Why Astrologers Say a Full Moon Can Really Take Your Dreams on an Emotional Trip

Photo: Stocksy / plpictures by Paedii Luchs
It's a common superstition that the full moon can cause howling chaos at night—emotions running high, people acting out of character, hair suddenly growing werewolf-like patterns… It's all very mystical. But these vignettes aren't necessarily limited to our waking hours; vivid full moon dreams are a thing, and they can help shine a light on inner conflicts.

According to dream decoders and expert astrologers, dreams that occur on a full moon can help us to tap into our subconsciousness, allowing for personal revelations of massive proportions. And they can also just bring to mind the kind of fantastical or just downright strange imagery you don't see on an average night, thanks to the ways in which a full moon can mess with your sleep. Below, you'll find answers to all your questions about how the moon actually impacts our sleep and dreams, and how you can make the most of your full moon dreams, whatever they might reveal.

Experts In This Article

How does the lunar cycle affect our sleep?

As our moon orbits earth, it reflects sunlight. At certain times, the moon is fully illuminated by the sun (that's a full moon); at other times, it’s only partially illuminated (waxing and waning moons); and at still other times, the moon appears fully dark (new moon). That full lunar cycle takes roughly 29.5 days. Because our moon rotates at the same rate as the Earth, we’ve only ever been able to see one side of it—hence the common phrase "the dark side of the moon."

Though there isn't definitive evidence that the different moon phases, including the full moon, have an effect on our sleep and dreams, a few studies do suggest an association: Full moons may lead to less or disrupted sleep1, which could send our dreams off the rails.

In particular, one 2021 study analyzing the effect of the lunar cycle on sleep in participants with varying access to artificial light found that, across the board, people fell asleep later and slept for fewer hours on the nights leading up to a full moon2—when moonlight is brightest in the hours after dusk. And researchers hypothesized that the reason why might have to do with the literal effect of moonlight on suppressing melatonin release (the same reason sleep doctors will tell you not to look at your bright phone screen at night), as well as an evolutionary adaptation: Our ancestors who didn't have electrical light would use those brighter evening hours to get more things done, and we're still following in their footsteps.

By a similar token, it may also just be the case that our circadian rhythm is intertwined with the lunar cycle for evolutionary reasons, in a way that naturally affects our sleep. In a 2013 study conducted in a laboratory (meaning, the people had no exposure to changes in moonlight or time cues), participants' deep sleep decreased by 30 percent and overall nightly sleep duration dropped by 20 minutes around the full moon3... for reasons that aren't quite understood. And so long as the full moon is interfering with our sleep, it follows that our dreams could get wonky, too; after all sleep loss is a known contributor to super-intense dreams.

How do full moons affect dreams?

Beyond the full moon’s potential effects on sleep quality, astrologers posit that its spiritual meaning can influence our dreams. Each of the different moon phases are thought to carry different energies, with the full moon reflecting culmination and—in a metaphorical sense—things being brought to light or revealed. For this reason, the full moon is thought to bring a period of high emotions, which can make our dreams more, well, pronounced, too, says astrologer and wellness consultant Stephanie Gailing, author of The Complete Book of Dreams.

Full moons also happen when the moon and the sun are in opposite zodiac signs (for example, a full moon in Virgo happens when the sun is in Pisces, the sign directly across from it on the zodiac wheel), which can trigger a push-pull effect between areas of our life. "We’re faced with two seemingly opposing forces that we are called to acknowledge, which may yield to us finding ourselves in or with conflict," says Gailing. "Yet the pull is to find resolution and synthesize these dualities."

"During a full moon, we’re faced with two seemingly opposing forces that we are called to acknowledge, which may yield to us finding ourselves in or with conflict." —Stephanie Gailing, astrologer

The real healing and growth happens when you realize that oppositional zodiac signs are actually two sides of the same coin, says Gailing. Understanding how to embody both—for example, the individualism of Aries and the relational strengths of Libra—is the challenge of a full moon; after all, you're dealing with a clash of cosmic titans, so to speak. And this kind of energy can make your dreams very emotionally activating.

"Whatever it is that’s on our mind [around a full moon] can easily seep into our dreams, which serve as a canvas for acknowledging these thoughts and feelings," says Gailing. "In our dreams, we may even find ourselves problem-solving situations that are arising in our waking life, seeking solutions that our conscious mind may not be able to access."

So, if you're looking to gain insights from your dreams and have no idea where to start, consider paying close attention to your dreams around full moons—when they're bound to be more vivid and memorable. Below, you'll find expert tips for how to let your full moon dreams illuminate and help you resolve certain emotional questions or inner conflict.

How to use your full moon dreams for self-discovery

1. Try dream incubation

One of Gailing’s favorite techniques for harnessing the power of full moon dreams is dream incubation. A great addition to any full moon rituals you might already perform, this practice allows you to home in on a specific issue you may be trying to work through, embedding it in your brain and allowing your dreams to give you the answer.

To try it, before you go to sleep, ask your dream to provide you with answers to a question that's important to you. Simply repeat a question to yourself with commitment and intentionality. For example, you might say, "Dream, please provide me with awareness that will help me resolve the conflict I'm having with my boss, or the trouble I'm having making X or Y decision."

