Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Man in the Cave

During our discussion of circadian rhythms, an experiment involving the determination of the natural human circadian rhythm was mentioned. The scientist behind this experiment was Michel Siffre, who spent two months completely isolated in an underground cave. Following his personal isolation he performed similar experiments to try and determine the natural circadian rhythm of humans.
       His personal experience illustrated a rhythm a  little longer than 24 hours, between 24.5 and 25. However, his further experiments and those of others demonstrated people falling into a 48 hour cycle.

In an interview with Cabinet magazine, Siffre pointed out

"The forty-eight-hour cycle is a fact. I observed this phenomenon, and I’m sure of this finding, but nobody understands what could be responsible for such a large desynchronization of the sleep-wake cycle"

Further studies of this type have been ceased due to the ethical issues involved with isolating a person in a cave for extended periods of time with limited contact.

The interview with Siffre can be found here.

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