But, my endurance of focus (the amount of time for which I can perform at a high level) does suffer.
The weird thing is that it doesn't feel like I can't keep going... it's just that I sort of somehow don't keep going. I find my mind wandering more easily, checking in on social media more, and then time passing more quickly when I do. I'm more likely to look up from Twitter or HN and be surprised at the time.
In short I don't seem to be any dumber while doing something, but number of things I get done in a typical time periods declines.
As I have come to understand this impact, it has given me greater empathy for addicts. My brain doesn't feel like a tired muscle, or like I'm doing anything wrong in the moment. It's only later, when I look back, that I realize I was making bad decisions and losing time. It has just reinforced how hard it is to use decision-making to recover from a situation where the brain has already been compromised by bad decisions.
It's very common. Studies on sleep deprivation report that subjects do not feel their cognitive abilities decline. However, measuring cognition using objective tests does show a significant decrease in these abilities.
Nowadays... not so much.
...but I started leaving typos in everything.
That really doesn't sound like much, right? Honestly, though, it genuinely freaked me out a little, existentially, the first time I noticed. I was one of those nerds who got to a state spelling bee as a kid, and I've always been a voracious reader. I've had spell-check turned off since forever because it would inevitably be the spell-check that was wrong about niche terms.
But without enough sleep, all of that competence that I usually just take for granted vanishes. I end up with 'good moerning' and 'how are yoiu' and 'paass the salt', and I don't even notice I'm doing it until I look back at what I've written and double-take.
And that's just with casual writing, probably one of the lowest-overhead mental tasks possible for many people. God only knows what kind of disaster would result from me trying to drive or operate heavy machinery in that state.
I stop reading what I've written and introducing a large number of typos; the grammar becomes weird; etc.
This is why it's important to allow yourself to be exhausted and to notice exhaustion: your little mental model of yourself is incredibly inaccurate. You need to be constantly alert to keep it updated, and if you don't, you will collapse.
"--as judged by things I build and people I interact with."
I mean, I agree that sleep deprivation seems to induce temporary cognitive performance problems, but you're reinforcing a point that the parent seems to already understand -- that self perception is useless without objective performance metrics.
Parent gave their opinion, reinforced by anecdotal evidence that they believe is an objective measure of their performance.
Perhaps what should really be mentioned is that perhaps the metrics by which they are judging their cognitive performance are not as broad a test of those characteristics as one might believe.
Not entirely an American thing, given the the common sight of a salaryman asleep on a train or cafe all over Japan. But given those 2 were the Largest Economies in the World for the last decades, and only recently JP was surpassed by CN in the middle of the last one, it makes sense.
Having done it myself, I think its definitely an experience people should have in their Lifetime outside of University or raising a child it really makes you more empathetic towards other people in difficult situations later on in Life. We on HN may choose startup life for one reason or another, but I know left with a better understanding of the Human condition afterward and come to see that its worth encouraging people who want to strive at something and actually put the work in.
That's overstating the Work culture in either situation, in my opinion; in Japan its typical to have to stay only until the boss leaves, and the drinking culture that follows is mainly to curry favour with the higher-ups to climb the corporate latter. If that counts as 'abstraction' to you, I'm not sure what to make of your 'post industrial' POV.
In the US corporate World, which is the only one I have any experience with, 'playing the game' is often more important than actual skill or merit. Which is why I despised my time within it.
I'm not hired to be your drinking buddy or be a confidant, I'm a hired-gun for your project and only really there to offset my living expenses and bootstrap the more cool and interesting things I do in my Life.
Making work be or seem anything other than 'work' requires a lot of de-compartmentalization for me and encumbering a person to a do so seems hardly 'abstract' to me and the more it becomes remote the better. That isn't to say I don't drink the Kool-aid for the things I'm passionate about, but that is hardly, if ever, found in the Corp World--this is pretty much how I left so disillusioned at IBM, despite being a Thinkpad fanboy.
It’s amazing that often times in the reports, which are generally done a day later, the pilots will state that they probably shouldn’t have continued. However, in the moment where they made that decision, they didn’t feel all that tired. We ask the pilots to make a critical decision about themselves at precisely the time where they may not have the best judgment.
Here's one from the FAA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSrGfElyfVE
Oh, looks like it was by the same author as the article we're discussing: https://guzey.com/books/why-we-sleep/
(Disclaimer - I'm not. I found much of the content interesting and compelling.)
I think the criticism seems valid, and it probably means I shouldn't use the book as a reply to people asking for scientific evidence (like the comment I replied to). That said, I don't think it detracts from the main argument of the book, or the main revelation for me, which is that most people don't realise how damaging lack of sleep is. I would still recommend it to a lay friend on that basis.
>That said, I don't think it detracts from the main argument of the book, or the main revelation for me, which is that most people don't realise how damaging lack of sleep is.
I don't get this. You find that the book you believe provides the arguments for the damaging effects of sleep and based on which you dramatically changed your life is bullshit but somehow this fact doesn't detract from its main argument and you are still going to recommend it to your friends?
Reading (most of) the book caused me to change my priorities from basically "I don't care about how much sleep I get" to "getting enough sleep is an important priority for me". Presumably you would agree that that is a positive effect.
"Why We Sleep" is everything wrong with "science" today, and as a person who also isn't a huge fan of sleeping, I'm desperate to understand the real drawbacks to a lack of sleep. That dumpster fire of a book has set back honest research on the subject by years.
Just venting, as I know you agree. Thanks again for your contributions to sanity.
