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Sleep troubles and Astrology

by  Laura Poggiani

The course of life is based upon the alternation of two fundamental rhythms: the waking and the sleep (the so-called "cicardian rhythms"). In an awake and eye-opened person, the cerebral cortex sends impulses to the reticular pattern below so to activate, through the attention, specific cerebral areas thus implementing the mental activity. In this way high-frequency (from 14 to 20 per second) rapid cerebral waves - called alpha waves - prevail as not synchronized. In an awake but relaxed and eye-closed person they get slower and wider up to attain, during the sleep, a frequency ranging from 1 to 2 per second. Then, in this phase the electrical activity gets synchronized, the cerebral cortex relaxes allowing the meaningless events to be erased and the significant ones to be moved to the long-term memory; instincts unload through oneiric images so that the emotional charge related to them is nullified (1).

Moreover, the sleep is made up of different cycles, each of them subdivided into 5 phases: during the first 4 the sleep gets deeper and deeper, while during the fifth stage, that phase, discovered in 1953 by Eugene Asserindky and Nataniel Kleitman, form the University of Chicago, defined as REM (Rapi Eye Movement), starts. It indicates the beginning of the dreams, the dreamer carefuly follows by moving the eyes, as later William C. Dement, a scientist from the American University of Stanford, concluded. The encephalic track of the REM sleep is very similar to the typical one of the waking and the heart pulsations, the respiratory rhythm, the blood pressure, and so on, change in a similar way. In this very delicate phase, indeed, some medical complications occur, like heart failure, duodenal ulcers and pulmonary emphisema may become acuter. The passage from the state of sleep to the waking is slow and progressive.

But what happens when this delicate system, which is continuously under study because of its still present dark aspects, gets altered? Then a pathologic system is established with different forms and, consequently, different names; this study investigates about the two most widespread but not fully examined forms, especially from an astrological point of view: sleep-walking and insomnia.


Script- and novel- writers have always fancied about this trouble of the sleep, and maybe many people remember the nice movie "The Sleep-Walker" with N. Manfredi, where the main character wandered in the house, with the arms stretched out, as far as terraces and eaves, causing laughter among the unwilling spectators.

But is it true that those people can walk, sleeping, in places which are often full of obstacles, skillfully avoiding them, just like the main character of the above mentioned movie, and concurrently causing some problems to uncautious relatives and friends who try in vain to follow and to waking up the sleep-walker? The reality is different: the control of the body by the sleep-walker is very restricted, the sleep-walker reproduces the ordinary gestures like washing or dressing up and the few syllables he/she pronounces are disjointed because it's impossible for her/him to arrange a complete speech, while movements are not coordinated, only some of them, as a reflex, in usual places, like their own bedroom. The sight and the hearing are only partially activated: this is why it is likely to avoid big object, but not so smaller ones, risking to get injured but to realize it only once awaking.

Recent statistics tell that this trouble affects one child out of three, with the highest peak about 12 year old, and only one adult out of a hudred. In fact this problem generally ceases with the growth. The causes of this circumstance are not assured yet, it's only known that it's an alteration of sleep systems and in many cases it's a genetic fact, for in the 80% of the cases, similar episodes occurred to people of the family.

Technically speaking, the cerebral cortex is overexcited and this prevents the deep sleep to be activated; it keeps active both the waking and the sleep systems determining a sudden awaking instead of a progressive one, like it should be normally.

Phenomena of sleep-walking usually happen in the first part of the night, after about one hour and a half of sleeping, in the moment of the first REM phase, shortly late if compared to nomality. Before the beginning of the episode, high-voltage delta waves appear, then alpha waves follow, as typical of waking and, after several minutes, the correct rhythm of the sleep is restored. For this reason, some scientists consider the sleep-walking as a light form of focal epilepsy affecting areas not linked to evident clinic symptoms, thought the EEG of these phenomena is very different anyway.The sleep-walking should not be confused with the "REM behaviour", a clinical affection of the REM phase in which there's no motor control over muscles, and it is typical of neurological diseases as the Alzeimer and the Parkinson diseases. Every episode lasts from few minutes to more than half an hour, and usually at the beginning the affected person only sits on the bed, making usual gestures, his/her eyes open. At the beginning of an episode, what experts call "arousal" takes place (2), that is a rapid passage from a deep phase of REM to one of apparent waking though it is not so in the reality. During the arousal, the heart activity and the body motion can improve and the muscular activity reprises. To wake up the person during these episodes can be extremely dangerous for people around and can even determine a violent reaction whereas it is advisable to wait for the episode to extinguish by itself, taking care to keep possibly dangerous object apart from the trajectory of the sleep-walker so he/she cannot be injured. As the sleepwalker wakes up, he/she does not remember anything of what happened during the night, at most he/she feels like not having slept well.

