Quantified Self

I have joined a new community of biohackers at QuantifiedSelf.com. I found this website through the notes in Tim Ferris’s The 4-Hour Body (which I plan on using in my diet and movement research) and then from Kevin Kelly’s website, KK.org.

QuantifiedSelf.com recommends I post the project I’m working on to their forum. It was an instructive exercise. I will share it here, since it is a good summary of what I am doing.

Introduction

I am a 40-something male with unusual fatigue. I fell asleep during a Metallica concert in college. My 76-year old father sleeps 20 hours per day, and my 11-year old son is also exhibiting unusual fatigue. Doctors have been unable to help. Blood tests have revealed nothing unusual. I drank so much caffeine, I started having heart arrhythmias 40+ times per day.

Out of desperation, I’ve begun to track every conceivable factor in energy production and fatigue that I can find and experiment with them. I am new to QS and eagerly looking forward to learning from the community.

Questioning

Since energy and fatigue is such a huge subject, I’m taking a systems-based approach to the body. From my research, it seems like the body’s energy is derived and/or affected by eight main subsystems:

  1. Breath
  2. Sleep
  3. Hydration
  4. Diet
  5. Movement
  6. Mood
  7. Biochemicals
  8. Environment

Each subsystem seems to have stressors (like alcohol) and requirements (like sleep or food).

I’m approaching this project by reading the top books in each area, seeing which sources they reference and reading those, documenting stressors and requirements, trying to eliminate the stressors, trying to build up the requirements, and documenting the results.

Observing

I have been tracking over 30 different factors in the above 8 areas over the past 6 months.

  • energy (morning, noon, and night) on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the highest)
  • mood (morning, noon, and night) on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the highest)
  • sleep (total, deep, REM, and Garmin sleep score)
  • calories (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, total)
  • caffeine (morning, lunch) (after a couple months, I eliminated caffeine in the afternoon)
  • movement (steps, aerobic calories, minutes of anaerobic exercise)
  • water (Morning, noon, and night in ounces)
    …and more

For the full list, I’m keeping the data in a Google spreadsheet here:docs.google.com

Energy Tracker 2

May22 Awake (time),Deep sleep (mins),Total sleep (mins),Sleep Score,Weight,Cardio (cals),Breakfast (cals),Water (5-10AM),Caffeine (5-10AM),Energy level (5-10AM),Mood (5-10AM),Lunch (cals),Water (11-4PM),Caffeine (11-4PM),Nap (mins),Snack,Energy…

Consolidating

Since neither the doctors nor I know what is affecting my family’s energy, I am casting a wide net. Here are the experiments I am currently tracking:

Breathing Experiments

  1. Slow breaths
  2. Nasal breaths while taking the stairs
  3. Nasal breaths while running
  4. Sleep tape
  5. Breathe right strips
  6. Saline rinse for allergies

Sleep Experiments

  1. Sleep tape
  2. Breathe right strips
  3. Cooler bedroom temperatures
  4. Blackout curtains
  5. Air filter
  6. Humidifier with essential oils
  7. No caffeine 8 hours before bedtime
  8. No liquids after 5 PM
  9. No alcohol
  10. No screens 1 hour before bedtime
  11. Low blue light LED light bulbs
  12. Blue light blocking glasses

Hydration Experiments

  1. Humidifier
  2. Lower caffeine
  3. Sleep tape
  4. Smoothies
  5. More fruits and vegetables
  6. MCT oil
  7. Massage gun
  8. Stretching daily
  9. Drinking 32 oz of water with electrolytes before coffee

Reasoning

With my crude 1-5 scale, I have begun to refer to my perfect days – the days when I have a 5 energy morning, noon, and night, and I have a 5 mood morning, noon, and night – as my 5-star days.

When I started this experiment in December, I had no 5-star days. Last month, I had six. My efforts seem to be working, but I know I have a lot of room for improvement.
EnergyProgress

I am tracking this experiment on my blog at TheEnergyBook.com.

Next Steps and Questions for the QS Community

Next I will be reading the energy/fatigue research on:
4. Diet – paleo, intermittent fasting, calorie restriction, affect of carbs on energy/insulin
5. Movement – HIIT, cardio, anaerobic, moving every 15 minutes, why the body needs movement
6. Mood – mood has the highest correlation with my energy currently. FASCINATED by this.
7. Biochemicals – caffeine, hormones (testosterone, adrenaline), supplements (B, D, COQ10)
8. Environment – seasonal affective disorder, red light therapy, polar plunges

Questions:

  • Any recommended resources I should read on energy and fatigue?
  • Any recommendations on how I’m structuring this experiment? (I know I’m taking on a lot)
  • Any recommended machines for measuring energy? (I use a Garmin Fenix 6)
  • Thank you for reading through all this!

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I’m thrilled to report, I received two responses within a couple hours with very good questions and suggestions. This is a thoughtful, intelligent community and I’m glad to have found it.

Since I don’t have permission to reprint their responses here, you can see them at this link: https://forum.quantifiedself.com/t/why-am-i-so-tired-all-the-time/10432

My favorite outcome from this exchange is how one of the responders challenged my methodology. He wondered if I was running too many interventions at once and how I would isolate which ones worked.

It caused me to ponder and respond with this:

You make a good point about how I’m testing a lot of interventions at once. This is my top concern about my current methodology, but I’m loathe to go slower. With the vast amount of ground I have to cover, I’m already expecting to spend two years on this. I hate to stretch things out further.

But you’re right. If I’m going to try and accurately distinguish what is working and what isn’t, I need to slow down and separate out the experiments a bit more. I was just talking to a neurologist friend who was reminding me of homeostasis and pharmacokinetics. I need to be more methodical about tracking these experiments separately.

So, three thoughts:

  1. I was batching the experiments to see what subsystem my issue resided in (breath, sleep, hydration, etc.). I took a shotgun approach and tested every tip and trick I could find in each subsystem. My thought was that if I saw improvement in my energy, I must have had a problem there. However, I’m realizing as we discuss this that I made several assumptions there – that I had only one issue, that many changes might make incremental improvements to my energy, that I had the time to make all these changes, that I could retroactively isolate the changes that worked and scale back to just those. Those might have been foolish assumptions.
  2. I also took a number of diagnostic tests that I had hoped would isolate as many issues as possible without have to try additional experiments (like an elimination diet). I took the Viome mitochondrial and gut health tests. I took the SelfDecode DNA test. And I just ordered the Everlywell food sensitivity test. I realize now this doesn’t replace the need for me to be more methodical, but it did reduce my approach style down from a ‘grenade’ to a ‘shotgun’.
  3. So, estimating that my first three subsystems of energy required about 30 experiments in six months and I have five subsystems to go, I can roughly estimate that I will have 50 more experiments. I was haphazard in my deployment of experiments before, but I could have spaced them out in those first six months and taken approximately a week to test each experiment. If I planned out my experiments and tested each one for a week before moving on to the next one, do you think that would be sufficient? Obviously there are degrees of rigor. I’m not trying to recreate a lab experiment and I have a lot to cover, but I do want to give myself a better chance of knowing whether or not an experiment is working. Do you have any recommendations for time spent on each one?

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This is just the kind of interaction I am hoping to gain from a community. Thank you to everyone at Quantified Self!

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