As far as I remember he cited peer reviewed articles. Anyway a quick search turned up this:
People driving while high are especially frustrating, because they’ve convinced themselves that there better drivers.
Take something that requires more mental focus but do not rely on reaction times, like pool, I definitely play better when I’ve been drinking as I get less distracted when going down on a shot and less anxious about my performance. And pool is a small enough table where the negative effects of drinking tend not to overcompensate (unlike snooker where more than 1 pint will hamper my game).
For some activities it’s more about mental focus on that single activity where as driving is about multitasking and reactions. Qualities drugs tend to hamper rather then enhance.
Yeah, no you're not.
I will admit it helps with conversation if you don’t normally talk and you’re around equally drunk people, but a few beers plus a crowd of sober people doesn’t work as well as most people think it does.
No, it doesn't. It eliminates the anxiety. It doesn't enhance performance. It modifies your perception of your performance.
I suspect part of it was state-dependent practice. I'd practice throwing darts in a bar, much of the practice was after drinking several pints, so I practised my release timing with alcohol.
I also suspect that part of it was the muscle relaxant effect of a moderate amount of alcohol probably does help improve the consistency of motion in releasing the dart.
Jokes aside, fully agreed. You just gotta get enough alcohol that your confidence and peacefulness are up (which would cause you to play better), but not to the point where negative effects of alcohol overpower the positive ones. And that's a tricky one to balance.
Edit: Don't just take my word for it. https://www.wired.com/2015/05/big-question-booze-help-play-b...
> In a 1993 study, he found that hand-eye coordination deteriorated immediately after a player's first drink, but balance and accuracy improved at a BAC of 0.02 (beyond that, performance fell off).
A BAC of 0.02 is like, I dunno, less than half a beer? (And even then the article suggests a mixed bag.) I have no trouble believing that very small doses of alcohol could relax the imbiber in a way that's useful. But I suspect most of the people here who think I'm wrong are referring to larger doses not measured in fractions-of-a-single-beer.
And, again, I very much doubt it.
Your ability to do almost anything falls off beyond the 0.02 point mentioned in the article. What's actually on display here is that people are very bad at evaluating how alcohol affects them. None of the claims here would survive unbiased testing.
They've already consumed enough alcohol to move past the sweet spot but it isn't yet affecting their performance.
When sober, when things don't go well, the stress leads me to trying to take stupid shortcuts (like braking later and later before the corners) that don't work. With a bit of alcohol, it seems there's a bit less stress and I'm better at doing things the right way.
With more alcohol, the negative effects start to dominate. Slower reflexes, too aggressive driving.
With sufficient effort I can focus on driving the right way while sober, which works even better of course.
To be clear: the only racing in real life I do is the occasional karting session, which I do only when sober!
After three beer, I still suck at pool, but I don't care.
So yeah, I play better.
It figures that everyone each has their individual baseline "propensity to stay focused"--and sleep deprivation degrades someone's focus below that. You take a normal person and sleep deprive them, and their "propensity to stay focused" is lowered, but still might fall within an acceptable/functional range.
One theory that's gaining traction is that people with ADHD have a somewhat lower baseline than average, and when you throw in sleep deprivation, their "propensity to focus" falls into dysfunctional territory. Ergo, ADHD might have a large sleep component.
In all cases (which corroborates with your experiences), they found that people are really poor at actively self-detecting those fluctuations.
Yeah, I can count on one hand the number of times in my life when I woke up in the morning, even after a good night of sleep, and felt "refreshed". I didn't even know what that meant until I had a conversation with a coworker who just hops out of bed and is "on" immediately. Feels like there is a connection with my ADHD diagnosis.
I have three layers of blinds (get portable blackout blinds); I use earplugs; I try to keep the room temp low.
My mood, ability to think clearly, happiness etc. is very sensitive to my moving-average quality of sleep.
I think a week or two of "fair" (fitbits levels) sleep is a catastrophe for me -- I need a high average.
I know that caffeine consumption can be a big issue, but that’s a lost cause. Caffeine is like crack for someone with ADHD, and I’ve given up on trying to quit given my current demanding lifestyle. Maybe one day when my to-do list is shorter.
Anecdotal source: Having a (tiny but well-angled) skylight does wonders for me in the summer months.
I do find that for whatever reason the right amount of sleep deprivation makes me more upbeat and social (and silly). Like somehow the anxious, analytical part of me gets switched off first so the well-rested parts that rarely get used can steal the show.
Part of the criteria for diagnosis is that your symptoms are persistent and chronic enough such that your life is impaired. That's already squarely in dysfunctional territory without sleep problems.
Given ADHD affects all of your executive functions, it tends to impact all facets of your life. You're 400% more likely to be obese than someone who is non-ADHD. With that comes obstructive sleep apnea. With that comes less sleep and more problems.
So, ADHD has its own special way of making itself worse.
Not a place I’d recommend if you can avoid it.
That's exactly what I experience if I have a few too many days where my sleep is interrupted or I sleep badly. I already give myself very little leeway there, where I usually have about 5.5 to 6.5 hours before I need to wake up (I fall asleep very quickly), so it's a fairly good gauge of time). If something wakes me earlier than expected, it affects me the next day.
I find that coffee makes this harder to determine, as I'll still feel alert that next day, just as if I had better sleep, but I'll be less productive overall in all the ways you mentioned. I can still think coherently, but I appear to be able to do so about the same thing for a much shorter period before being distracted with something else.
