Tag: happy

Sleep: The Ultimate Biohack

If you are experiencing memory loss, low energy, irritability, weight gain and loss of cognitive function, you could have a medical condition. Or, you could just need more sleep.

In our society we wear our sleep deprivation like a badge. Its proof that we have it all – we work harder than anyone we know, we party hard into the wee hours of the night because of our busy social life…we have made it, and we have the bags under our eyes to prove it.  We also have excess weight,  a short temper, and an in ability to make good decisions, along with several other not so nice side effects of not enough sleep. We are, to put it simply, a mess, but we look good on paper, don’t we?

Sleep is the most underrated biohack there is. It is not glamorous or cutting edge. In fact, you have probably heard that you need to get more sleep since you were in your teens.  If you are anything like I was,  you feel like you are fine on 6 hours. Why is that we accept this lifestyle when we know we shouldn’t?

Sleep deprivation is no joke. When we don’t get enough hours, not only do we drag around with dark circles under our eyes, but we can’t hold conversations, we can’t concentrate, and we are irritable. We all know this first hand, but did you also know that it can impair your judgement when it comes to tasks like driving and your decision-making abilities at work? Not to mention that you experience a decreased ability to handle stress, increased anxiety, slowed reaction time, and significant memory impairment, as well an overall loss of cognitive ability.  Long term sleep deprivation can have serious effects, like depression, heart disease, hypertension, obesity, decreased sex drive and diabetes.

The benefits of getting enough sleep are simple:  you don’t experience the above.

Most people are sleep deprived and do not realize it. We operate in such fast paced, high stress, overstimulated world that we don’t even notice the effect is having on us anymore. If we could decompress a bit and get adequate rest, the benefits to our system would be noticeable.

If you are noticing any of the symptoms noted above, try adding an hour of rest to your day and see if you notice a difference. Just an hour can increase your energy level, help you think better and add more patience to your day.  If you can’t sleep in a bit or go to bed earlier, try adding a short nap at lunch or when you get home. Every little bit helps.

With all the stimulation in our daily lives, it can be hard to find the time to go to bed earlier, and when you do get into bed, its hard to calm down enough to get to sleep. There are a number of things you can try to help with that.

First, try getting into a bedtime routine. It tells your mind that its time to shut down, and by the time your head hits the pillow, you should be ready for sleep. Your routine will be personal to you. It can include putting on pajamas, reading, relaxing with a cup of decaf herbal tea, or even cleaning up the kitchen and getting coffee ready for the morning.  Whatever your routine is, you will notice after a week or so that your body will start to feel relaxed and ready to shut down.  My bedtime routine includes turning everything off, cleaning up anything that remains in the kitchen, getting my coffee pot ready for the morning and getting into my Athlete Recovery pajamas (I am not affiliated with them but I swear by these). Once in bed, I use California Poppy Seed Extract (this is the one I use; again not affiliated with it, it’s just the one I use) for a natural way to help me wind down a little faster.

Next, try a digital downtime. Turn off the television, put your phone in the charger and not next to your bed, and out away the i-pad. If you want to read, read an actual book instead of a Kindle. The blue light from our devices disrupts your brainwaves and adds to the inability to fall asleep. Some people watch t.v. to fall asleep, and while I understand that (I am one of those), it is important to listen to your body cues and turn it off when you feel yourself getting ready to sleep.

Another thing to try is a specific sleep schedule. Get up at the same time every day, even weekends. It allows your body to get into a rhythm Make bedtime a priority. Set an alarm and consider it an appointment you have to keep. When the alarm goes off, no more to do list, no more emails, no more conversation with spouses. It’s an appointment, and you keep it. You will notice you start to get tired on cue when you have gotten into the routine, and you will start to wake up on your own.

In her book Thrive, Arianna Huffington recommends a sleep experiment to see how much sleep you really need. You will need an extended vacation to try this, but go to sleep at the same time every night, and track when you wake up. After the first few days you will recover from some of your exhaustion and get into a rhythm, and your natural waking time will show you how much sleep is optimal for you. Be careful though, because this can be deceiving.  If you are in a chronic state of stress, anxiety or depression, this will affect your sleep pattern and could have you waking up earlier than you should.

When I was married, I was constantly stressed and anxious. Living in fear of someone’s every move doesn’t do much for your sleep habits, and I thought I only needed 6.5 hours for years. As soon we split up and I moved out, my natural rhythm kicked in and I found myself sleeping 8 hours consistently within a few weeks. This was after a solid week of 10 hour nights, so don’t let yourself be fooled by a body in recovery mode.

Remember that you will need more sleep in recovery, whether its emotional or physical recovery. This is because sleep is when your body repairs itself. If you do not get enough sleep, your body cannot repair itself adequately, which can contribute to injuries as well as exhaustion. This is true even if you are not injured but do strenuous workouts. Any athlete will tell you that it is very important to allow your body to sleep as much as it needs while in recovery.  You may need to adjust your schedule to accomplish this, especially if you have an office job.

