Article review: This is pretty good science reporting, actually providing a link to the study being referenced. My one nit is the use of the word "Toxins". That is a trigger word for me that immediately makes me suspicious of the reporting. Scientific papers about the human body very rarely if ever use the word "Toxins" preferring precise terminology such as "brain waste products" or just keeping to the chemical names at hand. "Toxins" is one of those normative layman words that gets used to sweep up all sorts of ill-conceived explanations and pseudo-science.
ps: in death you seek knowledge. #deadline
Actually from ancient Greek "toxicon" (related to archery) which stems from "toxon" (bow, not arrow), that got into latin. The association (toxicon -> toxic as in poisonous) came due to the practice of using poisons in archery (to make for lethal arrowheads).
Greeks took the word from Scythians. Taxus, for the yew family of trees (poisonous), is related to that, but the transfer to latin as currently used was through "toxic(os)".
this same tree, as you indicate, was also used by Native Americans for making hunting bows
"toxin" is an general term that encompasses many established entities as well as phony ones. When you see "toxin", you can ask "which toxin are you referring to?"
A widely used scientific term.
It's a tragedy, but it's what's happened.
I don't have more information. I just typed that in based on your comment.
Evolution found a nice little optimum in sleep that works pretty well- use less energy during a time of the day that isn't a very efficient time to be awake while also cleaning out the brain.
This could be interesting for future research. Could we find chemical means to remove those waste proteins?
It's pretty accepted that the surgery is not performance enhancing against the healthy baseline. Some pitchers come back throwing harder because they had significant impairment (wearing of the tendons) before.
Personally, I dislike the need for sleep. I put it off for as long as I can manage, and try to get as little of it as I can get away with. For me, I have a hard time functioning well with less than 4 hours a night, but anything more then 5.5 hours and I feel like I've thrown the day away. The idea of voluntarily checking out from the world isn't as relaxing to me as picking up a book to read, or learning something new, or doing something productive that isn't work/startup-related.
Either way, I assume that nobody would force you to take a drug that you didn't want to take.
Suddenly, you can take a drug that decreases your need for sleep by 50%. People only need 4h of sleep per night now, for a full nights' sleep - 3h, if you're willing to skimp a little, 2h isn't unheard of (in the way that only getting 4h of sleep a night, now, isn't unheard of either).
Suddenly, there's a significant advantage in the hands of everyone willing to take this drug. Students are expected to study more and harder, because they don't need 8h of sleep every night. Entrance exams to schools get more difficult. Software developers are now enticed to work longer hours - longer hours than they already are. Labor / shift workers (hospitality / food industry) are expected to work longer shifts, and they have to, because businesses have to be open longer because more people are awake for more of the day.
Now, also, you have to consider: this is just sleep, in terms of brain repair. Your body has to put itself back together every night, too - repairing microscopic muscle tears, fixing bruises, etc etc etc. Your body would probably start slowly falling apart on 2-3h of sleep per night, even if your mind was fully rested.
I really, really hope this doesn't happen.
But if this sort of thing ever does happen, then I absolutely hope that it goes down as you've described.
In the time I've been alive, I've seen more and more employers gravitating towards fewer hours, more lenient work schedules, etc. My first job was basically a minimum of 10 hours a day, and 6, sometimes 7 days a week. Nowadays, companies (especially in tech, mind you) are realizing the difficulty in recruiting / training / keeping personnel and are competing on benefits to the extent that 'unlimited' vacation days, telework, longer maternity and paternity leaves, etc. And before the obvious counterargument is made, this isn't limited just to technology (though it does seem to be blazing the trail.) Tech, agriculture, finance, business, and any industry in which recruiting and keeping talent are tricky are basically trading dollars for perks, and often, the result of that is that employees get to keep more of their personal time for themselves.
Sure, this hasn't affected every industry, and for industries where labor is a commodity, it may never occur, but just as sure as you believe your scenario is the result of capitalism, I believe that the increase in perks / time / accommodation is the same.
> trading dollars for perks
And I suppose it also has to do a lot with how much leverage employees have against their employers. Those of us in tech have more leverage on average than, say, a hospitality worker.
It's a lot more nuanced than I had initially thought, for sure.
Most things are a LOT more nuanced than most people give credence to, and there's zero dishonor in acknowledging that. With almost every issue I've delved into (especially political ones), there are arguments for and against any given issue that I can't hand-wave away. I might prioritize some factors ahead of others, but just about every political issue in the world is a matter of tradeoffs, and there are very few obvious wins.
I agree with your assertion here that much of the strengths to be found in capitalism revolve around the notion of resolving power imbalances. For every good story I've read, somewhere, there's a terrifying story -- I'm reminded of the old Hazard county mine worker strikes, for example.
But while unions are ostensibly the surest fix in mitigating those power imbalances (in fostering leverage to the people), the more I look at them the more I realize that they need to be truly cooperative. Union power is real enough that there are places like Sweden which have no minimum wage, and yet still have high effective wages. But in America at least, unions with political power often exploit that political power towards complacency, corruption, and often trend towards being less effective stewards of their member interests. In essence, too much cooperation between unions and policy makers may yield counter-intuitive results that manifest in ineffective unions, which yields declining memberships, which yields power imbalances in favor of corporations.
