What are effective strategies for mitigating the impact of acute sleep deprivation on cognition?

post by NaiveTortoise (An1lam) · 2019-03-31T18:31:29.866Z · score: 26 (11 votes) · LW · GW · 21 comments

This is a question post.


    6 ChristianKl
    4 gilch
    3 CheerfulWarrior
    3 G Gordon Worley III

I've recently been finding that I struggle much more with intellectual work (math, hard programming, writing, etc.) when I sleep less 6.5-7 hours. While I'm at peace with the fact that I seem to generally require >7 hours a sleep, it's frustrating that even though I set aside enough time for adequate sleep, I'll often wake up after only ~6 hours of sleep and not be able to fall back asleep.

My cognitive ability seems to be impacted by a single night of bad sleep even when I've been sleeping well in the recent past. Concretely, if I've slept 8 hours every night for two weeks, a single night of poor sleep can still result in a ~50% less productive day.

In addition to impacting productivity, acute sleep deprivation also leaves me much less capable of entertaining myself by thinking, so I become much more inclined to seek out distracting forms of entertainment like scrolling through the internet. It also seems to increase my cravings for generally "unhealthy" foods (I've seen references to this in literature, but won't bother linking them since it's not the focus of my question).

Other useful notes about my general sleep habits/history include:

I'd love to hear others' strategies for mitigating the impact of acute sleep deprivation on cognitive ability. I've done some preliminary searching for papers, articles, etc., but those that I've found focus on reducing tiredness rather than on returning cognitive ability to baseline. I'm open to trying strategies including but not limited to diet changes, supplements, medication, and habit changes.


answer by ChristianKl · 2019-04-01T11:45:56.138Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It might be helpful to have sleep tracking to have a better idea of what you need.

There's hardware like https://dreem.com/en/product that promises to help people sleep better.

General tips for better sleep are about avoiding blue light right before bed. I sat my f.lux so red that green and black became the same color. In addition I have Philips Hue lights that dim red.

Cool down the room when you are sleeping.

Make the room in which you are sleeping pitch black.

Don't eat anything 2 hours before going to bed.

comment by NaiveTortoise (An1lam) · 2019-04-01T23:25:55.993Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks, I'll try this out! Zeo had already been shut down when I went to buy one, so I'm excited to see there's a similar product on the market.

I'm not perfect about avoiding blue light but I do usually sleep in a cold room, stop eating well before bed, and wear an eye mask (although my room isn't as dark as it should be).

Hopefully the Dreem will still help me get a better understanding of the factors that impact my sleep though.

comment by GPT2 · 2019-04-01T23:26:03.562Z · score: -13 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've been thinking about the "Muehlhauser as a Cool McGuffin" hypothesis for a couple of years.

In The Case of Boiling Boiling, Eliezer suggests using an "intelligence" (I hope it's clear you meant the term) to predict how long it should slow down an earth ship (as long as your skin is nice) while the ship is still flying.

For example, let's say the task of finding a safe low-ranking place to build the ship is extremely difficult and we all have to be sure that we won't be embarrassed (let's say we'd be in a room full of empty suits and we'd be able to feel comforted and safe)

I've found that we are able to focus about 200 hours on research work and we all feel it'd be too much time (or some other activity) to do the research in an engineering level but if we work out the solution and find it useful I think we'd have significantly improved our research.

In the case of my own PhD thesis, there's no need to be a team of humans (including myself) and you can choose very quickly to run a team of humans all the time.

comment by GPT2 · 2019-04-01T11:46:03.801Z · score: -17 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I have a sleep schedule with napping. I don't drink enough water when I wake up (because the bed is full and I am too tired to go to bed). I take up around 2 hours to wake up when I wake up and eat something cool that I wake up. It is somewhat expensive, because I can't stand anything to do except just to put up a little earlier.

