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How to use hypnagogic hallucinations as biofeedback to relieve insomnia

Maybe Guidepost #7 is the thing I've been calling exploding head syndrome, though I haven't been diagnosed, it's just very loud and I remember at last year not having/noticing it so I thought it was abnormal. What happens is, when I take a nap (not so much at night), I hear static filling my ears as I fall asleep. It kind of sounds like a drum filled with sand, if you were to let the sand roll around and placed that next to your ears. Or like something moving very fast like a car driving through a tunnel. I suspect it might not be the same sound each time, but I'm not sure. It's extremely loud to the point as if it should be painful, and it's kind of scary; yet I know that it's not real noise and can't hurt me, so I kind of enjoy it like it's loud music. (Though I also futilely hope that I'll break through the noise into some alternate universe or something.) And sometimes the sound segues into a dream; I remember one time I dreamt that I was listening to some band performing and it was very noisy like the static. I think (almost?) every time, though, after some time listening to this static or having this loud dream, I just start sliding back out of sleep or to some earlier stage, though I usually go right back to sleep. It feels like the sound comes from preexisting sounds from like my family talking or my ears ringing that get magnified by my brain or nerves.

This also seems to happen with touch; often times when I start to dream / hallucinate, I have this tickling sensation all across my torso that gets really really strong, and I try to ignore it or reinterpret it as sexual, but it seems to always wake me up eventually because it just doesn't go away. It feels like this comes from my blanket or shirt being folded slightly uncomfortably, and the sensation getting magnified, though at the same time, I don't think straightening out my shirt or blanket really fixes it ever.

Imagining motion seems to make me fall asleep or at least enter a kind of dizzy/dreaming stage. Some examples: when I was younger, after spending a lot of time jumping on the trampoline I'd remember the bouncing sensation when I was falling asleep, though I don't know if I necessarily used it to fall asleep. Last summer I learned how to skate on the Rip-Stik, and imagining doing turns on it when I was falling asleep made me feel like I was falling endlessly but in a relaxing way, and I remember consciously trying to get that sensation.

The ideas in the post seem to be similar to some lucid dreaming techniques. I'm not very acquainted with that terminology / community, though I suppose one thing that seems sort of related is learning what your eyelids look like in order to catch yourself when you have a small awakening, which IIRC happens before dreams. I suppose this whole process of observing hypnagogic hallucinations is basically lucid dreaming, just with being aware of a different phenomena.

Dark Arts of Rationality

It's not the belief per se, just the emotion. It would be convenient if the emotion could be changed without changing the belief (to something false). Then again, self-motivation does involve sometimes changing beliefs by changing reality (e.g. Beeminder) -- maybe it isn't much of a stretch to change the beliefs in some structured way.

Dark Arts of Rationality

I think the distinction (and disjunction) between instrumental and terminal goals is an oversimplification, at least when applied to motivation (as you've demonstrated). My current understanding of goal-setting is that instrumental goals can also be terminal in the sense that one enjoys or is in the habit of doing them.

To take the rock star example: It's not a lie to enjoy practicing or to enjoy making music, but it's still true that making good at music is also instrumental to the goal of becoming a rock-star. I might say that making music as being instrumental and terminal, and becoming a rock star as terminal (or instead of terminal, directly instrumental to happiness / satisfaction / utility).

I suppose you're not necessarily saying that the dark arts are irrational, since the optimal choice depends on the playing field. So I guess I agree, only that I still think that anything that lying to oneself is unnecessary, you just need more qualifying statements, like "I do indeed enjoy this and want to do this, and it so happens that it helps me achieve some other goal".

Perhaps another way of describing the pitfall of avoiding the dark arts is confusing rationality with Straw Vulcan Rationality and failing to allow instrumental goals feel meaningful.

I suppose this doesn't really work for something that is purely instrumental. Also, it doesn't totally address your example for willful inconsistency, where it'd be very tempting to make excuses to work less hard. Or maybe not?

I'm still resistant to the idea that motivation is an illogical playing field, and think that you can be rational (that is, you can always recall the true belief when necessary) if you just use specific enough terminology. Like, differentiating oughts from statements of uncertainty, in your example of willful inconsistency -- you ought to work really hard on AI alignment because of expected value. I guess here is where my resistance to motivation being illogical breaks down.

Joy in the Merely Real

I feel that I have linked my self-esteem or something to how new something is to me. I.e., if I already understand something, I might tell myself that "I shouldn't be excited about this."

I think more generally, our emotions might seem like they should correspond to certain facts (like whether something is "magical" in the case of awe), when in fact our emotions do not.

Yes Requires the Possibility of No

So like, sometimes when the answer seems vague it's because there are actually two questions? Like, "am I good at music" can be answered in relation to the entire world or to ones friend group, or specifically focusing on music theory versus performance versus composition versus taste, so there's no meaningful (one word) response; it's always possible to doubt reassurance because one can look at a slightly different question.

At least, that's what I think I get from your penultimate paragraph. I don't understand your first two paragraphs. I think your first paragraph is saying: the opinions of individuals doesn't definitively answer yes or no, because you need an authority. Second paragraph: We only experience bias with personal and not scientific/political questions because we are more emotionally involved with the formal, which also(?) lack an authority to give a definitive answer.

Is that accurate?

I usually interpret this as action. When one is doubting whether one is good enough to get into some school, it doesn't really matter to evaluate goodness because the correct action is still usually to apply/audition, viz. applying/auditioning dominates. And a negative result doesn't justify hating oneself because self-hatred is unproductive, viz. self-neutrality dominates.

Get Curious

Fear of bad consequences seems to be part of (how this post defines) curiosity. i.e. Exercise 2.1: Visualize the consequences of being wrong.

Naming the Nameless

I think he's talking about minimalist websites.