Useful Science is a nonprofit run by 48 grad students and professionals. The authors of this article are Jay Olson from McGill, Kyle Saikaley from the University of Toronto, and Jaan Altosaar from Princeton. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You shouldn’t need a PhD to reap the rewards of science. Here are seven of our favorite studies relevant to everyday life that show how small changes can have big effects.
We hope this recipe format helps you remember the science!
• 70 decibels—the optimal noise level for creativity •
Creativity flows best at 70 decibels — the average noise level in a coffee shop. To figure this out, researchers at the University of British Columbia played a jumble of cafeteria, construction, and traffic sounds while participants performed a creative task. People were most creative with a moderate amount of background noise.
When it was too quiet (like a library) or too loud (like a New York City subway), performance suffered. But, you don’t need a coffee shop for peak creativity: apps like Coffitivity and soundrown can mimic the coffee shop audible ambiance.
• 30 minutes of sun every morning •
This half hour of sunlight makes it easier to wake up the next morning. And for best health, sleep 7 to 8 hours per night — no more, no less. Sleeping much shorter or longer is associated with increased mortality and abdominal fat.
People can improve their sleep by controlling their exposure to light. Before bed, limiting light exposure (especially from screens on devices) can improve sleep quality. Controlling light exposure before traveling can also help reduce jet lag.There are awesome apps for waking earlier, limiting light exposure from laptops, and reducing jet lag.