How to beat jet lag with biohacking

I am a biohacker and I’ve been biohacking for over a decade now. 

Being a practitioner for that long means that I’ve had to chart my way through the unavoidable messiness and realities of everyday life as an entrepreneur. I travel frequently for work. I speak at conferences. I hang at after-conference parties. Rarely do the lives of entrepreneurs drown in a sea of sameness.

Last month after I shared my top tips for entrepreneurs (and others!) to biohack their way to success, I was asked repeatedly over messages, emails, calls, and IRL, what I did in each of the situations that I described above. (Thank you for these conversations. We are all learning – I definitely am.) I promised to share the biohacking techniques that work best for me. 

A few weeks ago, when I traveled to Shanghai to speak at the China Hospitality Technology Alliance (CHTA) conference, I had the opportunity to practice and finetune the practices that help me deal with jet lag. There is a 15 hour time difference between my home base, Los Angeles, and Shanghai. I spoke on stage a day after landing in Shanghai. I had important discussions lined up for the day I landed back in Los Angeles.

I didn’t fly myself to Shanghai. And no, I didn’t get jet lag from this flight. Flying isn’t always stressful! Do you recognize the port I am flying over?

Here’s my current protocol to beat jet lag and stay productive longer:

#1. Biohacking tips before the flight biohacking tips

  • I shift my sleep schedules to the new time zone a day before I fly – giving my body some time to adjust, and usually giving me some uninterrupted focus time at night to clear out any pending action items. I use jetlagrooster.com with the right settings to time things just right. 
  • I take supplements – Ashwagandha (an adaptogenic Ayurvedic herb) and magnesium – to help combat stress. 

#2. During the flight

  • My supplement regimen continues while flying:
    • I take a supplement that combines CoQ10 and PQQ to help maintain my energy levels. Both CoQ10 and PQQ improve mitochondrial function – read about the benefits here and here. I usually take these every 2-4 hours on the flight.
    • I rely on chamomile tea or tiny amounts of melatonin to help sleep deeply during transit. 0.3-0.5mg doses are recommended over the commonly available 1-5mg pills.
    • I keep 5,000 mcg Methyl B-12 (methylcobalamin) lozenges handy for a quick energy boost without needing to resort to the typically horrendous coffee served on planes.
    • I combine ear plugs with noise cancellation headphones to reduce the constant auditory stress of flying. With a few minutes of patience, you can even watch TV/movies this way.
    • I use compression socks/pants occasionally to help circulation
    • Drinks: I’d say skipping alcohol on flights is an absolute must – the impact of alcohol on our bodies when we fly is far worse than if we were on land. It leaves us dehydrated even more than usual flying (Surprisingly, KLM addresses this on their blog), interferes with the sleep that we need while traveling. Studies also show that alcohol disrupts REM sleep. I choose to drink lots and lots of water instead to stay hydrated. 
    • Food: I usually fast when I fly. It allows me to get through my hours of intermittent fasting easily and reset my sleep schedule. Dave Asprey explains the link between fasting and sleep with ease

When you eat, your brain makes a tight link between your sleep and light-dark cycles. Fasting activates a part of your brain called the dorsomedial nucleus that makes you less rigid with your sleep schedule. In a fasted state, you’re more able to reset your sleep schedule to match your environment, meaning you can adjust to time differences and jet lag with ease.

#3. After the flight

  • I expose my skin and eyes to sunlight when possible after landing, helping my body synchronize with the new day/night cycle and regulate melatonin and cortisol production.
  • I walk barefoot on grass after landing. This is a process called earthing. And before you laugh this one off, read about the benefits uncovered by researchers from US and Polish universities: Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth’s Surface Electrons
  • While I’m not a 5am gym rat, I look to get plenty of activity or a work out in after all the sedentary time, especially if I land in the morning or afternoon.
  • This may go without saying, but no late afternoon or early evening naps. There be dragons!

These are my tips – they work for me. I’d love to hear more about what techniques work best for you. Did any of mine resonate with you?

