“Biohacking” is a term entrepreneurs have likely heard used by Silicon Valley’s startup founders and investors. But what does it actually mean to biohack the body?
First, to properly answer this question, here’s what it isn’t. Contrary to popular belief, biohacking isn’t about implanting robotics into one’s body. “There is an inherently wrong perception by the general public that biohacking means expensive biochips, mixing pharmaceuticals and rare botanicals for improved performance,” Amir Barzilay, founder and CEO of VitalTechnologies, tells Entrepreneur.com.
When looking at what biohacking is, Tony Robbins provides a clear biohacking definition on his website: “Biohacking is essentially the practice of changing our chemistry and our physiology through science and self-experimentation to energize and enhance the body.”
Those who biohack follow these three key practices:
- Seeking methods of self-optimization.
- Using experimentation while tracking results to discover how to boost individual abilities.
- Manipulating the body and mind to perform at the highest level possible.
For leaders and high achievers, incorporating this daily practice is not complicated but does require curiosity, dedication, and some willpower. From the standpoint of improving performance and productivity at work, this article provides biohacking tips that speak to people interested in less extreme practices. Nevertheless, these methods can still enhance and optimize mind and body functionality.
Step One – Biohack Your Sleep
While some leaders like Jeff Bezos sleep eight hours a night, others like Indra Nooyi, former CEO of PepsiCo, only clock in a mere four hours. Again, it’s important to remember that biohacking is about trying new things, measuring results, and finding what works best for you.
To find your perfect amount of sleep:
- Measure the amount of rest you get every night by keeping a sleep diary. Here’s a link to a free, downloadable PDF of one from the National Sleep Foundation.
- In the notes section, write down how well-rested you feel each morning.
- Next, notice patterns between the number of hours you sleep and your energy level, mood, and overall well-being.
- Based on this information, determine when you should go to bed, when you should wake up, and how much sleep you need every night.
- Finally, stick to a regular sleep routine at night with the same bedtime and waking time.
Other Tips for a Good Night’s Rest
What a person does before getting into bed also has an enormous impact on sleep. In turn, this affects performance and productivity levels. Those guilty of staying up late on their cell phones will want to give this a read:
“Using TVs, tablets, smartphones, laptops, or other electronic devices before bed delays your body’s internal clock (a.k.a., your circadian rhythm), suppresses the release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, and makes it more difficult to fall asleep. This is largely due to the short-wavelength, artificial blue light that’s emitted by these devices,” provides the National Sleep Foundation in an article regarding the effects of using screens at night.
Since the main culprit is blue light, trying a pair of blue light blocking glasses will help limit the negative effects of screens.
More sleep-enhancing biohacks include:
- Lavender and chamomile essential oils
- Magnesium supplements
- Melatonin-rich foods
- Valerian root
Step Two – Experiment with Supplements and Diet Changes
One of the best ways to naturally biohack the body is to change what fuels your body each day. Doing so helps increase energy, productivity, and overall health. This includes making better eating choices and taking nootropics.
When biohacking with food, several popular choices are:
- Taking a food sensitivity test to find out intolerances.
- Cycling eating times through intermittent fasting for weight loss, heart disease prevention and cognitive functioning benefits.
- Getting on the ketogenic diet to increase brain function and energy levels.
- Eliminating as many processed foods as possible.
- Limiting the intake of sugar and high levels of saturated and trans fats.
- Eating fiber-rich foods and fatty fish rich in omega-3 fats.
- Reaping the benefits of medicinal mushroom extracts.
Ways to Experience the Benefits of Effective Nootropics
When biohacking through what you consume, another choice to consider is nootropics. These mind and mood alternating substances can be found in supplement shops or on Amazon. But, be careful and thoroughly check labels when purchasing nootropics since some companies use harmful ingredients that can cause fatigue in the adrenal glands. Dr. Josh Axe explains to 24Life: “There’s actually a big rage going on right now over nootropic supplements, which are used to increase brain function and overall focus. But there are a lot of synthetic ingredients in those that I’m not a fan of.”
Instead, he suggests the following list of natural nootropics:
- Ingesting a limited amount of caffeine in the morning (having a cup of coffee).
- Eating fatty fish.
- Adding more fresh berries to your diet.
