The term biohacking may sound very technical, but it all boils down to understanding your own body and what is best for it – both physically and mentally. Biohacking allows you to gain a better insight into how your body reacts to diet, sleep and stress, among other things. One of the best methods to measure the body’s reactions is HRV – heart rate variability. We will go through what biohacking means and how you can use HRV to improve your well-being.
What is biohacking?
While the term biohacking brings to mind computers and technology, it’s actually about getting to know your own body, and what makes you feel good. We are all unique and have our own individual circumstances. While healthy diet, good sleep, exercise and a good balance between stress and recovery are known factors in our overall well-being, there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to exactly how to live healthier. The diet that makes you feel good may not suit someone else, and you may be more relaxed by forest walks than by meditation. With the help of biohacking, you can examine your body in a systematic way and interpret your body’s signals. It helps you understand what is best for your particular well-being.
In this case, hacking is about “getting into” the body’s biological systems and understanding how they are connected. It helps you identify what is causing problems and what changes are best for you to feel better. This, in turn, means that you can create a unique lifestyle that suits you and your well-being. What foods make you feel good; what exercise is best for you; which unhealthy habits you would feel better without; what makes you stressed and gives you recovery, etc. With the help of biohacking, you get feedback and advice from the best health coach you can have – your own body.
Get to know your own body with HRV
In order to gain an insight into how the body reacts, health markers and measurable data are needed. This is becoming increasingly common today as wearable technology becomes more advanced and can measure what is happening inside the body. For example, wearables that measure pulse, blood pressure and other things. A health marker often used in biohacking due to its reliability and versatility is HRV – heart rate variability.
HRV is a measure of how the time interval between your heartbeats varies. The variations in heart rate are affected by the signals the nervous system sends to the body. For example, if you are stressed or relaxed. When you are relaxed, the variation is high, and when you are stressed, the variation is low. The variation in HRV also reacts to factors such as diet, sleep, diseases and overtraining. That makes it a very useful health marker in biohacking. It is also easy to measure HRV with, for example, a chest strap that sends the information to an app for analysis and presentation. It helps you see how your body reacts to the situations you find yourself in and what happens in your everyday life. It could be if you get stressed by something in particular, react to a certain kind of diet or sleep well. The fact that HRV measures how exactly your body functions and reacts makes it a perfect tool for biohacking and for optimizing your well-being.
How you can use HRV to biohack your well-being
What is important to remember when it comes to HRV is that it is very individual. The variation is also affected by factors such as gender, age, fitness, medications, etc. This is why you should always start from your own HRV measurements to understand your body and not compare yourself so much to others. You can think of your HRV value a bit like an inspector who gives the thumbs up or down depending on what you are doing or going through. HRV is especially valuable for seeing how your lifestyle changes affect your long-term well-being, especially if you start exercising or change your diet.
Diet: Reducing processed food and fast food and eating more nutritious food, fruit, vegetables, etc.
Sleep: Not only the length of sleep but also the quality. HRV can show whether you slept well or poorly during the night (you get your most important recovery during deep sleep, and although the number of hours of sleep may seem sufficient, you can still feel restless if deep sleep is missing or disturbed). A relaxed environment where you just sleep, as well as regular bedtimes, etc. can improve your sleep and well-being.
Physical activity: Better fitness results in better HRV, and through the measurement data you can also see what type of activity has the best impact on your well-being. HRV can also show if you are exercising too much and need to find a balance between effort and recovery.
Stress: Few things have as great an impact on our physical and mental health as stress. It can also be difficult to figure out for yourself what causes the stress and what provides the best recovery. With HRV, you can map what makes you stressed and change your life based on that information. You can also see which activities really relax you.
Other factors: Staying outside in daylight, socializing, activities that give “flow”, reducing alcohol intake, etc. are factors that often positively influence HRV. Thanks to the insights that HRV gives you about how your body reacts, you can see what in your life improves your well-being.Att vistas ute i dagsljus, socialt umgänge, aktiviteter som ger ”flow”, minska på alkoholintaget m.m. är faktorer som ofta påverkar HRV positivt. Tack vare de insikter som HRV ger dig om hur din kropp reagerar kan du se vad i ditt liv som förbättrar ditt välmående.
Biohacking and measuring HRV thus gives you a unique knowledge of what really makes you feel better. At Linkura, we help people measure HRV to gain a better insight into, among other things, stress level, sleep quality and physical activity. Thanks to those measurements, small changes can be made that make a big difference — which is exactly what biohacking is all about. If you are curious about how it works, we will be happy to tell you more.