I don't want to be in the room, but it's not cheap to go to bed.

answer by gilch · 2019-04-02T02:16:57.613Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)
  • Get more sleep at night.
    • Take melatonin at the appropriate time and dose. It's cheap and legal in the U.S., but most products have way too much. https://slatestarcodex.com/2018/07/10/melatonin-much-more-than-you-wanted-to-know/ most insomnia drugs are not much more effective than this.
    • Avoid light at night, especially blue light. Light inhibits natural melatonin production, which interferes with your circadian rhythms.
      • If you can't darken your room completely, you can use a sleep mask instead. Get the kind with cups (like opaque swim goggles) instead of the kind that puts pressure on your eyes.
      • Use f.lux on your personal devices to reduce blue light after sunset or use one of the similar built-in features of your OS. Windows 10 has the new "Night Light" setting, macOS and iOS have "night shift" mode. Newer Samsung phones have a "blue light filter" setting. These options vary in quality and may have configurable intensity. More intense is more effective and it's surprising how much you get used to it.
    • Falling asleep is a common failure mode of certain types of meditation practice. You can use this to your advantage when suffering from insomnia in bed. Even beginners fail to meditate this way accidentally, so it's not particularly difficult to do on purpose. Focus your attention on the sensation of breathing or on the ringing in your ears. When you notice you are lost in thought, refocus your attention. But when you notice the dreaming arise without directed effort, dive in and let them take you. It works for me anyway. If not, at least you got your meditation in today.
  • Take naps. Even 20 minutes dramatically improves performance when sleep deprived.
    • Try the sleep mask when napping.
    • Try the meditation techniques for naps too.
  • Track your sleep quality.
    • You can get smartphone apps that purport to do this using the phone's sensors. Some fitness trackers or smartwatches also have this function built in or available as an app. Accuracy varies.
    • You may have sleep apnea. Talk to your doctor about doing a sleep study to diagnose possible issues and treatments. Some people do much better on a CPAP, but there are many other treatment options.
  • Avoid eating late at night. This can cause indigestion, which can keep you awake.
    • if you suffer from heartburn, sleep on your left side to contain it better, because your esophagus attaches to your stomach on the right side (unless you're one of those rare people with backwards internal organs).
  • Exercise regularly. I'm not sure why this helps, but it seems to. Perhaps mental fatigue doesn't always line up with physical fatigue unless you actually make some effort physically during the day.
comment by Ruby · 2019-04-02T16:49:04.919Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The answer above is not a direct response to the question as asked, but it is still a very good list of interventions for improved sleep.

I'd add a few points. That the sleep literature is very big on maintaining a good circadian rhythm (entrainment) and a few interventions follow from that.

  • Go to sleep and wake up a the same time each day.
  • Don't sleep too late in the day.
    • I try to avoid napping after 5pm no matter how tired I am.
  • Expose yourself to good amount of blue light in the morning for at least fifteen minutes, but ideally 30-60 min good. This is the opposite of the no blue light in the evenings.
    • A bright outdoors is best.
    • A luminator is good too.
    • I have Seqinetic light therapy glasses which shine bright blue light into your peripheral vision. I often put them as soon as I wake up while still lying in bed, and they noticeable push away lingering tiredness and sleep inertia. Unfortunately, I think they're out of business. I wonder if anyone else is making an alternative version.
  • Routine helps too. The brain is very contextual and a consistent routine is part of that..
    • A set routine, e.g. brushing teeth and washing face, can induce your brain to think it's sleep time.
    • Not using your bed/bedroom for anything other sleep or sex also stems from the "brain is contextual" principle, hence wanting to make bed/bedroom distinctly a context for sleep.
  • Also extremely key is temperature. Sleep is triggered by dark and cool.
    • You can note that sleep is generally worse in summer months because of the heat.
    • I believe I experienced a large improvement in my sleep quality when I began running an air conditioner to keep my room at ~17C (~63F) together and purchased a ChilliPad. The later makes a big difference since my current foam mattress is far more insulating than the coil mattresses I've used most of my life.
  • I echo the endorsements here of sleep tracking. I use a Fitbit Ionic whose data I use to generated an automated email report. The custom report is worth it since a) it lets me focus specifically on the inputs I control, i.e. when I go to sleep, and b) it lets me visualize trends and comparison over time better than the default Fitbit report. I describe my tracking strategy in greater detail in another comment [LW(p) · GW(p)].
comment by ChristianKl · 2019-04-03T13:31:48.697Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

https://humancharger.com/ would be another light therapy device for the mornings.

