English (United Kingdom)French (Fr)Russian (CIS)Espa
Home Library Tutorials Neurohacking Tutorial 2 - N1 & N2 + Self Assessment - Sleep and Food
PDF Print E-mail
User Rating: / 5
Neurohacking - Tutorials
Written by NHA   
Friday, 10 April 2009 16:31
Article Index
Neurohacking Tutorial 2 - N1 & N2 + Self Assessment
New Perspective On Mental Health
Sleep and Food
Epigenetics and Input Control
Summary and Exercices
All Pages



Golden Rule 1 

As we have seen, there are several ways networks can get out of balance, but underpinning all of them is our biology, and this is the basis of golden rule # 1; “If the brain doesn’t get what it needs, the mind won’t do what you want”.

This rule may seem like the bleeding obvious but it’s amazing how many people don’t take it into account. What you eat and how much sleep you get and when, are choices that can give or take away the fundamental requirements for a healthy brain. Just as with physical fitness, the healthier you are, the more you can push it, but all neurohackers should consider their sleep patterns important, and should study nutrition. Staying up studying for another hour before exam day may make you more stupid in the morning than getting that extra hour in sleep!




Sleeping kitty


Biology expects you to go to sleep when your body and brain are tired, and wake up when they’re not. Breaking into this natural biological event with alarm clocks, sleeping pills, coffee, cigarettes, sugar and speed has caused a generation of sleep-deprivation-related anxiety disorders. Getting back to that natural cycle of sleeping without interference has cured some cases of depression and paranoia without changing any other variable.

There is a lot of discussion in the media about ‘how much sleep’ is good for you. The answer is, it not only depends on the person but on the events the person experiences, each and every day. We ‘defragment’ our memories in our sleep, and if you have a day of busy new experiences it’s going to take longer to file it all away.

If you're sleep deprived, the increasing need for memory defragging causes loss of attention during waking time. Consequently, many people spend up to half their time not thinking about the task at hand even when they’ve been told explicitly to pay attention

The amount of sleep necessary is also affected by the temperature, your physical health, what you eat, your age, whether you meditate [your brain can also defrag while you meditate], the weather, and about six hundred other factors!

So remember, there is no set amount of sleep that is good for everyone all of the time. If anyone tells you we should ‘all’ get x or y amount of sleep a night, they don’t know much about brains.

“Most people thrive on between 8.2 and 8.4 hours per night”, according to a Harvard sleep researcher, but we stress that this is not applicable as a general rule. For example if you meditate well, you’re fit and healthy and you sleep when nature wants you to, you could only need half that! If you sleep when you want to, you actually need less sleep.

If you work or study 9-5 style, it can be very hard on your sleep quality and your health. Most people who do so are not going to be performing on optimal (which says a lot about how society is structured –it’s not designed with your health as a priority).

Based on all the scientific evidence available, we believe that eating and sleeping whenever you want to is a basic human right and necessary for optimal intelligence, not to mention health and happiness.

The first time people hit a dilemma like this in NH they sometimes get baffled about what to do. It’s easy. You make priorities, depending on what matters to you most in the here and now. It’s a bit like when an amateur athlete or musician has at some point got to decide which is more important to follow –the ‘hobby’ or the job?

If and when to take that leap is up to the individual and their circumstances. Some compromise by moving to part time work, self-employment or flexitime so as to have more time for training, some take the plunge and try to earn a living doing what’s good for their health and/or encouraging others to do so. Some decide they don’t have the time to ‘go pro’ right now and will risk another few years missing out on healthy sleep in order to get their material lives sorted out, and fit in NH to the best of their ability like a hobby. If you’re included in that last ‘some’, there’s quite a lot you can do to improve the quality of the sleep you do get, but first you need to find out whether this problem is getting in your way right now. We’ve included an exercise to assess your sleep in the ‘hacks and exercises’ section at the end.




Kitty asleep on its plate


Serious NH-ers like to follow a diet that ensures not only physical health and longevity but also that gives the brain all the necessary resources to function at optimal. Some nutrients and supplements are particularly associated with assisting or protecting brain functions. [More info is available in the ‘Drugs & chemicals’ section of the library.]

We recommend a ‘low GI’ diet. The ‘GI’ [Glycemic Index’] is a classification of foods according to the speed at which they release their sugars into the bloodstream. Fast-release (High GI) food is associated with oxidative damage to cells –particularly neurons, and several glucose-processing disorders including metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes and obesity, inflammatory diseases and Alzheimers.

