7 min read

HitPoint Health Weekly 7/16: Sleep Tips, Halls of Torment, Learning Guitar Techniques, Sunscreen, and more

HitPoint Health Weekly 7/16: Sleep Tips, Halls of Torment, Learning Guitar Techniques, Sunscreen, and more
Photo by Worachat Sodsri / Unsplash

Good morning! Hopefully this email finds you well, and you are ready to read or skim through some info today. I ended up doing a deep dive into sunscreens, guitar techniques that I have always wanted to learn, and more!

Stuff I Did This Week

The Quest to Thump

Many years ago, I remember watching Tosin Abasi of Animals As Leaders fame play his extended range 8 string guitars. It amazed me, because as I watched his hands, the amount of notes coming out did not match the motions of his hands at all. This is because of his usage and combination of a few techniques that I have been dedicating time to learning: selective picking, and thumping. Thumping is when you slap through the string with your thumb, and bring it back up, hitting the note twice in quick succession. Selective picking is when you essentially hammer on notes from nowhere using just your left hand. And, when these techniques combine, there can be a rapid succession of notes that sound different than tremelo (or fast) picking, and you can play notes in different ranges than would normally be able to without these techniques.

For a classic example of this, you can look into almost any Animals as leaders song, as well as many modern Polyphia songs, as Tosin ended up teaching Tim Henson of Polyphia fame these techniques. And Tim is who I have been learning these from, via YouTube. The long and short of it is that, these techniques are making me use my brain in ways that I did not expect in order to master them. The disconnect between the left and right hand is apparent, especially when adding selective picking into the mix. But after a week or so of practice so far, I have made a lot of progress, and I would even go so far as to say that I should have tried to learn this years ago. It is changing the way that I approach the instrument, allowing me to express more creativity, using the guitar as both a melodic and percussive instrument. I recommend trying to learn or do something that takes you out of your comfort zone this week. Maybe it'll be one of the best decisions you've ever made.

Like a Dragon

Last week, I mentioned that I was playing Like A Dragon, or Yakuza 7, in the west, (although the new ongoing series name is going to be Like a Dragon now as well, so like a Dragon 7). So, now that I am about 5 chapters into the game, got through a decent chunk of it and really have an idea of what this game is about, I feel that I can write and comment on some of what this game has to say.

So far, I have to say that I am impressed, and I plan on playing this game to completion before I end up spending all of my spare time playing Baldurs Gate 3. The character design, their backstories, the side quests, the main quest, the combat, everything about this game has heart. And I love the feeling of walking through Japan, being able to enter convenience stores, restaurants, clothes shopes and more. It really feels fleshed out and cohesive.

But, boy does this game have heart. I have heard this about the Yakuza games before, but it hasn't clicked before now. I think that this is mainly due to the combat. The brawler or beat-em-up style of combat that the series is known for has never really done it for me; I have always found it a bit easy or boring, but man, I have to say that I really do love it in a turn based format, and the unique polish that they put into the combat feels really good to play.

And above all else, I have really enjoyed what the game has to say. It really humanizes characters that may be demonized in other games, or even in the real world. Prostitues, mobsters, Yakuza, the homeless, the main cast and supporting characters in this game being seen as sort of "outcasts" in society, but being the kindest and most heartwarming people you could meet really makes this game something special, and I am excited to play through the rest of the story, and to see Ichiban's story to its end. Of course, before Like a Dragon 8 comes out next year which I will certainly be picking up.

Stuff I Recommend

Sleep Techniques

When going to sleep, I have a routine and a few things that I need to do each night. And these are the things that help me score an 80+ on my Oura ring every night!

The biggest thing and most important factor for me, and likely for you as well, is time in bed. The only way that I can get a score like a 90+ is if I have at least 9 hours in bed. This is a lot for me, so I tend to shoot for about 8 hours in bed at minimum with 8.5 being the sweet spot that gets me to an 85 sleep score on average.

Now, for the things that help me get to sleep faster, and deeper for longer, what I recommend is using nose strips, such as Breathe Right strips, and taping your mouth shut with 3m micro pore tape. Yes, you read that right! I think that this is one of the cheapest, easiest and best ways to teach your body to breathe through your nose throughout the night. This is also a cheap and effective way to prevent snoring, if you do that.

