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When you sleep why does time appear to go faster?

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Prof Wind Up Merchant
41487.  Thu Dec 22, 2005 4:23 pm Reply with quote

Regarding this why when you sleep does time feel like it has gone faster. For example a typical nights sleep (8 hours) feels like 2 hours. Does sleep alter time perception and why? My theory is that sleep affects the part of the brain which senses how much time has past. This has consequences like missing your train station and overshooting.

41489.  Thu Dec 22, 2005 4:34 pm Reply with quote

Very simple actually. You are only concious of the passage of time during a very short period of sleep, that is when you are dreaming. When you are in deep sleep you effectively have no concious thought and thus you have no knowledge of the passage of time. The only periods of sleep in which you do have concious thought are "early sleep" (Theta Waves) and REM (Beta Waves during dreaming).

People in a coma or placed under anaesthetic (sp?) often experience no passage of time. When asked to count down from 10 to 1 when given a general anaesthetic and then waking up some people (i experienced this) restart their countdown from where they stopped as soon as they come round. This is because during the deep sleep that occurs in a coma or under general anaesthetic you will not experience the passage of time as you would when you are conciously thinking.

I hope that helps.

Stressed parent
41492.  Thu Dec 22, 2005 5:14 pm Reply with quote

I have a theory on the realtivity of time - not Einstein's.

Time seems to go faster when you get older because what we measure is a smaller porportion of our life. What I mean is:

When you are a baby 1 year is the whole of your life, When you are 2 then a year is half your life, when you are 10 a year is a tenth of yoour life, when you are fifty a fiftieth etc.

Of course it could be a load of b******s.

Silas Sticklebrick
41501.  Thu Dec 22, 2005 7:49 pm Reply with quote

Or it could be that, when our brains were smaller, we could mark almost every hour with a new, or almost new, experience. But now, we just repeat old things.

Perhaps we can slow down time by changing our attitude to everyday occurences?


41511.  Thu Dec 22, 2005 10:26 pm Reply with quote

Stressed parent - no, that's always been my theory too. So it must be right :-)

41521.  Fri Dec 23, 2005 4:21 am Reply with quote

When asked to count down from 10 to 1....

I remember being put under to have my wisdom teeth removed (hence, my lack of wisdom!) and being asked to count back to one, from ten. The medics were getting as little tense when I got as far as 4. My mum was with me (as I was only 13 at the time) and said that the profound relief was palpable when I eventually conked out.



41526.  Fri Dec 23, 2005 4:46 am Reply with quote

As far as I am aware there are no dominant theories on links between age and perception of time. The main reason is that measuring a person's perception of the passage of time is incredibly difficult because it is so subjective.

Prof Wind Up Merchant
41557.  Fri Dec 23, 2005 8:00 am Reply with quote

During sleep you are not travelling at a relativistic speed. So relativity is out the window. At relativistic speed time dilates i.e. time appears to go slower, lengths contract and masses get heavier.

41559.  Fri Dec 23, 2005 8:14 am Reply with quote

what is occuring here is not relativity between speed and time but relativity between the speed of thought and time. As you think faster your perception of time slows down. The opposite happens as thought slows down until the point where there is no thought and time is no longer perceived (or is perceived to have skipped between 2 points in time).

Quaint Idiot
41567.  Fri Dec 23, 2005 9:03 am Reply with quote

I'm not sure that I know what you mean, Prof. Of course I don't experience the passage of time while I'm asleep, but it doesn't sound as if that is what you are talking about. If I wake up after 7 hours sleep, howver, I know that about seven hours have passed. In fact if I estimate the time before looking at the clock I am generally surprised how acurate I am.

But I assume this is true for most people, because I imagine it is a prerequisite for the ability to wake at a certain time without an alarm clock, which I think people generally can (unles it is just the few I've spoken to).

On Tas' point I had an operation when I was 11 and when asked to count down from 20 wondered what it would be like to 'conciously' experience falling asleep, rather than just drifting into unconciousness; but I got all the way down to 1 and then just had to wait to drift into unconciosness, anyway.

41568.  Fri Dec 23, 2005 9:12 am Reply with quote

Could the difference between wake and sleep be to do with perception of things happening?
When I am awake, I hear cars go by, the washing machine, or notice the different position of the sun in the sky.
But when I wake in the night, I have been unaware of events happening. Particularly at this time of year, when I wake in the wee small hours (pretty well every night!), I have no idea of whether it is 0200 or 0600 until I check the clock.

hmm, time for my siesta

41706.  Sat Dec 24, 2005 10:32 pm Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:
Stressed parent - no, that's always been my theory too. So it must be right :-)

ditto, there is comfort in numbers


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