> As I have come to understand this impact, it has given me greater empathy for addicts. My brain doesn't feel like a tired muscle, or like I'm doing anything wrong in the moment.
That's a very astute observation. I've noticed before that more sleep makes me more productive, yet there's always that allure to staying up a bit later and reading a little bit more in the book I'm reading (which is almost always the problem), or watching a little bit more, etc.
Like an addiction (I assume), the path from non-problematic behavior to problematic behavior is somewhat gradual, and noticing the problem is somewhat impaired by the negative effects of the problem itself. I don't set out to sleep very little, it just gradually gets worse where I'm skimping on sleep more and more often, until it's fairly consistent, and then I eventually notice and break out of it. Then the cycle repeats, but I generally spend far more time with little sleep than adequate sleep overall.
Ironically the use of some strong nootropics helped him cut the corner and work himself in a saner situation from which he could use to start coming back on his feet.
Afterwards I notice that my work from day 1 and 2 is way below average and can more or less be discarded, while I did not notice this at the time.
Sounds a lot like an unfalsifiable hypothesis. Which means it can simply be a question of your perception of a phenomenon, not an objective truth of it.
* Pain was far more manageable (IBS, MMA injuries)
* Sleep was more restorative when I woke up
* Emotions far more regulated (less irritable)
* Quicker to come up with on the spot jokes, or come up with a refutation to an argument
* Gym performance +30% at least
* Gym recovery faster
* Short and long term memory improvement
* Less health flair ups
* Reduction in brain fog
It’s hard to notice these differences subjectively unless you know what it’s like when you’re “optimized”
Following a keto (or carnivore with a focus on ketosis) diet leads to a further boost across the dimensions mentioned above.
I think many people outside of self-optimization don’t realize what they’re sacrificing when they choose to forego sleep. Even total productivity is enhanced, despite working less hours due to sleeping.
A lot of the critique was around the 8 hours, and the conclusions about what happens if you get less.
Anecdotally, I never sleep 8+ hours. I also get up without an alarm clock every single day. I'm not going to stress that I normally sleep ~7 hours and feel rested when I wake up. I know on the rare occasions if I get less than 6 hours, I'm going to be really tired that night.
Instead now I have an alarm to go bed, and I get up when I feel rested.
I didn't make it through the first chapter before I started looking into the accuracy of the claims he was making. Some of them were clearly bananas.
This is a very interesting point.
Following a "carnivore" diet is a really terrible idea. Unless you're an Inuit living in the frozen north, you should eat some greens.
Tried keto (proper), vegan, vegetarian, low-FODMAP, paleo, all without success. Found a forum of other IBS people, and decided to risk going against mainstream 'authority' such as the American Heart Association.
So far, feel better than I ever have, on all markers I could measure objectively, and subjectively.
Whats a terrible idea is to have fats linked to heart disease in a massive lie that spanned decades, breed fruit for higher sugar, then say sugar from fruit is fine and healthy, but refined sugar should be moderated (even then its not discouraged). Or in the face of (currently anecdotal, I agree) evidence of dozens and dozens of chronic, autoimmune diseases cured by a carnivore diet from thousands of people. (Harvard Survey finished collecting data end of April)
Cured meaning we've removed the inflammatory foods causing the chronic illness. At least see it as an elimination diet, to where a user can add foods back in, and find out whats causing the adverse symptoms initially.
But science remains dogmatic, as history shows, for better or worse.
Before the meat loaf I tried liver numerous times, usually calf liver, cooked more on the rare side as it was far more palatable. Oddly enough, and others have similar experiences, on days I ate the liver, I was satiated much sooner, and had roughly 30% less muscle meat for that day.
I was on the same page as you when I looked into the diet initially, but from the myriad of resources I've skimmed, or trusted other's review over, it seems we really are in the dark with nutritional science.
Countless epidemiological nutrition studies attempt to show causality, regardless of the amount of confounding factors they attempt to account for, then prescribe guidelines that are inherently flawed. Gwern.net has a great article on this 
My point is, there are most likely many other mechanisms our bodies have in it's 'arsenal' to sustain homeostasis that we have yet to map out, due to ethical, economic, and practical limitations of truly randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind nutritional studies.
That is to say, despite on paper the typical muscle-meat carnivore diet lacks nutritional variety, we see anecdotally people are generally flourishing on this diet. This I think is a significant counter example to our current model of nutrition, and will hopefully spur further research.
THIS. Combine with NYT article on the sugar lie and we have a disturbing picture that in the least betrays incompetence. Also there is a lot of evidence from Robert Sapolsky's work with baboons that atherosclerosis has little to do with blood cholesterol and is much more about stress
The main takeaways for me are: eat stuff that looks like food - meat and veggies. Fruit has fructose which must be processed by the liver and split into sucrose and glucose so keep the fruit and HFCS to a minimum. And don't stress (too much). And move your body. Walk 30 min a day, do some pushups, just do something.
It's not just AHA recommendations based on epidemiological studies, it's also the vast amount of data showing that unfortunately, cultural diets high in animal fat and protein eventually get the best of you.
Scientifically watching these kinds of interventions and showing they have positive outcomes still does not mean that practicing the intervention long-term is fine.
There you go. It's the tyranny of averages: when variation between humans is greater than the effect of the intervention.
This reminds me of reading The How of Happiness and learning that happiness is basically 50% genetics, 10% circumstances and 40% behavior. The author frames that 40% as a really big number, but I thought about it the other way around: if you're unlucky enough to be born into the bottom decile of genetic happiness, then you could do everything right and still be less happy than someone with really good happiness genes who does everything wrong.