Given this introduction, from an astrological point of view, it is appropriate to relate this trouble to neptunian and pisces values. Gouchon (3) also adds, to the neptunian influence, the placing of this planet in a sign of water, affected by the Moon as an aspect bringing great sensitiveness. Gouchon cites Carter, who in turn finds a VI-XII opposition, especially between Neptune-Mercury-Moon, and important sign of Cancer. On the contrary, Venosta (4) indicates the Moon just above the Ascendant and in bad aspect with Neptune, with a tight orbit, planets in VI or XII in negative aspect with the Moon and Neptune or between the Moon, Mercury and Neptune, always in the above mentioned sectors. We partly clash with this: first of all Neptune is a generational planet and limiting its position to Water Signs would mean to make all people born in the Sixties potential sleep-walkers, on the contrary excluding from this trouble the following or preceding generation. Furthermore, it is true that the Moon-sleep and Mercury-nervous transmission, linked to an important Neptune, are often in mutual relation, but Saturn often is annexed to them, playing a decisive role but, at least in the examined cases, never involving the VI and XII sectors. Instead, the involved sectors are the VIII and the V, which is not illogical at all. In fact, the VIII sector is connected to the dreams and the sleep, while L. Mopurgo defines the V-XI axis as the "balance axis" (4), precising that "especially the opposition between these two Houses are weighty in a way right because of the craving for energy combustion of the V sector indicating excesses supplied by the hurt with the opposite sector, which is the fulcrum of the balance (...). This produces similar effects to a Neptune's hard affliction (...) and damages in these sectors can generate what we generically call madness and which may be a painful waving between two different worlds (...) and (however) conflicts between V and XI bring nervous fragility and an imperfect psychic balance which can reach dangerous levels if the Moon, Neptune or both are the involved planets".


1st case (fig. 1) 

This case can be defined as a clear proof of what Mopurgo presumed: both the Moon and Neptune are in the V House, both afflict with a planet in XI, with Venus and Mercury respectively. As it was already underlined before, and often found in similar problems, Neptune, after forming the above mentioned opposition with Mercury, aspect, is also in trine aspect with the Ascendant, which makes it surely co-dominant along with Mars and Jupiter. Always talking about Neptune, it is in square with Saturn, forming the top of a T-shaped square, placed right in VIII. On this canvas the hard position of the Moon is inserted; the Moon too is involved in another T-shaped square, whose top now is Uranus, placed in II House and in Leo, the fifth sign, consequently it refers again to the V House. The involvment of Uranus and Saturn in the two T-shaped squares refers us to Aquarius, a sign ruled by these two planets and related with the XI sector. The VI House falls in Sagittarius, where both Jupiter and Neptune reside.

Since his/her childohood, the emotional subject examined sleeps with the light on because he/she "wants to know at once where they are as they wake up". As a child, he/she shows the first symptoms of sleep-walking but not much attention is paid to the matter because his/her mother had similar problems, which disappeared by themselves after a while. This occurrence not only does not disappear, but gets more serious as, once tackling with the school-leaving exams and the related concerns and worries, the examined subject even breaks with a fist - as violent as that dominating Mars in Aries and in MC - the window pane, always sleeping, but waking up because of the pain and getting scared seeing the blood. Once passed the exam, phenomena are repeated, though not so intense but always frequent (up to 5 or more episodes per night), but obviously the subject has no memory of them, unless parents wake him/her up during or after them. A homeopathic treatment is very helpful (Saturn in trine to XII House).