The point, if I have one, is that while so many people get wrapped up in the idea of "unions bad" or "unions good", we lose the ability to objectively evaluate whether a given union is good or bad because we ideologically insist that they be a certain way. Similarly, evaluations of government, corporations, regulations, trade, capitalism, socialism, et al all falter as soon as we begin to put too much faith in the institution that we stop performing scientifically objective and individual evaluations upon them.
Thanks for the conversation, and in particular, for the open mind. It's always a pleasure to engage with someone who I know to be willing to adjust their opinions to facts, and while capitalism surely isn't always good, it definitely isn't always bad either.
Like hell they won't. It will become a social and economic imperative before you know it.
Statistically you are unlikely to be one of those people for whom 5-6 hours sleep daily is sufficient, so all you are doing to yourself is contributing to increased aggression, dulling of empathy and reduced impulse control that comes with insufficient sleep.
I wasn't going to bed at regular hours, and I wasn't waking up to an alarm, so I guess I am in that group (also, I don't have increased aggression or impulse control, but I don't know how I'd measure empathy). That said, I did not realize that I was statistically rare, so thanks for pointing out that maybe my 5 hours a night advice isn't applicable to others. Regardless of the amount of time involved in sleeping, I still would prefer not to have to take it, if that were an option.
So I imagine the trade-off isn't as severe as someone might guess; it's definitely theoretically possible to run entirely without sleep with the right hardware. For example, lets say sleep was fundamental to cognition. If you were willing to have redundant hardware, you could run two brains and just take turns sleeping them . So that probably gives something of an upper-bound to efficiency.
The problem is that a lot of stuff is getting built on top of these things. Scheduled downtime is getting used by other adaptions. Things like handling 'garbage collection' or 'waste collection' inline get shunted away to the downtime to improve response times. This keeps happening. Over short periods there are going to be plenty of cases where being paralyzed isn't optimal. What if something shows in the night? Long term though if the creature is continually staying active when its at disadvantage that's really bad. So additional penalties accrue to force the issue.
Then the original 'purpose/benefit' starts getting lost. Things get messed up. Enough adaptions end up taking advantage of the fact that the downtime existed that now there is so much benefit to it for reasons unrelated to its initial creation that it starts becoming worth doing even at times where light levels aren't an issue.
So now when you try to mess with sleep, you're not just messing with one little thing. You're messing with a whole bunch of different entangled processes. One to reduce activity during periods where the sensors suck. Another to prevent continued activity when the sensors suck. Another that handles waste. Another that starts up ML algorithms during the downtime to take advantage of the freed-up processing. Another that does data backup. The muscles use the downtime to start construction. Basically all over the body everyone is starting to get to work.
It's like that tradeoff problem that gwern talks about with using notropics, where each one improves one thing but causes problems in other areas. So basically, it isn't a question of whether or not you need sleep from a theoretical process perspective. You don't, if you had a different design. But now sleep isn't just the reduce activity time because its night adaption. It's all tied up in everything else.
You shorten the amount you sleep? You die younger, because you cancelled the bodies maintenance period.
: Which dolphins are kind of doing.
Sleeping require much less energy. The only reason to be awake is to eat and reproduce. For any animal there is probably an optimal ratio between sleep and hunt/reproduction where sleep is the most favorable.
The (assumed) primary motive here is to find a way to sleep less. We already have ways to force wakefulness. We now need to find ways to mitigate negative side effects hence the research on various health functions sleep contributes towards.
A bizarro thing to say, given that the parent gave several arguments that make sense from an evolutionary/physical viewpoint, like "sleeping requires much less energy" and "the only reason to be awake is to eat and reproduce".
>What does 'default state' even mean in this context?
The state that requires the less energy expenditure? Similar to a rest/equilibrium state in physics?
That's a very reasonable definition. Taking that into account, let's revisit the context of the parent comment: "What if being asleep is the default state for any organism?" What do you mean "what if"? "What if <insert obviously true statement>" is not a constructive or insightful question.
> A bizarro thing to say, given that the parent gave several arguments that make sense from an evolutionary/physical viewpoint, like "sleeping requires much less energy" and "the only reason to be awake is to eat and reproduce".
Repeating myself: If you're suggesting there's no reason for sleep other than conserving energy, that's patently false.
Well, assuming it's true, it's not that "obvious". And even if it is obvious to e.g. a biologist, it's not at all obvious to a layperson.
In fact it's so "not obvious" that you didn't even consider it valid when the parent said it (I merely clarified it further).
>Repeating myself: If you're suggesting there's no reason for sleep other than conserving energy, that's patently false.
Why repeat that though? It's not as is somebody claimed it.
What parent said (and I clarified) was whether sleep is the default state of an animal, and everything else is a deviation from that default to achieve a specific (reproductive etc) purpose.