And of course, a tip that you've likely heard before is to keep your bedroom cool: around 60-69 degree range. Cold enough that you feel cool even under the sheets, but not so cold that you actually feel cold. This is the optimal temperature range for humans when sleeping and it will help your body get the recovery that it needs throughout the night.

And my final tip, and something that I cannot do without anymore, is my sleep mask. I have a Manta Sleep sleep mask, and boy was it worth the money. For about $30, it will change the way you sleep. It is a comfortable and ergonomic sleep mask. They aren't a sponsor or anything like that, just a brand that I have come to love, as I have been sleeping with my Manta Sleep mask for many years and still love it. I've been considering upgrading to some of their newer designs as well.

HitPoint Hacks


This is a topic that has really interested me since I've heard that sunscreen is esentially just poison that is sold to you for bad actors to make a profit. That it doesn't really do anything, and ini fact can promote cancerse. So I decided to dig into this topic a bit more to find the truth, considering how vastly different the two sides are. One, that sunscreen causes cancer, and the other, that you need to apply sunscreen if you can see sunlight at all, even while driving or being by a window.

Now, of course it is a little silly to think that you have to apply sunscreen any time that you're outside, but the idea that you need to apply it when outside for extended periods and in direct exposure, such as at the beach, does have some merit to it. Being a Floridian myself, I have seen the damages that the sun can do to the skin. I've felt it, too. But what guidelines might I recommend? And how much sun is healthy? Does sunscreen inhibit absorption of sunlight and conversion to vitamin D?

Well, the answers to these questions can be complicated as well. But to start, I will say that we do not need sunscreen, although it can be helpful when UV rays are high, like they are during mid day sun in Florida. During these times, I would likely just opt to avoid direct sun exposure, from about 1 PM to 5 PM or so, at least in the summer. This is when the sun is at its most intense. And you can feel it when going outside. And this way, I won't have to use any sunscreen. However, what about when you have no choice, or are planning a whole day outside and shirtless?

In this case, I would likely still avoid some traditional sunscreens, just becase there really has been some evidence of damaging chemicals in these sunscreens. The benzoates and other things in sunscreens, can last a long time in the human body and accumulate in a way that is certainly toxic, and has even had some sunscreens recalled in the recent past. On top of this, these harmful chemicals essentially get worse and more toxic the longer that sunscreen is on the shelves. This is why if you look, you will notice that sunscreens have expiration dates. Crazy! But, whatsmore, sunscreens will typically "go bad" even before the expiration date is reached, just on the shelf of a store.

With all this in mind, are sunscreens really that bad? Are they the enemy, and the sun our natural friend that we evolved with? Not necessarily. There is some truth to the damage that the sun can do to our cells, just as there is truth to the damage that the sunscreens can do as well. So then, what is the answer, if both things are bad!? To this, I would say moderation; be careful of when and how you get your sun exposure. Ideally, I would try to get my exposure to the sun for about 20 minutes in the morning, when getting some sunlight in your eyes, as Huberman suggests, why not get it in your skin as well. I tend to shoot for any time in the 6-10 am window.

So long story short, try to limit sun exposure when the UV index is at its highest and most dangerous. Not that you'd even want to be outside anyways during these times, with temperatures in the 100s and the feeling that the sun is cruelly beating you down. But, if you find yourself in a situation where you have to be outside during these times, or really want to be, I think that wearing some SPF protectant clothes, or even finding a good, reputable mineral sunscreen brand can do you some good and be a fine temporary solution. There is a line that can be crossed, and the sun can easily do more harm than good. This is why you see Hippos, elephants, pigs, and many other animals including early humans use natural things such as mud as a makeshift sunscreen. The dose makes the poison. And this is true with sunscreen, and the sun itself.

La Roche Posay - Anthelios
Photo by Arthur Pereira / Unsplash

Thank you for your time again this week, and I hope that you'll come back next time. As always, if you have any ideas for topics to cover, shoot me a reply email. Or even if you just want to say thanks, or have any rebuttals or additional research that you think that I should see. I am always willing to learn and to change my opinion when I am shown that I am wrong.

And, as always, keep those hitpoints up!