Do you wake up feeling drained? Perhaps your Oura Ring's sleep score shows room for improvement. Your energy determines your quality of life…
“Energy is the currency of high performance”Ralph Waldo Emerson
You can grab a coffee, but you'll eventually need a caffeine tolerance reset. At least, to feel the your morning coffee again. Regardless, caffeine energy is fleeting and always followed by a crash as your liver metabolizes it.Stimulants borrow energy from your future self. Click To Tweet
With the right tactics, you can supercharge your energy.
Just like a power plant transforms raw materials into energy, so can you generate your own energy. Today I'm listing my favorite biohacks for sustained energy.
Energy Biohack #1: Nap
Human follow a consistent hormonal pattern. Unfortunately for us office workers, that includes a natural energy drop in the early afternoon. Evolutionary evidence suggests that humans traditionally took quick naps then. To wake up feeling clearheaded, nap for either:
- 20 minutes (avoids deep sleep).
- 90 minutes (full sleep cycle).
Stick to the above two nap lengths. Sleep too much or between 30-80 minutes and you'll awake in a haze.
Energy Biohack #2: Trace Mineral-Rich Water
Up to 75 percent of Americans suffer from chronic dehydration.
Drinking (clean) water signals to the body that you're not in famine.
During water abundance, stress hormones normalize so that you can focus more easily.
Water infused with electrolytes rehydrates the body. Hydration impacts the strength of your immune system, the elasticity of your skin, your energy level, how easily you can move, and your body’s overall resistance to aging and disease.
If that's not enough, water helps us transform food into cellular energy. Unconvinced? See my guide to deep hydration and you'll understand how dehydration sets you up for failure.
Energy Biohack #3: Morning Light
Dr. Michael Brus takes an unorthodox recommendation to increasing energy levels.
Instead of coffee, he advocates a quick walk outside in the morning sunlight. Even on cloudy days, natural light is a healthy way to boost your mitochondria (factories that generate energy in each of your cells).
Just like bright blue light at night impairs sleep, in the morning its key start to the day. After a morning sunlight walk, you might not even need coffee.
Energy Biohack #4: Cold Shower
Don't let Wim Hof fool you. Frolicking in glacial water is no easy feat.
In my guide to taking painless cold showers I covered a more manageable approach for the rest of us. At the end of your daily shower, switch it to cold for one final minute.
You'll step out of the shower feeling alert and ready to go thanks to a natural cocktail of norepinephrine, nitric oxide, and hormonal changes. When you oversleep, ice baths and cold showers are the fastest way to overcome waking up groggy.
Energy Biohack #5: Power Transitions
Context switching throughout the day depletes your energetic bank account.
Research suggests that each switch between activities costs a full 20-minutes of productivity. Renowned productivity expert Cal Newport suggests to batch tasks throughout the day and work in blocks dedicated to specific activities.
I reduce the transition lag with something that I call “power transitions”.
Between activities, here's how to do it:
- Spend 30-seconds noticing how you feel.
- Scan your body for tense areas. Start at your toes and work up to your head.
Practice the above while slowing your breathing and consciously relaxing.
Then decide how you want to feel after accomplishing the next activity. Linger in (and enjoy) that feeling for a moment. Now, each of the day's activities will generate more energy.
Energy Biohack #6: Sauna
Saunas are one of my favorite anti-aging tools. Yet, they have myriad other uses.
Modern saunas heat participants via a special form of invisible light called near-infrared.
You can't see it, but it charges up your mitochondria. Healthy mitochondria produce greater amounts of energy. At the same time, sauna use also prevents mitochondria from breaking down. You can build your own NIR sauna for less than $200.
Saunas also make you more resilient against stress. The better you handle stress, the greater energy conserved.
Athletes sauna for enhanced performance. One study of runners found that those regularly using saunas increased their max run time by 31 percent.
Energy Biohack #7: Computer Glasses & Smart Software
If morning light exposure can generate long-lasting energy, imagine the effects of a full day of junk light.
Indeed, computers output massive amounts of stress-inducing blue light. As well as flickering at a rate imperceivable to your eye (but harmful to your nervous system).
In 2017, Dr Jack Kruse, a foremost expert on lighting, wrote a piece exploring a dizzying number of symptoms caused by junk light exposure. He observed vastly increased injury rates in professional athletes (NFL). See this video for a deep dive:
Computer glasses or special software like IrisTech (my IrisTech review explains why I won't work without it) stop that. I consistently get more done and finish the work day on a higher level when I take steps to “bioharmonize” my technology.
Energy Biohack #8: Stretch
Have you heard of fascia? How about piezoelectricity?
Fascia's the largest system in the body. Yet scientists only fully discovered in 2005. It works like a hydraulic pump, transporting water and electrical signals throughout the body. When your fascia works better, so does your entire body.
