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Charles Tart - Waking From Sleep at a Preselected Time

Charles Tart - Waking From Sleep at a Preselected Time

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JournaloftheAmericanSocietyofPsychosorncricDentistryandMedicine
WakingfromSleep
ata
PreselectedTime
BYCHARLEST.TART*
Tencollegestudentsattempted
to
awakenthemselvesfromnormalsleep
at
home,
at
timesselectedbytheexperimenter.Thesetimeswererandomlydistributedthroughthenight.Theresultswerestatis-ticallysignificant,andindicateanabilitytoawaken
at
apreselectedtime.Furtherdataonthree
of
thesesubjectsrunin
a
sleeplabor-atorysuggestthatthephenomenacancontinuetooccurinthelabor-atory,butthephysiologicaldatadidnotcastanylightontheun-derlyingmechanisminthisbriefseries.Thistypeofbehaviormayhaveconsiderablesignificanceforourunderstanding
of
theprocess
of
timeestimation,andojthena-tureofsleep.
It
isacommonbeliefthatsomepeopleareabletoawakenthem-selvesfromsleepatapreselectedtimewithouttheuseofartificialaids.Typicalpracticalexampleswouldbewakingupquiteearlytogofishingortocatchatrain.Anecdotalreportssuggestthatthisbehaviorisoftenaccuratetowithinaminuteorless,thatis,peoplewillreportwakingthemselvesalmostexactlyatthedesiredtimeaf-termanyhoursofsleep.Thisrepresentsaveryhighlevelofac-curacyoftimeestimation,considerablyhigherthanthatusuallyre-portedfortimeestimatesinthewakingstate(Fraisse,1963),aswellassuggestingthepossibilityofhighlydiscriminativebehaviorduringastateofalteredconsciousness,sleep.
It
is,therefore,rathersurprisingtofindthattherehavebeennoscientificstudiesofthisphenomenonin33yrs.(excludingaoneparagraphabstract[Elder,19411whichsimplymentionsconfirmingearlierstudieswithoutprovidinganydetails),andonlyfivestudiesofthephenomenonbe-forethattime.Thesefivestudieswillbebrieflyreviewedbelow.Thepurposeofthepresentpaperistodescribetwonewstudiesofthephenomenon:consideringthetremendousincreaseinthenumberofstudiesofsleepinthepastdecadesinceAserinskyandKleitman'sdiscoveries(1953,1955),itiswelltoremindcurrentsleepresearch-ersoftheexistenceofthisintriguingphenomenoninordertoen·
Vol.17,No.1
'DepartmentofPsychology,UniversityofCalifornia,Davis,California95616.
1970
 
