A guide to the biohacking apps and gadgets to help you thrive during menopause.
Ugh! Can we all agree that (peri)menopause can be really hard? We’re feeling sluggish, unmotivated and less sharp than we used to. We’re not sleeping, we’re gaining weight and we’re heating up faster than a bag of microwave popcorn. But what if I told you relief is within arms reach? With the help of your smart phone, some apps and a few tech gadgets, you have all the stuff you need to better understand your body and start biohacking your menopause.
What is biohacking?
Biohacking is a growing practice that combines technology and lifestyle to optimize your health. It takes a systematic approach to your health and fitness to figure out what’s best for your body. Biohacking involves experimenting with advanced nutrition, exercise, and cutting-edge techniques like nootropics and meditation.
Biohacking has become increasingly popular in the last two decades. Pioneers like Tim Ferriss and Dave Asprey lead the charge. And now, there’s a growing community of biohackers that includes entrepreneurs, researchers, athletes, and health enthusiasts.
Biohacking is a way to make your body stronger and healthier. It uses data, self-measurement, and changes in habits to improve our bodies and minds. In addition, it can help with physical performance, thinking, sleeping, and even reducing the risk of getting sick.
Biohacking your menopause
But did you know that biohacking can also help you manage menopause? There are tons of biohacking tools and apps that can help to enhance your sleep quality, fitness, diet, and blood sugar. They can help you track your cycle, calm your mind and help heal inflammation.
These apps and gadgets can help you take charge of your body and mind and empower you to take control of your health. There are so many of them, I can’t possibly begin to cover them all in this blog. Instead, I’m going to focus on a few that I’ve been exploring/experimenting with:
I don’t need to tell you that when perimenopause begins, the clockwork cycle of your 20s becomes unbearably unpredictable. Some months it’s barely there, other’s it’s fast and furious. You might go four or five months without a period and then, Bam! It’s back with a vengeance. And it’s crazy frustrating not knowing what’s coming in any given month.
Many women equate cycle tracking with trying to get pregnant. But for women in perimenopause, tracking your cycle is more important than ever before. Not only does it help you better understand your changing hormone levels. It can also help you identify patterns in mood swings, energy levels and even your hot flashes.
Tracking your cycle helps you feel more in control and better equipped to take care of yourself. It also provides incredible data and information that you can bring to your doctor to help them understand what’s going on with your body.
If you want to stick it old school, a simple notebook or calendar will do the trick. But there are tons of incredible free cycle tracking apps available on your phone.
Cycle Tracking Apps
They allow you to track not only the days and lengths of your cycle, but also all your symptoms, the intensity of your flow, even the colour of your discharge. All important information to know and understand. Many of them also include access to health libraries so you can dive in and learn more about your symptoms.
There are tons of them available in the app store. Flo Health used to be my go to. And I still rave about it to friends. But I’ve recently started playing with the tracking apps Balance and MenoLife.
What I love about these two is that the symptoms and moods that they track are more relevant to my perimenopausal life. Symptoms like brain fog, low libido, anxiety, memory and sleep problems and even hot flashes, burning mouth, heart palpitations and crying spells. All the things, even the weird and unusual suspects.
Just search up ‘Free Menopause Trackers’ in the app store, download an app and start your tracking today.
Let’s talk about sleep. Or should I say lack thereof? I mean, how many times have you been rudely awoken by a raging hot flash, or laid in bed staring at the ceiling fan unable to shut your brain off? But fear not, my fellow biohackers, there are a ton of sleep hacks and wearable technology that can help. So put down the Ambien and let’s dive in…
A Healthy Sleep Routine
I know this hack doesn’t involve an app or gadget. But it’s so important and it needs to be included.
Your sleep routine actually starts in the morning. Getting outside in blue-enriched morning light helps regulate our circadian rhythms. As the day goes on, limit your caffeine intake to one or two cups in the morning. Try to avoid alcohol. Although it helps us to unwind, it actually wreaks havoc on our sleep. Stop eating 2-3 hours before bedtime. Avoid screens and bright lights an hour before bed. Go to bed the same time every night. Take a warm bath or meditate. Create a zen bedroom – no work or TVs, please.
Although these hacks may seem simple, they can work wonders for your sleep. And they’re free. So what do you have to lose?
Blue light blocking glasses and screen filters
Instead of scrolling through your phone or watching TV before bed, try taking a break from screens altogether. But if that’s just not realistic, try some blue light blocking glasses. They can help reduce the negative impact of blue light exposure, improving your chances of getting some sleep.
Of course, not all blue light blocking glasses are created equal. The key to a good pair is the amount of blue light they actually block. So don’t just grab the ones that look cute. Aim for a pair that blocks at least 95% of blue light.
Don’t love the idea of wearing glasses? No problem. Try a blue light screen protector for your phone, tablet, laptop or even TV. These bad boys have layers of protective material designed to filter out the nasty blue light frequencies. And they’ll do wonders for your sleep quality.
Well, biohackers, now we’ve got you sleeping better. And we can prove it. There are a crazy number of products on the market right now that you wear to bed (and throughout the day) that can tell you exactly how long and how well you’re sleeping.