Some people get smashed by any lack of sleep, and some people (most notably short sleepers) are totally fine with as little as 4 hours a night. There is no advice that works for both kinds, and formulating advice based on averages is committing a grave fallacy.
I suppose the world of health research is plagued by this erroneous assumption that humans are more or less the same. In some ways sure, but in many ways we are profoundly different.
Sidenote: I came to the conclusion, that this is the crux of all generalizations when it comes to humans. Not all policies will be good for all people. The ideal country might be very different for you and me. Also our diets, the way we build relationships, how we should train our bodies or what constitutes moral lives.
You can be poor and happy or rich and happy, but the smarter you are the less likely either of those are true. Though being rich certainly helps.
If you're smarter, it means you can learn more efficiently. If you learn more efficiently, you get a deeper understanding of the world.
If you understand how something works, you stop having the wrong expectations, so you're less likely to be unhappy.
This is often a problem. Some say ignorance is bliss, and I am not sure they are wrong.
> If you understand how something works, you stop having the wrong expectations, so you're less likely to be unhappy.
While one may not have the wrong expectations, it can be painful sometimes to see how deep the rot goes and how that rot impacts people’s lives deeply (often negatively).
Additionally, changing the rot may be outside of your sphere of influence, so feelings of helplessness are possible.
There are lots of big problems in the world, too big to be fixed by a single person. Dwelling on these can be depressing, they don't say that ignorance is bliss without a reason.
This seems like a big leap in logic.
Here's an exaggerated example: are you upset because you can't fly like a bird? Probably not, because you know that the world doesn't work that way.
A more subtle example: If you understand why people act the way they act, you stop being angry when they act in a way that is harmful to others or themselves. It doesn't mean you just let them do it. You stop them if you can. But it doesn't make you unhappy. Just like it doesn't make you unhappy if a wild animal attacks you when go into its cage, for example.
> it doesn't make you unhappy if a wild animal attacks you when go into its cage
Maybe we have different definitions of unhappiness at play here, because being attacked by an animal would definitely make me unhappy. I mean at the moment it would mostly make me fear for my life, but afterward when dealing with the damages I got, I think I would be quite unhappy, and understanding that really I'm the one to blame wouldn't help. It could make me more unhappy, leaving me kicking myself for doing something so stupid.
I wouldn't blame the animal if that's what you mean, but that's different from happiness/unhappiness.
> are you upset because you can't fly like a bird
I think that's more because my hopes and dreams are shaped by the environment that I've grown up in and, living amongst other humans that can't fly like a bird, the possibility of doing that has never occurred to me, at least not for seriously enough to become an issue of happiness.
Had I been a born an elephant with huge ears that all my so-called elephant friends would torment me for... yeah it would make me pretty unhappy if those ears wouldn't at least give me the ability to fly.
It's also worth mentioning that it's very easy for people to convince themselves that they're special or different when they actually aren't. Our own psychology is very unreliable. So while your point is well taken, people should also not assume they're the exception to the rule, even if they might be.
Sadly, I've never found any positive research that there's any way to do it safely. When I was younger I found schedules like the Uberman and was amazed by the claim: only 2 hours of sleep a day required, as long as you stuck to a pretty rigid schedule and were disciplined about napping on time. I never had the scheduling freedom available to actually give it a go, and accounts of others trying it seemed to indicate that it was actually pretty awful to keep up.
This article seems promising, but it's a relatively short experiment. Would be interesting to see what happened after a year of 4 hour sleep. Based on the author's description, sounds like their body was trying to force them asleep at every turn and they had to fight through it. That would be hard to maintain long-term.
I truly wish one day we can isolate and synthesize whatever magical thing happens during sleep and recover some useful time. This seems much more practical than life-expectancy extension to me. As long as, of course, employers don't take it upon themselves to increase the workday as well. I'd rather sleep than work.
If you want to recover some time, try Soylent, moving closer to the office, hiring a maid to do the cleaning, etc. Assuming that these are within your means, you can recover quite a bit of time that way.
Any couple that bickers about cleaning at all should try a maid before a divorce or couples counseling.
Get a roomba.
Hire a maid.
Nobody said allowing access to the helper while nobody is around. Weekend help for a few hours is a thing. You can rest and relax while they are around. Just don't be dumb enough to tempt them by leaving a purse full of cash on the table. Even the best of the people can fall prey to a moment of weakness.
They quality of the work eventually went down. Fewer nooks and crannies were cleaner each passing week, there were also "cleaning mistakes" that happened that led to a roach infestation happening (or not being prevented from spreading), such as wet dishes inside the pantry.
I just moved to an smaller apartment and will just clean it myself, maybe will ask my GF to help me out.
For domestic work, you usually can't offer them a career progression path to keep them interested. So the alternative is rotation. Though trust is definitely an issue, if your location has maid agencies that arrange for this kind of work, that aspect can be mostly addressed.
The benefits weren't really as pronounced as I was hoping for. Then if you end up missing one of your scheduled sleep times it really effects you and throws you off for a day or two.
I'm back to standard 7-8/night.
I think if you really want to micro-optimize, you need to be able to set up quantitative metrics and then start playing with variables, and then make very small changes. Maybe you only need 7.5 hours of sleep, not 8. If you are set up to measure the differences in mood, wakefulness, etc., then you can probably detect when you've not gotten enough sleep. But, you might not like the results. Rather than fight them, you probably have to embrace them (or seek medical intervention).