2nd case (fg. 2) 

The dynamics of the episodes of this subject is very similar to the former case, but less frequent and with no violent incidents. Once, during the sleep, the subject completely stripped his bed, folded the sheets and covers, placed them on a nearby sofa, went back to bed and woke up later because of the cold. Realizing the bed has no cover on it, he went to his parents convicted that "someone stole the covers". Exactly like the other subject, he's afraid to lose direction and often, during the episodes, tries to open the cupboard to get into it, convicted that, on the contrary, it is the way out of the bedroom.

Again we find here Neptune in Scorpio (similarly related to the VIII House) opposite to Mercury, placed in VIII and forming a wonderful sextile at MC, making it dominant on the Chart. Furthermore, it is remarkable that the VI House falls in the neptunian Sign of Pisces and the Moon, like in the former case, afflict by Uranus, does so in XI House which, in turn, is opposite to Saturn, in V. Once again the balance axis is involved and so are the masters of Aquarius, Uranus and Saturn.


3rd case (fig. 3) 

In this case, episodes of sleep-walking occur mostly up to the age of 12, then they cease. In particular, the subject remembers an episode, here reported, which upset him: he got out of the bed heading to the door terrifying his paralytic mother who couldn't stop him.

Here, too, the V House is active, this time containing Mercury, in its domicile, opposite to Saturn, in XI and both square to the ternate Moon-Pluto-Jupiter, which form a top of a T-shaped square and placed - what a chance! - right in the VIII sector. To who is asking for the role Neptune plays in it all, the answer is a look to the Chart: it is linked right to Mercury by quiconce, and is in "pole position" at MC, dominant, aside of its place, because of the many aspects it forms, among which there's the wonderful trine of air comprising the Sun. The position in the VI of a mercurian sign, instead of a neptunian one, may limit the phenomena to the childhood.


The best last of the sleep is said to be of 8 hours but, in the reality, each organism needs a variable number of hours dedicated to the rest. According to Wilse Webb, from University of Florida, for example, the rest is sufficient when the person awakes naturally, well relaxed and, during the day, feels no sleepiness. The ideal is to sleep when the person need to and to wake up naturally, but everyone of us is ruled by obligations like the job, and unflexible times, and this prevent that simple rule to be applied. On the contrary, it often implies the cicardian rhythms to be altered, which is tha main cause of the difficulty to sleep. In fact, everyone of us can easily manage the lack of sleep, if it happens for one or two consecutive nights, but if we have to tackle with a lasting forced waking, our organism will suffer troubles which, if combined with emotional unrest and social isolation, can lead also to psychotic behaviours.

What can determine the insomnia? Causes can be different: first of all organic, as in the cases of hyperthyroid or cardiopathies - we won't set about in this study - or psychological. The most frequent case is the one called "of the endless day", where tensions accumulated during the day extend to moments which, on the contrary, should be dedicated to the rest. As a consequence, it is hard to get asleep and waking up the next day the person is more tired than before, because the body has been on the edge during the sleep, wasting energy as it worked for a whole day.

To stretch out in the pathology, other possible cuases of insomnia can be determined by a disturb in the abitity to get relaxed the anxious person generates. For this person, in fact, falling asleep means unconsciously to lose control of a situation. Another cause can be the depression, with an earlier waking followed by a hard sleep, or also the ordinary use of sleeping tablets, provoking continuousy the waking and giving little sleep both REM and non REM.

Under the astrological profile, the already mentioned book of Venosta indicates a damaged Moon in Aries or in Libra, conflicts Moon-Mercury - especially if in cardinal Houses - Neptune firmly conjoint to Moon and in aspect with Uranus or Mars, Mercury/Uranus damaged in the Aries/Libra axis or in XII, maybe in conflict with planets in VI or in Pisces, afflicted by Saturn. Instead, we reveal again the importance a dominant Neptune has when combined with a damaged Moon, mostly by Uranus.


