similarly affected animal kingdom, as birds quieten and spiders dismantle their webs, probably believing that night has come. A similar effect may produce the unusual combination of lethargy and suppressed energy in humans, as the body struggles to reconcile the knowledge of daytime with the sense of night, and the conflicting levels of energy required by both states.
Others report that the inner workings of their psyche can also be affected by solar eclipses. Mood swings, bursts of creativity and strange dreams are all reported during times of solar eclipse, though the latter may be due in part to poor quality sleep. NASA itself reports that solar eclipses are known to produce intense psychological effects on humans, and have done so in nearly every civilisation in history. The image of the moon as a huge and almost malevolent mass blotting out the light of the sun and plunging the world into darkness, however temporarily, was fear-inducing for ancient cultures; the loss of light could herald the end of the world, or a visible battle between forces of good and evil. Despite our modern knowledge that an eclipse is nothing but a fleeting phenomenon, a loss of light during the day could create a subconscious sense of doom and perpetuate feelings of anxiety and consequent psychosomatic effects.
Regardless, whether you swear by the effects of the solar system on our bodies or you believe it’s all just superstitious hype in response to an ordinary event, make sure to enjoy this rare event. If you feel prone to the effects of the moon, take a deep breath and relax – and one final thing to remember is to wear a proper pair of eclipse glasses, because retinal damage is the one proven effect of solar eclipses on the human body.