Although a good portion of this website is dedicated to the research I’ve done on understanding how energy works, I also want to understand what actually works in practice. Knowledge for knowledge’s sake isn’t enough. I have to know if the knowledge can be applied to everyday life for real gains in energy.
So, I decided to set up an experiment. From my memories of the high school science fairs, I remembered having to keep a log book of each year’s experiment. No matter what the experiment was – feeding rats Fruit Loops, testing various colors on moods, making a volcano explode – I always had to keep a log book.
Thankfully, I already had a decent habit of journaling coming into this. I figured I could turn my journal into a log book where I tracked my energy and fiddled with certain factors to see if they help.
However, I also knew I wanted to share these results with not only my father and my son, but also with you and the world via this website (and hopefully, one day, a book). So I began to track my energy levels and as many factors as I could think of in this Google spreadsheet:
I based my self-experimentation methods off of Timothy Ferriss and his experiments in the Four Hour Body. Timothy Ferriss is a genius at biohacking. He ruthlessly pursues every aspect of measuring, tracking, and examining each facet of his self-experiment. Although I did not have the funds to purchase all the equipment he had (and not all of the time to track every aspect that he did), I did borrow a few ideas from him.
First, he references an article by a Stanford professor, Seth Roberts, on self-experimentation, “Self-Experimentation as a Source of New Ideas: Ten Examples Involving Sleep, Mood, Health, and Weight,” Behavioral and Brain Science 27 (2004): 227–88. I will link to that here. Dr. Roberts talks about the importance and self experimentation in the history of science and how he applies it in his own life. There is a long history of self-experimentation going back all the way to Newton and others. Although self-experimentation does not have the rigor of a formal lab experiment where all factors are tightly controlled (and you have the benefit of statistically significant participants along with a control group), self-experimentation does serve a purpose. Self-experimentation, in Dr. Roberts’s opinion, gives us all a great place to generate ideas and ask questions. By using ourselves as guinea pigs, we can often quickly formulate and test a hypothesis. We can generally vet them for viability. And perhaps best of all, we can generate new ideas and questions to pursue.
In this spirit, I decided to follow Timothy Ferriss and Dr. Roberts’s examples and test a number of hypotheses upon myself.
Of course, every experiment will face its setbacks. About two weeks after I began to track I ran into an emotionally turbulent time and stopped tracking for a week or two. When I started back, I decided that I had attempted to track too many things at once, without a strong enough habit of tracking built up. So I went for a lower bar and only tracked my weight, mood at three points in the day, and sleep. This proved to be easier. After all, four weeks of continuous tracking, I will try to add another factor (I can grab much of the missing data from various diet, exercise, and other apps that I use).
If you want to track your energy to learn more about your patterns, I would recommend starting with a small number of factors to track, building up a habit of tracking for a few weeks, and then slowly adding more things to track. Please let me know if you do. I’d love to share data and eventually gather a statistically significant number of people tracking their energy levels and factors. Just contact me here or drop me a comment below.