Piezoelectricity explains how movement generate electricity.
The ancient practices of yoga, dancing, tai chi, qi gong, and stretching are all piezoelectric. Any movement or stretch charges up your cells. Fully charged cells help you perform better.
Energy Biohack #9: Walking
Walking may not seem like much.
Yet, it's the most underrated physical activity. In addition to filling your brain with powerful neurochemicals, getting your 10,000 steps per day also gives you an energy boost.
Moving farther and more often is one of the most effective strategies my clients use to improve their overall health.
If you don't need your computer, try a walking meeting. Or take a phone call outside as you stroll around the neighborhood. Bonus points for doing it in morning sunlight.
Energy Biohack #10: Micro-Movements
If dedicating time to a long walk outdoors is too much, try a micro-workout.
Every hour or two, spend between 30-90 seconds doing a physical activity or rotating through a circuit. Some simple examples include:
- Air squats
- Jumping jacks
- Mountain climbers
Read my post for more quick micro-workout ideas.
Get your blood pumping and your subsequent work will reflect it.
Energy Biohack #11: Conscious Eating
I rarely slow down. I've started blocking time on my calendar for peace and quiet. Meal time included.
How many things can I do at the same time?
For best results, one.
When I focus on the meal, I eat better quality food, considerably fewer calories, and feel better after eating. The practice is scientifically validated to improve health.
Find my top mindful eating tips here. Calories are essential raw material for your mitochondrial furnaces. Harness the power of thought to make each count.
Energy Biohack #12: Consistent Meal Timing
For the same reason that mid-afternoon naps work wonders, so does eating at the same time.
Dr. Satchin Panda's work has consistently found that stable eating patterns matter. Possibly more than the content of the food itself.
Your body produces specific enzymes and increases the activity of certain pathways to accommodate your expected meal times. Digestion is a delicate symphony of many bodily processes. Eating large meals outside these windows cause sub-optimal digestion. The food sits, putrifies, and impairs sleep.
When you feed your body on a regular schedule, it rewards you with greater energy levels.
Energy Biohack #13: Intermittent Fasting & Extended Fasting
Even on the cleanest of diets, the entire digestive process is powered by energy.
Your body must work to convert calories into fuel. As advocated by some ancient medical systems like Ayurveda, you bypass that by fasting.
Fasting also increases the body's focus, attention, stamina, and alertness increasing chemicals. Some practitioners dub fasting “nature's Adderall”.
At the very least, restrict processed carbohydrates. Refined carbs give you a quick burst before an intense mid-afternoon crash as your blood sugar struggles to normalize.
Energy Biohack #14: Pomodoro Technique
Want a fast way to drain yourself?
Stare intently into your computer screen for eight hours with no break.
The antithesis of which, is the Pomodoro Technique.
Pomodoro is a system for chunking your work day into a series of productive blocks.
It's the actual work time between micro-workout sessions listed above. Pomodoro goes something like:
- 20-45 minutes of completely focused work.
- 1-5 minutes of your preferred distraction.
Repeated for as long as necessary. Shoot for 20 cycles.
In biohacking learning I explained how this is the optimal duration to maximize focus, memory, and learning.
Energy Biohack #15: Remove Energy Drains
You might find certain activities, events, and people disproportionately impact the way you feel.
Wherever possible, eliminate them ruthlessly. Doing the other strategies without addressing the things that change your mental (or physical) state is like trying to fill a bucket with gaping holes.
While I can't comment on the people in your life, a new wearable that I recently reviewed called Amazon Halo can. It uses voice and tone analysis to detect your mood and tone throughout the day. I found conversations with specific people left me (in Amazon's words) “exhausted”, “frustrated”, and “agitated”. And it's surprisingly accurate at determining how your relationships make you feel.
Activity wise, three sources leave me especially drained:
- Social media
I handle email by batch processing new emails down to twice per day.
Every once-in-a-while I do a complete news and social media detox. I rid myself of this information wherever it could possibly be found. Not only are my days more productive, but my mood quickly improves too.
Warning: tell others your plans ahead of time and having some patience when they forget. 🙂
Top Strategies to Biohack Your Energy
Guard your energy closely. When it falls, so does the quality of your life. Burnout results from energy stalling for extended periods.
Caffeine works in a pinch. Yet it's not always the best solution. Instead, try the following uncommon long-lasting energy hacks:
- Reduce email checking
- Try a social media detox
- Walk more
- Use the Pomodoro Technique
- Eat at regular times
- Practice mindful eating
- Wear computer glasses or use IrisTech
- Do micro-movements throughout the day
- Implement power transitions
- Get morning sunlight
- Take cold showers
- Drink water rich in trace minerals
- Nap in the early afternoon
What are your unusual energy biohacks?