What does it mean to Reboot?
Updated: Sep 10
It's a common phenomenon in our modern world— when we experience an issue with one of our electronic devices, the first step to troubleshooting the problem is often to reboot the device.
When a webpage freezes, the go-to maneuver is to refresh it.
When a device is running slowly, displaying bugs or errors, or otherwise performing sub-optimally, the first line of defense is simple: turn it off, and then turn it back on again.
Much of the time, this does the trick.
In the world of computers, a simple reset refreshes a computer's system memory, making it ready for a fresh restart. If a computer, smartphone, or even a simple appliance is being restarted on a more consistent basis, it will keep it running optimally over time. The best way to fully function when powered on, is to practice powering off.
Power down, in order to power up more efficiently.
This is more than just an apt metaphor for how our minds and bodies work— there are real shared properties between our us and our devices.
The Human Biocomputer
Like computers, our brains and bodies are powered by electricity. Our brains, and the rest of our nervous systems, controlling nearly every function of the mind and body, are dictated by electrical signals.
While computers use non-biological hardware like metal and semi-conductors, the human body's nerve cells generate electrical signals that transmit information. Although neurons are not intrinsically good conductors of electricity, they have evolved elaborate mechanisms for generating electrical signals based on the flow of ions across their plasma membranes.
Dr. John C. Lily, inventor of the sensory deprivation tank, philosophized and wrote about this commonality in his own research and publications. In his book, 'Programming the Human Biocomputer,' Lily developed his theory of the human biocomputer, a dramatic new way of viewing humans using the 'analogy of brain being the hardware, the mind being the software.'
Related to electrical signals, computers also contain memory, both short and long term, just like the human brain and body. Short term memory on a computer, also known as RAM (random access memory), determines how smoothly the computer can handle its current tasks and switch between them.
When your computer is lagging, it's often because there are too many programs open. When your web browser is having issues, it's often because there are too many tabs open. This is like having too much racing thoughts, muscular tension, and stress essentially 'stuck' in the nervous system.
On my laptop, I have a software program that identifies memory usage and bandwidth. When there's heavy memory usage, the computer get's sluggish and prone to errors, prompting the window below to pop up and offer options for freeing up space.
The human equivalent of this is something we can notice in our minds and bodies— sensations like stress, fatigue, and overwhelm.
When we pay attention to these signals, they prompt us to make changes in our actions and environments. They are our clues and cues us to do things like turn off the lights, stretch, lie down, rest, sleep, eat, and other activities that create a change in our nervous systems.
Sleep as a Reset
In the same way that a computer shouldn’t be left on 24/7 and needs to be powered down or put on ‘sleep’ mode to perform optimally, so do our brains.
It's hard to beat the rejuvenation achieved by a high quality night's sleep. This explains in part why the improved quality and duration of sleep that several of our services offer can make a big difference in our nervous systems, energy levels, and quality of life.
It's also why we carry the book 'Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams' by UC Berkeley professor Matthew Walker at our spas. In his bestselling book, he explains just how vital the quality and duration of our sleep is for all other aspects of our lives.
So while a full night's sleep is one of the ultimate ways to refresh ourselves, and almost every service we offer reboot helps promote your quantity and quality of sleep to enhance this natural function of the brain and body of rebooting overnight, there are also changes and adaptations to our nervous systems that occur during wakefulness.
Other Nervous System Resets & Non-Sleep Deep Rest
Activities like exercise, meditation, and breathing exercises, as well as various environments such as sensory deprivation, heat exposure, and cold exposure, can achieve impactful changes on our nervous systems as well. This is why our float tanks, saunas, cryotherapy, and cold plunges can all act as a reboot, both during and after the activity.
If sleep is the equivalent of powering off a computer, the deeply restorative experience of floating equates to something like a low power mode or a process of quickly freeing up extra bandwidth on an electronic device.
There's a term recently coined by Stanford neuroscience professor Dr. Andrew Huberman for such states: non-sleep deep rest, which gives clues to what happens to our nervous systems when we remove the stimuli of the senses and gravity, and allow the body to rest effortlessly, even without falling asleep.