1st case: (fig. 4) 

This subject suffers a persistent insomnia, which is marked by continuous wakings and a not deep sleep.Which is more evident is the position in the I House of three planets, Uranus, Mars and Pluto, opposite to the conjunction Jupiter-Saturn in VI: Mars in the I House always strongly concentrates energy which often has repercussion on the subject itself (I House). Not to mention the case when a conjunction with Pluto makes Mars stronger; in fact, it intensifies the Aries symbols of the I sector, mostly if it is placed in a Sign of Fire - the explosive Uranus adds! As a good Cancer, the subject admits that his laziness prevents him from practicing whatever sport, while he feel the job as a hard duty (Saturn damaged in VI, retrograde). This suggests an incapability to give vent to the remarkable energy which prevent the subject to relax, like he should do, at the moment of falling asleep. On this canvas the damaged Moon in IV is inserted, which indicates a troubled and hard sleep, as also Mopurgo marks, especially if it is damaged by Uranus, like in this case. Moreover, Neptune is dominant, because in aspect with the Sun, at Ascendant and in wide conjunction with the Moon, which in turn disposes of the VIII House - the sleep. Finally, Venus and the Moon in aspect to the cusp of the VI House indicate an overwhelming energy YIN in the subject that, according to the Eastern Medicine, would give a tendency to the insomnia, awaking in the first hours of the dawn. (6)


2nd case (fig. 5) 

This subject too tends to have a very troubled sleep, with frequent wakings and, most of all, intolerance for whatever source of noise, so that, in winter, far from home and sharing a bedroom with someone else, demanded the heat to be disconnected because he was annoyed by the rustling it made. Furthermore, he asked to change room because it was "too noisy".

Here again Neptune can be noticed as really majestic for its dominance on the Chart: it is in trine with Ascendant and Jupiter - which amplifies its strength - and in square with the Sun, to indicate the neurotic base of the temper under exam, and with Saturn, both placed in VIII (the sleep). Neptune in V House like in this case, as we indicated before, is rather sensitive in cases of sleep-walking but, this time there are no conflicts V-XI and, despite of the negative aspect Neptune-Saturn, Mercury is essentially harmonic and so not fixed in difficult aspects to Neptune or the Moon, on the contrary it forms a good trine with the Moon.

What's more, the Moon-sleep, disposer of the Ascendant, is in hard relation - like in the preceding case - right with Uranus, which is the disposer of VIII, so to give light on how the greatest troubles of the subject concern the sleep. In this Chart, Mars plays an important role, as part of a T-shaped square involving right Neptune and the Sun, so to indicate energy wasting and incapability to relax (opposition Sun-Mars), inserting on the tendency to excesses of combustion typical of the V House (Neptune top of the T-shaped square).

We cannot know if the subject assumes psycho-medicines, as the square Sun-Neptune between the V and the VIII suggests.


Under the planetary profile, in all the examined cases, no matter what problem they show, the predominance of Neptune is evident in every chart. Neptune symbolizes phobias, psychic disturbs, defects and its strong presence in this kind of problems seems to be appropriate. After all, what joins sleep-walking and insomnia is the emotional anxiety which often marks who suffer this kind of pathologies; they are in fact two aspects of the same problem: the incapability to turn on, in an appropriate way, the mechanisms of the sleep by keeping active the ones of the waking instead. After the different appearance of the disturbs, the distinction is that while the one affected by insomnia is consciously awake, the sleep-walker is unconsciously awake, and this distinction seems to be evident on the Chart. The examined cases of sleep-walking are not as numerous as would be sufficient for a true casistic, and we regret it, however they are enough to show a neptunian-mercurial "shade", a damaged Moon is often (but not as often as we would expect) connected. On the contrary, in cases of insomnia, the dominating Neptune has a martian meaning.

As far as Houses are concerned, instead, the predominance of the VIII sector, which is connected to the sleep, seems to be confirmed. What seems to be really interesting is the involvment, in the cases of sleep-walking, of the axis V-XI, as we mentioned before, negatively stimulated, which doesn't show in the cases of insomnia where, there's no particular axis rising, except for the just mentioned VIII sector .


Figure 1 e 2

Figure 3 - 4 -  5

  1. Cavadini A., Principles ofi Medical Astrology - Milan 1993
  2. Focus n. 29
  3. Gouchon H., Diictionary of Astrology - Siad, 1980 
  4. Venosta E., New Dictionary of Medical Astrology - Albero, 1989 
  5. Morpurgo L., The Nature of the Houses - Longanesi Milano 1987 
  6. Frisari M., Astrological Medicine, Medicine of the Future - Objective 5, 1983


Taken from Ricerca ‘90 n. 25 - 1996, pag. 7 and fol.- All Rights Reservedi -
Courtesy concession of Ciro Discepolo PUblisher

Trans. by Carmen Santarpino - All Rights Reserved