Before you start biohacking and any life-improving methods, you first have to take measurements of your health. The first task is to find out what your situation is now. And based on that, it will only be clear what direction to go in.
If you don’t know what is going on with your body right now, you will not be able to use biohacking effectively. It will be like “shooting sparrows with a cannon”, because you won’t know what your weaknesses and strengths are. And it will only be from that data that it will be clear what you need to do.
You need to know your biomarkers and monitor their changes. All biohacking people do it. Businessmen track their performance. Athletes do it, too. As so as politicians. Without tracking biomarkers, it’s hard to understand your performance and even harder to project plans for the future.
What is “Quantified self”?
Self quantification is the analysis and tracking of vital signs to get a detailed picture of your body condition. Once the information is collected, you can use this data to further improve your health.
You can track changes in your heart rate, mood, weight, sleep time, food, and anything else you can measure. A variety of technologies are used to help capture these metrics comfortably and quickly.
Popular devices for this task are:
- Xiaomi Mi Band fitness tracker;
- Apple Watch smart watch;
- Oura Smart Ring.
In general, any smart watch. If you don’t have one, I highly recommend buying one.
Yes, digitalization of your health requires some investment. But you don’t have to take absolutely every test you can. You can only take some of them that you feel are most relevant to you. Or you can take the tests that you can get for free at the health center or at a private clinic with your insurance.
Where to start your path as a biohacker?
You should start by tracking your vital signs, of course. This is a difficult, energy-consuming and incomprehensible process for our brains, so first you need to understand why and what you need it for. It is necessary to determine the goal to which you want to move.
For example, your goal may be to increase your concentration at work or to improve your performance in sports. Once you determine this, it will be easier for you to choose specific tools and focus on implementing them.
The next step is a preliminary analysis of what you currently have. The three main tools for this are:
- Blood tests. You can learn a lot of important things about your health through this procedure, but you should be primarily interested in your hemoglobin levels and how good your sex hormone balance is;
- Check-Up. This is a comprehensive health check-up that includes general and specialized, basic and advanced examinations and tests. If you want a comprehensive approach, go straight to this option;
- DNA testing. This is a service that will perfectly complement the first two options and give a lot of food for thought. The only downside is that it’s quite expensive.
Having at least some tests in any case is better than nothing at all. At least you will know where to start and what direction to take. And in the future, if you get the financial means, have other tests that can tell you even more about your health.
I get different tests every month based on what’s relevant to me. I don’t often re-take the same tests in circles. I retake mostly the ones that had abnormalities. After I get the results, I enter them into a special app on my smartphone. This app is kind of like my therapist, if I may say so (but by no means should I refuse to consult with real doctors). Because it based on my results and it tells me what to do and where to go, who to contact.
Analyzing the brain and cognitive abilities: concentration and memory
Separate from your body’s performance, it’s worth analyzing how well your thinking organ handles the rigors of daily life. We’re interested in three metrics, for each of which there’s a stack of apps and sites to do the analysis:
With the RescueTime app, you can track what you do at your PC and smartphone throughout the day: how many hours you work, how much you sit on Instagram, how much you stare at this or that screen, and so on. The service collects all the information, processes it, and provides statistics with various reports.
The Life Cycle app shows your daily activities, the places you visit, and even the people you spend time with over a period of time.
The Forest app, which uses the Pomodoro technique, helps you keep track of how many hours and things you do in a day.
Progress in self-development
One of the hardest things about biohacking is seeing and comparing results. Since one of the most popular goals is to pump up your study skills, a good tool for self-testing can be reading speed and quality of information assimilation. One of the most convenient applications for this is HeadsUpHealth.
BrainFM is an app that can be used to improve concentration, sleep quality, or for meditation. According to their website, this application is preparing peer-reviewed studies on its effectiveness, but extensive behavioral tests claim that their music can increase attention and help you relax.
You can try 5 free sessions and, if you want, subscribe for $7 a month. And the Calm app will help you relax even on the most stressful day, all the basic meditations are available for free, and if you want more, you can buy a month or year subscription. You can also use Youtube and search for music by keywords: focus music, study music, and music for work.
It is well known that meditation is beneficial. It improves our concentration, reduces stress, anxiety, and depression, increases intelligence and organization of thought, and helps older people retain their memory.
There are so many different practices and applications, but my favorite and easiest for beginners is mindfulness meditation. You just have to concentrate and feel your breath, and then gently remind your mind of the process whenever your consciousness begins to wander.
As for meditation apps, I don’t use them. I think that if I “turn my brain off from this world”, I don’t need any gadgets.
The quality of sleep is very important for the full biohacking of the body. Of course, we can’t control this process while asleep, but we can influence how it goes before it starts.
Personally, I like the following apps:
- Sleep Cycle. It is an Android and iOS app that tracks your sleep quality from your phone. You turn the app on, and it tracks your sleep from the moment your head touches the pillow and wakes you up in the REM sleep phase so waking up is easy;
- Beddit. It is an application and a sleep belt that attaches to your bed. It records various data: heart rate, snoring, number of breaths per minute, movement, and the state of the environment in the bedroom. It was purchased by Apple in May 2017, so it is now available on the Apple Store.
Conveniently, the app also shows my findings as an infographic. This is awesome! Self-analyzing becomes like some kind of game! I use a paid app, but there are plenty of free ones as well. But really, those who spend money on tests, I think they will not be sorry to spend a few bucks to pay for a subscription app.
It is completely wrong to start implementing biohacking techniques in your life without understanding your current condition. For example, vitamin C. Some people take it as a prophylactic. And if a person already has a surplus of it? Why should he burden his body additionally? As a result, he does not benefit himself in any way, but on the contrary harms himself.
The same applies to common vitamin complexes, whose sellers promise you an improvement. What is the point of taking them if you don’t know if you even need them or not? It’s like continuing to eat when you’re already full and nothing else will do. Or filling up with gasoline already full. Many people forget that it’s not only bad when there’s a shortage, but also when there’s a surplus. Sometimes, on the contrary, you should do nothing and leave your body alone for a while to eliminate the excess. And we are used to taking something to get better.
Sometimes you have to work backwards to reduce this or that to get back to normal. I had a situation with a deficiency of some B vitamins due to taking some shots. And it’s a good thing that thanks to digitizing I realized this and for the next month I minimized the foods that contained those surplus vitamins.
These are the main points that a novice biohacker needs to know. You can read more about these and other techniques for boosting yourself on the other pages of our website.