Dave Asprey is the founder of Bulletproof Coffee and the author of The Bulletproof Diet. His relentless quest to optimize his body inspired Motherboard to ask him to be the guest editor for our series on the future of sleep.
When it comes to performance, the ultimate odd couple is sleep and technology.
Not all relationships start off on a good footing. Biological changes in sleep began to appear during the Industrial Revolution with an amplified value placed on productivity and efficiency. Often at the cost of sleep, our most valuable restorative resource, we pushed our biology to the breaking point.
Also, the introduction of artificial lighting resulted in the disruption our natural circadian rhythm and we began to see sleep disturbances. These disorders affect our body’s vital functions and influence crucial hormonal processes.
Throughout the decades, we’ve seen technology permeate and make easier almost every daily action from driving, eating, meeting people, and even looking at the stars. Humans are absorbing more information than ever before in history. A 2011 UC study revealed that we take in about 174 newspapers’ worth of information daily. That’s five times more information than we were exposed to in 1986.
How are we dealing with all of that?
Sleep disturbances are at an all time high. The National Sleep Foundation 2011 poll revealed around 60 percent of participants were unhappy with the amount and quality of their sleep. Also, 60 percent used laptops, phones, and video games at least one hour before bed.
As with most lasting relationships, there are bumps in the road, and you move forward. Sleep and technology are doing just that. Technology innovation is about looking to the future. It’s also about looking at the powerful assets you have at hand and making the most of them.
I’m a biohacker, so anything that makes the best use of my assets for better brain and body function is fair game. That means science, spirituality, nutrition, supplements and you guessed it, technology. Researchers have found that the quality of sleep you get is more important than the number of hours, and there is plenty of technology and science available today to help you upgrade your sleep, such as the plethora of sleep tracking apps. For mediating the exposure to computer light, F.lux is a useful free program that sets the light on your computer screen to follow a circadian rhythm from day into night. I also use Zen Tech blue-blocking screens.
This week, Motherboard is tackling the intersection of technology and sleep. That means stories about how to sleep hack your room, technology inside trucks that monitors drivers for drowsiness, headsets that reset your Circadian rhythm, pills for lucid dreaming, and weighted blankets for those with PTSD.
But what’s arguably more exciting than what’s available today is the possibility for sleep hacking in the future. Transhumanist Zoltan Istvan is looking forward to eliminating sleep altogether. The fantastic future fiction author Warren Ellis has a short story for Terraform. Contributing editor Meghan Neal has a piece about the data brokers who are thirsty for your sleep numbers. Staff writer Jason Koebler has the history of cryosleep. Senior editor Brian Merchant will tell the story of when Russian scientists sent a mirror into space and turned night into day.
That’s just a sampling of what’s coming this week. Get ready to stay up all night.
You’ll Sleep When You’re Dead is Motherboard’s exploration of the future of sleep. Read more stories.