For a long time in health circles there has been an interest in “CR” [Calorie Restriction] because it appears to promote unusual health, vitality and long life for many mammals. It is effective because of gene transcription [effectively some kinds of CR alter the expression of genes that cause some aspects of metabolism and aging, both in the body and the brain].

The discovery that some types of CR need not be followed on a permanent basis in order to achieve this change is welcome as well as surprising. And now we also know that a low GI diet works in the same way (but without having to restrict calories).

A low GI diet followed for around six months will affect semi-permanent changes that can only be reversed if you’re very overindulgent afterwards. So you can stay on low GI around half the time and stuff your face the other half [although we’d recommend you stuff your face with things that don’t slow your brain down too much]. You can always go back to full GI to ‘reset’ the genome if you accidentally overdo it and trip those genes in the wrong direction (outside the entelechy zone).

If you stay on low GI there’s no need to restrict any calories. Here’s the hack –the change in the genome that’s deleterious to health 'turns on' in response to an excess of events called “exothermic reactions”. That’s a kind of chemical reaction that gives off a lot of heat. All high GI foods (sucrose [table & cooking sugar], corn products, and many fats and carbohydrates) cause these reactions to occur inside our bodies and brains, releasing particles called free radicals that damage the tissue there. These foods are all ‘high GI’ because their sugars are released quickly.

When food is cooked in hot vegetable oil or baked it produces similar reactions in the food, creating carcinogenic chemicals like acrylamide. Regardless of origin, these reactions affect the expression of the genome in a way that changes how efficiently the body can deal with glucose. If the body deals with glucose in the wrong way, we get ‘metabolic syndrome’, become insulin-resistant, susceptible to diabetes, age more quickly and are prone to cardiovascular problems. It also slows down the brain and encourages senility, so we don’t want to go there.

When we follow the low GI diet, the genetic ‘switch’ can be clicked in the opposite direction. Once it has, our whole metabolism changes. We can relax adherence to the diet as long as we keep watch for any warning signs.


Signs to Watch For

Going in the right direction

If you are processing glucose optimally your blood pressure will be slightly lower than ‘normal’ for your age, and your body temperature will be a degree or 1.5 degrees lower than ‘normal’ (the temperature thing can be difficult to spot). You should also notice increased energy and of course if you were overweight, weight loss.

If it’s not working, you may need to adjust your hormones by practiing anxiety reduction (this hack works even if you don’t feel worried or nervous) because anxiety hormones are the main remaining thing that can keep that rogue bit of genome turned on.

Going in the wrong direction

You’ll notice weight gain, possibly fatigue, and a rise in blood pressure and temperature (although your GP may say both are ‘normal’). Your blood sugar and cholesterol will rise and you may get headaches or indigestion. Some people notice mood swings or waves of fatigue.


The GI Diet in a Nutshell

The low GI diet is pretty easy to follow, and it’s packed with goodies for your brain. It goes like this:

Get a regular size dinner plate. Fill one third of it with fresh unprocessed protein [fish, meat, cheese, eggs, or whatever you like]. Fill the other two-thirds with vegetables and/or fruit. Eat it. Do this 3 times a day.

Twice a day, have a half-sized version for a snack. In the ‘veg & fruit’ space on your snack plate, include half a handful of nuts or other source of omega 3.

Avoid Completely

Chips/fries, crisps, corn products, fizzy drinks, jelly/jam, candy/sweets

Avoid as Much as Possible

Salt, sugar, pasta, potatoes, white rice, bread, cookies/biscuits, cakes, processed foods [eg burgers, bacon, sausages], anything with loads of additives, processed cereals, grains except for oats. 


If you’re one of those people who can’t handle life without bread, use wholemeal. You can replace your ‘snack’ meals with sandwiches if you’re eating bread.

Anything fried should be fried in olive oil, and grilling or boiling is better than baking or frying. Barbecues are right out. Replace your burgers with lumps of pork or chicken steak or fish in wholemeal bread with a bit of fresh salad and mayo and it’s really not all that different!

If you smoke cannabis and you get the munchies, explore melons, peaches, lychees, walnuts and grapes, honey on wholemeal bread, fruit yogurts, and custard with honey and anything. [If you don’t like any of this you are either dead or not stoned enough.]

This diet is NOT to be strictly adhered to; once you’re sure your body has adjusted and is processing glucose okay it’s fine to eat a load of crap once or twice a week, but the GI diet should be your ‘default’ eating habit if you want to look after your brain.

