Why Do I Keep Seeing the Same Numbers on My Clocks?

11:11 or 2:30 or 9:11 keep showing up on your clocks. What's going on?

Posted Sep 02, 2020

Image by JVGJ on Wikimedia Commons
Source: Image by JVGJ on Wikimedia Commons

You look at your clock. And there it is, the same number. Again. What's going on?

Statisticians will ask you how many times per day do you look for the time? What percentage of those times do you hit the magic number? The more often you look at the time, the more often you will see the number. Probability. 

Maybe you have become sensitized to this particular number, perhaps it is your lucky number.

Ocular saccades are rapid, ballistic movements of the eyes that abruptly change the point of fixation. They range in amplitude from the small movements made while reading, for example, to the much larger movements made while gazing around a room. You may have subconsciously noticed that your timepiece is registering this number so you looked. Since you did not recognize the number consciously, the coincidence appears to have no obvious cause. 

If you wake up in the middle of the night and look at your clock and there is that number again, subconscious vision does not provide an explanation. How many times have you woken up in the middle of the night and not seen that number?

Perhaps your brain has gotten really good at telling time. The brain registers 24 hours through its circadian rhythm in the suprachiasmatic nucleus in the hypothalamus. Brains do 90 minute-sleep cycles with good precision. Getting a few hits with special numbers when you look at the clock can be rewarding. You may have trained your brain to look when those special numbers come up to get that small dopamine surge. 

Image by Xantolus on Wikimedia Commons
Source: Image by Xantolus on Wikimedia Commons

Are you looking for support and encouragement? Time coincidences are often used in this way. Perhaps you have trained your brain to find support in this way.  You can test out this possibility by following certain intuitive urges to put your attention on a clock to see if your urge correlates with that special time. 

This coincidence series of yours may also be encouraging you to look for and expect more coincidences. 

References

Purves D, Augustine GJ, Fitzpatrick D, et al., editors. Neuroscience. 2nd edition. Sunderland (MA): Sinauer Associates; 2001. Types of Eye Movements and Their Functions. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK10991/