Rhythms and Cycles

In 1953 Eugene Aserinsky and Nathaniel Kleitman discovered the fundamental 90-minute basic sleep rhythm, the alternation of rapid-eye-movement (REM) with deep sleep. Subsequent research has found that this cycle is a property of virtually all life, and pervades our waking life as well as our sleep. Ultradian clocks (clocks with a cycle of less than a day) running at the same 90-minute cycle have been found in amoebas, yeasts, protists, and us – they govern and coordinate cells’ creative and destructive processes. Yet another example (as though one were needed) where our self-awareness is self-limiting – we don’t notice the variation in alertness and activity during the day because the mechanism by which we’d notice is itself subject to just the same variation. It certainly grounds the hard/easy concept at a deep level. (7/29)

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