Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sleep ideas from Quantified Self Boston

are here. In general, it's all cool. In specific:

- Eric Smith tried wearing a Zeo while awake. It basically gave him nonsense data (said he was asleep a lot). This makes sense; it's trained on sleeping people. Still, too bad we can't just give people a Zeo and use that to test their wakefulness.

- Sanjiv Shah got a big result from wearing yellow glasses at night. Kind of like f.lux for the whole world. Interesting, especially given the fact that our circadian rhythms are generally 24.18 hours but electric lights stretch them to 25.

- "[Sleep doctor Matt Bianchi's] talk brought up a discussion around the relative value of exploring small effects. The thought is that we should look for simple changes that have big results, i.e., the low hanging fruit. A heuristic suggested was if, after 5-10 days, you’re not seeing a result, then move on to something else."
Fair enough. Especially when real-world things will give you big margins of error anyway. Say that there was a chemical in bananas that made me sleep 1% longer. There's no way I'll do an experiment that has enough power to find that effect in a way that I know it's not just chance; I'd have to collect data for years. Nor is it really that important.

(the weird part is: how did they pick 5-10 days? I've settled on 2 weeks as a pretty good test period for most life changes, but why 2 weeks then? It's like collecting data: getting "about 10 people" for simple experiments seems to be "pretty good." I guess you have to start somewhere.)

EDIT: while I'm on "cool things", here's an idea about dreams from Scientific American: dreams feel more profound to us than they do to other people because serotonin release is inhibited during dreams. (similarly, you get less serotonin while you're on LSD.)

I had another neat idea about dreams the other day (and now we've moved on to straight-up-guesses). So dreams might be caused by random firings in your brain. It's one of the hypotheses out there. If so, it might explain why dreams make so little sense: they're incompressible. If you generate a random string of characters, and pick a random compression scheme, odds are that you can't compress it much at all. So if you take a series of regular daily firings (say, a bunch of yellow lights in a circle) you might say "that's the sun" and compose a bunch of visual inputs into one quick phrase. But if you take random dream firings, it's really tough to compress them (and therefore remember them) at all.

No comments:

Post a Comment