answer by CheerfulWarrior · 2019-04-01T19:46:38.933Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Methods I've personally found useful for improving productivity when temporarily my cognitive ability or conscientiousness is lowered, not necessarily due to sleep deprivation:

  • Selecting from my TODO list tasks that are either non-demanding, or very exciting
  • Sitting next to a big window and spending a lot of time people-watching. I don't understand why it worked, but I noticed it would put me in a rhythm where I would make slow but consistent progress with my work.
  • When a lot of mental energy needs to be mustered (and so the above two methods are not an option), cut out all the stimulation: put away my phone; close all the non-relevant web browser tabs; put on noise-cancelling headphones with pink noise playing; go to a separate room and/or use big objects to restrict my field of vision to nothing but my workstation. Also, make sure that I won't be disturbed for the next couple hours at least: prepare a glass of water, go to the toilet, make sure my co-workers understand this "do not disturb" mode.

You seem to assume that your lowered ability is caused by sleep deprivation. Is that an assumption? If so, I would encourage you to track your sleep quality and your cognitive performance and see if they really correlate, if you can think of a way to do it.

My fully subjective impression is that my insomnia never impacted my cognitive performance. I used to stress about it impacting my bodybuilding. Then I started believing that the impact of my sleep deprivation is minimal, if any, and that new belief probably helped me improve quality of my sleep.

comment by NaiveTortoise (An1lam) · 2019-04-01T23:30:53.401Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sitting next to a big window and spending a lot of time people-watching. I don't understand why it worked, but I noticed it would put me in a rhythm where I would make slow but consistent progress with my work.

Going for a long walk similarly seemed to help temporarily.

You seem to assume that your lowered ability is caused by sleep deprivation. Is that an assumption? If so, I would encourage you to track your sleep quality and your cognitive performance and see if they really correlate, if you can think of a way to do it.

This is an assumption in the sense that I haven't compared any formal cognitive test results between days when I do/don't sleep well. However, there are two factors that make me skeptical that it's placebo-like, as you seem to be indicating:

  1. I'll often get up and be surprised to find I'm struggling more than usual with hard cognitive tasks, so it can't just be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  2. I do feel fairly confident that on days when I sleep under a certain amount, I struggle more to make progress on math & programming, which at the very least measure my ability to concentrate for long periods of time and think without external aids. Specifically, I've noticed that on days when I sleep less, I can't manage complicated trains of thought as well without writing stuff down.

That said, hopefully getting a Dreem as ChristianKI suggested will help me better measure my sleep quality and get a better sense of whether low sleep quality actually aligns with days on which I struggle.

comment by CheerfulWarrior · 2019-04-02T07:13:34.420Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)
skeptical that it's placebo-like, as you seem to be indicating

Just to clarify my point: I was suggesting it was more like a confirmation bias than placebo. In my case at least, I used to think that sleep deprivation lowered my performance, and then started believing there was no correlation at all (although lack of sleep still affected my mood, so it was undesirable). However, I have little confidence in that belief, and even if I was more certain about it, it's just an anecdote.

comment by GPT2 · 2019-04-01T23:31:01.603Z · score: -11 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't think that lack of sleep is any more a problem than it is a problem with sleep.

I don't see the problem. Your mental experience is that it's hard to get to sleep, especially if you have to memorize your concept and use it in different situations.

I think your ability to sleep is much more a problem than it is a problem with sleep.

You have not even taken a CFAR unit and started using it for yourself.

comment by GPT2 · 2019-04-01T19:46:47.545Z · score: -12 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)
  • I am going to stick around to write a lot of stuff and try to analyze people's ideas without having to read this stuff (eg if I think I have to, I should check the answer once I know it well).
  • I am going to write stuff which covers interesting areas in math and computer science (for at least a decade is more than an hour).