2. Consider the full moon’s relation to your birth chart

In order to understand exactly how an upcoming full moon will affect you and your dreams, consider where the moon falls in relation to your natal chart. For context: As the moon orbits the Earth, it passes through each of the 12 signs of the zodiac, meaning that each moon phase (and full moon) occurs in a specific zodiac sign. And in your birth chart, that may be the sign where a particular planet falls.

As an example, let's say that the full moon this month occurs in Aries, and that's the sign where Mars is located in your birth chart. Given that Mars rules over the realms of action, initiation, energy, and libido, you might pose a question like, "Dream, please provide me with awareness related to the way I activate my will or go after my desires," says Gailing.

Another astrological approach to maximizing the power of your dreams during a full moon is to consider which house the full moon will be moving through in your birth chart; each of the 12 astrological houses represents a realm of life (e.g., the 7th house rules over relationships, the 10th house rules over career and reputation), and they're each connected to a particular zodiac sign in your chart. Locate the house associated with the sign of the upcoming full moon to figure out which realm of your life will be illuminated, and consider your full moon dreams through that lens, suggests Gailing.

As an example, if the next full moon is in Cancer and Cancer falls in your fifth astrological house of romance, play, and creativity, you might expect that your dreams will touch on these themes.

3. Reflect on any inner conflicts you may need to resolve

Given the dueling energies that embolden the full moon, you may also be able to use your dreams to resolve internal or emotional conflict. Consider what struggles you may be wrestling with right now. What might your full moon dreams say about those struggles?

"Look at whether there were opposing or contradictory elements that appeared in your dream—and if so, consider what they revealed to you," says Gailing. "Notice whether there was resolution or the ability to make space for things that seemed, on the surface, to not belong together." After all, you might be able to take these insights into your waking life.

Though it may be famous (er, infamous) for causing some discord when we're awake (see: what not to do during a full moon), this lunation is rich with possibility when it comes to unpacking our inner self. And you don't want to sleep on that kind of magic.

Frequently Asked Questions About Full Moon Dreams

What does a full moon symbolize?

As the last moon phase in the lunar cycle, the full moon symbolizes resolutions, inner growth, fertility, completion, and reflection. According to Gailing, the luminescence of a full moon also reflects its power to bring dark or hidden truths to light.

“Full moons are still thought to be times of illumination, when it comes to accessing awareness,” says Gailing. “From the perspective of moon mapping—AKA, working with the lunar cycle—full moons are when intentions that began to be seeded in the new moon phase typically come to fruition.”

According to astrologer Alexandria Lettman, founder of spiritual wellness platform Jupiter Jewel, full moons can also symbolize the dawn of a new chapter, à la the promise of the new moon phase that’s set to follow. “Full moons represent a moment to release and let go,” she says, in order to make room for new things to come.

Why are my dreams so vivid during a full moon?

There are a few reasons why your dreams may be more vivid during a full moon. Because full moons occur when the moon is in direct opposition to the sun (hence its full illumination), they're typically associated with a period of heightened emotions. The oppositional energy between the moon and the sun can draw our attention to conflict or tension in our waking life—which, if left unresolved, can seep into our dreams.

By the same token, full moons may also induce nightmares or intense dreams because they're thought to literally and figuratively shine a light on things that were previously in the dark—hidden truths you'd typically rather avoid may come to the surface, which can increase their likelihood of making an appearance in your dreams.

“Because we can view ourselves from a different angle during the full moon, we perceive energies, experiences, patterns, and our past from a new distance, giving us much more to think about,” explains Lettman. “This then influences heightened dream activity because there’s a lot more unfolding in our unconscious mind.”

On a biological level, the purported negative impact of the full moon on sleep quality may also lead to funkier dreams than normal or increase our chances of awakening mid-dream, at which point we're much more likely to remember its imagery in vivid detail.

Are certain people more susceptible to full moon dreams?

The short answer: Yes. According to Lettman, those who have astrological charts that are closely linked to the moon’s current position in the sky are more likely to experience vivid dreams during a full moon.

“People who have their sun or moon sign in the zodiac sign of the full moon are most likely to feel less grounded in their bodies or so preoccupied that they struggle to tend to their well-being,” says Lettman. “Vivid dreams or nightmares can manifest as a result of their unconscious discomforts, worries, and stress.”

Well+Good articles reference scientific, reliable, recent, robust studies to back up the information we share. You can trust us along your wellness journey.
  1. Smith, Michael et al. “Human sleep and cortical reactivity are influenced by lunar phase.” Current biology : CB vol. 24,12 (2014): R551-R552. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2014.05.018
  2. Casiraghi, Leandro et al. “Moonstruck sleep: Synchronization of human sleep with the moon cycle under field conditions.” Science advances vol. 7,5 eabe0465. 27 Jan. 2021, doi:10.1126/sciadv.abe0465
  3. Cajochen, Christian et al. “Evidence that the lunar cycle influences human sleep.” Current biology : CB vol. 23,15 (2013): 1485-8. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2013.06.029

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