1. Heart Rate Variability (HRV)
If you’re wondering why heart rate variability matters, here are the quick points:
- Recording your HRV rate daily will give you insight into the state of your body that day. You’ll get a glimpse of your physiological stress levels, which makes HRV essential for high performers like stress-exposed entrepreneurs or business people, and athletes.
- If your HRV is high – it’s all good. High variability would mean that your parasympathetic nervous system is in charge, which means you are well rested.
- On the other hand, low HRV would mean sympathetic response, indicating one of the following problems: overtraining, severe inflammation and/or stress.
Heart rate variability, the change in the time intervals between adjacent heartbeats, is directly related to the body’s interdependent regulatory systems and ultimately, their efficiency and health. “An optimal level of HRV within an organism reflects healthy function and an inherent self-regulatory capacity, adaptability, or resilience,” McCraty and Shaffer write.
Knowing that you are off-beat (pun intended) can help you decide if you should take that rest day or just take things easier on any day. I say this as a high performer who never used to take rest days off my training, coaching or business hustle. I know how important it is to have a constraint to maintain good health. I now measure my HRV first thing in the morning and I use it to keep away from burnout–both physical and mental.
2. HCO3, or more commonly, baking soda.
Baking Soda is amazing. It can literally be used for hundreds of things around the house, can be used for beauty and hygiene, but can also be used for heath and performance. Better yet, you can get a large amount of it for a few dollars. Taken orally, it increases CO2 and cell voltage in the body, along with buffering lactic acid. It also increases regional cerebral blood flow in a dose dependent manner (8).
It drastically increases exercise performance of all kinds, and typically enhances the absorption of creatine (9) (10). I’m sure some of you have used baking soda before, but I would honestly recommend it as part of my repertoire for any kind of workout or competition (as long as it isn’t banned/considered doping), as well as taking it throughout the day for general wellness purposes. The only negative that can come of this is when consuming a lot of calcium in which you can suffer from milk-alkali syndrome (11).
Stack: Same as above, or: load on baking soda prior to a workout, do deep nasal breathing the entire session, and when/if you become fatigued, take a break and breathe into a paper bag for a few minutes before resuming. Some Z-Health practitioners recommend this, as have physicians at the Silicon Valley Health Institute. I’ve used it for martial arts sessions as well.
3. Blue Light Blocking and Exposure to Natural Sunlight (F.Lux app)
Wearing orange shades/sunglasses are a way of reducing the artificial blue light you receive from screens, cell phones, t.v’s, etc. You can also use the app f.lux as this adjusts your computer screen/lighting to the time of day so you get less exposure.
Unfortunately, most light sources today emit a huge amount of Blue Light which has a wavelength of ~450-500 nm. Light at this frequency does a great job at suppressing our body’s endogenous production of melatonin (sleep hormone). Melatonin (along with other factors) makes for restful, deep sleep that allows our body to recover well.
As the sky turns dark and we instantly react by turning on various light sources, our brain is tricked into believing that it is still sunny and bright outside. As we sustain our exposure to blue light from our cell phones, computer screens, TVs etc. long into the night, it just so happens that our melatonin production is never fully quite activated.
Because the glasses are covered in a layer that doesn’t allow any light of blue light wavelength frequency to hit the retina, the melatonin production works in a way as it is biologically programmed to. You can start wearing them later in the evening if you have some computer work to do.
Here’s the full protocol for using natural light to your advantage whilst preventing the negative effects of blue light:
- Get adequate and safe amounts of sunlight in the daytime, especially first thing when you wake up.
- Towards the end of the day, block artificial (blue light-rich) lighting by using blue light-blocking shades, an app like F.lux that can adjust colours on your screens, or simply don’t use tech with screens too late into the evening.