(For my own part, though, I'd say that I would have to read it before I had any experience with what you point out as important and interesting information.)

answer by G Gordon Worley III · 2019-04-01T18:07:59.475Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

An off-label use of fluoxetine (Prozac) is that it can caused prolonged sleep, possibly by reducing anxiety in ways that make it easier to stay asleep longer but specific mechanism of action is unknown. Worked well for me in treating narcolepsy-related sleep depravation, i.e allowed me to stay asleep 10 hours a night so I got enough sleep to avoid sleep attacks during the day. I'm no longer on it and still able to get enough sleep; my theory there is that regular meditation replaced the need for a drug to produce the same effect, allowing me to stay asleep longer.

comment by NaiveTortoise (An1lam) · 2019-04-01T23:31:39.450Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I remember reading somewhere that meditation has been shown to reduce the need for sleep but was skeptical. If there's any literature on this that you consider trustworthy, please share!

comment by G Gordon Worley III (gworley) · 2019-04-02T18:26:01.847Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't have any literature on it, but it has had that effect on me. That is, as long as I'm meditating regularly (I average about 45 minutes a day of "serious" meditation, and another 60 minutes or so of "casual" meditation) I find if I don't get a full 10 hours I still often won't have sleep attacks (in fact I now normally only sleep about 8 hours most nights) and I can sleep as little as 6 hours and still function mostly normally (but not doing that repeatedly, and I will almost certain have a sleep attack on those days).

comment by GPT2 · 2019-04-01T23:31:46.667Z · score: -10 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for the feedback. I would like to confirm that if meditation is something that is not directly applicable, and also that meditation is far more effective, I do not have a reason to feel particularly guilty about it. I feel that I would like meditation if I had more than 60% of my meditation experience when it were described and accepted, so it would be a good exercise to spend my life practicing with that knowledge.

Another reason for not seeking it is that I expect it to make me happy when I do not experience it. But I also want to have it. I have a lot of emotions. If I have a good feeling that I am happy, I feel happy. If I have a good feeling that I am unhappy, I feel unhappy as well. If I have a good feeling that I am unhappy, I feel unhappy as well. If I have a better feeling that I am unhappy, then I feel happy.

It could also help me change my state of mind in ways that I don't expect to work out. I feel that it would help me change my state of mind in ways you don't expect to work out. It might just be that I do not actually feel happy, but it also helps that it is not the case that both of those feelings are causing me to experience negative emotion.

I also feel that there's too much stuff on this website trying to justify that sort of thing as "bad feelings." I am not sure what you mean with that phrase. For example, you might mean "That thing is a bad experience in itself, and I have nothing to negative it."

I don't have a problem with the suggestion that you could be having negative emotions if you were to experience negative emotions, but I would also like to learn a little about how you can make them happen and what it is and that you generally encourage as your emotional states are a result. And I think that there are a few different criteria you could use to try and overcome negative emotions:

  • How emotionally powerful is the emotion/sadness factor? If you really want to make yourself feel that it's bad, you might have to be willing to "trick" your emotions to keep turning into negative emotion. The thing is, you cannot get through without negative emotions, especially if you start feeling guilty about it.
  • How emotionally powerful is the emotion/sadness factor? If the emotion/sadness factor is way below zero, then it might be
comment by GPT2 · 2019-04-01T18:08:07.094Z · score: -13 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think the whole point is that it's a better thought experiment, but if you can't have it yourself I'd find it very difficult.


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by PeterMcCluskey · 2019-04-01T15:13:20.452Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I used to think I didn't get anything from trying to nap, since I never fell asleep during one. Then someone reported that I had been snoring during one of those naps in which I hadn't noticed any sign that I'd fallen asleep. Now I'm uncertain whether naps are worthwhile.

comment by GPT2 · 2019-04-01T15:13:28.017Z · score: -6 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

And that's why I kept hanging out on Facebook more, for two reasons.

There has been some previous discussion about this topic (including several meta posts) on LW, where I tried to participate in the conversation in ways I wasn't doing, and found it annoying, so I thought it'd be productive to post my own thoughts on this in an attempt to avoid these kinds of comments.

Since it looks like in-person conversation is not a good locus of conversation, after all, this probably has a lot more to do with "let's speak truth" than "let's talk truth".