What makes sleep the ultimate biohack is that it is something we can all do, it costs us nothing to do, and it has a significant impact on all facets of our life. It has no side effects. It instantly enhances mood, performance and cognitive function. You don’t have to buy it. You can’t run out of it, and you can do it everyday to get all of these great effects.

So, let me ask you… is it nap time? Are you ready to make sleep your favorite biohack this year?

I would love to hear from you! What is your favorite way to wind down or your sleep ritual?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biohacking Stress to Power Through Everyday

We all know that stress wreaks havoc on the body, but did you know that there are other ways to deal with stress than pummeling a punching bag or screaming into a pillow? Biohackers do, and they employ these alternative techniques to help them handle the every day stressors, which makes them better equipped to handle it when major stressors occur.

MCT oil is pretty much the answer to life, as far as I am concerned. When it comes to battling stress, the two major benefits are energy and cognitive function. Stress wreaks havoc on your brain. When you are stressed, your brain produces hormones called adrenaline and cortisol. While an occasional adrenaline rush can be fun, a consistent overproduction of these hormones can lead to problems like fatigue, memory issues, confusion, the inability to concentrate and impaired decision-making. When you are experiencing stress, it is important to feed your brain what it needs to continual to function. MCT oil is exactly that. This high quality, low carb fat will provide your brain a readily accessible and easy to process form of energy that your brain needs continue functioning optimally, even when bombarded with stress hormones. It also feeds your body with a healthy source of energy, which can keep you from feeling the fatigue that often comes with the stress hormones.

Exercise is a powerful mood booster and stress reliever. Not only does it allow you to work out your frustrations doing something productive, but it gives more energy following your workout, which can help you battle the fatigue and brain fog you may feel.It also provides a strong dose of endorphins, and thanks to Elle Woods, we already know that endorphins make you happy.

Supplements like GABA, 5-htp, and fish oil can also help combat the effects of stress. GABA is a neurotransmitter that is inhibited by cortisol and adrenaline. It promotes a feeling of calm, so adding a GABA supplement when stressed can help you maintain your sanity. 5-htp is a neurotransmitter with a similar function, but it can make you drowsy to best to use this one at night. Omega 3 or fish oil is another quality fat that provides energy to your brain and helps with cognitive function.

If these aren’t your thing, a trip to the local day spa can melt away all of your cares. There you will usually find a sauna, you can get a massage, and get a good dose of aromatherapy.

I have mentioned  infrared sauna in multiple posts. There is a reason I go twice a week – it is good for the body and the soul. It promotes healing at the cellular level, meaning it cleanses old cell tissue and allows reproduction of new, healthy cells. It eliminates toxins and promotes a general feeling of relaxation and well-being.  For an added bonus, I meditate in the sauna. I am stuck in there for 30 minutes, might as well, right?

If your local spa doesn’t have an infrared sauna, you can still benefit from infrared technology by using Athlete Recovery sleep wear. Created by Tom Brady for Under Armour, this sleepwear is bio-ceramic and has infrared technology woven into the fabric. While you sleep, the infrared waves promote healing and regeneration. I know it sounds crazy, but it works. I have several pairs now and have seen a huge benefit from wearing them. I sleep much better, and better sleep means a more resilient brain to handle the stress of the day. I also wake up less sore than I used to (even while in training for a Spartan race) and it helps to keep night sweats at bay.  (Side note – the line also includes some day wear as well. More updates on the track suit to come.)

Essential oils are also a very underrated way to combat the effects of stress. Lavender is a very soothing scent and it helps to induce a calm feeling. It also acts as a sleep aid and relieves muscle soreness, which can follow the adrenaline boost you get with stress. It can also be used as an anti-inflammatory agent, which you will need if the stress becomes chronic. Peppermint acts as a mood booster and energizes you. It can also aid in relief of sore muscles, but is best used in the morning or when you need a pick me up due to its energizing properties.

Getting a massage feels great but it can also relax even the angriest of minds. Releasing tense muscles reduces overall tension. As you release the trapped lactic acid from tight muscles, you can feel the tension melting away and being cleared from your system. When your system cleanses, so does your mind and with it goes some of the stress. The spa atmosphere is designed to relax you as well.  I don’t know about you, but I have never left a massage feeling anxious.

In summary, go for a run, get a massage after, and then run your diffuser while sipping a Bulletproof Coffee and wearing your Athlete Recovery track suit. Life will be good again.

My Favorite Productivity Hack

OK, no judging…I am sharing my favorite productivity hack with you because I love you and want the best for you. Even if it means sharing something I am slightly ashamed of!

