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by Gerald Epling

Did you know that the electromagnetic field of Earth affects sleep cycles and chemical balance in the body?

The electromagnetic field surrounding Earth keeps our atmosphere in place. Additionally, the field deflects things that might otherwise come crashing down upon us. Why even consider what would happen to terrestrial life if the Earth’s electromagenetic field was gone? One good reason is space travel. What will life be like for people who travel far from Earth?

One way to find out if something is important to you is to remove that thing from your world.  If the absence makes no difference then maybe it wasn’t necessary at all.  How could we find out if something like the electromagnetic field of the Earth is important for the normal functioning of human life?  We should be intrested, because it is already know that plants, bacteria, and higher life forms depend on the magnetic field for information.

Experimental manipulation of the local electromagnetic field.

Rutger Wever of the Max Planck Institute found a good way to simulate the loss of the Earth’s electromagnetic field.  Wever had two underground rooms constructed for his studies.  Both rooms were completely isolated from normal daily changes in light, sound, and temperature.  One of the rooms had an additional feature – it was shielded against natural magnetic and electrical fields of the Earth. These two rooms allowed Wever to study what might occur when the light is always on, the temperature doesn’t change, and the evening breeze never comes. Eventually, Wever would also manipulate the electromagnetic field as a variable.

For people who volunteered and were assigned to the world without clues to the time of day, there were changes in how they slept and spent their waking hours.  Without the cues of sunrise and sunset, the wind, and normal daily variations in temperature, the 24 hour rhythm grew a bit longer or stayed about the same.  For those who did not have the time-of-day cues or the influence of the natural magnetic and electrical fields, there was a real desynchronizaton of chemistry and perception of what was a day. Their daily sleep/wake cycle grew longer, about twice as long as a 24 hour day.  For both groups, lunch was taken around mid-day and sleep times were adjusted freely.

Next, the electrical and magnetic fields were manipulated. No effect was noted with changes in steady or DC electrical fields.  Also, there was no effect found by changing the steady state of the magnetic field.  All of these changes in the electric and magnetic fields were below the level of conscious perception for the people in the study.  Continuing with the study, Wever found that adding a weak electrical field with an alternating frequency of 10 Hz. (cycles per second) led people to shorten their sleep/wake cycle to more closely match a 24 hour day.  Additionally, when this weak 10 Hz field was added, people began to resynchronize their excretion of sodium, potassium, and calcium.  This indicated that their bodies were re-adjusting to the normal daily rhythm of the planet.  The conclusion was that the natural electromagnetic fields have the effect of shortening the otherwise uninfluenced sleep/wake cycle, which expanded to about two days in the absence of natural electromagnetic fields.

There are many time keepers in the human body.  Isolation from the natural electromagnetic fields of Earth desynchronizes these natural oscillators.  Being in touch with the Earth makes a difference and is beneficial to your health.  Consider taking some time today to find a clean piece of ground, pull off your shoes and stand bare footed on the ground.  The instant that you touch the ground, your skin conductance will change.  Gardening can also provide you with an enjoyable way to get intouch with the earth.


Relevant Reading

 Aschoff, J. & Wever, R. (1976). Human circadian rhythms: a multioscillatory system. Fed Proc. 35(12):236-32.

Becker, R. & Marino, A. (2010). Electromagnetism and life (Facsimile ed.). Belcher, LA: Cassandra Publishing.

Hunt, M. (2007). The story of psychology (2nd Anchor Books ed.). New York: Anchor Books.

Wever, R. (1970). The effects of electric fields on circadian rhythmicity in men. Life Sci Space Res. 8:177-187.

Photo of Earth from space courtesy of NASA.