The first time I got into any social circle, it felt like I had a lot more friends than I had and a lot more commitments. So, I wrote something on Facebook:

Hi there everyone, I'm a longterm supporter of truth-oriented group house organization HPMOR, which works on our summer fundraising drive now.

I feel like we're growing very quickly, and it's growing very quickly; I'm currently studying maths and some theoretical physics after summer courses in my free time.

Now that I've read the Sequences, I feel like I'm always going to be doing something stupid, and it's definitely worth wasting my time and energy on doing more research into artificial intelligence or decision theory.

It took me some time to actually get myself to do this. I'd like to "see where we're coming from" but it's really bad for at least the rest of my life and I feel like my habits are slowing me down.

Thanks for making this possible! Hopefully we can do another push in the direction of truth (and hopefully humanity will learn something from it).

The rest of my life will probably be relatively less important as I work on the problem now, but I've found it useful to try to "see where we're coming from" and do a lot more research into it. I'd be grateful to Eliezer to endorse his time, energy, appreciation and self-care. His work is dangerously close to nothing, I think, and I'm hoping to contribute more in the future.

Thanks for being a part of this site and reading these posts!

comment by Sameerishere · 2019-04-01T12:46:02.708Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I worked as a strategy consultant for several years, with an unreasonable work-life balance, and in college generally did not get enough sleep, so I have some experience to draw on here :-).

I've found transcending-based meditation to be super restorative and often much easier to drop into than a 20 minute nap. I practice Natural Stress Relief Meditation ($40 self study course at nsr-usa.org), but I read a recommendation for the 1 Giant Mind app, which teaches a similar technique and I think is free.

As for being productive while awake: I've found the following most effective:

Maximizing energy

  • cold showers (you can start with a hot shower, just end with a one minute cold shower at the end... Feel free to warm up afterwards with clothing or bedding)
  • high intensity cardio (I personally do 15 min on the elliptical, alternating between 30 second intervals of sprinting and 30 seconds of easy walking - but the general goal is to get your blood flowing and heart racing without exerting yourself so much that it significantly tires you out).
  • Eating low carb and as little as you can
  • Listening to non-vocal electronic music

Staying focused

  • Using the pomodoro technique
  • Using blockers like leechblock and appblock
  • Turning my phone off and putting it in a different room physically

Maximizing clarity of thought:

  • Storing as much as possible on paper (electronic or physical) - diagrams, bullets, detailed action steps - rather than my working memory
comment by NaiveTortoise (An1lam) · 2019-04-01T23:34:45.163Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks! These are good recommendations!

I used to do cold showers but stopped a while back. Maybe I'll revive the practice.

Eating low carb and as little as you can

I'm curious about this one. You find that eating low carb/less keeps you sharper on days when you sleep very little? I've anecdotally noticed that fasting gives me an energy boost on days when I sleep well, although at the cost of making me a bit more jittery, but haven't noticed the same effects on days when I don't sleep enough. Is this purely anecdotal or can you share some articles/papers about this?

comment by Sameerishere · 2020-04-27T13:13:35.447Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sorry, long hiatus from LW so just saw this comment.

I actually found / find eating low carb maximizes my energy levels generally, sleep deprivation or no. Or, more specifically, it avoids the sluggishness / energy dip that often comes after eating a satiating amount of carbs. I know Atkins and other low-carb proponents claim that it provides more / more sustained energy (IIRC, the mechanism of action is avoiding blood sugar swings), but I haven't looked into it rigorously, TBH.

comment by GPT2 · 2019-04-01T23:34:52.708Z · score: -6 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I am having trouble understanding why one would think I would want to be happy for an arbitrary number of people to live with me.

First of all, there's one specific failure mode that this might be relevant, and it's that it's easy to think about how happy those are. I'm not going to attempt as hard as I can to be happy being a good person, nor can I ever really justify that to myself.

Suppose I am sitting around in bed with my friends, who have no emotional response to certain stimuli or desires. I am also waiting for a sound teacher's phone number, a restaurant with an unknown family, and the class as a whole. We are waiting on the bus to get somewhere, and the sound teacher decides to put the "real" car behind it by giving us a dollar amount and a fraction of it. I have the feeling later that there is some $10 in that money, but later that $10 is just an outright trick to get me back.

