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The term “biohacking” may bring nefarious images to your mind, such as criminals sneaking around trying to take over your body. While this notion may be dangerous and even a little seductive, in reality, wellness coaches mean something else entirely. Biohacking means optimising your total body by changing your environment (inside and outside).
Our bodies are incredible machines full of billions of moving parts. To be at our very best, we need to ensure the proper balance between all of these parts, from the neurons in the brain, to the way the heart pumps, to how our gut handles food. Humans need certain things to survive, including oxygen, water, shelter, food and sleep. Without sleep, our brains start to change, and these changes can impact the body and our overall health and wellbeing.
The amygdala is part of the limbic system, which controls instincts, emotions (including fear) and mood. Damage, developmental issues or neurotransmitter (the chemicals in your brain) imbalances can cause dysfunction, manifesting as anxiety, depression, phobias and PTSD. Anxiety begins in an area of the amygdala responsible for longer-lasting responses, resulting in someone feeling a threat long after it diminishes.1
Unfortunately, sleep loss and anxiety go hand in hand, often forcing sufferers into a vicious cycle, which can be extremely difficult to break from. Neuroscience has found that sleep loss amplifies the response in the amygdala when we anticipate something, leading to increased anxiety. When your brain is fatigued, your amygdala is in a heightened state, ready to react to whatever threat is contributing to the fatigue.2
There are many technological gadgets available to help you biohack your body, from neurofeedback devices to hyperbaric oxygen pods. But, you don’t need to spend anything to improve your sleep and help reduce anxiety.
Dr Satchin Panda, an expert in circadian rhythms has studied how lights reset our internal clocks, affecting sleep, and how food also impacts our circadian cycles. According to Dr Panda, each organ has its own circadian clock, so it isn’t just the brain that tells us we need to sleep.
Our brain isn’t the only organ which needs to rest, either. The liver can function for a certain number of hours, and then it needs time off. Even the bacteria that live in our guts have a daily clock. When all of these moving parts inside of us synchronise, we will experience high performance. But without sleep, these pieces break down, and instead of being balanced, we’ll be out of sorts and conditions such as anxiety and depression can occur.3
Your day actually begins when you go to bed the previous night because that determines how long you’ll sleep, how long you’ll reset your brain and then how fresh you’ll wake up in the morning.
Dr Satchin Panda
Wanting to make changes is only part of the equation if you’d like to biohack your sleep. You have to figure out what you’re doing wrong, too. If you want to sleep better, increase performance and feel less anxious, you have to look for the red flags. Ask yourself these questions:
The “always on” approach that modern society seems to demand, particularly for leaders, is ultimately unsustainable. Without balance, we cannot make good decisions, engage in collaborative endeavours or come up with new ideas. If you look at a brain image of someone who doesn’t sleep much, you see poor functioning and areas of inactivity; basically, a brain that has aged before its time.6
The i4 Neuroleader Program can help you develop a high-performing mind and body. Recognising the importance of sleep, and how even what we eat can impact our sleep is the first step to making big changes. If you’d like to learn more about gut health and overall wellbeing on your leadership journey, watch our award-winning documentary Make Me A Leader.
Biohacking isn’t a figment of the future, it’s possible now, so are you ready to take control of your biology?
These Stories on Performance
Founder & CEO
About my Brain Institute
Scientist, educator, author, speaker, coach, award-winning leadership specialist, filmmaker and creator of the i4 Neuroleader Model & Methodology.
Silvia's scientific background and curiosity about the human brain led her to a decade long journey of research into optimal brain functioning and the application of neuroscience in leadership and daily life. Her past and current roles have uniquely prepared her for the current undertaking, that of leadership activist & change agent.
Silvia Damiano founded The About my Brain Institute in 2009, with the purpose of democratising leadership & neuroscience. She has a passionately held belief, that leaders in our 21st century global economy and their organisations must radically change long-held ideas of what constitutes effective leadership
In her ground-breaking books ‘Leadership is Upside Down’, ‘Brain-Friendly Leadership’ and the 2018 documentary ‘Make Me A Leader’, Silvia provides both compelling evidence and explores the importance of leadership in our personal and professional lives and what it takes to develop the human behind the leader.
Silvia has worked in different countries, across many industries, helping teams and organisations improve business performance. Silvia’s clients have described her as a passionate, dynamic, a highly experienced speaker and master facilitator on the topics of Emotional Intelligence, Cultural Change, Neuroleadership & Engagement.
Silvia is passionate about leaving a legacy of well-rounded leaders who can act and decide in a way that better serves humanity. Her clients include Microsoft, Australian Stock Exchange, NSW Government, VISA, Fuji Xerox and Manpower amongst many other global companies.
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