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musing about the clock inside human body. 
20th-Mar-2011 05:49 pm
hi. anyone knows how our internal clock knows what time is it? i mean, when I say to myself, "wake up at 5am tomorrow", i'd actually wake up at 5 (+/- 5 minutes). i mean, does our brain keeping tab on what time is it, or do i wake up unknowingly and look at the clock and sleep again or something? i cant tell when i'm awake what time is it without see a clock, tho. btw that is a common knowledge, right? that when we tell ourselves to wake up at certain hour, we will? some of my friends can do it too.
20th-Mar-2011 05:49 pm (UTC)
You and your friends are magic. I can tell myself to wake up at 6am every morning and sleep until noon, unless I set my alarm clock.
20th-Mar-2011 05:59 pm (UTC)
Something to do with the subconscious?, though I couldn't tell you anything specific. Kind of like placing a notebook on the side of your bed to remember dreams better. :)
21st-Mar-2011 12:24 am (UTC)
There are a variety of little ticking clocks in the brain. Some just tick, some are more like stopwatches.

Almost everyone has one that runs as a timer at about 15 minutes. Quite a few studies show a qualitative difference between less than 15 minutes and more than 15 minutes when it comes to things like train timetables.

The circadian rhythm is well known and is at a lower level, being cellular rather than neurological.

There is some evidence that these time bases are important in things like social interaction setting measuring and synchronizing communication. They may be implicated in austism spectrum disorders.

In addition, light sensitive chemical changes occur that match pace with the seasons.
21st-Mar-2011 06:39 am (UTC)
I can do the internal alarm clock thing as well. Plus as a bonus, if I set an alarm clock to be safe, I'll wake up about 3 minutes before the alarm goes off - just enough time to gather my wits and turn it off before it blasts me with noise.

Until I went under general anesthesia, I never realized just how aware of the passage of time your sleeping body is. Drugged, passed-out drunk, you still have some awareness on some level. But coming up from anesthesia is like a tiny spark of "me" at the bottom of a well (at night) and at first you have no idea what happened or when, and how long you've been out. Combine that with the retroactive amnesia and it can be very confusing.

I also know that my mildly autistic son appears to have *no* internal clock whatsoever, or it's on a wildly fluctuating schedule instead of the normal 24-5 hour clock. it's caused him great difficulty all his life.
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