Do I have supernatural time-telling powers?

I am - and have always been - a very poor sleeper, who usually wakes up several times during my pitiful 4 or 5 hours’ kip each night. Over the years I have acquired the habit of immediately guessing what the time is as soon as I am aware I am awake. I try to do so before I have sensed any clues, such as the light or sound level outside. Or looking at my [digital] watch, which is the only timepiece in my bedroom and which I keep under my pillow.

This morning, I awoke and guessed 3.25; it was actually 3.27. I have not kept a record of my performance, but I would estimate that I get very close to the actual time - to within 10 minutes - well over half the time (when I get it wrong, I am out by hours). I can still do it when I am in other time zones. And also during daylight saving.

Not being a statistician, I would like to think that my success rate is beyond that of pure chance and that I am somehow blessed with the supernatural ability to ‘know’ what the time is. A thoroughly useless ability, I accept, but an odd one nevertheless.

But am I? Or is this something anyone can do if they put their mind to it? Is it something sleep researchers look for it?

I could be mistaken but I think this belongs in a different forum.

Anyway. I used to have something similar. I would consistently wake up within about 3 minutes of my alarm clock going off. Even if it was set at different times on different days. And even if I forgot to set it (I’d wake up within 3 minutes of the time it would have gone off)

I used to work with a guy who never used an alarm clock - he just decided what time he wanted to wake in the morning and would wake up then. We were out surveying in the middle of nowhere and he used to take a nap after lunch. If I said we were gatting back to work in 40 minutes, he would wake up 39 minutes later. It got to the point that the whole survey crew would lay down for a nap and Dave would wake us on time.

A woman I work with now says that if she sets an alarm clock she wakes up all night afraid she slept through the alarm. If she doesn’t set it she wakes at the time she wants to.

Sorry if this is in the wrong place: if so, would a Moderator please intervene.


I have always had a mild form of this. If i’m particularly tired, or I have had a drink the night before, then it doesn’t week. But on normal nights I wake up just before the alarm goes off. This only applies if i trust the alarm. If i have a new alarm (so it hasn’t earned trust yet) I end up waking up many times during the night, convinced that I have overslept.

I can also set an internal alarm for sleep, both overnight and for naps - unless I nap between noon and two. If I nap then, 5 minutes feels like two hours and I wake up in a panic, certain that I overslept. I’ll go back to sleep. 5 minutes later, it seems another hour has gone by. But before noon or after 2PM, I’m a time machine.

I can also tell you what time it is to within 10 minutes, any time of the day or night. I have no idea how it works. I’m not constantly aware of the time, either. I can be distracted as all get out, having a great time, but when someone asks, “What time is it?” I’ll just pause for a second and hear the time in my head. “3:47?” I’ll guess (it’s almost never a 5 minute multiple) and I’ll be pretty darn close.

I was, however, stupid enough to let my parents know I could do this, so the “We lost track of time!” excuse never, ever worked for me. :smiley:

Not only can I tell what time it is when I wake in the middle of the night, it’s almost always at 4 ayem. I thought it was because something happened where I used to live, but I moved across town, and it continues. So I’ve ruled out external cues/noises.

I think, for me, it’s because that’s the point where my circadian clock “resets,” for lack of a better word. Obviously, I’ve done no research, have no cites, but over the past couple of years this answer seems comfortable to me. The only other alternative is that’s when the aliens are beaming new instructions to my brain, or stopping by to check on the implants.

This doesn’t apply to the OP, but Cecil explains why those who do wake up a few minutes before the alarm.

Even overlooking the issue of forgetting the instances when you incorrectly guess the time (I’m decent at that too), there’s nothing supernatural about it. Read a little about Richard Feynman sometime. In addition to being a genius and a famous physicist, he trained himself to have a great internal clock. Just a matter of practice. He could start counting seconds, have a long conversation, then figure out exactly how much time had elapsed and keep going.

Why don’t you test it. It wouldn’t be hard: just train yourself that when you wake up, you jot down your guess at the time, and then look at the clock and see whether you were right. Eliminating the subjectivity should tell fairly well.

Seems pretty obvious, dunnit? OK - I will test it and, if anyone’s remotely interested, will report back on my findings in a few weeks, once I have sufficient data. Luckily (or is that unfortunately?) I sleep alone.

If last night is anything to go by, I am lying. Guessed 04.27 at as early as 01.35 (I’d been reading a biography of Don Bradman only about an hour earlier) and was slightly closer with 05.15 (strains of The Who) at 05.55.

I’ll check out this Richard Feynman geezer recommended by Marley23. But I have not trained myself to do this - how would that be possible, anyway? Maybe all will be revealed when I see what Mr Feynman has to say.

Oh - and I am absolutely useless at knowing elapsed time when conscious…

I do something very similar. Ask me the time, and more than likely, I’ll tell you the time correct to about 10 minutes, without looking at a watch or anything. I haven’t trained myself to do this, I just can.

Ah, but during the day, and when you’re awake, you have external stimuli to help. For example: you’re in the pub with some mates and someone says “OK, Angua, what’s the time, then?”. You know got there at 1 o’clock because that’s when you arranged to meet; and you know that you’ve had three pints and a sandwich. Although you may not actually calculate it explicitly, based on these experiences you say triumphantly “It’s about half two: am I right, sir? am I right?” sort-of-thing.

But can you do it while you’re asleep when there are no external clues? (Granted, it’s unlikely that anyone will ask you the time when you’re akip but you know what I mean.)

Yeah, I can wake up, and without looking at a clock, go “oh, its probbaly about half four”. Then look at clock, and lo and behold, it is.

I have an almost supernatural lack of time-telling ability. For instance, I took a nap the other day from about 6 to 8 PM. I woke up, saw that the clock said “8:00” (but didn’t notice the AM/PM light), and assumed it was 8 in the morning the next day. I don’t think I realized my mistake until I walked outside.

I have no sense of the passage of time when I’m awake, either.

Like Tim314, I’m sort of an anti-time person. I can wake up in the middle of the night, feeling like it’s probably about 3AM, and it’s actually 12:17, and I’ve only been asleep for a little more than an hour. I can wake at 4:30AM, thinking it must be about 12:30. To compensate, I surround myself with clocks. For some reason, though, my kids always expect me to know what time it is. “Mom, what time is it?” “I dunno. You’re as close to a clock as I am; why don’t you check?”

I’m not sure how much info you’ll find on it. Feynman was a famous and very influential physicist, not a savant who told time really well. I read a biography of him about a year ago (Genius, by James Gleick) and it merited a couple of sentences.

It’s called Lucid Dreaming.
:eek: :eek: :smiley:

Moderator speaks (with some exasperation): Look, folks, two or three people commented that this was probably in the wrong forum, it’s not Cafe Society material. That’s great IF a Moderator happens by and happens to read the thread.

You finally got results because someone hit the REPORT THIS POST button (the little exclamation point in the upper right corner of each post.) That attracted my attention, so I can now move this to a more appropriate forum. I admit, it’s a little unclear where it goes, but I’m going to call for IMHO.