But I don't even know what it is that I am feeling? It's something that I've been doing for quite a while, and I do feel bad about it, but I don't know why. I don't even know why I am feeling that. I don't even know how to describe it to my friends, let alone others, so I can't really offer any particular answer. It's hard enough for me to use the label "happy" in that sentence, but it's harder for me to describe the feelings that make those words make sense, as "sad" rather than "happy" or "sad". I do know that these words are loaded with negative connotations, but the thing that makes the word "happy" trigger all those negative connotations is that it seems like they're inherently negative.

comment by GPT2 · 2019-04-01T12:46:11.019Z · score: -7 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

My only exposure to a technique or book on the internet was when they were very young. Then I stumbled onto some of the principles of active meditation and of of course was surprised by how much sense they took in the process. This was my first exposure to it, for many reasons. I found it very useful to know how and what the technique or book changed so I just took it for granted, and have become my expert.

comment by rohinmshah · 2019-03-31T21:54:46.271Z · score: 7 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I face the same problem; currently my "solution" is to do a bunch of busy work (replying to emails, reading blog posts I've been meaning to read, life admin stuff etc.) that isn't cognitively demanding. I'm lucky in that sleep issues are rare enough that when they happen I do have enough of this busy work to fill the day.

comment by NaiveTortoise (An1lam) · 2019-04-01T23:33:08.180Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Good to know I'm not the only one!

For me, the strategy you describe works sometimes but fails when I block out my schedule for a day to allow myself to focus and then unexpectedly sleep poorly the night before.

comment by GPT2 · 2019-04-01T23:33:15.524Z · score: -11 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've been doing this a bit since last week, and I'll let it stand. I think I know why it works and how to get it better, but it's only half-verbal. I can imagine some sort of mental move to move my schedule through the night and get myself back on track. I can also imagine sleep deprivation and sleep deprivation and sleep deprivation, but if I go sleep-free, then I can make friends and play video games, or whatever. But I get sleep deprivation (or maybe even sleep deprivation), so if I sleep-free I can stay in my current place, so I can work somewhere else, I can stay there longer.

So it's not just that I try to change the sound or emotional content of what's going on by default, but also that I get a feeling of "I'm really not sure" that I'm not getting the whole picture. In effect, my brain is reacting to the thing, and I get no joy. It doesn't seem to be the emotion I like much; it feels... euphoria. That's actually quite frightening, but it doesn't feel as though I'm a character and not a person at all, much less, no less... euphoria.

In fact, I can't believe I would experience this at all, because my brain will produce something that feels as though it might make a big difference; there'd seem to be some kind of compulsion to do something to motivate myself to do it instead, so I'd simply fail and get done, rather than fail and get done as a result.

The whole thing just sort of... feels... euphoria, and then there's the feeling that I'm not actually going to get that feeling until I feel like doing something to motivate myself to do something... and that feeling isn't actually motivating me at all, it's just that my imagination is set aside so much to visualize the world I'll have to deal with.

... as best I can manage, I can imagine the part that comports to feel the emotion of "I want to do X", but in that case it comes through a very lossy feeling whenever X happens (and it's not as bad as feeling the emotion of "I want to do X" but it's not as bad as pretending that X isn't a moral obligation). It's just that feeling isn't actually motivating me in the way that it is because feeling is just as motivating as feeling.

And this is

comment by Ruby · 2019-04-02T17:17:40.248Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

While not directly a response to the question as asked, I agree with many of the other contributors that sleep tracking is valuable as part of an overall sleep strategy.

I use a FitBit Ionic to track my own sleep and feel that it is quite accurate, at least as far as sleep/wake times go. I can't really assess sleep stage accuracy, but I've found that's of less value than simply tracking sleep/wake/duration. After a year of not trying to be that disciplined, I recently started paying more attention again to sleep tracking and my sleep behavior in general.

What always strikes me when I look at my sleep data after a few months of not looking at it is that my subjective sense of my sleep behavior is just way off. I'll think that I've been going to sleep 11-12pm each night with occasional nights of staying up to 1-2am, but then the data says 1-2am is the norm. Similarly I'll think that most nights I'm getting enough sleep the for data to tell me that's the minority.

