Want a better night’s sleep? A TED original series explores the science of slumber

Is that afternoon coffee having a major impact on your sleep hours later? Does sleeping longer mean living longer?

In TED’s newest original video series, Sleeping with Science, sleep scientist Matt Walker dives into the latest research on sleep — and explains what you need to know to get a better night’s rest.

While you’re dreaming, your body works overtime to repair your immune system, file your memories and literally clean your brain, so you can wake up ready for the day. But not all sleep is created equal. Walker sheds light on the mysterious mechanics of slumber in eight brief, information-packed episodes featuring colorful illustrations of the wondrous inner workings of your brain on sleep — and what happens when you don’t get enough of it.

Stroll through the stages of sleep with Walker as he finally puts to rest tired misconceptions about sleep and uncovers some surprising findings, including how coffee and alcohol really affect your sleep, how to boost your immune system with sleep, new research into the link between sleep and Alzheimer’s disease and how to hack your memory with sleep. This series was made possible with the support of Beautyrest.

Take a walk through the stages of sleep:

A look at how you might be paying for that nightcap with your sleep:


Studying for a big test? Learn how sleep boosts your memory:


Could better sleep hold the key to lowering your risk of Alzheimer’s disease:


Feeling cranky? Understand how sleep — or the lack of it — changes your feelings during the day:


Explore the connection between rest and your health:


Find out if you’re getting enough sleep:


And finally, try these tips for a better snooze:

https://embed.ted.com/talks/65067

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Raspberry Pi retro player

We found this project at TeCoEd and we loved the combination of an OLED display housed inside a retro Argus slide viewer. It uses a Raspberry Pi 3 with Python and OpenCV to pull out single frames from a video and write them to the display in real time.​

TeCoEd names this creation the Raspberry Pi Retro Player, or RPRP, or – rather neatly – RP squared. The Argus viewer, he tells us, was a charity-shop find that cost just 50p.  It sat collecting dust for a few years until he came across an OLED setup guide on hackster.io, which inspired the birth of the RPRP.

Timelapse of the build and walk-through of the code

At the heart of the project is a Raspberry Pi 3 which is running a Python program that uses the OpenCV computer vision library.  The code takes a video clip and breaks it down into individual frames. Then it resizes each frame and converts it to black and white, before writing it to the OLED display. The viewer sees the video play in pleasingly retro monochrome on the slide viewer.

Tiny but cute, like us!

TeCoEd ran into some frustrating problems with the OLED display, which, he discovered, uses the SH1106 driver, rather than the standard SH1306 driver that the Adafruit CircuitPython library expects. Many OLED displays use the SH1306 driver, but it turns out that cheaper displays like the one in this project use the SH1106. He has made a video to spare other makers this particular throw-it-all-in-the-bin moment.

Tutorial for using the SH1106 driver for cheap OLED displays

If you’d like to try this build for yourself, here’s all the code and setup advice on GitHub.

Wiring diagram

TeCoEd is, as ever, our favourite kind of maker – the sharing kind! He has collated everything you’ll need to get to grips with OpenCV, connecting the SH1106 OLED screen over I2C, and more. He’s even told us where we can buy the OLED board.

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