JournaloftheAmericanSocietyofPsychosomotlcDentistryandMedicine
courageresearchonitwithtoday'spowerfultechniques.TwooftheoldstudieswereofindividualSs,theauthor,ineachcase.Hall(1927)attemptedtowakehimselfatrandomtimesinthelatterhalfofthenighton100differentnights.Hereportedwakingexactlyontimein18%ofhistrials,andwithin
-+-
15min.in53%ofhistrials,anobviouslysignificantresult(althoughneith-erHallnoranyofthefourotherauthorsappliedstatisticalteststotheirresults).Brush(1930)alsotriedtowakeupinthelatterhalfofthenighton50non-consecutivenightsbyrepeatingtohimselfthetimeselectedtentimesashefellasleep.Hereportsthathewokewithin20min.ofthesettimesin68%ofhistrials.Vaschide,asreportedtoKleitman(1963,p.126),workedwith33Sswhobelievedtheycouldwakeupatapreselectedtime.ThoseSswithasuperioreducationshowedanaverageerrorof25min.,whiletheuneducatedSsshowedanaverageerrorofonly7min.Frobenius(1927)testedfiveSsforatotalof135nightsunderlab-oratoryconditions,withEkeepingthetime.Hisresultsindicateanextremelyhighrateofsuccess:48%ofthe134awakenings(therewasonefailuretoawakeninthegrapheddataFrobeniuspresents)occurredwithin±10min.ofthetargettimes,withthemodalfre-quencyof42casesoccurringintheintervalof0-5min.precedingthetargettimes.Finally,OmwakeandLoranz(1933)tested20collegegirlsfor14consecutivenights.Tenofthesegirlswereconfidenttheycouldwakeatselectedtimes,theothersdidnotbelievetheycoulddoso.Fortheconfidentgroup,10%oftheawakeningswereexactlyontimeand30%werewithin±15min.Inthenon-confidentgroup,only1%oftheawakeningswereexactlyontimeand4%within
±
15min.WhilethesefivestudiesleavelittledoubtthatatleastsomeSspossessanaccurate(anduseful)abilitytoawakenthemselvesatpreselectedtimes,theytelluslittleaboutpossiblefactorsaffectingthistypeofbehaviorandnothingaboutitsmodusoperandi.Om-wakeandLoranz'sgirlsfelttheywouldhavebeenmoresuccessfuliftheyhadhadarealmotivationtoawakenatthespecifiedtimes,ratherthanjustshowingtheycoulddoit,andBrushfeltthesameway.Frobeniusreportedthattherewasnoevidenceofimprove-mentwithpractice.Ssseemedtoawakenquitesuddenly.Some-timestheyrecalledadream,atothertimestheydidnot.Innocasedidthereporteddreamactionseemtoleaduptoawakeningatthe
Vol.17,No.1
4
1970
 
JournaloftheAmericanSocietyofPsychosomaticDentistryandMedicine
propertime;thedreamjustceasedsuddenly,afindinganalogoustoTart's(1966),inwhichSswakingatthebeginningsorendsofstage1dreamsasaresultofposthypnoticsuggestionreportednoth-ingintheirdreamsthatseemedtoleaduptoawakening.Theim-pressiononegainsfromtheabovestudiesisthattheremustexistsomesortof"timingprocess"thatcanbesetforaspecifictimeofthenight,andthatthisprocessisdissociatedfromoroutsideofbothwakingconsciousnessandsleepconsciousness(dreaming).Thisisallthemoreperplexinginsofarastellingclocktimeisaconsciousprocess.Twostudieswereundertakentoinvestigatethephenomenonofawakeningatpreselectedtimes.ThefirstwastohaveSswhobe-lievedtheycoulddosoactuallytryitfor6nightsathome.ThesecondinvolvedselectingsomeofthemoresuccessfulSsfromthefirststudyandseeingifthephenomenoncouldoccurinamodernsleeplaboratoryinashorttimeand,
if
so,whatlightsomephysio-Jogicalmeasurementsofsleepcouldshedontheprocess.STUDY1
Method
Eighty-sevenSs(StanfordundergraduatesandafewadultsconnectedwiththeUniversitycommunity)wereseenintwogroupsinthecourseofscreeningvolunteersforanexperimentonhypnosis.TheseSsansweredaquestionnaireabouttheirdreams,includingthequestion,"Canyoutellyourselftowakeupatanytimeofthenightandwakeupatthattime?"Forty-fivepercentansweredyesorsometimes=ThreeotherSswhobelievedtheycouldawakenthemselvesatapresenttimewerecontactedthroughanadvertise-mentintheStanfordstudentnewspaper.Instructionsforattemptingtowakeupatsixspecifiedtimesweremailedtothese42Ss.Thetimeswererandomlyscatteredthroughthenight(1:30A.M.,4:23A.M.,12:15A.M.,2:33A.M.,3:17A.M.and5:04A.M.)Ssweretotrytowakeupat
one
oftheassignedtimesonagivennight,intheordergiven(althoughthenightsdidnothavetobeconsecutive).Onwaking,theyweretorecordthetimeofwaking,whetheritwascorrectornot.Sswereaskedtomaketheirtrialsonnightswhentheycouldgotobedattheirregulartimeandwerenotundulyfatigued.
Vol.17,No.151970

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