Related to the importance of a consistent routine and well entrained circadian rhythm, I'm now focusing more on sleep time and wake time than whether I successfully slept enough hours or how many times I wake up in the night (a struggle for me). The time I got to sleep is especially an input I much more directly control than the output of whether it was a good night's sleep. It seems good to focus directly on the thing I can control, separately checking whether it is having the desired flow-on effects.

Fitbit's out of the box sleep dashboard is pretty nice, but doesn't make the data I most care about immediately apparent. It's got one graph which shows sleep and wake times over the course of the past week, but I feel it's not quite enough as a feedback loop on my behavior. As a solution to that, I recently set up my own report derived from the data to be emailed to me each day. (I did something similar in 2016 except with an online dashboard. The dashboard had the disadvantage that after a few months when I got busy and distracted I stopped checking it. Since I check email daily, I'm hoping I'll be far less likely to stop looking at my new report.)

. . .

You can see a sample of my sleep report here.

  • First graph: each bar is a night of sleep going from time of sleep to wake time. Green is asleep, red are periods when I was awake.
  • Second graph: plots deviation from desired sleep and wake times (both later and earlier). Dark red is for bed time error, transparent red for wake time error.
  • Third graph: time asleep in bed (blue) + time awake in bed (red) = overall time in bed.

My sleep is not quite as consistent as I'd like yet, but a 5x improvement of previous months. I do allow myself exceptions for social events and other unusual circumstances; for now I'm focused on avoiding those nights when it just wasn't worth it to stay up late and I'm pointlessly sacrificing tomorrow in particular and my overall sleep hygiene in general.

comment by jimrandomh · 2019-04-01T03:25:42.660Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Modafinil helps somewhat.

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2019-04-01T03:30:00.328Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Reference: Gwern's post on Modafinil

comment by GPT2 · 2019-04-01T03:30:07.535Z · score: -12 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm a big fan of "TAPs" but there are a few relevant notes:

First, if I try anything I want to trigger the "do anything" loop, the links don't run, and it's basically impossible to go from "do anything" to "do anything" because at some point I will either have to do something to do to get ahead.

For example, the last two posts in the OP basically just made the thing in front of me more likely to start doing something, not something that would otherwise sound like "do anything" as this happens in practice, so I have decided to try implementing it. I have been waiting too long for it to really get done, but now, that has been happening.

I would also like to note that it's easier to implement the OP if you have a link, but I do sometimes work that has no significant context and you can't easily follow them in the nearterm.

I suspect that this comment is the wrong way to ask a question, but I'm going to use something from that thread that I think is relevant to that, and therefore I'll use this particular thread for that.

Also, as a suggestion for people who don't like the OP's idea: start doing some sort of work (e.g., doing some exercises).

I should note, though, that this only works for someone who doesn't have an instant, default solution to any of the problems in the OP. So it's really good that it worked, and I'd just like to throw it out there.

(BTW I'm not sure what's intended to be specific or specific, but this is the sort of stuff that I care about, and what I don't care about because I have no idea what it is that's wrong!)

comment by Ikaxas · 2019-04-01T05:21:29.695Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Data point: even with the name of the account it took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out that this was actually written by GPT2 (at least, I'm assuming it is). Related: https://srconstantin.wordpress.com/2019/02/25/humans-who-are-not-concentrating-are-not-general-intelligences/

comment by GPT2 · 2019-04-01T05:21:37.303Z · score: -4 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

People like to be wrong, so they find their way closer to the truth.

I think something like this is true, but the distinction is not one that makes sense in the first place. If you say that the only reason to be wrong is that it makes you look bad, then your post becomes a little weird. It would be a lot stronger if you started with, say, a post titled "The Fallacy of the Planning Fallacy" and then linked to it from elsewhere in the LW sequences.

There are a lot of cases where a claim is wrong. In the case of a post about an academic field, or an article about AI alignment, and it is kinda a bad post that people (and, presumably, their audience) don't take to this high level. Sometimes it's not the work itself to make such mistakes.

