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Autoexperiments

by Ideopunk1 min read23rd Dec 20194 comments

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Over the next year I want to try some low-intensity daily experiments to see if they have noticeable and positive effects: Things like cold showers, a gratitude journal, cutting sugar, etc. My working plan is to do one per month for a two-week stretch, to use the other two weeks of the month as the closest I can get to a control, and to track my mood and any other relevant metrics each day. Obviously it's hard to get reliable data from these, but are there ways I could increase the likelihood of extracting good information from the noise?

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From my past reading, I expect that 2 weeks is far too short a time to produce noticeable results on any of the specific experiments you mentioned. You may consider a few months for each experiment, which may result in having to run a few unrelated ones concurrently if you want to fit a particular set into 2020.

This is helpful, thanks! Do you have a study or post in mind?

2kithpendragon2yI consider it the greatest failure of my education that nobody ever taught me to take, organize, and archive notes of any kind. I've only just begun that life-long project in the last few months. That said, I'll share what thoughts I can on each of the experiments you've specified. Maybe I can at least point a finger in the right direction for you. COLD SHOWERS This is the one I tried the longest ago, and had the least observable results. In the end I quit because my only noticable result was that I ended up hating the idea of getting in the shower. I recall being left with the impression that it would probably take more cold exposure than showers, and over a time period of some years to produce the promised biological changes anyway. YMMV A quick look on Google shows that the current claims about the benefits of cold showers are far more varied than I remember. When I tried it, there was some talk about brown fat production as a result of repeated exposure to cold temperatures leading to more aggressive metabolism and better cold tolerance. As I recall, that conversation converged on a much stronger genetic component than environmental. Now I'm seeing talk of blood flow, pain relief, immunological benefits and more. To me, that smacks of snake oil, but provided you avoid hypothermia I don't think you'd be doing yourself any obvious harm to try. Be sure ahead of time what benefits you want to see and how you intend to measure them, of course. SUGAR My understanding is that we've known for several decades that sugar is the enemy of good health and dentistry, so there should be plenty of literature out there. At some point the sugar industry made successful efforts to blame our problems on fat instead, eventually kicking off the low-fat/fat-free craze that still seems to have a stranglehold on popular American diet advice. I recall some reporting early in 2016 (I think) about the influence the food lobby has on our dietary guidelines. By memory, the current recomme
2Ideopunk2yPlease pardon the late reply. I've modified the plan to two months each for a gratitude journal, cold showers, meditation, and cutting sugar. Thank you for sharing your own experiences! Cold showers: I'm curious about the distance between how people swear by them and the inconclusive research - and, like you said, there's no obvious harm. When I've done them in the past I've noticed an energy boost in the hours afterwards, but I've been unable to push myself to keep them up when autumn hits. So this will be a summer experiment. Sugar: I once cut sugar (all sweets, though not all added sugars) for roughly two months and felt like I noticed the disappearance of big energy drops. This time I want to see what else comes of it. Gratitude journal: Given the research behind it, this seems obviously worth the effort, and is what I'm doing right now. It seems like there's evidence that writing 1-3 times a week gives better results, but I'm doing it daily for the habit formation. Other than that, I don't have much to reply beyond appreciating the personal reference points, the meditation links, and the encouragement!