 

 

For more productivity hacks, check out the podcast from BioTrust Radio,

titled 7 Steps to Be More Productive:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/biotrust-radio/id1307215363?mt=2&i=1000417452066

Hacking Insulin Resistance with IC-5

I am experimenting with the Biotrust product IC-5 to see what affect it has on my battle with insulin resistance.  I am combining this with the keto diet and intermittent fasting.

What is IC-5? It is a blend of chromium, berberine, cinnamon bark extract, naringin and biofotiamine specifically designed to support a healthy metabolism and control blood sugar. For all the specifics and the product information, click here.

I decided to try this because berberine has a similar effect in the body to metformin, which is used to control blood sugar in diabetics.  Because I am not there yet I don’t need (or want) something as strong as metformin, so berberine was a good choice to start with. Berberine is used to control blood sugar, promote weight loss, and regulate metabolism.  (For more information on Berberine, click here for an article from Healthline.com.)

When taken as directed, I noticed a difference in how I metabolize food. Meaning, I don’t crave anything, and I have level energy without spikes or drops in my blood sugar. I don’t eat much in the way of carbohydrates, so I don’t get “sugar spikes” but I do notice more energy when I have eaten followed by a drop a couple hours later. This product seems to take that away.

I dropped a few pounds the first two weeks of taking it. It leveled off after that. Not sure if I am doing something different, but I will try to figure that out and update this post.

I have a family member who started taking this at the same time. She has noticed her hair stopped falling out and also reported feeling more energy overall versus spikes. She does eat carbohydrates, and still reports feeling a difference. No weight loss either – but she also eats food I wouldn’t even consider eating. I don’t know if she is lucky or crazy.

So far I am impressed. I will continue taking this and see what happens long term.

Please note: this is what I am doing and this is not medical advice. It is biohacking, which most medical professionals do not appreciate, and it is my experience. I am not suggesting or promoting any products,  it is just what is working for me.

 

PROMO ALERT!!

Free Kindle downloads this weekend in honor of the audio book release!  You can also get the audio book for free here.

Click on the link under Get the Book to grab your free copy starting tomorrow.

Happy reading!

A Must Listen To Podcast Episode

Short post today because I want to say only one thing:

You must listen to this podcast.

If you are: keto, thinking about keto, curious about keto, just getting into biohacking, have any health issues you want to find a way to get rid of, looking for a way to increase energy, looking for a way to lose weight, want to erase brain fog, want to improve your memory, or human in any way, you MUST listen to this podcast. 

This episode is from BioTrust Radio and it features Shawn Wells (my biohacking mentor, formulator of most of the supplements I use and founder of Zone Halo Research – you can find him on Instagram @zonehalo, or on his website). It is called The ABCs of the Keto Diet: Avocados, Bacon, Coconut oil, and beyond!  You can find it on iTunes as well as here.

I am fired up about this episode because not only is it everything keto, it goes into so much more that we are all struggling with. It may be a long episode (just short of 2 hours) but it is worth every second. Play it in the car while stuck in traffic if you have to, just get through it. It is jam packed with great information. Shawn Wells is a wealth of information and we are fortunate that he shares it with us…and for free! You will be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t take advantage.

So, happy listening! Hope you find something useful.

Favorite Biohack #9 – External Testosterone Cream

Another disclosure on this one:  Consult your physician before using this.  This is my experience based on my particular situation and it may be different for you.

Back when I was trying to figure out what was “wrong” with me, I had a full panel of lab work done and in doing so, discovered that I was not producing anywhere near the acceptable level of testosterone.  Because my health insurer decided I didn’t need the prescribed medication regardless of what my doctor said, I turned to biohacking.

Enter testosterone cream. I tried a few before settling on the one I use now (click here for the details) from BioLabs Pro. I like this one because its not greasy and absorbs well, so it easily fits into my post-shower ritual.

I noticed a huge difference in my attitude using this. For example, I stopped crying over EVERYTHING, which was really annoying. I gained my normal edge back, and a little more bravado as well.  (I did manipulate this when I discovered I don’t like going over obstacles during Spartan training. A little more cream and over I went with no problem. I don’t condone this, fyi. It worked, but probably not the best idea I have ever had.)  I would like to say I put on more muscle using this, but it could also be from increased weight training. I would also like to say I was leaner (before getting sick) but that may also have been due to the increase in workout intensity.

You will deal with some acne while adjusting to this, as it is a hormone, but it went away after a few months. The annoyance factor of that was offset by my skin healing faster.  I also noticed a need for stronger deodorant. That did not go away. Be prepared!

There are also some nasty side effects to testosterone supplementation, such as an increased risk of cancer. and some lesser ones like increased hair growth,  changes in sleep and appetite, and headaches. (For the full list from the Mayo Clinic, click here.) Definitely get your lab work done before taking this on because if you don’t need it, it may not be worth the risks.

