Killer Stress and Relaxation Innovations

Oct 13, 2008 | Tech News

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Boing Boing posted an interesting link to the PBS documentary, ‘Stress, Portrait of a Killer’ that I apparently missed (torrent here) from Stanford researcher Prof. Robert Sapolsky. The video below gives a good overview of Sapolskys thinking, but essentially he suggests that most social animals use stress selectively in order to fight or flight, while us humans have managed to produce the same stressful physiological reaction on a constant basis by worrying about being late for work, or what the stock market is doing today…




I consider myself pretty even-keeled and I can’t say that I feel truly ‘stressed’ in the traditional interpretation of the word. But I do believe that we often don’t take the time to properly relax and there’s a knock on effect to our own physiology. I’ve tried yoga, meditation, lucid dreaming as a way to relax and explore my mind more fully. I’ve even spent an hour in a sensory deprivation tank which felt more like I had enjoyed a week of massage as opposed to a psychedelic exploration (blame Richard Feynman

‘ve got some very good friends who are really taking sleep research to the next level and coming up with a myriad of ways to improve the quality of our lives through technology and software. In the meantime there’s a few apps floating around that you might want to check out.

Ambiance ($0.99) from the iPhone App Store is a nice idea purely for it’s convenience and variety options. (Video review courtesy of



Then there’s Binaural beats or binaural tones, auditory processing artifacts, or apparent sounds, the perception of which arises in the brain independent of physical stimuli.

These have also been getting a lot of press recently after USA today put out an alarmist article entitled ‘Web delivers new worry for parents: Digital drugs’. Personally, I think there’s a lot more going on in the world for parents to worry about than little Billy getting high from listening to waterfalls but maybe I’m missing something.

Judge for yourself by checking out the an open source generator available from Gnaural.

Technology is providing us with ever more intriguing ways to interface with our environments.  Those of us who are willing to experiment and gain a better understanding of what’s out there will help shape the software that ultimately will take advantage of these technologies as they mature.

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