So not only we did NOT say that "there's no reason for sleep other than conserving energy", but we explicitly said something close to being the opposite: that the only reason to be awake is to "eat and reproduce".
Just think of how disoriented you are when something wakes you up in the middle of night - that's a definite biological cost if that thing is something threatening to you.
And of course, never mind creatures that have gone as far as the 50/50 brain adaptation (IE Dolphins), they simply have to be at least partially awake all the time.
"This treatment appears to work by inducing brain waves known as gamma oscillations, which the researchers discovered help the brain suppress beta amyloid production and invigorate cells responsible for destroying the plaques."
I wonder if this brain hack will have unwanted side effects. That is, I wonder if using the light trick could cause the normal processing to either not happen or happen less often.
This is really exciting research, though, and I really hope it is effective in humans like it is in mice.
Edit: FWIW: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uaiiJsfgP58
If you want to learn effectively and work efficiently, take care of your body and take care of your brain.
(Of course, you could justly ask why oh why my sophomore-year-self didn't exercise discipline and cut myself off trying to improve my beta.)
Oh, right, there are none.
It could be that the brain needs to fire up for short periods in order to help pump the increased fluid out to prepare for another rinse.
as a reply to your snarkiness.
Apparently much of it based on Oakley's book A Mind For Numbers, which I'll try to read soon. Much of the content also reminded me of Josh Waitzkin's The Art of Learning. A related thread elsewhere on HN  also suggests Make It Stick by Peter Brown.
I sleep "late hours". I go sleep around 8am and wake up around noon. I don't eat breakfast just coffee. I work most of the day on different projects, eat quite large dinner at 8pm, then every day go for 45 min to the gym, around 10pm and then 20 min walk. After that its about midnight and I start working. I don't get tired until 5am but then 2 glasses of water "wake me up". By 8am I'm in bed truly tired.
I been running this schedule for 15 years now, no symptoms of nothing. I don't smoke and don't drink btw. I barely watch TV (never found anything interesting; I take breaks on my PC watching some travel-related documentaries)
Edit: perhaps once a month I feel truly tired and usually on the weekend, I tend to sleep about 8-10 hours. But that doesn't happen often.
Interestingly, if she gets the standard number of hours of rest (say, 7-8), she gets really groggy and it totally disrupts her ability to function throughout the day!
It sounds kind of like an evolutionary advantage. Sleep is probably for multiple uses, but I think most could all be handled in other fashions.
The exception is conservation of energy. Yet, that is no longer relevant in the upper part of society.
As far as I remember it wasn't always like that. Eventually at some point around my 20s I start working more and more hours and never got "break". Eventually I think my body got used to _knowing_ how many hours per night it can expect and adjusted. That or perhaps a heart attack is coming any day now at 35 (knock on the wood)
Animals that need to be constantly in motion have other adaptations.
For modern humans the cost can be immense according to our cultural calculus. I'm not sure it's an evolutionary cost. Only time will tell whether those burning the midnight oil have better reproductive success.
It's possible that our invention of computers was and continues to be a slow brew to simulate something innate within us...
Ballard I presumed was just speculating. But based on his relatively high level of scientific knowledge I imagined it was rooted in some sort of real world science.
That story was written in the 1960s...so has the state of research on this remained slow or was Ballard just making a lucky guess?
At some point, people on HN will get over their fear of words like "toxins" and embrace the Tao Te Woo as the advanced science it is.
- To turn short term memory into long term memory, to consolidate long term memory, and prepare the brain to learn new things.
- To clean the brain of harmful waste products (which is what this article says. By the way, it is old and from 2013).
- An evolutionary artifact of energy conservation in resource-low ecosystems.
Are there some other theories too?
One thing in particular that stood out is the rise in cortisol associated with lack-of-sleep, and cortisol's relationship to gaining fat; having hit a couple of rocky weeks sleep due to young kids at home, this was particularly relevant to me.
I now rank sleep as pinnacle in terms of health / fitness training, mental well-being, creativity, etc.
I hate being up early for work. I am 9am scrum since our team is spread out over the planet and it's truly painful. The right attitude is not "you should get to bed at a reasonable time," since I often get bursts of productivity between 11pm and 4am. I'm probably the most productive in that window.
Choosing jobs and career paths based on your sleeping pattern (and overall heath) should be encourage more over money or benefits or retirement or all of those other bullshit traps:
That's what 'dropout' is for ;)
Specifically in this article about coffee naps http://www.vox.com/2014/8/28/6074177/coffee-naps-caffeine-sc... which links to this Harvard article: http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/benefits...
This is true for all things one would imbibe to 'escape reality'.
It even helps with going to sleep earlier, because I feel depleted by 10 PM, so there's less incentive for me to stay up and waste time that I could use resting for the next day.
Instead of scare tactics you could look at actual costs: https://www.gwern.net/Modafinil#costs
> I take modafinil on a daily basis each morning, and have a regular sleep pattern of 7-8 hours a night.
It even helps with going to sleep earlier, because I feel depleted by 10 PM, so there's less incentive for me to stay up and waste time that I could use resting for the next day.