Nerd Corner #67

Edison's naps, sleep posture, Apple vs Google, esport injuries ...

What I am Reading 📚

Maria Popova's Brain Pickings is one of my favorite sites. Whenever I need some reading inspiration I'll go into the site and search the archives or click on the "Surprise me" button. I know that whatever pops up will be fun and often mind-blowing to read.

This is exactly what happens when I stumbled upon this piece about Thomas Edison's sleep habits. Apparently, he wasn't fond of sleeping (after all he invented the lightbulb forever changing our sleeping patterns) but he was such an avid power napper that he kept napping cots everywhere:

This week I'll be exploring more about Edison's life, I just picked up his biography written by Edmund Morris.

Nerd Corner 🤓

A few nights ago I woke up very groggy and tired. Even though I'm not the greatest of sleepers this was strange to me. Other than the long-term benefits of a good night's sleep, I know that it is fundamental in order to feel energized and have a productive day the morning after. So much so that I've been playing around with different sleep routines over the years always trying to keep things as simple as possible. So far this is what was working for me:

  • No coffee after 3 PM (I've noticed that I can drink coffee even after dinner and still sleep OK but there's evidence that caffeine can affect our sleep up to 15 hours after we drink it)

  • Avoid blue light after dark. This is hard for me since I spend a lot of time on my computer (and I tend to do my best work between 10-11 PM). Luckily my eyeglasses give me some protection against blue light, I use macOS's Night Shift and all the lights in my home automatically dim until bedtime (I use the circadian lightning plugin for my Home Assistant setup)

  • Chamomile Tea + glycine or magnesium glycinate 30 minutes before bed. Glycine is a useful amino-acid that's very safe to take, the same with magnesium. Both improve brain function and help with sleep. I've been taking these (tend to rotate them) for years. But chamomile is a recent addition and it was a revelation. My deep sleep has improved significantly. And since I drink a very small cup I don't wake up in the middle of the night to go pee.

But after more than a couple of nights waking up very tired and getting almost no deep sleep (according to my Garmin watch), it was time for tweaking the routine.

The first thing I reviewed was the temperature. It is known that we sleep best in a cool environment. There's even a whole industry sprouting around this. But my room was already cool and San Francisco's air is cold this time of the year (I always sleep with my window open, the air is clean enough around here).

The next thing on my list was to review my posture since I'd noticed a bit of back pain from time to time. It turns out there's not much literature and research around this subject but by studying primates and rural communities there is some evidence that sleeping on our sides is better for us especially if you are a snorer or suffer from sleep apnea. While I haven't controlled for other variables and it may just be a sort of placebo effect, I've been sleeping on my side without a pillow for 4 days and I've clocked around 80 minutes of deep sleep per night 😴.

If you're curious here are some resources to dig deeper:

Do you have any sleeping tricks? I'd love to hear more!

Cool Finds 🤯

  • Apple, Google and a Deal That Controls the Internet is a nice article by the NYT that discusses the relationship between two of the biggest tech giants in the world. Google pays billions every year to be the default search engine on Apple devices. But as Google deals with an antitrust lawsuit from the DOJ it will be interesting to see this relationship unfold. I view Apple as having the edge here as they can end the agreement and rollout their own search engine, although it will be hard even for them to lose such easy money.

  • No matter their popularity I still find e-sports weird. Perhaps I'm getting old but given the option, I'll always choose watching an NBA or NFL match than a Fornite or even Counter-Strike one. There is something that feels more real and tough about athletes running up and down a court than athletes sitting on a chair and pushing buttons furiously but like this WIRED article points out, even e-sports athletes get injured and are increasingly approaching their physical preparation like traditional professional athletes.

  • Does Palantir See Too Much?. This is another article great article from the NYT. When I was in college Palantir used to host very cool recruiting campaigns on our campus and I was always intrigued by their philosophy and vision—there are not many companies named after artifacts from Tolkien's Universe—and this article sheds light on these aspects and makes a well-rounded description of the company.

  • As this week's bonus, your mind will be blown away by this colorized footage of the HMS Barham (a British ship) exploding and sinking during WWII. What's more impressive than the footage is that many sailors survived the explosion. As one commenter writes:

    "Truly spectacular. My late father survived the sinking - he was standing on the side of the ship, about level with the bridge, when the explosion occurred and was blown into the water."

    Before you go 😎

    If you’re enjoying these emails it would mean the world to me if you share it with a friend or two. Just send them this link to sign up. I’m trying to make this one of your must-read emails each week!

    And, if you come across anything interesting this week, send it my way. I love discovering new things through Nerd Corner readers!

    Have an awesome week!