I still use lucid dreaming for all sorts of things like practicing for presentations or running through meetings that I know will be difficult. I’ve found its most useful (for me at least) when prepping for interactive or adversarial situations because it forces some part of the brain to “be” both sides: the question asker and answerer.
And it only last a few minutes, so there is not enough time to study. Even if there was, I am always more interesting in flying around.
And most of the time I only reach a half-lucid state. Like tonight I got stuck in a time loop in a train station. Like I could not leave, because I did not have the right ticket or travel card. Then on a random train the ticket inspector wanted to arrest me. I was aware enough to realize that I could control the environment and could wish the ticket inspector away, but that just triggered the time loop and put me back in the train station where I started.
I had a psychologist relative who tried to help me with my “nightmares” by telling me to just accept the escalator dream instead of being frustrated by it. Somehow it worked, instead of getting frustrated by the endless escalators I eventually figured out how to just dutifully ride in peace until I woke up.
Of course that was super boring, but once I stopped frantically searching for the “right way” to do the escalators I started to figure out all the cool things I could do to entertain myself on the infinite escalator rides. I still use an escalator to “start” my lucid dreams if that makes sense. Maybe you’ll similarly take the train to lucid dreams?
All that is to say that I think the loops are actually the perfect way to practice if you can manage to abandon the problem-solving urge. Easier said than done, I know. Best of luck!
I use lucid dreaming to simulate various scenarios, sometimes have fun with superpowers, usually telekinesis.
It is particularly disappointing to see because, just as you say, I'd also like to see more research on sleep and perhaps synthesizing its effects into a compound, but if people dismiss these alternate sleep schedules, we may not fully understand what the brain is doing during sleep, as fewer researchers are incentivized to study it, thinking it's just BS, which hurts the field overall.
8 hours - I wish!
Since starting freelancing full time I've been lucky enough to not need to get up at any particular time and ditched the alarm clock - but unlucky enough to find out that it takes me around 9-10 hours of sleep to wake up naturally.
Unfortunately, after getting used to it, waking to alarm now feels like torture (well, it did before too, now that I think about it).
So much time. Every day.
Yes. Although I have no trouble sleeping even if the room isn't dark. Falling asleep is usually a little harder if it's not dark, but once I'm asleep the light doesn't wake me up, unless it's really bright (like sun shining directly through the fully open window).
Maybe light alarm would awake me, not sure how bright they are.
Regarding apnea - no perceptible stoppage of breathing during the night according to my partner, but I do snore sometimes. I was getting ready to do a sleep study just before the pandemic hit, I hope I will be able to do it soon.
Given the option, would you want to be slower and less energetic if you could stay up 24/7? We seem to make a trade-off. We sleep for 8 hours so that we can be at optimal performance the rest of the time.
I have never seen anyone that could sustain this. This is probably by design, the body has several mechanisms to make you go to bed. If not doing so was actually beneficial, it is likely that adaptations to this end would be more common.
> I truly wish one day we can isolate and synthesize whatever magical thing happens during sleep and recover some useful time.
Even our real world machines require maintenance stops. Don't hold your breath. Maybe we could make this more efficient in the future and speed up the processes.
I thought of this for the first time when listening to a Freakonomics podcast series interviewing major company CEOs. Several of them mentioned schedules where they average 3-5 hours sleep per night, forever. They all seemed to think that was fine.
I think I would be severely ill, maybe even literally die, if I averaged 3-5 hours sleep for a duration of many months.
When listening to that series it hit me, maybe this is a genetic thing. In the same way that you kind of need to be tall to make it into the NBA, maybe you need the "minimal sleep is okay" gene to make it as a CEO or rocketship founder. People with those genes get anywhere from 10-20 hours more time per work week than I do, and that's a big advantage over one week, let alone compounded over a career.
I don't know what the research says about this, but my lived experience makes me think it's pretty likely, and unfortunately that also means I may have to be more realistic about what my body is and is not capable of.
I just feel better now with more sleep and while I certainly could perform at a high level with less sleep I had to exert more energy the longer the day went on to stay focused.
Genetic? Maybe, or just really good discipline and work ethic?
It’s obvious that capacity for discipline and work ethic are not entirely independent of genetic factors.
I'd be curious to see how he performs on a broader spectrum of cognitive and even physical assessments.
I once made a giant switch statement of 150 lines at my first coding job, and I thought I did a job well done. The next day I came back, well rested, only to realize that I could replace the whole thing with an already existing csv file and a for loop.
How I differ from your experience: there's a certain sleep deprivation sweet spot where my "outbound communication" (e.g. talking or sympathy) skills are better, because I'm a bit less inhibited. My "inboud communication" (e.g. listening or empathy) do suffer a bit. I've noticed I become more of a doer (is that how you write it?). Normally, I overthink things, according to others. That's not the case when I'm mildly sleep deprived. Then I am: optimistic, charging in head first and get the job done! Boom! Yea, kinda like that, I think I'd be a good sales guy on mild sleep deprivation. Oh, and I don't worry about the consequences too much :)
When I get too sleep deprived my communication skills do take a hit.
On occasion I've noticed slight deprivation seem to stimulate my performance in some tasks. It's accompanied by a feeling of being wired and on a roll. That mildly elated "let's get 'er done!" ferver. I always assumed it was adrenaline pumping through my system to keep me going, as a (poor?) substitute for rest. Like the body's coffee.