How entrepreneurs can biohack their way to better results

Dave Asprey, the founder of Bulletproof Nutrition, plans to live until at least 180 years. It isn’t a wayward claim – Asprey has been saying this for a long time and routinely asks his podcasts guests “how long do you plan to live?”

How does he plan to live that long? Is it possible to plan at all? It may be, through biohacking: the art and science of improving human performance. For decades now, biohackers around the world have been changing their environment from the inside-out to gain control over their bodies. In the world of biohacking, one size doesn’t fit all – hence the push to treat bodies as personal laboratories to find the exact “hacks” that help upgrade an individual’s performance.

Biohacking benefits for entrepreneurs

Biohacking pays

Why do I, a hotel tech and artificial intelligence entrepreneur, care about biohacking? More importantly, why should you? Let’s start with just three benefits.

Longevity

The obvious answer to why we should be according biohacking a great deal of seriousness is, of course, longevity. In the Blue Zones of the world, people live to 100 years of age and the longest recorded human lifespan is around 120. Assuming Asprey’s claim of living to 180 years is possible, we are talking about an extra 60-90 years of a healthy life! Think of all the good that can be done if the world’s wisest elders had decades more of energetic, mobile life to continue their contributions. What if Einstein was alive today at 140 years of age, furthering his research, instead of dying at 76?

Sounds unbelievable? It may not, once we dive into biohacking in greater detail.

Quality of life

If longevity doesn’t cut it, think instead of the quality of life. Improved cognitive performance, increased productivity, working on our body and mind before we get sick – are all real possibilities with biohacking. While doctors today are primarily focused on treating illnesses, with biohacking we are looking at individualized, self-directed, and preventive healthcare. This isn’t new – we have known about this for decades now through the science of epigenetics.

A WHO study that dates all the way back to the 1980s has shown that only about 10% of our health depends on genetics, while 70% depends on lifestyle choices. That means you can have control over this 70%. Essentially, biohacking is about acting before you experience problems, about tracking your health parameters, and giving your body what it needs to boost productivity.

Serge Faguet

Work smarter

This isn’t an efficiency vs productivity debate alone – though like I’ve said previously, biohacking can improve cognitive performance. Working smarter also involves reducing stress levels and hormones in our system, ensuring that we have more energy, better sleep, better focus & concentration in order to achieve improved performance at work and home.

Biohacking: I’m a believer

I can attest to the benefits that I have personally accrued over the decade that I have been involved in biohacking. Connect with me if you want to chat about these benefits directly.

Biohacking has its share of critics. Here is one self-professed “health nerd” terming it “bullshit” and “nothing new.” And another one talking about the hubris of biohacking. There are plenty of people criticizing Dave Asprey in particular, who is mentioned in the dictionary definition of biohacking. I am not diving into a full-fledged defense of biohacking here. But then, this isn’t a fad I am jumping on either.

The first biohacking workshop (this was on quantified self) that I attended was over a decade ago. And since then, I have attended several conferences including the recent Upgrade Labs’ annual biohacking conference in Beverly Hills. With each conference I attend, there is a new horizon, a new layer to uncover. This conference was no different – the cryotherapy chamber by CryoScience which had me at -157 °F for two minutes was one the most notable experiences.

Nootropics

Anyone familiar with biohacking will tell you that eating right and smart drug experimentation go hand in hand. For about a decade now, I have been experimenting with mild nootropics.

Nootropics is an umbrella term for a class of chemicals — most naturally-occurring, some man made — that give cognitive benefits to the human brain. Here is a beginner’s explanation of nootropics, and here is a more nerdy and rich source of first-hand experiences on nootropics. It is a deep rabbit hole for anyone willing to engage. There are people who attest to incredible benefits, yet others report no impact or typically mild negative effects. My personal favorites are L-Theanine, Curcumin (commonly found in turmeric), and Ashwagandha. All of these have been well-studied with almost no potential downside in reasonable doses, and very well-proven upsides.

