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Re: coding under the influence

by tilly (Archbishop)
on Dec 29, 2005 at 21:36 UTC ( #519887=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to coding under the influence

It is a myth that nicotine relaxes people. It doesn't, it is a stimulant. However it does temporarily relieve the stress of your nicotine addiction. With the end result that a person who feeds their nicotine addition carefully is only somewhat more stressed out (and quite a bit poorer) than the same person would be without the addiction in the first place.

I don't know what connection you are avoiding drawing between smoking and women and sex. Other than the obvious one that someone who smokes tastes bad to kiss, and so non-smokers often aren't interested in them...

Caffeine is different. People think that it is a stimulant, and it is. (Unless you have low blood sugar, in which case it puts you to sleep. That is because it stimulates you but also reduces blood sugar - and if your blood sugar is low, the second effect matters more. This is most commonly seen in small children.) However there is an issue of diminishing returns. Your body adapts to the expectation that it will be there. So every time you change your caffeine levels, there is a real effect, but then your body gets used to it and your energy level at the new consumption level goes back to approximately what it was before.

The effect is somewhat like trying to increase the heat of a house with central furnace by using a space heater. The heating system notices that the house is hotter than expected and shuts off the furnace earlier, leaving you right where you were on average. (Though the spot next to the space heater winds up hotter than it was before.)

YMMV, but for me programming happens when I am calm, rested, alert, in a quiet space and not on any drugs.

Comment on Re: coding under the influence
Re^2: coding under the influence
by robin (Chaplain) on Dec 30, 2005 at 21:20 UTC
    Surprisingly, there is evidence that nicotine really does improve performance on information processing tasks. For example. the paper Selective effects of nicotine on attentional processes (Psychopharmacology 146(2), 1999) begins as follows:
    There is strong evidence that nicotine facilitates some types of information processing (Edwards et al. 1985; Warburton 1990; Sherwood 1993; Heishman et al. 1994),and that this effect does not result from a reversal effect of a withdrawal-induced deficit (Wesnes and Warburton 1984; Le Houezec et al. 1994; Warburton and Arnall 1994; Foulds et al. 1996). However, the specific nature of the nicotine-induced improvements on information processing has proved more difficult to specify.
    The paper goes on to describe a study that, in the authors' view, supports the hypothesis that nicotine achieves these benefits by increasing the intensity of attention.

    Of course I wouldn't recommend smoking, because of the well-known risks, but it's not impossible that it would help your coding in the short-to-medium term.

    Disclosure: I am a nicotine addict. I don't smoke though; I use snus (which appears to be the safest tobacco product around, but is of course not without risk).

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