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While John Michell has a brief break from this page,another living legend will be taking his place. Dr Rupert Sheldrake is a biologist and the author of The Sense of Being Stared at: And Other Aspects of the Extended Mind (Hutchinson, £17.99). His website is Jonathan Cainer

Archive for Thursday 22nd April 2004 - Unexplained Powers: Waking before alarms by Rupert Sheldrake

Rupert Sheldrake image I have often found that I wake just before the alarm clock goes off. Likewise, Greta in Norwich says: "Just before my alarm beeps in the morning, I know it is going to go off just before I hear it, even though I have been sound asleep. I wake up in anticipation."

Intrigued by this unexplained ability, I carried out surveys in Britain and America and found that it is very common. Over 90 percent of people said they had woken soon before the alarm was due to go off. At first I assumed that this was simply a matter of an accurate times sense or 'biological clock'. But I then realised that my own time sense is not very good during the day. If I try to guess the time, I am often out by quarter of an hour, or even half an hour. This is fairly typical. Most people are far less accurate when awake than asleep.

Some people find they can even wake up at particular times without the need for an alarm. James in Cardiff says, "I can tell myself when to wake up in the morning before I go to sleep and will wake within five minutes of that time. I am self employed and don't wake up at the same time every day." Does all this mean that our time sense works much better by night than by day? Or could there be another explanation?

Until the industrial revolution, most people did not have clocks or watches. Also they had no need to wake at exact times. There were no fixed working hours or early trains to catch. There was no need for an accurate time sense at night.

By contrast, there could be a good evolutionary reason for waking before alarming or disturbing events. All sleeping animals are vulnerable. Those that wake just before an attack or emergency would tend to survive better.

If there is anything in this theory, then people might also wake before unexpected disturbances, like phone calls or fire alarms. Does this happen? I am trying to find out.

Rupert Sheldrake would like to hear from readers would like to hear from readers who have woken before unexpected alarms. Email Rupert Sheldrake's researcher, with subject heading: Rupert Sheldrake.

Rupert Sheldrake

John Michell would love to hear about your experience of any unusual or unexplained phenomena.
If you have a favourite mystery subject - from spontaneous human combustion to ancient Celtic ritual sites, write to John, suggesting a theme. And if you have any answers or theories about the mysteries John will be highlighting, he would particularly like to hear from you.

Email mystery@cainer.comwith subject heading: John Michell
Please note, we regret that due to time restrictions personal replies may not be available.

John Michell is a prolific author. Below are just two of John's books which might interest you:

The Rough Guide to Unexplained Phenomena
John Michell and Bob Rickard - A fascinating collection. Look up anything from urban legends to recorded unexplained phenomena - to the existance of ghosts. All presented in an organised, easy to follow manner, in related categories. A complete index and accompanying pictures with each entry. Excellent reference - excellent read.
Who Wrote Shakespeare?
Was the most famous poet and writer of all time a fraud and a plagiarist? Was Shakespeare the "upstart crow" described by Greene as strutting in borrowed feathers, or Jonson's "Poet-Ape" who patched plays together from others' work? John Michell's witty investigation of the theories and claims reads like a series of detective stories. By the end of the book even the most faithful disciples of the Bard will find themselves asking, "Who Wrote Shakespeare?"

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