Your Apple Watch or Samsung Gear 5, a Fitbit, or my personal favourite – the Oura ring – are all incredible gadgets to help you better understand your sleep.
They can tell you how many times you got up to pee in the night. If you were restless and took forever to fall asleep. They can even track your sleep cycle and tell you how much REM, deep and light sleep you are getting each night.
Why is this information important? Well, that’s a whole other blog. But let’s just say that tracking our sleep helps:
- provide valuable insights into our sleep patterns,
- us understand how lifestyle choices (like drinking alcohol or eating a bowl of ice cream before bed) impact our sleep,
- us understand why we might be craving pancakes for breakfast instead of our usual spinach omelette,
- show how our sleep patterns may be risks to our overall health.
This information is incredibly invaluable to a women’s health.
One of my favourite ways to fall and stay asleep is by using a white noise machine. These devices emit a gentle hum that can help soothe my nerves and block out distracting environmental noises. They work well on just about everything. Except my husband’s snoring.
You don’t have to buy a machine to reap these rewards. Yep, you guessed it. There’s an app (or 10) for that. Choose from whale sounds or a night forest. Or you can fall asleep to consistent sound wave patterns in white, pink or brown. These patterns help relax you and slow your brain waves down to help improve your overall sleep.
So there you have it… Sweet dreams, ladies!
Many women, my self included, suffer from an unexpected and frustrating battle with our weight during perimenopause. It’s gets to a point that we feel broken and no longer trust our own bodies.
There’s nothing guaranteed to take (or keep) the weight off – believe me, I’ve tried it ALL. But there are a many tools out there to help us feel a little more in control. Which is half the battle.
Tracking and weight loss apps
I’ll start here, because they’ve been my go to for years. I’ve used free ones that allow me to track all the healthy foods (and the not-so-healthy ones) I comsume, as well as my exercise and work outs. I’ve tried upgraded versions of these that allow me to break my calories down into macronutrients (healthy fats, proteins and carbohydrates). I’ve even trialed ones that come with coaches and daily motivation and lessons.
Fitbit, Noom, My FitnessPal, WW, and the list goes on. They all have their pros and cons. So if you’re thinking of biohacking your weight with a tracking app, here are a few things to consider:
- Referral – Ask around. I’m sure many of your friends have tried them. This is always the best place to find honest answers from people you trust.
- Features – You know what motivates you best. Need a community fitness challenge, or a personal coach? Or just want a quick and easy way to be honest with yourself about what you’re putting in your mouth. Find an app that has the features most important to you.
- Ratings – Check out what other’s in the app store have to say.
- Expert Recommendations – Follow a fitness coach or nutrition expert? What app are they recommending?
Intermittent fasting or time restricted eating is a way of eating that focuses on the length of your eating window, rather than the amount of calories you consume.
This biohacking model gives our digestive system a much-needed break because it helps the human body become more metabolically flexible. It’s a throwback to our ancestral roots, when human beings survived on scarce resources during the winter months.
A popular intermittent fasting model is the 16/8 window. For perspective – stop eating at 7pm and don’t eat again until 11am. Although, for women, it’s important to pay attention to where you are in your menstrual cycle and fast accordingly. Imagine PMS and being hangry at the same time? Not sure anyone in my house would survive that.
Don’t think intermittent fasting is for you? Couldn’t possibly go that long without food? Here are some more hacks to help you out. Biohacking pioneer, David Asprey, has a huge product line of biohacking supplements like bulletproof coffee and collagen protein to help you feel fuller for longer. Added bonus, they also provide you with nutrients your body needs to help you thrive.
CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor)
CGMs, traditionally used by diabetics, are now be used by non-diabetics to help us understand our glucose levels and metabolic health. They not only tell us how our blood glucose responds to food. They also help us understand how things like stress, lack of sleep, illness, medications, and even our menstrual cycles impact our blood glucose and insulin levels.
With real-time feedback on the direction and speed of your glucose levels, you can make informed decisions about your diet and exercise. Say goodbye to guessing games and hello to better control over your health.
Why should you even care?
Well, as we go through menopause, our metabolism and hormones change, making us more susceptible to insulin resistance. In simpler terms, our cells don’t respond well to insulin, making it tougher for glucose to get into our bloodstreams. When we have extra glucose kicking around, our bodies turn it into fat.
I know I had you at fat, but it’s so much more to this than body weight.
There are more severe health conditions and health concerns we need to think about here. Menopausal women are at higher risk of chronic disease, like diabetes and heart disease. Wearing a CGM and understanding our body’s response to food and stress can help us predict some of these potential health problems and take proactive and preventative actions.
This is Where the biohacking subculture magic really starts to come together. Combine the data from your Oura Ring with your food tracking app and CGM and you can start to piece together a pretty incredible puzzle:
Didn’t sleep well last night and you’re craving pancakes in the morning – interesting.
Had wine and popcorn before bed. Blood glucose seemed stable but crashed in the middle night. Woke up and then didn’t sleep well the rest of the night (causing your cortisol to surge). And your blood glucose is soaring in the morning – Holy $#!t! Now that’s a whole new level!
