Sunday, March 19, 2006

The Odd Phenomenon of Waking Times

My brain tells time automatically.

On weekdays, I hit the snooze alarm twice before arising. I find I often turn over to check the time 10-20 seconds before the alarm goes off again.

I do not reset my alarm on the weekends, even though I sleep in an hour later. I like the flexibility of perhaps getting up and doing a little something, such as putting in a load of laundry, and then going back to bed.

This morning, I hit the "off" not the "snooze," and rolled over. But I slept the exact number of snooze alarm minutes and got up, noting the time. This happens often, and is mildly curious but hardly a big deal. My brain must be reacting in some pavlovian fashion to repitition...So?

I made my coffee and stood out on the porch. I heard two beeps, softly but distinctly. Had I hit snooze by mistake? No, it stopped immediately. Did one of the neighbors have a similar alarm, and the beeps had carried across the 50-100 feet by some trick of wind or window? Extremely improbably.

I looked inside -- it was the exact time of the second snooze going off. My brain had supplied the signals to my hearing centers, even in the absence of actual sound. The brain tells time with fair accuracy.


LiquidLifeHacker said...

We are creatures of habit aren't we?

Someone told me that there is a window of time in our sleep, I think its like ummmm between ten p.m. and two a.m. that is very special, because thats when our body does the most incredible healing. It's the healing time zone or something. Have you heard of that?

Assistant Village Idiot said...


Some things only happen while you sleep. Children's growth apparently only happens while they're sleeping. I wouldn't be above using that to get them to bed quicker.

Death in your sleep is more likely to occur around 4AM.

Old Wacky Hermit said...

My kids have an automatic alarm clock. They wake up at 6:30 am every morning, whether it's the weekend or not.

I've experienced the same thing you have, except my clock runs ten minutes faster every week. I'd start setting my alarm clock for the time I wanted to get up. The next week, I was waking up 10 minutes before the alarm. The week after that, 20 minutes. After a while I was waking up hours early, and eventually I couldn't even sleep at night. Fortunately, having kids makes me so tired now that I sleep through the entire night... well, except for when I have to wake up to feed the baby.