This article first appeared in Alpha Efficiency Magazine: Issue 14: Hacking Brain & Body
I’ve always been passionate about self-improvement. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been focused on achieving more, in less time, for an optimal allocation of energy. It’s not surprising then that I have a longstanding interest in the subject of “biohacking.”
Biohacking is the future. The pursuit of happiness by making positive changes to our bodies and minds, increasing performance and wellbeing, resonates enormously with Alpha Efficiency and the CORE values we talked about in issue 1 and relies heavily on the topic of self-quantification we covered last month.
Origins And History Of Biohacking
We’ve been “hacking happiness” long before the current trends of acquirIng fancy technology, enhanced nutrition, and altered hormones. The early “hacks” involved experimenting with psychotropic substances, often with catastrophic consequences. The immediate gratification and mind-altering properties of these substances created numerous addiction problems and caused untold harm to our bodies and minds.
The human connection with the mind-and-body-altering substances stretches through millennia. All this activity has raised awareness towards the ways substances impact our bodies and minds. As we evolved, we realized how we can alter our bodies to increase alertness and cure diseases.
The term “bio-hacking” itself owes its existence to the rising culture of early technology adopters who refuse to wait for the inexcusably slow progress of scientific community on the particular matter. The roots of bio-hacking come from transhumanism, which believes that it is possible and desirable to fundamentally alter the human body in order to achieve a superior post-human being.
Early transhumanist thinking dates back to 1923 inside of the book Daedalus: Science and the Future by J. B. S. Haldane. He predicted that the morality and the cultural norms would be the greatest obstacles to the scientific progress of the biohacking movement. This very brief history points to the youthfulness of the movement.
The Rise Of Bio-Hacking Movement
The early, primitive “bio-hacking” fueled by substance abuse are now being replaced with data-driven, empirically proven methods that are fueling the advancement of knowledge on the subject faster than the scientific community can keep up.
This movement is also known as “DIY Biology”. These hobbyists and hackers are transforming biotechnology, making it “open source”, which makes it easily accessible to anyone with an Internet connection and a will to read and experiment. You will find large communities that are fully committed to sharing the wealth of the information on the topics of trying to improve nutritional intake, maximize performance and become more productive.
6 Ways To Get Started
Biohacking can be intimidating, but you can focus on the simple ways designed with beginners in mind.
1. Sleep Hacking
One of the founding elements of health and well being is getting enough sleep. However, the amount of sleep often doesn’t correlate to the quality. Establish a sleep pattern baseline, experiment with numerous beds, pillows and evening routines that will help you squeeze the maximum out of your bedtime.
For quite a while now, I haven’t been sleeping a lot. Because I quantify my data, I have the information about the minimum sleep I need in order to have uninterrupted performance and optimal mood. Also thanks to Fitbit, I have data on the quality of my sleep, and how many times I’ve woken up.
Experiment until you create the quality sleep environment that makes an impact on your performance.
2. Integrating Memory Systems
Previously we’ve dabbled and entertained the thought of practicing mnemo-techniques. This simple action of creating new neural associations will dramatically hack your mind. For a long time IQ was considered a constant, but knowing that memory is an activity that can be improved with training, and is one of the most important aspects of IQ tests, you can see how intelligence tests can be “hacked”.
Research suggests that improvement in memory and associative capacity leads to a mind that is resistant to Alzheimers and improves performance in many areas of your life.
Implement practicing memory techniques as a part of your daily habit routine.
3. Consuming Nootropics and Mind Enhancing Supplements
When it comes to improving mental performance, aside from memory exercises, mind enhancing supplements can give you the ingredients necessary for optimal performance of your brain.
I wouldn’t encourage you to go and experiment with these supplements until you self-quantify a baseline against which you can compare the results. Nootropics are not a very strong substance, and not every brain reacts to them. In order to go against the baseline of Placebo, you need to make sure that you can measure your productivity and wellbeing on a long enough timeline. When you gather the data, try using the supplements that work for you.
Start experimenting with nootropics, and track their effects on your body.
4. Body Language Programming
One of the most important aspects of our wellbeing is the way our bodies function and sub-communicate on daily basis. Techniques that improve your posture and increase the blood flow through your body can be minimal in terms of actual change, but potentially make a great impact on your performance.
Assume an empowering body language for better health and improved subliminal communication.
5. Diet Hacking – Nourishing Your Body
Eating better is probably one of the most difficult aspects of biohacking. It requires a lot of effort to change nutrition habits. As with all things diet, a lot of people are taking their food intake very personally, almost religiously. Doing things the Alpha way means taking any personal bias out of the equation.
In order for your diet to contribute to an increase in performance, you need to take basic nutrition facts into consideration, and then test and learn. This also reverts us back to heavy self-quantification, where you can create a correlation between the nutrients, your mood, and its effects.
Focusing on performance, unlike weight-loss diets, focuses on body needs and their impact on the long-term performance.
Slowly include the smart foods in your diet, and quantify your body’s response.
6. Mind Mapping And Study Hacking
In the past issue: “Thinking Different”, we interviewed Mike Rohde, the creator of Sketch Note Workbook, a masterpiece about the art of taking notes. Creating the things that are visual in nature activates different parts of our brain.
My entire high school and college have been dramatically enhanced by visual note-taking. This allowed me to enjoy the freedom throughout my school days, where I would constantly skip school and still catch up with the pace of others.
Forming mind maps enhanced my education, as it allowed me to permanently store the general knowledge that I’ve obtained through a classical education, and empower it with the multitude of the connections that made a lifetime impact on my education.
Combine visual learning with memory rhythms.
Going Beyond The Basics, Making The Performance Gains Permanent
DIY Biology has long-term potential to dramatically improve the overall quality of your life. However, as it covers such a diverse universe of different aspects of your life, successfully incorporating it into your daily routine has to be done gradually.
Benefits require committed and persistent effort, however, the small victories achieved over the course of the practice have a cumulative effect that yields exponential performance increase over the time.
You’ve just scratched the surface of the completely new lifestyle. This is just the beginning, as you will go more in depth on this topic in the future issues of the magazine and the website.