Faking Sleep Affects Performance

By Anupum Pant

A couple of days back I talked about how standing for a few seconds in a superman position could increase your level of confidence and could help you ace interviews. Today it’s time again to look at a technique to increase performance by fooling your body.

First of all, you need to stop thinking you didn’t sleep well today. That is because the mere act of thinking you slept well makes you perform well. It’s been proven.

In a group where everyone got equal sleep, half of the people were just told by “experts” that they had 29% REM sleep (which is better) and the other half were told that they had only 16% REM sleep (that actually decreases performance). The catch was, they all had slept for equal times and everyone would have had more or less equal percentages of REM cycles. Only, they were told wrong things by “experts”.

This word of mouth coming from the “experts” actually affected the performance of these two groups. The group that was told they had a greater percentage of REM sleep performed well. And the group that was told they did sleep as well as the first group didn’t perform as good. I’m assuming both the groups were first informed about how the percentage of REM sleep affects performance.

So, stop cribbing about how tired and sleepy you  are.

A 2-Minute Exercise to Do Better in Interviews

By Anupum Pant

Is there a job interview or a public speaking gig coming up for you? Well, you don’t have to worry as much as you are doing right now because Amy Cuddy is here to save you.

Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist at Harvard Business School, talks about a power pose – a 2-minute pose – you could strike before going into an interview which has been proven to have a significant difference in your performance at anything that requires confidence (like an interview).

She introduces this concept in the a very convincing TED talk that I’ve attached below. If you do not need much convincing, you could skip watching the talk and just do this before you go into an interview or go to the stage for something.

  • Find a quiet place where no one will see you and make fun of you.
  • Strike a superhero pose. If you don’t know what that means, stand like this. For 2 minutes. Done! Otherwise, here is a nice infographic based on Cuddy’s research. [Link]
  • If you don’t, at least do not stoop and close your shoulders while waiting in the lobby because it certainly affects you negatively.

Apparently, according to an experiment by Amy Cuddy and Dana Carney of Berkeley, 86% of those who posed in the high-power position (the superhero pose) opted to gamble, while only 60% of the low-power posers (closed poses) felt comfortable taking a roll of the dice.

Moreover, a significant difference was found in the saliva samples of both the high-power pose people and the low-power pose people. Who’d have thought that a simple 2 minute pose could make chemical differences in your body!

On an average, the high-pose people saliva showed an 8% increase in the testosterone level, while the ones who did the low-power pose had a 10% decrease of the same. That is phenomenal, if you ask me.

Also, the hormone related to stress, Cortisol decreased by 25% among high-power posers and increased 15% among low power posers. (A decrease in cortisol levels is better for activities like interviews)

A Thread Around the Earth

By Anupum Pant


Couple of days back, I read about a puzzling geometrical conundrum, probably on Quora. It might not sound amusing to you math geeks out there, but to me, it sounded like an impossible thing at first. The sad part is, I did not save the source link in my notes. Thankfully, I did care to note down the idea. Let me call it the “Thread wound Around the Earth” puzzle.

Here is a simple question first. Try answering it without any calculation. Just guess. Be honest to yourself, don’t see the answer just below it. Scroll slow.

As BBC’s website puts it…

Imagine a piece of string wrapped around the Earth’s equator – that’s about 40,000km. How much MORE string would you need for it to sit 15cm above the ground, all the way around?

A) 1 metre, B) 1 kilometre or C) 1,000 kilometres

Thread wound around the Earth

The answer is A) 1 meter. Yes, just 1 meter of extra rope.

Suppose, you have an outrageously long thread with you. You tie it around the base of a tree, somewhere at the equator. Now, you go around the earth, along the equator, carrying the thread with you, till you come back to that tree where you started. At this point, you’ll have a thread that goes around the earth in a circle. At every point, let us imagine that the rope is taut and touching the ground (there are no mountains or valleys in between). It’s a perfect circle (assume).

Suppose, you still have an extra meter of the rope left now. So, you break the wound rope at one point and add the extra meter to it. That of course slackens the wound rope. For this rope to be taut again, it has to be lifted up by some amount. What do you think that distance would be from the ground? Assume that the rope still makes a huge circle just above the ground and lifts by equal amount at every point along the equator.

Just the extra meter of rope, causes the rope to rise by ~15 cm all around the earth (actually 15.9 cm). For a single meter of rope added to a 40,000 km of rope, that sure seems like a huge lift! But that isn’t all…

rope 15 cm above earth

The most amazing part is that, no matter what the size of the circle, a meter of increased circumference will increase the radius by ~15 cm. Always!

Try tying a rope around a golf ball, or even try doing that around the sun. It’s always that – 1 meter increase in circumference, always increases the radius by ~15 cm.

The Math is so straightforward.

If you think about it mathematically, it is completely straightforward.

Radius X 2 X Pi = Circumference

That means, the Radius is directly proportional to the circumference of a circle. Everyone knows that. So, the amount of change in the radius is reflected proportionally in the circumference, the magnitude of radius can be anything, really. So it’s pretty natural that just a single meter of rope is required to lift the rope by 15.9 cm around any circle. The size doesn’t matter. But practically thinking, the above question makes it seem impossible.

Please hit like if you learnt something from the article.