When there was a full moon, people slept an average of 19 minutes less and took five minutes longer to fall asleep than they did when there was a new moon.

London - With the word “lunacy” tracing its roots to “lunar”, it’s been a common myth for centuries that a full moon causes higher levels of psychological problems and can result in a rise in crime or injuries.

But the lunar cycle has no effect on our mental state - and full moon madness can be put down as legend, according to a patient study by psychologists at Université Laval in Québec City, Canada.

They analysed 771 patients admitted to emergency wards over three years, in particular those with psychological problems, and found they were no more likely to come in during a full or new moon.

But medical staff said otherwise, with 80 percent of nurses and 63 percent of doctors convinced they saw more patients with mental health problems during a full moon than at any other time.

Researchers evaluated patients who visited emergency rooms at Sacré-Coeur Hospital in Montreal, Quebec and Hôtel-Dieu de Lévis in Lévis, Quebec, and linked their visits to lunar calendars.

The scientists looked at patients who came in with mystery chest pains - and found a large number of those people suffered from panic attacks, anxiety and mood disorders, or suicidal thoughts.

Results showed there was no link between incidence of psychological problems and the four lunar phases, but anxiety disorders were 32 percent less frequent during the last lunar quarter.

Professor Geneviève Belleville from the university’s psychology school said: “This may be coincidental or due to factors we did not take into account. But one thing is certain.

“We observed no full-moon or new-moon effect on psychological problems. The analyses revealed no link between the incidence of psychological problems and the four lunar phases.”

The study was published in the General Hospital Psychiatry journal and Professor Belleville said she hoped the results would encourage doctors to stop linking the lunar cycle to mental illness.

“This misperception could colour their judgement during the full moon phase (or) make them less attentive to psychological problems that surface during the remainder of the month,” she added. - Daily Mail