The Super Power We All Have

I confess that I have never been captured by the Superpower meme.  Indeed, I have never watched any of the 32 Marvel movies. However, I did like this excellent TEDx video by Matt Walker “Sleep is your superpower

In the video Walker delves into the critical role that sleep plays in learning, memory, and overall health. He begins by explaining that sleep is necessary both before and after learning. Prior to learning, sleep prepares the brain to absorb new information, acting like a dry sponge ready to soak up knowledge. After learning, sleep is essential to save and consolidate these new memories. Lack of sleep impairs the brain’s ability to make new memories, leading to a 40% deficit in learning ability.

Walker highlights the importance of the hippocampus, a brain structure crucial for memory, and reveals that sleep-deprived individuals exhibit significantly reduced activity in this region. He emphasizes that quality sleep involves deep stages of sleep, during which the brain experiences powerful brainwaves and sleep spindles, facilitating the transfer of memories from short-term to long-term storage.

Beyond cognitive functions, Walker discusses the impact of sleep on the body’s immune system. Sleep deprivation, even for a single night with only four hours of sleep, results in a 70% drop in natural killer cell activity, weakening the body’s ability to fight diseases. Insufficient sleep is linked to an increased risk of various cancers, including breast, prostate, and bowel cancers. Moreover, lack of sleep disrupts genes associated with the immune system, leading to immune deficiency and promoting tumour growth, chronic inflammation, and stress-related conditions.

Walker offers practical advice for improving sleep quality, emphasizing the importance of regular sleep patterns and maintaining a cool sleeping environment. He warns against relying on the notion of catching up on lost sleep, emphasizing that sleep debt cannot be repaid. He also advises those struggling with sleep to leave their beds when unable to sleep and return only when sleepy, breaking the association between wakefulness and the bedroom.

Then when I saw this recent New Yorker cartoon, I had to burst out laughing for indeed there is one superpower we all have: the ability to remember seven items.  I first learnt about this superpower at my first lecture at Cambridge which was in Experimental Psychology (part of the Natural Sciences Tripos) in 1964.

“Welcome to Cambridge.  At the other place they produce Prime Ministers, here we produce Nobel Prize winners.  Cambridge has won more Nobel Prizes in Science than any other university.  Why? Cambridge is the citadel of Empiricism & Scepticism.  Here Experiment & Observation trump Innate Ideas & Traditions.  Astrology is a quack science, Freud was a quack, Jung was an even bigger one.  If you want to understand real science in psychology read Miller’s paper The Magical Number 7 ± 2.”.

Since then, I have always used seven items as the limit of practicality.  When I see something like “10 ways to improve your memory.” I immediately delete it.  It is why I do not like people-profiling systems such as Astrology (12 types), Enneagram (9), or MBTI (16).  On the other hand, systems such as DISC (4) and NLP (3) are insufficiently granular.

My core belief is that “People Drive Performance, Emotions Drive People; Temperament Drives Emotions”.  If you want to lift your emotional intelligence you need to use a model of temperament that is practical, easy-to-use, and scientifically valid.  If you want to learn more about the 7MTF watch this short 4-minute explainer video.

If that awakens your appetite to lift your EQ this online-video course: Introduction to Practical Emotional Intelligence: The 7MTF is now available.  The investment is A$25 and the course comprises ten lessons and takes 5 hours to complete.  This is the quickest course available that will dramatically lift your emotional intelligence.  Note all students are entitled to a full refund within 30 days of their initial payment.

One final tip, the magic number 7 refers to chunks of information.  So if given a code like 293083, remember it as 29-30-83.

This blog was first published on LinkedIn on 15 October 2023



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Chris Golis - Author


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