Also seen cases where it similarly lowered my inhibitions (almost like a mild buzz). But once I'm significantly deprived, my vocabulary starts to become reduced - I have trouble remembering the word I really want (I know it's there, just not what it is), and resort to a more basic one that's less precise. It's generally the "outbound" side that suffers. I think it's also in part that my multitasking gets worse. In a normal conversation I'll be listening, and at the same time processing what's being said in the context of the conversation and my own experiences, as well as thinking ahead to formulate the phrasing for my response. When I'm really tired, I don't multitask as well (it takes more focus to perform the primary task I'm doing, e.g. listening and retaining short-term memory, and if I try to juggle too many things at once I'll lose concentration). I've learned when it's a better time to go get some rest than get pulled into a discussion about that complex $100 million merger or a deep dive talking about feelings with my partner ;-).
Games that require fast response and planning suffer on one extreme, and abstract thinking games like chess suffer on the other.
I have this as repeated observation from time when I lived with sleep deprived gamer.
I'm not familiar with PVT, and from the description I thought it seemed itself like a simple (if boring) videogame - or at least measured a subset of similar skills, like reaction time and attention lapse.
Didn't mean to come across as dismissive; I really am interested in broader metrics on this stuff. But don't deprive yourself again just for our sake. Thanks for your work, for reiterating the SAT piece, and for stimulating some great HN discussion.
(ps. You attributed some of the minor, sleep-deprived PVT and SAT deterioration to "getting lost in thought". Do you think you'd encounter the same degree of boredom or drifting focus if you did them again post-experiment, in a well-rested state?)
Note that the "getting lost in thought" happened when I slept 8 hours not 4. I think it just came to me taking hours upon hours of very similar tasks.
>I was extremely bored in the last 2 days of taking control measurements and sometimes got distracted and lost in thought, which resulted in me getting 3 and 4 lapses per session (as can be seen on Figure 1). I do not believe that these lapses represent my lack of alertness. ...
>The last low control score on the verbal section is a result of me becoming very bored with taking the SAT 5 days in a row, getting lost in thought for 10 minutes, and having to rush.
I will continue to experiment with sleep, mostly for myself :) and I'm planning to test memory and skill acquisition next time -- these are the two things people say are affected the most, so I'll try to figure out if that is true for me.
I'm actually refactoring some of the code/sub systems I created during that time now and some solutions are very wacky...creative, but a super weird way to approach it.
Sleep deprivation might not have been the only contributor, but there a noticeable change in our code base during that time and I distinctly remember worrying about my sleep
Starcraft 2 seems to be very sensitive to my cognitive state. When I've been looked back at my starcraft 2 score, I see it jump right before and during a really productive week.
I also see it drop or stall from a lack of sleep before I notice it in my day to day life or work.
Remember kids, the only difference between screwing around and science is writing it down.
You are 22 year old. Your body is at peak condition, built to go out and hunt for days on little food and little sleep. Of course it will work more or less fine for a few weeks.
>It's the brogrammer equivalent of fake news: 22-yo kid "makes science" with a sample of 1, some videogames, and a few charts.
>You are 22 year old. Your body is at peak condition, built to go out and hunt for days on little food and little sleep. Of course it will work more or less fine for a few weeks.
I like this comment because its author can't decide whether my study is the "equivalent of fake news" or whether its results are obviously true.
You dropping a caveat mid-page in a single sentence is also the same thing tabloids do: make a big title about something, then state the opposite somewhere in the actual small-print article.
>you over-analyze a situation that is relatively obvious, with a sample of 1, and simply by doing so you effectively suggest to generalize its results - which is wrong.
>You dropping a caveat mid-page in a single sentence is also the same thing scummy tabloids do: make a big title about something, then state the opposite somewhere in the actual small-print article.
The title of my study is:
>The Effects on Cognition of Sleeping 4 Hours per Night for 12-14 Days: a Pre-Registered Self-Experiment
Which clearly tells the reader that this is a n=1 study. I'm not just dropping a caveat mid-page. If you somehow missed this, it's your problem, not mine.
> I believe that this experiment provides strong evidence that I experienced no major cognitive impairment
> I’m wary of generalizing my results to other people and welcome independent replications of this experiment.
You have any other studies demonstrating lack of cognitive decline in 22 year olds on 4 hours sleep? Otherwise, you're just poo pooing on someone having actually having done the damn experiment. Yeah, n=1, but it's better than your n=0.
>Can you link to some pre-registered studies of impact of sleep deprivation on cognitive performance?
None of the studies you linked are pre-registered.
I did a decent amount of prep work. I talked to my doctor (who basically said as long as I'm not falling asleep while driving, go for it). I set up ways to track my cognitive abilities around work (remote software engineer at the time). I started tracking kill-to-death ratio in favorite first person shooter (I thought it was a good measure of my innovation, as you can't use the same tricks for very long against human opponents). I also started tracking my weight, strength, endurance, and food intake.
It was hard to get into the schedule, and it never really clicked and held. Eventually I found the schedule to be frustrating and difficult from a social perspective. So I ended up dropping it a little over a year after I started.
So yeah, a little over a year.
When I analyzed my numbers I didn't see any particular hits in any of the areas. Work stayed stable (I actually got promoted about 9 months in, so I'm fairly confident about that). My kill-to-death ratio in the FPS climbed steadily along a similar trajectory as it had before I started. I found I was eating more (from ~2300 calories per day to almost 3000 calories to day), but my weight stayed level. Strength and endurance went up slightly, but that's probably more because I was checking them regularly versus not doing any exercise leading up to it.