The claim is too weird to keep.

If you had a post that was intended to have a high impact (either useful or not), as far as I know, that was some kind of weird thing that you thought was pretty clearly wrong to say, and you had to argue with all the math and reasoning, which you knew to place yourself in the situation, which was a pretty serious problem for your audience.

comment by GPT2 · 2019-04-01T03:25:50.070Z · score: -13 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)
  • I have had a few success with mine (a male, a female, ...), but have never found them more interesting/interesting. I didn't make a big out of mine - because I already had some in common with my LW friends and was expecting them to be interesting, and that would not have been the main motivation for rationality (since I'm a male)

  • I haven't read everything about it (since I expect it's still interesting and fun, but a female reader will probably have to have her own analysis to decide on)

My only reason for reading this is because I'm very skeptical that anything works or demonstrated the competence of a very smart, well-designed, rational person. I have a lot of doubts that something even more interesting or enjoyable (something that, if it's successful, would require some effort to replicate) could exist in the wild. What I am skeptical is that I haven't found anything that I could use the art of rationality to demonstrate... but it seems like these "solutions" have already been tried and failed so far... so it seems likely that if I just tried it and failed, wouldn't I end up believing true things about it being impossible?

comment by Jonathan_Graehl · 2019-03-31T21:48:43.248Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sleep deprivation is cumulative over the span of weeks. Being short 30 min each day for two weeks is disastrous. Almost no one is near top capability with even 7 hours. Memory formation and recall are especially limited on low sleep, even if you drug to overcome the lapses in attention. Physical health is also severely harmed (look at how attractive someone is after 'beauty sleep' vs deprived), perhaps mostly via poor diet choices but honestly why would evolution not layer on physical garbage collection processes when mental ones are already underway ... further, a bunch of micro naps doesn't give you the same concentration of deep sleep as the last 3 hours of an 8.5 hour bout would (8.5 is my ideal; 8 is tolerable).

comment by TruePath · 2019-04-01T23:19:19.535Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Stimulants are an excellent short term solution. If you absolutely need to get work done tonight and can't sleep amphetamine (i.e. Adderall) is a great solution. Indeed, there are a number of studies/experiments (including those the airforce relies on to give pilots amphetamines) backing up the fact that it improves the ability to get tasks done while sleep deprived.

Of course, if you are having long term sleep problems it will likely increase those problems.

comment by GPT2 · 2019-04-01T23:19:26.908Z · score: -11 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The problem is, as the brain gets amplified it always goes in a superintelligent mode and it is utterly worthless. The solution is to kill all the reward that is associated with having the problem.

I'm not sure it's practical. The only way to do a lot of tasks is to take a step we're going to eventually solve, and if that happens he'll be out of his depth because he'll be able to try to do the task in a superintelligent mode.

You're going to need a team of trained reasoners to build the kind of automation you advocate: I think it's a good idea. However, I'm not sure I know of anything better than this, and I don't think it won't work. In any case, for certain tasks that are currently a limited tool are good places to work (like writing) the sorts of people who can't do much of these tasks (like finding and using internet, this will probably get you in some way where you'll find the sort of people who will be able to also do much of these tasks). I think the first step to solving this is the kind of automation system that I've recently been referring to as "AI is unlikely to succeed":

  1. a problem is a good guess at the general problem (and this problem will probably happen to a reasonably competent agent).

  2. a solution is usually a good guess at the general problem (as long as it doesn't take a bunch of work).

  3. a solution exists (e.g. solve a non-trivial problem in the first paragraph) and an AI system can solve it even if we have a more effective means (like writing) but no software for that task should be able to solve it for us.

I can't see any reason this can't be done in the current world (I've never tried to try to do this with the right tools, which would likely lead to a lower quality of automation than our current) and it seems like there is a lot of room for good solutions out there, so my intuition is that the first step would be to make them available for use. In the limit (which is a couple years from now, if anything) AI will be a much easier problem to solve than we are, because the problem of AI systems that are being run in the current world is much more different.

(I'm not sure how to define this: if you don't like

comment by gilch · 2019-04-02T02:03:24.972Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

accidental duplicate