Foundations of Health (Part 1)
Updated: Jan 11
In a world of complexity, sometimes simplicity is the answer.
There are one thousand and one health hacks out there, but their efficacy is limited if you haven’t created a healthy foundation to build from. Just as putting high performance tires on a car with a broken engine will not yield large results, adding biohacks to a system that doesn’t have the basics covered will similarly not give you large improvements.
Get the simple things right, and you might not need the supplements, nootropics, and biotech to see results. If you have the basics covered, then by all means use technology and supplementation to create more change, but for those getting started on their health journey, start with the basics.
Our circadian biology or ‘sleep/wake’ cycle has input to many systems of the body including our metabolism, hormonal system (cortisol and insulin), blood sugar levels, and obviously sleep quality. We have evolved over thousands of years with ‘timed light viewing’ or simply put following the rising and setting of the sun. This simple light cycle tells our body when it is time to rest, restore and recuperate, or to be physically and mentally active, ready to move and learn. Light is a powerful driver of neural, hormonal, immune, physical and mental health. What is important to note is that at different times of the day, the light is different. Light at dawn is different to light at dusk, and our brain knows the difference. In recent times, with the progression of technology we are now unfortunately capable of tricking our biology. If it is 10pm and I am staring at my phone or laptop (blue light), my brain is being told it is time to wake up, begin secreting cortisol and prepare the body to work. You can see how this would disrupt not only my sleep, but my hormonal release.
The three most important times to view (or not view) light are:
Viewing morning light (2-10 minutes) as close to sunrise as possible
Viewing evening light (2-10 minutes) as close to sunset as possible
Avoiding artificial light between 11pm-4am
In addition it is important to limit technology after sunset, and ideally to have no screens 90 minutes prior to sleep. The use of blue light blocking glasses after sunset can help those who have to use technology late in the day.
In the mornings, simply remember ‘sunlight before screen light’. Try and take the first 15 minutes of your waking with the sun in your face, taking some deep breaths, touching the ground. Don’t check your social media, your emails or your to-do list. Allow your biology to wake up before we begin stimulating our psychology.