Biohacking routines

If you’re curious and want to start on the journey, I’d recommend starting with these practices:

Cold Rinse

  • Time investment: 3 minutes a day
  • Time to feel positive effects: 30 days
  • Recommendation: Take a 2-3 minute cold rinse after your normal hot or cold shower. A cold rinse may sound terrible, but it’s super energizing once you’re over the initial few days of flailing and gasping. Start with a 10 second cold rinse and slowly build up to the maximum cold you can handle. Focus on breathing steadily right through.
  • Why this is important: This rinse helps kill off weak or dying cells in your body (Take a look at hormesis) and helps you gain control over your “fight or flight” response. Chronic stress is linked with overactivation of this fight or flight response, which may currently be over activated within you, causing all kinds of lifestyle issues.

Start A Gratitude Journal

  • Time investment: 5 minutes a day
  • Time to feel positive effects: 30 days
  • Recommendation: Write down three things that you’re grateful for first thing in the morning, and three more just before sleeping.
  • Why this is important: Negative talk in your head holding you back? Hack it with this practice. It doesn’t matter how unimportant or insignificant you think each gratitude item is – even clean water, fresh sheets, reliable electricity count. I know this sounds woo-woo (I thought the same), but the science is compelling. Our minds naturally pay more attention to negative information, which steals our limited attention away from positive information. This was really useful when we were hunting (and being hunted) in the jungle, but presents almost as a design flaw in modern humans.

Lift Heavy Occasionally, Recover Like A Beast

Sleep Right

  • Time investment: 7-8.5 hours a day (non negotiable)
  • Time to feel positive effects: 7 days
  • Recommendation: Spend at least 8 hours in bed every night and 9 hours on workout days.
  • Why is this important: You will likely sleep over 200,000 hours in your life. Have you received even 1 minute of formal instruction on how to succeed at this critical practice? Any sleep training that parents put us through doesn’t count in this instance; the goals they had in mind were different. Enter Why We Sleep, a brilliant book that fills the educational gap here. I think this should be required reading around age 12.

Supplement With Adaptogens

  • Time investment: 1 minute
  • Time to feel positive effects: 30 days
  • Recommendation: Incorporate adaptogenic herbs into your supplementation routine
  • Why are these important:  Do you know about the adaptogen class of herbs? These herbs help your body restabilize regardless of whether you are too high or too low on a specific health marker.

If your cortisol is high, adaptogens help lower it. If your cortisol is low, adaptogens help raise it. Adaptogens can also increase your resilience against aging, stress, and anxiety, and even physical injury. Some can even improve your mental performance. One study found that Rhodiola, one of the most Bulletproof adaptogens can help with problems like, “decline in work performance, sleep difficulties, poor appetite, irritability, hypertension, headaches, and fatigue… developing subsequent to intense… intellectual strain.”

Dave Asprey

They’re pure magic relative to most Western medicine, which can typically only help you either lower or raise a specific marker, often with the risk of toxicity and side effects, which do not seem to be associated with adaptogens at all. Other adaptogens worth considering include rhodiola rosea, ginseng (Asian, Siberian, American species), astragalus, licorice root, and schisandra.

Try Intermittent Fasting

In short: eat, sleep, think, and move right, and you’ll have a performance edge over a vast majority of people. Are you nailing the basics? Add a few other tricks to your bag if you’re aiming to perform among the best in your field.

If you don’t give a dime out of a dollar, you won’t give…

…a million out of 10 million, said Tony Robbins once. Who can disagree with that truism?

Numbers tell a story – or at least a part of it. We produce enough food for the 7 billion people on Earth. And yet, 805 million remain undernourished on a daily basis.

At Go Moment, mostly this year, we have helped provide over 12,000 meals to hungry children. We wanted to say thanks for an amazing 2018.  We wanted to do our share to tilt the scales in favor of the 805 million undernourished.