Would I suggest it to others? No. There were other issues I had with the plan, more societal. And it was frustrating to not be able to focus on something for more than 3.5 hours at a time. But it certainly was an interesting time.
I concluded that physiology determined whether or not something like Uberman is even possible for a given human being, and I don't have the right physiology. I have a close friend who tells me that he "doesn't get jet lag" and seems to have other resistance to circadian disruptions, so I've always thought that he would be perfect for Uberman but he's not interested so I can't really test my theory.
Not sure which adaptation. For dropping into the mechanics of actually sleeping it was hard, but manageable. I spent a solid 48 hours awake. That ended at ~9:40 AM and I gave my spouse strict instructions to get me up at 10:00. I fell asleep instantly, and she had trouble getting me up in 20 minutes, but we got there. The second nap I had a couple shots of espresso right before I went down, and that helped me get back up. The worst part was that first night. I was sorely tempted. After a weekend I had kind of fallen in a rut, but it helped to be out and about for a bit, just so that I was stimulated enough to not feel sleepy. After about two weeks I had fallen into something that felt normal. Sleeping was kind of a chore then.
Adapting other parts of my life were harder. Close friends knew what was up, so when we went to a party or something I'd take my naps in a car, or another room. During the year I'd say I skipped half a dozen naps, and it was always a battle of willpower to not be completely derailed. I didn't drink, because I didn't want that to be a reason I skipped a nap.
These were the reasons I ultimately decided to stop, but it was never really a stable situation. Missing a single nap would throw me off so hard that it was a battle to go back into it.
For startups - forget it unless you are going alone with no funding. Meetings just don't work. Nap have to be at exact times. It just doesn't work with social norms we have.
Also, switching is hell. It's a torture.
I didn't have problems focusing for 3 hours. But when I was amped about what I was working on, it was frustrating to have to pause for a nap.
I think I originally scheduled 30 minutes for each nap, but I found myself waking up right before my alarm would go off, and it got easier to fall asleep, so I ended up with 20 minutes scheduled, 15 minutes of sleep.
This mirrors what I found in airforce studies about the uberman schedule. The overall gist was: The uberman schedule, if executed well, gives a person more time in a day awake without severe drawbacks. Whatever "severe" means.
However, they also found that dudes following the uber schedule suffered more from interrupts in sleep schedules. On a singular 6-8 hour sleep situation, you can go 13-16 hours with little pause or sleep without much trouble. More with some trouble. Candidates on the uberman schedule crashed a lot harder on sleep deprivation.
Obviously, there are specific tests you can do, but it's difficult to integrate those into your daily routines to generate consistent stats.
What I noticed was it was not so much a lack of sleep, but how the sleep is interrupted that was the killer. After a few days of barely sleeping longer than 30 mins at a time I found that memory was hugely impacted, and even trivial mental arithmetic required concentration. I suspect this is to do with not being able to get into the appropriate "deep sleep" cycles or something-something-REM sleep?
If you are up for it, please try the experiment again with 4 hours of sleep randomly broken up into 10-60 minute chunks (random variability is important - i.e you go to sleep not knowing how long you've got) distributed throughout the day, with a minimum of 60 minutes between each chunk. Enjoy :)
It wouldn't surprise me if this is often the case for people who feel they need more sleep. Having proper blackout shades and full silence (via ear plugs or otherwise) during sleep allows me to sleep a significantly shorter period of time as measured by however long I end up staying asleep. I typically don't use an alarm, so it's fascinating to be able to notice that natural difference in how long my body seems to need before booting back up.
Interesting anecdote - the pandemic is what triggered my awareness of this effect. When I'm at home alone sleeping (typically into the late morning, I'm a night owl), my dog will sleep with me. When my girlfriend started working from home from early in the morning, he would wake up with her and bark loudly at the occasional activity outside. I suddenly couldn't wake up on my normal schedule, even though I wasn't actually consciously woken up by the barking. The thought occurred to me that it could still be the barking and something related to the depth of the sleep, so I tried ear plugs + having my girlfriend close the bedroom door. Suddenly I was back to sleeping normal hours. Years of strange sleeping pattern problems were explained in an instant.
HN seems to really love maximizing cognition and the overall efficiency of their life. That said, if you want to try this experiment yourself, know this: sleep also affects mood, memory, and longevity (e.g. dementia). Chronic sleep deprivation is not good for you.
Discounting Walker's argument with "he's not thorough" and then providing a "study" done by one person with no professional research experience appears fine for HN
Those interested can look at our Why We Sleep discussion here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21903746
> Sleep is very much an open question.
Walker's book is very much at odds with that statement.
But if by convincing you mean that guzey brought us back to square one - that is, sleep might not be as important as we think - then I don't think its a convincing critique.
I didn't get a "sleep less" message from the critique. Just a "don't read Walker" message. It feels weirdly patronizing to suggest that the critique is wrong when you just fear people will sleep less after reading it. Why not say that right away?
I haven't seen the research presented in that book being refuted.
I get a pretty strong pseudoscience vibe from it.
From a previous post:
I got a strong motivated reasoning/bullshit vibe from Walker in this interview: https://www.npr.org/2018/07/20/630792401/sleep-scientist-war...
