It seems that every year flies by faster than the blink of an eye and our time becomes increasingly more precious. With the rapid growth of technology, many are finding it is more difficult to focus and keep up with the connectivity level. To maintain and be productive, many attempt to game their bodies by monitoring and modifying sleep, physical activity, and eating habits. This process of understanding and modification has been popularly termed “biohacking.”
POWER DOWN TO PROPERLY POWER UP
Let’s start with sleep because sleep deficit is the number one thing that throws people off any healthful routine. With sleep deprivation, people are chronically fatigued, leading them to feel generally behind and to make poor lifestyle choices. When we lack adequate sleep, we are hungrier and less focused. This often triggers people to reach for more caffeine, sugar, and other stimulants to maintain.
To prepare for a good night’s sleep, it is important to power down across the board. A good guideline is to avoid electronic devices for an hour before turning in for the night. The blue light emitted from our phones, computers, overhead lights, and televisions actually suppresses the natural rise of melatonin in the evening. This either makes it difficult for people to fall asleep or affects the quality of sleep.
This can be difficult for many to truly commit to, so there are biohacking tactics to help. For computer screens, there is an application called f.lux that adjusts the color of your screen depending on the time of the day. As you approach the evening, blue light is increasingly blocked.
So your computer is taken care of, but that still leaves your television, phone, tablets, and overhead lights. For that we have perhaps the silliest yet effective tool, which are blue blocker sunglasses. If you have a favorite show or a movie to watch in the evening, don’t forget your eye protection. You will thank yourself in the morning when you are rested.
Many people complain that it is difficult to shut off their minds in the evenings and find that they become increasingly energetic. This is most often due to an imbalance in the stress hormone, cortisol, where it actually elevates in the evening when it should naturally be low. An amino acid, phosphatidylserine, supports lowering cortisol to allow people with busy thoughts to fall asleep. Like shutting off all the lights in the house before bed, it unplugs the cortisol from the receptors in the brain.
CREATING A HEALTHFUL MORNING ROUTINE
It is important to get the day started off right because it sets the tone for the rest of the day. No, it is not healthy to check your e-mail as soon as your alarm goes off. Healthful morning routines include exercise, meditation, and a balanced breakfast to wake up your system.
Light exposure: Though we want blue light to be low in the evening, we want exposure to it in the morning to help us wake up. With shorter days in winter months, this poses more of a challenge for people. Some people opt to invest in a blue light alarm clock. Studies show that 20–30 minutes per day of exposure can help energy levels and mood.
Exercise: Cortisol levels are supposed to be higher in the morning than any other point in the day to help us be alert. Exercise naturally increases endorphins and cortisol levels with studies showing that even a short five-minute burst of cardiovascular activity can do the trick.
Meditation: With constant connectivity, it becomes increasingly more difficult to find space for silence and introspection. The morning hours are a good opportunity for this and allow you to gear up for the day ahead. For those new to a meditative practice, there are numerous phone and tablet applications that will guide you through the process. To complement meditation and breathing exercises, heart rate variability monitors like Heart Math’s emWave2 help you track your ability to reduce stress and anxiety.
Nutritious breakfast: The most common breakfast options are typically high in simple carbohydrates. It is important to keep blood sugar balanced from the first meal of the day. Starting the day with a healthful source of fat, protein, and vegetables is ideal for stable energy.
ALLOW YOUR BODY TO TRUST YOU
At the end of the day, our bodies appreciate predictability. When you are on a consistent routine, your body has faith in you to give it exactly what it needs. There are many different options for maintaining a healthful diet and lifestyle, but finding something you are able to commit to is of utmost importance.