Tuesday, 5 March 2013
The Internal Alarm Clock
A quick Google search showed me that I'm not alone. This is a very common occurrence and source of bewilderment for the population of the internet and they wanted answers too. I soon found this study by Jan Born and others from 1999 which made some intriguing findings on sleep that cast an interesting light on consciousness.
In their study Born et al. showed that the expectation that sleep would be interrupted at a specific time led to a rise in the concentration of the hormone adrenocorticotropin in the blood of the fifteen subjects approximately one hour before the expected wakeup call from the experimenters. These results were noted with polysomnographical recordings (EEG EOG and EMG) and blood samples which were taken every fifteen minutes.
They say this goes against the commonly held belief that sleep is controlled by circadian rhythm and that these results are an indication that anticipation is evident during sleep. I think most people would agree that anticipation is only supposed to regulate conscious action but if that is the case then how do our bodies 'just know' to wake up? Is sub consciousness at play here, or even unconscious consciousness? The evidence is pretty compelling and it has forced me to re-evaluate my take on what consciousness actually is.