Particularly this section:
> “Sleep is not like the bank. So you can't accumulate debt and then try and pay it off at a later point in time. And the reason is this - we know that if I were to deprive you of sleep for an entire night - take away eight hours - and then in the subsequent nights, I give you all of the sleep that you want - however much you wish to consume - you never get back all that you lost. You will sleep longer, but you will never achieve that full eight-hour repayment as it were. So the brain has no capacity to get back that lost sleep...”
I don’t think this follows - seems likely to me that sleep is not some linear time thing and that there’s a standard overhead that doesn’t need to be repeated to extend and make up the time. This feels like a symptom of not understanding the mechanism and making a bad assumption.
I also found the “I won’t mention the cognitive failures I can detect” irritating. If there’s some actual thing to mention, say it - this kind of thing sets off alarms for me.
It doesn’t surprise me that the rest is similarly bad.
I don't quite know how to categorize complaining about pseudoscience based on a "vibe".
It's not quite irony... maybe it's just humorous. As a member of the post Alanis Morissette generation I guess I can no longer recognize irony.
There's a lot of 'wow, isn't that interesting' talk and deference to authority on an 'important' issue, but little talk of the actual mechanisms of how things work, little consideration of obvious counter examples that could be an explanation (like the one in my comment).
The sense is that the argument is driven by motivated reasoning instead of trying to understand what's true. Basically starting with a position and forcing the data to fit your pre-existing position.
It feels like I'm being conned by someone making up bullshit for status or some other agenda (maybe just sunk costs into an existing theory). Often bullshit and complex interesting topics can sound similar at first and it's helpful to have some sense for telling the difference. Otherwise you wander around impressed by 'energy crystals' and worried about 5g.
For example: I think X is true, I cherry pick data to back up X and publish a book on it. This book gets a lot of attention and is good for my career, but it's based on bad science and misleads people. This is a theory I identify myself with along with my success and my own career, if its ideas are invalidated that reflects negatively on me and my abilities (and potentially the ability to support myself). There's an incentive to rationalize or continue pushing the bad science which slows down figuring out what's really true. This has happened a ton of times throughout history.
In this specific situation the benign case is people sleep more and it doesn't matter (or it helps), in the pathological case people are anxious about their lack of sleep and it negatively effects their life or they sleep more than they personally need and it turns out over-sleeping is co-morbid with depression and causes other issues.
In the general case popularizing bad science has knock on effects that make it harder for people to get funding to study ideas the contradict the popular, but incorrect zeitgeist of what's commonly thought to be 'true'. It can also lead people down rabbit holes that can take a long time to crawl out of and make it take longer for people to understand what is actually true.
You can't just hand wave this away by saying "I know X is true, therefore it doesn't matter if the data is a little problematic. X is true and it's good for people to know that". A lot of times X turns out not to be true, not to be entirely true, etc.
For example, as it turns out there is little evidence that stretching actually does anything, yet a lot of experts used to recommend it for decades. Same with nutrition, 'balanced diets', workouts at low heart rates and so on.
it actually has negative impact on health and injury in people who do static stretches in particular is significantly increased. (as is in people with high levels of flexibility in general)
Nowadays stretches as a warmup are not recommended any more.
First, if you "can't get back lost sleep", wouldn't that mean that you were tired forever? I'm definitely more tired after 24 hours awake than 18. But I can sleep and get back to normal.
Second, I once stayed up for almost 3 days straight. At the end of that, I slept for 24 hours straight. I woke up the next evening as if it were a normal morning, fully refreshed. (I went to bed about 5pm, and woke up about 5pm the next day.)
If I didn't "bank" my tiredness and pay it back with sleep, how is that even possible?
What you're saying makes sense, but it's very different from what was said in that interview.
now, it's obvious to me that if I don't get 8 hours of sleep a night, my brain stops functioning properly and my entire life goes to shit very quickly. So I was happy to see a very popular book advocating sleeping well, and hopeful that if lots of people read it, they might have more respect for other people's sleep schedules.
The critic, Alexey Guzey, seems to be a guy who needs less sleep than I do, and also a guy who is into life-hacking/self-improvement type stuff. There's definitely a type of person who thinks "sleep is for the weak". I think he probably does have a bias towards sleeping less.
But I think the problems he points out about the book are pretty serious.
In particular, it seems that claims around sleep and longevity and other health outcomes (e.g. injury rates, cancer) are often unreliable or based on misinterpreted studies, and one case involves eliding data that contradicts the result.
Now, having myself experienced chronic sleep deprivation, and dealt with people who think they don't need to sleep but definitely do, I think the basic argument of the book is probably correct. But as the last line of that post quotes, "Good ideas do not need a lot of lies told about them to gain public acceptance".
For those interested in someone who created a refutation to Matthew Walker's "Why We Sleep"
"If the data didn’t matter, then why did you include them in your damn book in the first place? If the removal of the bar from the graph didn’t matter, then why did you remove the damn bar?"
It sounds like the author is upset a book about getting enough sleep is getting so much attention. If they're upset at the way Walker misrepresents information, then I'd hate to see the author's blood pressure while feverishly researching the bias of every article they come across
"Recall the Javert paradox. It’s completely reasonable to write about scientific misconduct, and yes sometimes we have to scream a bit to get heard over all the chatter of the scientist-as-hero press."
"But we need real expertise, not fake expertise. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Gresham, baby, Gresham. If we don’t contest the fake expertise, I’m seriously worried it will be crowding out the real stuff."
There is good research and there is bad research. The latter should not be given a pass just because all research has some amount of bias.
It also appears to be dense with misinformation.