And finally, timing: if you eat when you are actually hungry, you will get the most nutrients out of your food. Don’t eat because it’s a certain time of day –let your body nibble what it wants when it wants it.


Q: What if I’m a vegetarian?

A: No problemo. Use wholegrains and pulses, not processed ones, and make sure you find a regular source of B12 and other B vitamins essential for the brain. Walnuts and olive & linseed oil are rich in Omega 3, which the brain likes a lot. Try to avoid processed soya/fungal products like TVP or Quorn. You might need Zinc supplementation, because chemicals called phytates in wholegrain foods and legumes can diminish zinc absorption, and you might need vitamin B12 supplementation too if you don’t like yeasty foods.



Pollution, for the brain, is anything toxic to it. One good reason to watch your diet is that a lot of food additives are harmful to the brain. Here is a list of some of the worst:

  • Acesulphame K
  • Aspartame & other artificial sweeteners
  • BHA & BHT
  • Coal tar dyes & food colorings
  • MSG (monosodium glutamate)
  • Olestra
  • Potassium bromate
  • Propyl gallate
  • Sodium nitrite
  • Sulfur dioxide
  • Table sugar (sucrose)
  • Table salt (sodium chloride)
  • Trans fats


The quality of your air and water will affect your intelligence. Fortunately, the public now knows about the dangers of lead in petrol, smog in the air and pesticides in water. Unfortunately, it still doesn’t know about the dangers of cosmetic products in the air (or on your skin) and chlorine and fluoride in water, 

Here is a list of rogue chemicals you should try to avoid in personal products: 

  • 1, 4 Dioxane
  • Bentonite
  • Benzylphanone
  • Diethanolamine (DEA)
  • Dioxin
  • Glycerin
  • PABA / Oxybenzone / benzophenone
  • Polyethylene glycol
  • Propylene glycol (antifreeze)
  • Sodium benzoate
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)


You should avoid poisoning your brain as much as possible. And remember, the worst pollutant of all is anxiety hormones –because they make your immune system less able to cope with all the others!




Dancing rat


Walking for thirty minutes a day is quite enough exercise for a healthy brain. Many of us get more exercise than this walking around at work! It may be necessary to exercise more than this to maintain your physical shape, but that’s outside the subject matter here.

Sex is also a superb exercise, as are dancing, swimming or bicycle riding. We’re sure you can manage at least one of these activities now and again.

Exercise maintains a healthy flow of blood to the brain because of increased cardiovascular fitness. It also increases a chemical nerve growth factor, which helps you to repair damage and grow new connections between brain cells. The fitter your body, the more it is able to support your brain in optimal performance.

However, there are payoffs between mental and physical fitness. It is better for the health of your body not to smoke tobacco or drink caffeine, for example, but for some people the health of their brain deteriorates as anxiety increases when they do not. You must look at such ‘trade-offs’ carefully because there is no use developing a super-fit body if you must damage your brain to do so! The first priority is to keep anxiety hormones down by whatever means. Only when that is established can anything else do you any good.

(if you want to know more about exercise before going on, read ‘The Benefits of Physical Exercise’ in the ‘methods & tech’ section of the library).





DO IT NOW - Find Out If You’re Fit Enough to Supply the Brain with the Oxygen it Needs.


You don’t need any special equipment to do this. You need a watch or a clock with a second hand, OR a BP/Pulse measuring machine.

Sit quietly for a minute or two, then measure your “resting pulse” [the easiest way is to count the number of heartbeats in 15 seconds and multiply by 4]. Make a note of it in beats per minute.

Now subtract 7 from 978 in your head. Say the numbers out loud and do it as fast and as accurately as you can. When you have a result, subtract seven from that result, and so on. Do this for about two minutes.

Take your pulse again. It should have risen by between 10 and 20 beats per minute.

If it doesn’t rise at all or only increases by 5 or less, you need more physical exercise to supply your brain with its needs.



Getting Used to Where We Are Going


We want you to be able to understand the links between your functional analysis and input control. Here are the connections:

Networks / functional analysis / plasticity / epigenetics / anxiety reduction / input control.


By now you should know a little bit about the first four steps; for example you should know: 

  1. That the brain has networks.
  2. That a functional analysis can tell you which networks are strongest and which need upgrading.
  3. That the brain structure is plastic and can be changed and developed.
  4. That the main thing getting in the way of development is anxiety.


If you didn’t know any of that you have missed some tutorial somewhere! We will fill in the last two categories (epigenetics and input control) during the rest of this tutorial.


Last Updated on Monday, 29 May 2017 12:58