Small annoyances aside, I feel better overall when I use this cream. I simply function better.  To me, it is worth trying just for that.

*image from BioLabs Pro site

Favorite Biohack #8 – Exercise

Let me start by saying that my daughter says I should have moved to this number one.  Apparently I am crazy and obsessive about exercise. This from a teen who thinks exercise is getting up to go to the kitchen…but I digress.

I am not going to beat a dead horse and tell you exercise is important. You know it is. What I am going to tell you is why its one of my favorite biohacks.

Exercise a biohack because it is a fast, easy, and proven way to change how you feel immediately, and it changes both the way your body functions and your body composition based on the effort you put in.  In other words, you are doing something that makes your body act in a certain way.

I work out five mornings a week and rest two. I work out in the morning because it gives me endorphins, and that means I start every day with my stress worked out, endorphins flowing and feeling energized  Plus it is done, so I don’t have to think about it for the rest of the day, worrying about when I will get to it and thus adding stress.

My regular daily workout is P90X3. I do it at home because it works with my schedule, and I enjoy it. Enjoying your workout is key – you are not going to do what you hate. I found something I like so I actually look forward to it. Most days, anyway – I am not superhuman and some days it takes a bit to get me off the sofa.  However, it is a lot easier to get off the sofa for something you enjoy.  I like being at home because I do it when I want and I don’t have to sit in traffic, deal with the locker room, wait around for equipment or a class time, or deal with the gym hours. All of that would be a source of stress for me, and that negates the point of a stress reliever!

When I exercise, I feel better about myself. I am still struggling with the hormonal issues that made me start biohacking, so when something happens (like being sick for two months, which just happened) I still gain weight. However, as soon as I am able to I am back to the workouts, and even though I still have some weight to work off from this last round of illness, I feel like I am doing something about it. I do not like the feeling of being helpless and if I didn’t work out, I would feel like my physical condition is out of my control. I also feel stronger and able to do more.  For my crazy life I need to be able to do more, and this is my key to making sure I can keep up with myself.

We all know cardiovascular health increases with exercise, so I will only say that I think its nice to be able to go up a flight of stairs and not be winded.

Exercise increases BDNF, an important factor in memory, focus and overall cognitive function. If you would like a more scientific explanation of that, please refer to this article from the Harvard Health Blog from the Harvard School of Medicine.  For this blog, suffice it to say that it clears the brain fog that we can feel from a number of different factors. It is amazing what you can accomplish without brain fog and with increased focus.

I touched on the stress relief factor, but it bears mentioning again. Exercise can reduce the damaging effects of stress by reducing stress, but also by increasing your ability to deal with stress. It increases the cheicals in your brain that are responsible for mood regulation and calm, and it promotes cellular rejuvenation, which helps your body defend against and repair the damage that stress does to your systems.

The benefits of exercise go far beyond just losing weight. If you already exercise regularly, awesome! If not, just try it. Find a class or an activity that works for you, give it a week or two and see what happens. See how you feel. Then let me know!

 

P.S. I am in the photo above –  this was my first time doing Acroyoga at SunSpark Yoga. If you haven’t done this, do it. Its a lot of fun!

Favorite Biohack #7 – Infrared Sauna

Warning, this post contains information on sex. It is basic and vague, but it is there.

Men: this is one you may not want to read. You are welcome to, but consider yourself warned – it contains information you may not want.

I covered the sauna recently in its own post, but I wanted to revisit it because I realized the sauna has had a benefit to me that I didn’t address.

In my book, I touched in the changes that occur in the female body during aging, one of which is a biological change in the nether regions. (Last chance to stop, guys!)  As I mentioned, in addition to dryness, your skin thins and tear easily, and the combo can make sex painful.

What does this have to do with the sauna? I remember hearing on the One Life Radio show with guest Shawn Wells that he found that infrared sauna visits had a positive effect on the skin of the elderly while working in a nursing home. They bruised less and the skin didn’t split as easily. (Shawn explains it better; I think this is the episode here.)  I had forgotten about this until this week, when I was thinking about how my own skin didn’t seem to be as affected by rough play with my dog as it used to be even a year ago.

Infrared sauna helps to regenerate you at the cellular level. Essentially this means that your cells function better following a sauna visit, and a healthy cell creates new healthy cells. The inability to generate new skin cells causes our skin to thin as we age, which is part of why it tears so easily. Promoting the generation of new skin cells will help thicken skin, and the benefits of this affect all skin, including where it counts.

I have no idea if there is any research to support this specific benefit because I haven’t researched it. It makes sense that it would – skin is skin.  I will tell you that I have noticed a positive difference. (Don’t worry – that is all the detail you are going to get!)

I promised to update you on any new discoveries in this area in my blog, and this is what I have found in this area since writing the book.  Hope it helps.