Get a good night’s sleep. Seriously.

I’ve always been a big believer in getting enough sleep.  I think I lose about five I.Q. points for every hour less than eight that I sleep.  I’ve always been annoyed by co-workers who brag about how little sleep they get.

Arianna Huffington agrees with me.

So does science.

It’s amazing how many areas of our well-being are affected by getting enough sleep.  Emotional and psychological, intelligence and problem-solving, ADHD, and stress all make sense to me, but it also includes weight loss, healing from wounds, digestion, sex, and lots of other things.  This seems like an easy, lots-of-bang-for-your-buck self-help technique.

All of this is just to explain why I usually leave parties around 10 pm.


Thought Experiment: My grandfather’s axe

AxeThe famous ontological thought experiment goes like this: “This axe belonged to my grandfather.  The head has been replaced twice, and the handle once.”

An earlier example of this is the Ship of Theseus, where pieces of the ship were replaced, plank by plank and nail by nail over the years, until every part of the ship was new.

These two stories are designed to make us think about the problem of identity.  Is the axe still the same one that your grandfather used?  At what point in the life of Theseus’ ship did it become a whole new vessel, if at all?  There’s a popular story that every atom in our body is replaced every year, or seven years, or ten years.*  What does that mean about our own identities?  Am I the same person I was when I was a child?  So much is different – what connects me to that child?  Philosophers disagree about the answer, but I think the question is interesting in itself.

*It turns out that, while that’s mostly true (at different rates for different tissue types), some of our neurons, at least, remain the same throughout our lives, so that example doesn’t quite hold up.