by John W. Peters

While reading The Cycles of Heaven (by Guy L. Playfair and Scott Hill), I
became fascinated with the concept of bioentrainment. Basically,
bioentrainment is where one's body (or portion thereof) becomes entrained with
an externally applied signal. Once the entrainment process is fully
established, the biological organism's behavior is then subject to the
entraining signal.

Two examples from this book illustrate the potential for control. The first
one involves the heart:

"On her visits to Latin America in the 1940s, Mrs. Kinch had found the
rhythms of the local music strangely compelling, and she discovered that
her heartbeat would change to keep time with it."

Another talked about how sleep was induced;

"Fischer also claims he can induce sleep by applying low voltage pulses at
about 60 Hertz to eyeball and occipital areas."

I found the part about inducing sleep of interest, but not through use of
potentially dangerous voltages to the eyeball and occipital areas. After some
pondering about the two examples cited above, I realized that suitable low
frequencies at very low potentials could do the trick.

The low frequency element arises from knowing about Theta waves. Theta
waves are brainwaves ranging from about 4 to 8 Hertz that are usually produced
when one is in a light stage of sleep. All that was needed was a simple
circuit to produce various frequencies within the 4-to-8 Hertz range and see
which ones worked best.

The very low potential part comes from the musical entrainment and how the
ear actually works; the vibrations it receives are transduced into
electricity that is then processed by the brain. To minimize any hazards, I
would have to apply potentially harmful power levels (ever licked the
terminals of a 9-volt battery) available from electrical devices to a part of
the body that has a high level of resistance. Yet the safety precautions
had to allow enough power to be delivered to the brain to induce sleep.
Further reading in The Cycles of Heaven led to the solution.

In the book, two German researchers, exploring how Extremely Low Frequencies
affected the human body, vibrated chairs (in which subjects sat) at
frequencies in this range and discovered certain ones induced various
physiological disturbances. Once I sat myself in the subject's place, I
realized that my skeleton would be shaking in tune (entrained) with the chair.
The solution of where to apply my sleep-inducing signal became obvious to me.

One of the largest bones that is very close to the skin is the front of each
shin-bone. I would need electrodes that had a large surface area to interface
with the shin-bones to ensure maximum delivery of the weak sleep-inducing
signal. Now that the conceptual design phase was completed, it was time to
develop an all-purpose circuit that could easily cover the 4-to-8 Hertz theta
range and develop the shin-bone transducers.

First I worked on the transducers. I cut the tops off of two aluminum soda-
pop cans and then flattened the remaining sides. These were held in place on
the shin-bones by elastic bands and were to be connected to the circuit by
wires with alligator clips on each end. Now for the electronics.

Either a multivibrator or oscillator was needed to develop signals within
the Theta bandwidth. Having lots of 555 Timer chips available, I elected to
use the multivibrator approach instead of an oscillator, as the 555 is easily
configured into an astable multivibrator.

One difficulty with multivibrator outputs is harmonics; but the low power
levels I intended to use would minimize the effect of the harmonics. A quick
check in the IC Timer Cookbook (by Walter Jung) provided the needed schematic-
-all I had to do was determine the component values.

A minimum-component astable with the 555 Timer can be constructed with only
the 555, one timing resistor and capacitor, and a battery. Oftentimes, this
configuration will tend to put out triggers (very short-duration pulses) at
the desired oscillation rate--limiting the power delivered to the output load.
Hence I elected to add another resistor to square up the output signal.

After experimenting with different values, I found these on-hand components
gave the best results:

The timing resistor (R1) had a value of 2.49 Meg-Ohms,
the timing capacitor (C1) was labeled at 0.082 Micro-Farads,
and the "squaring-up" resistor (R2) had a value of 1 Kilo-Ohm.

Other component values will undoubtedly work--one should consult books such as
the IC Timer Cookbook for more information. Here is a verbal description of
how my circuit is configured on a breadboard.

The 555 Timer is an 8-pin chip.

Pin 1 is connected to ground (negative side of the 9-volt battery).
Pin 2 is jumpered to pin 6.
Pin 3 is connected to one of the soda-pop can transducers.
Pin 4 is connected to the positive side of the 9-volt battery.
Pin 5 isn't connected.
Pin 6 is connected to one side of C1 (the other side to ground), one side
of R1, and one side of R2.
Pin 7 is connected to the other side of R1.
Pin 8 is connected to the other side of R2 and also the positive battery

The remaining transducer wire is connected to the ground side of the battery.

A short explanation of the effects of this device is needed. On myself,
once the device is energized, I get very sleepy after sitting quietly while
reading (I've NEVER fallen asleep when reading) for about 12 to 15 minutes.
The sleepiness seems to occur gradually. I must make a definite effort to
stay awake. Once disconnected, almost immediate recovery is noticed. The
only other one to try it was my 13 year-old son who was unaware of the
expected results. Similar effects to mine were observed.

Hooking the transducers to other parts of the body (forearms and fingers)
seems to render the device ineffective. My theory is that the signal is
capacitively coupled through the skin to the shin-bone, and the length and
size of the bone enables it to more strongly vibrate than shorter bones.
Further testing will ensue as time permits. Feedback would be appreciated!