- Drinking green tea (it has the amino acid L-theanine in it).
- Taking Ashwagandha for stress relief and focus.
- Using the herbs Bacopa and Ginkgo biloba.
- Consuming medical mushrooms such as Lion’s Mane and Cordyceps.
- Supplementing MCT oil into smoothies, workout shakes, or on top of meals.
Step Three – Get Involved in Physical and Spiritual Practices
Those who biohack focus on taking care of both body and mind. When these two fall by the wayside, a whole host of problems follows: low productivity, decreased energy, inability to focus, lack of enthusiasm, and sleepiness. As a result, these problems interfere with performance and productivity.
Calming the mind through meditation, mindfulness and deep breathing helps soothe stress and anxiety and improves brain function. In 2011, Harvard researchers conducted an eight-week study that showed “mindfulness increased learning and memory” and decreased “fear, anxiety, and stress.” Their findings concluded that “meditation not only changes the brain, but it changes our subjective perception and feelings as well.”
In addition to meditation, biohackers also recommend high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Essentially, HIIT is exercising in explosive bursts. Spinning, some types of hot yoga classes, sprinting, jump roping and boxing are all forms of HIIT. To check out some free, at-home HIIT workouts visit fitnessblender.com.
The last biohacking tip for body and mind productiveness and performance is cold therapy or cryotherapy. This method uses cold temperatures for a variety of beneficial purposes. For example, cold therapy, especially when used on the whole body, offers pain relief, restores muscles, reduces inflammation, can support weight loss, and increases energy and focus. It can be as simple as using a bag of peas to alleviate a swollen ankle. Additionally, cold therapy includes cold water plunge pools, cryotherapy chambers, or taking a cold shower.
Step Four – Use Technology to Your Advantage
While chip implantation into the hand or chest might not sound appealing to some, there are other, less invasive biohacking tech tools on the market. Remember, some of these gadgets might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the key to biohacking is being open to new things and tracking results. Moreover, experimentation helps you figure out how to increase productivity and perform at a higher level.
The top three recommendations for biohacking technology are:
- Oura Ring—Oura Ring is a wearable device that measures sleep performance through red infrared sensors. While sleeping, the ring keeps track of the body’s signals and turns this information into a reviewable report each morning. Oura cites how important getting a good night’s rest is on their website: “Getting enough restorative sleep helps keep your autonomic nervous, hormone and immune systems balanced. When you’re balanced, you sleep better. It’s a virtuous cycle that affects all aspects of your health and productivity.”
- Apple Watch or Fitbit—Devices like Apple Watch and Fitbit provide easy access to data stored within the body. These two track sleep, daily steps, and heart rate, among other activities. Although Apple Watch is a bit more high tech than its competitor, both are a great option for measuring biohacking efforts.
- Beurer IL50 Infrared Light Therapy—Red light therapy is an increasingly popular option for biohackers, and for good reason. It’s known to increase hair growth, relieve pain, help heal wounds, decrease wrinkles, and more. From masks, belts, and body beds, there are a plethora of choices out there. For those just diving into the advantages of red light therapy, the portable Beurer is a great device at an affordable price. It’s less than $50 dollars and has over 1,000 reviews online averaging out to 4.5 stars.
Why You Should Biohack
Biohacking is empowering. It helps people discover how they can perform at a higher level with increased energy, focus, and a sense of wellbeing. “The whole idea of biohacking is that people feel entitled, they feel the ability to just follow their curiosity—where it should go—and really get to the bottom of something they want to understand,” explains Ron Shigeta to PBS News Hour in an article concerning the subject.
For business professionals and leaders, biohacking is important because it keeps classic leadership qualities well-oiled. Success in this practice requires things like dedication, problem-solving, discipline, resilience, and patience. In an article for Entrepreneur.com, biohacker Lian Pham explains how the process affected her journey: “I realized that we all have this unusual power to make ourselves healthier and stronger,” she tells the magazine.
Biohacking drives action and instigates change in people’s lives by optimizing productivity and performance. Chances are, most people unknowingly are already biohacking. Incorporating a few more tactics into existing daily routines can positively impact a person’s life and career by enabling both body and mind to reach their full potential. Doing so helps business owners, executives, managers and other high performers show up with an even greater impact on those around them.