Journeys

I moved to Los Angeles when I was almost a teenager. After a forced examination of existence itself and some creative raging against the machine, strangely enough, I remember being filled with gratitude. Things were clean and organized in LA in a way I had never before seen, outside of a handful of fancy international airports. I was thankful for the life I was living instead of grieving what I’d left behind. This thankfulness was heightened by the keen awareness that the people I was surrounded by in Los Angeles had very little idea of suffering in other parts of the world. If you didn’t know, I moved here from India where I saw abject poverty and unbelievable wealth walk hand in hand every day.

Gratitude

I express gratitude every day. Perhaps working with people in need is another form of expressing gratitude.

We first supported FeedOne back in 2017. As a non-profit, they ranked incredibly high in transparency and accountability. Personally, I also support and spend time with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Venice. I was first introduced to them by Nick Crooks – a friend whose dedication inspires me tremendously. I can only aspire to his level of service one day.

I’d like to do more. I’ve gained so much from my teachers, advisors, mentors, and elders. I’d like to carve out an opportunity to create positive impact for others.

Everytime I share a story about my personal volunteering, or when folks hear of Go Moment’s efforts, I hear other stories of people helping the underprivileged – working to alleviate hunger or improve education. Thank you for these stories and opportunities; they are hugely inspiring.

How to get better at getting better

Google turns up 20.7 million results for Kaizen. Depending on where you’re located, a few of these are likely to be for local strategy consultants and investment firms.

Wait. You haven’t heard of Kaizen? Are you asking what Kaizen is exactly?

It’s Japanese for “change for the better.” Seems simple, but it’s not quite. Revolving around the word is a world of interpretations, historical significance, and use in modern management discussions. I’m not going to paraphrase or explore the full meaning here – the Kaizen Institute’s explanations is a good start if you are looking for one.

Kaizen and me

Kaizen though isn’t only about management or production practices. Here is what it means to me as a practitioner –

Fundamentals

Basic principles have taken me a long way. Lifting everyone’s energy and working to add order to environments is now second nature. A big misnomer that I encounter is about how entrepreneurs thrive in chaos – or a variation, entrepreneurs know how to build great things amidst constant chaos. (More on misnomers and entrepreneurs in another article.)

Focus

In a world that overwhelms, I learned where to focus my Kaizen efforts since many topics and people don’t warrant that kind of attention right now. I learned to differentiate between important and urgent. Let’s help folks who help themselves. “You can’t wake up someone who pretends to sleep” carries a lot of meaning, and unsurprisingly, exists in many languages.

Details

I work to leave every room better than when I entered it. And that starts with making my bed first thing in the morning. Even Admiral McRaven talked of changing the world by making our beds in his address at the University of Texas.

Improvement

James Clear Atomic Habits - taken from Shane Parrish's FS Blog

I read a paper book before bed. It’s my signal to my body to wind down while learning every day. From another perspective, I want to wake up 1% wiser than I slept – an idea that is best explained in James Clear’s Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones. Shane Parrish has a condensed 3 minute explanation in his blog post, Why Small Habits Make a Big Difference.

Leverage

I leverage my time by doing things that drive multiple benefits. Reading before bed leverages the brain’s continuous data transfer and deep learning process during sleep, as outlined in the book Why We Sleep. Mentoring is another area of leverage. Even as I share ideas/experiences/knowledge to improve others’ lives, I learn new points of view that invariably provide me more information and fuel for self improvement.

That’s Kaizen for me: continuous improvement. Sometimes, it really is that simple.

Any of that resonate with you?

This isn’t a Trojan Horse

I’ll keep it simple: I’m going to write. More often, more consistently, and right here.

I’m not jumping onto the content marketing bandwagon as much as I am stitching together disparate threads and creating a single destination to showcase the end result.

Besides my professional ventures, I have been collecting random, beautiful images for inspiration since June 2010. I have assembled them all at this site – check the archives here. I also have a soundcloud full of unfinished tunes that were a complete joy to create.

Going forward, at RS|LA you will read about the intersections of UX design and futurist technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, VR/AR/MR, and IoT. And occasional references to  Kurzgesagt, waitbutwhy or xkcd.

Hold me to my promise of writing often?