BIOHACK

12.18.13

These 3 Apps Will Help You Sleep Better, Feel Great, and Eat Well

The app ecosystem may be littered with fart apps and time wasters, but they’re not all a detriment to your mind. F.lux, Sleep Cycle, and Food Sense are the biohacker’s dream.

Biohacking is a new trend where people use science, biology, and self tracking to identify the small changes they can make that result in big improvements in health, quality of life, and performance.

It may sound like a complicated thing, but it’s not. You can start biohacking today.

Just download these three apps to use your smartphone to identify the changes you can make in your life that will help you where it matters the most.

1. Feel Better With F.lux

Researchers have determined that any bright lights at night can disrupt the sleep hormone melatonin, and that blue light is the most harmful. Worse, disruption of melatonin can contribute to obesity and cardiovascular disease as well. By making a small change to reduce the amount of bright white and blue light that goes into your eyes before bed, you can improve your health and overall quality of life.

But there’s one slight problem: your tablet, smart phone, or computer is the source. Checking Facebook on your tablet before bed absolutely hurts your sleep.

No one realistically expects people to stop using their computers when it’s dark outside. So the biohacker’s response to this unfortunate situation is to use a circadian screen adjustment app like f.lux.

This wonderful—and free—app controls your screen and reduces blue light colors after the sun goes down. It is virtually unnoticeable when you’re using your computer, but it helps your body know when it’s time to go to bed. Given that your body won’t make melatonin for up to four hours after you stare at your laptop, this can be a very helpful application.

(Android users will find something similar in an app called Twilight.)

2. Sleep Better WIth Sleep Cycle

Sleep Cycle is an amazing app oforr the iPhone that analyzes your sleep patterns and wakes you up when you are in the lightest sleep phase.  You simply put your phone into airplane mode and start the app, then place the phone on your mattress. It uses the microphone to measure how much you toss and turn, which is a great way to determine how well you have slept. It uses an algorithm to figure out when you are close to waking up so it can trigger the alarm clock then, instead of jolting you from deep sleep or interrupting a dream. The difference in how you feel all day long is profound.

It also draws a graph of how well you slept, which tells you whether that midnight snack was good for your sleep or not. (Hint: Its not!) It has also taught me to be more aware of how my sleep quality, not just amount of sleep, affects how I feel during the day.

If you’re a human reading this on The Daily Beast, you probably have a phone and use an alarm clock. You might as well become a biohacker by sticking them together in order to upgrade your sleep, which has all sorts of health benefits and performance benefits.

3. Eat Better With Food Sense

Hidden food sensitivities are hidden causes of chronic inflammation that make you tired and moody and sabotage your fat loss. The free Food Sense app uses your phone’s onboard sensor to get data about what your body does after you eat, so you can identify and eliminate problem foods in order to perform to your maximum potential.

Dr. Arthur Coca discovered years ago that your heart rate rises by at least sixteen beats per minute after you eat foods you are sensitive to. The problem is that it is wildly inconvenient to continuously measure your heart rate, gather the data, and analyze it to help yourself discover which foods are slowing you down.

That’s why the free Food Sense app is a biohacker’s dream.

My dream.

I created Food Sense because it takes months of careful food journaling and elimination diets to figure out what foods make you weak, but when you can get the data from your nervous system directly, it is much simpler. It is free because I wish I would have had access to this kind of data when I was trying to lose a hundred pounds as a young man.

It uses the camera on your iPhone to do all of that work so that all you have to do is hold your finger up to the camera before and after you eat in order to determine if your body had a negative reaction to your most recent meal. You’ll have to do your own detective work to figure out what it was in the meal that triggered the response.

Lots of people have used this app to figure out trigger foods that cause them to feel groggy or experience cravings after lunch.

So there you have it—three simple, easy-to-use programs that biohackers use to upgrade their performance every day. The good news is that they work for people who aren’t self-experimenting guinea pigs too!

I’d love to hear how these work for you. Let me know in the comments.