Covers my main, non-work activities.
For math/physics/philosophy (which require long periods of relaxed focus, high general IQ): you want a cold ambient environment, low biological energy (as in tired but not sleepy), lots of caffeine, low blood sugar (reduces associative horizon), and an empty stomach. Early morning is best, because post-sleep is the best time to input new ideas. Also, you don’t want to have any acetylcholine in your system, because you don’t want to get caught up in reminiscence. That means studying in the wake of social anxiety or recent danger is a no-go unless what you’re studying is somehow directly useful to relieving the anxiety in a similar situation in the future. Quiet is best, light piano or guitar is next best.
Conclusion: wake up in the morning, walk a few miles to somewhere with coffee (no breakfast). The idea is to get the frontal lobe firing at full speed without falling into free association, while the perceptive lobes (parietal and occipital) are in high “alignment” (relaxed focus, full-blue). This is the way INTPs are when they’re left alone to their own devices, absent stress and anxiety, which is approximately zero of the time.
For writing/communication/speechification: strong Irish coffee and a pre-existing conception of the scene you’re about to put down, or the idea you want to get across. The coffee wakes up the frontal lobe and the verbal chatterbox, and the booze unleashes the frontal lobe’s associative horizon and lowers standards and inhibitions. (Can always fix it up in editing- do as I say, not as I do :-P.) Some food in the belly is a good idea (booze plus hunger equals distraction), but don’t overdo it or else major brainfog.
A good idea is to start by reacting to something- respond to a forum post, rant about a news article, comment on a blog- to warm up the fingers, tongue, Broca’s area, and scintillating wit (again, not as I do). Cold is still better than warm, but not quite so much as for math. Assuming the speechifyer is already up and running, inject some acetylcholine into the mix- everybody likes a good story, especially if it’s a clever retelling of something recent and traumatic. Like a fight or something, those are great. Chronically low dopamine makes for great comedy (but bad company) so keep that in mind too.
For sleeping: this is a really tough one for a lot of people. The game is roughly 2 parts mental, 1 part physical and one part chemicals.
It’s crazy important to turn off both the internal chatterbox and its buddy, the spontaneous imagination machine. The best way I’ve found to do both is to pipe an audiobook of a fairy tale straight into my ear while lying in bed with my sleep mask on. The inputs stifle the outputs. The incoming stream of verbal information shuts off the chatterbox (and it eventually gives up), while the subject matter (which is visual) occupies the imagination and cuts off spontaneous ideation until sleep and dreaming take stage, in which case the brain is no longer processing sensory inputs. This tip works best for me, and if it doesn’t work you can at least get some reading done.
More mental: there is no substitute for light control. Blue blockers are basically irreplaceable, and dimmer switches are desirable. Put on the glasses at least an hour before bedtime. I’ve found that having even the tiniest swallow of booze switches my brain from “work mode” to “relax mode”, probably because I’m ethnically about 30% Teutonic and therefore a neurotic mess. So even on nights that I’m not “drinking”, I take a sip of gin-doubling-as-mouthwash as part of my winding down process.
Physical! I’ve said this before, don’t exercise after dinner. If you go to bed at 11 PM, don’t drink coffee after 2. Alcohol is a mixed bag- it’ll get you to sleep faster, but you’ll sleep poorly. I hear marijuana is great for this (I slept great that one time). A common mistake is to neglect blood sugar, where anything but medium-high and steady will result in waking up a lot. Low is bad, but spikes are worse. I recommend a big glass of milk before bed (lactose takes a long time to break down), and another small one each time you wake up in the middle of the night.
Generally, low sitting pulse and low blood pressure make for better sleep. Short-burst cardio exercise is therefore a necessity. Walking and jogging and bike riding are great for burning calories, but they don’t raise the heart rate enough and work the lungs like a proper run. Lifting doesn’t help as much, but it does induce better muscle relaxation during sleep, and you’ll need maybe an hour less sleep per night. Also produces a lot more mental alignment, dunno why.
Medium acetylcholine good (dreaming is reminiscence TO THE MAX), dopamine bad (depressed people sleep more), cortisol bad. Low physical energy to the point of tiredness is good, but physical exhaustion is bad. If you’re exhausted, drink a small cup of coffee before dinner and take a power nap, then go to bed at the normal time. If you’re mentally tired but not physically tired, alcohol or some other depressant/relaxant will work better.
Will have to talk about exercise stuff later, I’m tired. And moving tomorrow! Expect nothing from me for a couple of days. Somebody remind me about the exercise thing.