Alien sleep schedule determination

Discussion in 'SciFi & Fantasy' started by caters, Sep 19, 2017.

  1. caters Registered Member

    My aliens on the generation ship have a complex way of determining sleep schedule. For humans, it is as simple as adaptation + natural amount of sleep. With my aliens though, they reproduce differently than us and their genetics are different from ours(they use DNA but theirs is very different from ours(not surprising considering they have mostly reptilian traits, a few mammalian traits(lactation for one), and some unique traits(a second thumb on the opposite side of the hand for example)).

    There are lots of different factors into the sleep schedule of any 1 alien. First off is genetics. Here, 1 gene controls all the other genes that have to do with sleep and depending on the alleles, there are different results. Here are those alleles and their results:

    • DD: Diurnal
    • DN: Unknown
    • NN: Nocturnal
    Or at least it would be if this was the only factor. But of course there are lots more. Genetics is the only factor when the eggs are being calcified in the abdomen(their eggs have an internal placenta(placenta within the amniotic sac instead of outside it), that sends villi through the amniotic membrane in between cells. The egg starts calcifying from the bottom and goes upwards. This allows for amniotic sac growth over 2 weeks. Once the calcification is sufficiently high up, the villi start to break, starting with the lowest ones and ending with the highest ones. This causes ischemia of the placenta which is broken down into proteins for the baby to grow.)

    Speaking of proteins, one of the proteins in the amniotic sac is a photosensitive protein. Daylight activates this protein into its metastable or m state. As twilight happens, depending on whether it is morning or evening twilight, the metastable protein either increases(morning) or decreases(evening). At night, all the photosensitive protein is in its stable or s state. This s state is also the state the protein is in during the calcification of the amniotic sack. This photosensitive protein triggers changes related to gene expression while keeping the actual genes the same. This means that hatching time is also an important factor.

    Given these 2 alone, there are 9 possible combinations:

    DD and Daylight: Diurnal
    DD and Twilight: Diurnal(the m protein there is is enough to continue expressing the genes)
    DD and Night: Crepuscular(1 allele of the gene is inactivated in all cells)
    DN and Daylight: Diurnal
    DN and Twilight: Crepuscular
    DN and Night: Nocturnal
    NN and Daylight: Crepuscular
    NN and Twilight: Nocturnal
    NN and Night: Nocturnal

    So approximately 1/3 of babies hatch out diurnal, approximately 1/3 of babies hatch out crepuscular and approximately 1/3 of babies hatch out nocturnal. Of course, since these aliens lactate, they have 15 areas of milk production in their abdomen. Each one can produce milk with only 1 type of milk protein or M protein. M_1 and M_2 are the different types. M_1 protein triggers the diurnal pathway and M_2 protein triggers the nocturnal pathway. Since it is inevitable that some babies will get the M_1 protein and some will get the M_2 protein, here are how those proteins change the sleep schedule:

    M_1 and Diurnal: No change
    M_1 and Crepuscular: More diurnal
    M_1 and Nocturnal: More crepuscular
    M_2 and Diurnal: More crepuscular
    M_2 and Crepuscular: More nocturnal
    M_2 and Nocturnal: No change

    So basically, M_1 protein moves the baby closer to diurnal and M_2 moves the baby closer to nocturnal in terms of sleep schedule. It is likely that different babies will be in different areas at each feeding so these changes are completely random at first(I'm saying at first because eventually it gets to the point where each baby has its designated feeding area just via development of the brain).

    Then after 2 years and 6 months of drinking milk(6 months in the pouch, 2 years out of the pouch), the sleeping schedule of the alien is pretty much established and if it is not fully crepuscular, it will change to being fully diurnal or fully nocturnal in most aliens. So by adulthood, very little of the population in terms of % is crepuscular and it is mostly a 50-50 split between diurnal and nocturnal. Of course there are some factors that even change this during adulthood such as frequency and length of power outages(the more frequent they are and the longer they are, the more tendency towards being nocturnal). But the first 2.5 years is when most of the change occurs.

    Is this complex system of determination of sleep schedule based on genetics, hatching time, milk proteins, and a few other environmental factors, reasonable for an intelligent species that has all 3 types of sleep schedules and has evolved this way to maximize defense against predators and overall the chance of survival?
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  3. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

    This is starting to sound tedious and boring. Surely these details can't be critical to the story?
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  5. caters Registered Member

    Well no, not most of them anyway. But they would be absolutely crucial for a book about the species as a whole along with things like their senses or their skin shedding rate.
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  7. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

    I doubt it.
  8. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    A good story writer knows to only put in the story what is essential to the story itself.
    Generally, your readers have picked up the book to get a story, not an encyclopedia entry.
    So, as long as your story (which, by the amount of detail you're developing, is going to have to be a huge series) depends on such things as their proteins, then it's fair game, otherwise you'll be driving away readership.

    Are you sure you're writing this for others, and not yourself?
  9. birch Valued Senior Member

    all the background info is not needed to flesh out the actual story itself. the tedious mechanics is useful for the writer to conceptualize the universe that it's creating. for instance, prequels or in the case of a cult following. for example, fans of star trek may want to know the exact dimensions of the enterprise or how a replicator works exactly or Klingon history etc but initially these are not important to be in-depth unless it's pertinent to include in the story itself.

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