Temporal orientation is what psychologists call happens when you wake up during the night and know the time without looking at the clock or when you know “where you are” in the week. Planets tick; atoms tick, your two main “circadian-clock genes” also tick as they switch off and on with the cycle of time.

Time perception

Your inner, complex sense of “duration, temporal order, tense” and “nowness” doesn’t arise from one organ in your body. Instead, adult awareness of the “arrow of time” a constant and subjective perception develops gradually from early childhood. Almost all languages have tenses. People think and speak in terms of time.

“Circadian Clock”

The circadian clock, affects nearly all animals. Human body temperature, resting heartbeat, blood pressure, facial hair growth and hormone levels follow a circadian cycle. Night-shift workers defy these rhythms but suffer low alertness, risking accidents. Shift-workers’ “metabolic disorder” may arise from constantly mistimed meals. By around 20 weeks old, the human fetus shows circadian activity, regulated by chemicals such as melatonin flowing through the placenta. The fetus synchronizes with its mother’s rhythm. Cycled electric lighting in neonatal units helps babies adjust to natural night and day. Babies who drink breast milk, which has melatonin synthesizing tryptophan, appear to adjust more quickly.

Daylight is a zeitgeber (a rhythmically occurring natural phenomenon which acts as a cue in the regulation of the body’s circadian rhythms) which is a biological “time-giver” in many organisms. Constant summer daylight disorientates new residents at the Toolik Field Station on Alaska’s North Slope. Some adopt a by-the-clock sleep pattern; others ignore the sun and follow their own patterns. Polar animals show various circadian adaptations. The non-circadian Arctic reindeer wakes and sleeps in direct response to light. Driven by biology, human light sensitivity peaks in the mornings. “Homeostatic pressure” the accumulation of drowsiness-inducing adenosine in the body builds when you’re awake. When enough builds up, you sleep. You can fight the buildup by napping or drinking caffeine, but you can’t fight the predawn circadian increase in body temperature that wakes you up. Therefore, controlling your waking and sleeping cycle.

Special Relativity & Time

As per Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity, the faster you move, the more time slows. Astronauts in orbit and jet plane passengers age fractionally more slowly than people on the ground. The 24 time zones with “time zero” at Greenwich offer a clear definition of noon, the sun in its zenith everywhere on this rotating planet. With jet lag, your body’s internal clocks de-synchronize. Eating in-flight meals on your destination’s timetable may help. Humans who go to Mars will find the days 39 minutes longer than on Earth. One study says human circadian rhythms can’t adapt, but others show acclimatization via gradual exposure to sun-equivalent light on a Mars schedule.


Categories: Personal Development


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