Biohacking your fitness is all about getting the most effective and efficient workout possible for your body. There are inexhaustible ways to biohack your fitness routine and improve your athletic performance. From wearables and apps, to specialized workouts and even biohacking gyms. I’m going to explore just a few.
Wearable fitness devices can help you get serious about reaching your fitness goals. By tracking your steps, strides and calories burned, they can help with weight loss and changing your body composition. Some remind you to get up and move periodically throughout the day. And most are designed to track in a way that gives you little dose of motivation to keep going.
With so many fitness wearables on the market, it’s not hard to find one to meet your needs and price point. Choose from the Apple Watch, Fitbit, Garmin or Samsung Gallery Watch. Even the Oura sleep ring tracks your steps throughout the day. There’s no end to the options you have available.
With the cost of gym memberships on the rise, more and more people are using fitness apps to exercise. And like the fitness wearables, the options are endless.
There is an app for whatever goal you have – building strength, burning fat, losing weight, or gaining muscle. If you want to learn how to run a marathon, use running app like Strava. Short on time? The 7-minute Workout’s got you covered. Got a treadmill collecting dust in the basement? Check out the Peleton app. Did you know you don’t need a Peleton machine to use their app?
And these apps don’t break the bank. Many are free or offer free trials before beginning their monthly subscription fees. Trust me. There’s an option that’s absolutely perfect for you.
Infrared Light Therapy
And once your work out is done, why not explore infrared light therapy. It’s a biohacking staple. Sometimes referred to as red light therapy (although technically they’re a little different) this technology uses waves of light on inflamed or diseased human body tissues.
From detoxifying and reducing muscle tension, to boosting immunity and improving circulation – the benefits are endless. It is also believed to increase collagen in our skin. This helps to reduce wrinkles, improve our skin texture and make us look more fabulous.
Your favourite gyms and spas may offer access to infrared saunas, but these days, there are tons of at home options available. You can buy machines that sit on your table top or even infrared beds (picture a 90s tanning bed, but this ones good for you). You can invest in an infrared sauna for your home. Or there are blankets, sleeping bags and wraps for specific parts of your body to help relieve pain.
Again, as with most areas of biohacking, the possibilities are endless.
If you’re a woman in perimenopause, you know that taking care of our mental health is no joke. So of course, there are so many biohacking options available to help us reduce stress, improve our moods and generally feel better. Many of these don’t require special devices or apps, but of course those are available too.
My favourite ways for biohacking my mental health include:
Meditation used to be hard for me. Clearing my mind when I’ve got a running to do list playing non-stop on repeat. Not going to happen. But then I discovered meditation apps. I’ve used Headspace, Calm and Insight Timer. And they totally changed everything for me. With these guided meditation apps, I was able to turn off my brain and re-focus my thought when I found my mind wandering.
I started to enjoy my meditation. Partly because it brought quiet moments to my busy day, and because it grounded me. And helped me feel less stress. Who doesn’t need that in their lives?
Breathwork is a form of active meditation. It’s the perfect way to reconnect with your breath, and unlock its power to improve your mental and physical well-being. From focused breathing exercises to conscious relaxation – bringing awareness to our breath can do wonders for our health.
Before I started working with a breath coach, I started my breath journey with an app. I used Open, but of course there are a ton available depending on your needs. Breathwork has been magical for my mental health. It is calming like nothing else I have ever tried. Can’t recommend it enough.
Research shows that expressing gratitude can have wonderful benefits for our physical and mental well-being. From improving relationships to reducing anxiety and increasing optimism, the power of gratitude is undeniable. Scientists actually believe that gratitude can rewire our brains and help improve focus and creativity.
So what are you waiting for? Grab your gratitude journal. Get outside and go for a gratitude walk. Take a few moments to focus on the good things in your life. It doesn’t have to be big things. It can be as simple as feeling grateful for your morning cup of coffee (this makes my list every day), or the sun finally shining after weeks of rain. The point is to spend a few minutes with your brain focused on the shiny, happy things in your day.
Want to take your biohacking to the next level? Try floating in a sensory deprivation tank. It’s a tank filled with really salty water so you float easily without touching anything. There’s no light, sound or anything else for you to feel, smell or taste.
It’s the ultimate way to turn off your brain and reduce stress.
Your mind might fight it at first, but people report that these tanks help get their minds unstuck. They solve problems that have been plaguing them for years and have life-changing ideas. Sounds incredible, right? I haven’t tried this yet, but I think I really should.
Get started today.
There are many, MANY forms of biohacking out there. From the simplest forms of lifestyle changes, to extreme measures like implanting technology and genetic engineering.
Biohacking can be a game-changer for those who want to take control of their health and performance. These simple tools are easy to incorporate into your everyday life. And they can help slow the normal aging process or relieve chronic pain.
The above list of hacks, gadgets and apps is just the tip of the biohacking iceberg. It is by no means exhaustive.
So consider your own symptoms and do a little research. Maybe try some self experimentation. Explore unconventional ideas. Talk to a medical professional if you have concerns about the risks involved. But take the time to figure out what hacks, gadgets and apps work best for your body and your menopause journey.
Got questions? Reach out. We’re here to help.