Sleep, Myopia, Information overload, Metabolism, Sharing for survival
Five Plus Newsletter No2
Summary in a haiku:
Screens strain our vision,
Sharing helps us thrive
1. How much can better sleep benefit you?
I am running an in-person workshop next week on sleep and circadian rhythm. This reminded me of the hidden benefits of good sleep.
We all know sleep is important. It affects all aspects of life. However it’s hard to understand just how much you would improve your life if you slept better.
I have the solution. I did an extensive analysis of research quantifying effects of poor sleep on longevity, productivity, anxiety, happiness, car accident risk. The result is an algorithm that predicts how much you can enhance each of these aspects through better sleep.
Complete the questionnaire and find out how much good sleep could improve your life. I think you will be surprised by the results.
2. We all have a second full time job every day
The average person is exposed to 34 GB of content and 100,000 words of information every day. Link
How much is that? It’s the equivalent of an average novel. Or a quarter of “War and Peace” by Lev Tolstoi.
The same study found we consume an average of 12 hours per person per day of information outside of work.
Twelve hours per day leaves little room for anything else. We have become information consumption machines.
This made me think of the “productivity crisis”. Productivity has stalled in the past thirty years despite continuous advancements in technology. Maybe this happened because we got swamped with more and more information. But it’s worse than work. We have little time and energy to pursue our own interests and goals, when most of each day is spent working to process information thrown at us. We are drowning in unrequested information. Or in 90s’ hacker terms: our brains are suffering a Denial-of-Service attack.
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3. Myopia doubled in the past decades
Our eyes now grow more elongated than in the past which makes them near-sighted. Why? Something in our environment. What you do in childhood and teenage is the factor. As children we look too much at near things. But also sunlight regulates eye growth. Too little time outdoors = abnormal eye growth.
Our enormous time spent processing information on screens is making our eyes deform.
4. Humans are slow
Despite how much information we process, humans are actually very slow animals. Primates in general have slow metabolisms. Humans are fast for primates, but we still much slower metabolism than other mammals.
If humans had an average mammal metabolism, we would be adults by the time we were 2 years old and become grandparents by 4 years old. More about metabolism in the excellent book Burn by Herman Pontzer, PhD.
5. Sharing conquered the world
Metabolism is important because energy management is survival.
Did humans thrive because we used our big brains to consume less energy?
No. Humans actually consume quite lot of energy.
Rather we thrived because we were better at collectively obtaining more energy. One human was a sub-mediocre hunter and an average plant gatherer.
But humans are better at sharing than other animals.
A group of humans was better at obtaining energy than any other animal. Some hunted, some foraged. Overall we ate a super-wide range of plants and animals. So our ancestors could eat more than other animals. And they could avoid starvation because of the wide range of food sources.
I find it heart-warming that the miracles of our civilization all rest on sharing food. It means that in ruthless nature, being good with others has been the key to success.
In evolution, nice guys finish first.
5. Meat is not harmful
Speaking of hunter-gatherers, is meat healthy or unhealthy? Most studies on it are riddled with problems, such as counting processed meat together with fresh meat, disregarding what other ingredients are in meat products, the influence of the belief meat is unhealthy, declarative biases.
Now a study was published that proves meat consumption does not have a negative effect on your health. You can enjoy your burger without guilt. However look out for sugar-laden sauces and dubious ingredients mixed into the patty or the bun.
“Practice kindness all day to everybody and you will realize you’re already in heaven now.” ― Jack Kerouac, The Portable Jack Kerouac
The ideal life is easy when you know what you need,