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Biohacking, while still underground, is steadily making it's way to the mainstream:


I describe Biohacking as utilizing technology to produce data that you use to make lifestyle decisions in order to optimize your health. For example, you may have done a 23andme genetic test that indicated based on your genetics, you are likely to drink slightly less caffeine than the average person. Thus you now make the lifestyle decision to no longer have afternoon coffee so the caffeine doesn't impact your sleep. Congratulations, you're a biohacker.

I've recently acquired an OURA ring. It's made by a startup in Finland and is marketed to be the "most accurate sleep and activity tracker". This past week I was puzzled in that although I was getting 7 hours of sleep, I was still feeling tired the next day. Here is what my OURA ring showed for Thursday night:

Thursday

You'll notice that my deep sleep was quite low. According to 23andme, my genetic profile makes me "less likely to be a deep sleeper", so I'm already starting at a disadvantage. Thus I need to optimize both my lifestyle and sleep environment in order to maximize the amount of deep sleep I get.

The ideal sleep environment for the average person has two obvious traits: quiet and dark. What may not be as obvious is the environment needs to be cool. Research has shown that humans sleep better in cooler environments. So for me, when any of these three elements are not ideal, my deep sleep suffers. There are many other lifestyle factors that can impact deep sleep (large meal before eating, too much screen time just before sleep, etc.), but the foundation is: quiet, dark, and cool.

In the winter season in New York City my apartment (whose heat I do not control) gets warm. Leaving a window open when it's 30 degree outside results in a freezing apartment. So I have two options for sleep environments: Siberia or Cancun. I've opted for Cancun by keeping my windows closed and that's been impacting my deep sleep. So I attempted a Biohacking solution.

Using a ChiliPad I was able to cool my bed to a brisk 62 degrees F. And I received instant gratification:

Saturday

Both my REM and deep sleep improved and OURA now gave me an 88% sleep score. Clearly I still can do better across the board, but one change already has clear benefits.

As mentioned there are many other factors that influence sleep, but in my example I started to address a foundational one. And that is the essence of Biohacking. Like a technology hacker, you collect data, analyze it, identify the metric(s) you want to move, implement a solution, measure, optimize, repeat.