Congratulations to Tommy, our first heart rate monitor giveaway winner! We have sent Tommy a free Vernier hand-held heart rate monitor. It’s not too late to sign-up for our next month’s heart rate monitor giveaway. We will be giving away a free monitor every month until the end of the year!
“I am a software engineer with a pretty sedentary job. I work from home and sit behind my laptop most of the day. Over the years, I have been getting more and more out of shape, so I finally decided to get fit. I dabble in film making and visual effects in my free time so I tend to follow a lot of people from that industry on Twitter. One person I follow started a podcast called Fitness in Post. In one of his episodes, he interviewed a lady named Ronda Collier from your company. She was very interesting to listen to and that lead me to purchasing a heart rate monitor and your SweetBeat HRV and DailyBeat HRV app. Three weeks ago, I started on my journey to get fit and eat healthy. I use your app every morning to check my heart rate when I first get out of bed. I also use another one of your apps, SweetBeat HRV right after my morning workout to check my recovery rate. I get up at least once every hour and walk for five to ten minutes and I average about 14,000 steps a day. So far I’ve lost about 8 pounds, sleep better and generally feel better. I still have about 65 pounds left to loose.”
We are so proud of Tommy for taking his health into his own hands. Our users inspire us everyday to continue making products that help people understand their health. We look forward to meeting more of you during these next month’s giveaways!
Many of you know SweetWater Health’s co-founder and CTO, Jo Beth Dow, as our resident biohacker. She has spoken at many quantified self events about her experiments. Most recently, she has been using the Delta Sleeper SR1 for better quality sleep and longer nights. Below you will find her testimonial:
“I am always searching for new techniques and technology that will help improve HRV. Our partner and friend, Ben Greenfield of Ben Greenfield Fitness highly recommended the Delta Sleeper and he was posting his morning HRV after using the device. I was intrigued after viewing Ben’s posts and I had to try it for myself.
I started using the Delta Sleeper SR1, a 1.5 ounce device, to determine what affect PEMF had on my heart rate variability. Being an ultra lark I never had difficulty falling asleep but sometimes I had difficulty staying asleep. I would wake up between 3:30 am and 4:30 am and start working. Fortunately, I was getting 7 to 7 1/2 hours of sleep per night. I never fully understood until now what affect my rather unique sleep schedule had on my husband.
The Delta Sleeper SR1 was easy to use and while I was sleeping I wasn’t even aware that I was wearing it. The Delta Sleeper SR1 is a small device that you place on your brachial plexus using a thin adhesive strip. The first night I did not notice any difference. The second night I was restless but woke up feeling unusually good. The third night I had decided not to wear the SR1 and I had a very restless night. I got up in the middle of the night and placed the SR1 on my forehead (this is not recommended application) but I was too groggy to apply the adhesive and place it on my brachial plexus. I slept in until 7:25 am and felt wonderful!
I have continued to use the SR1 every night. Even on the nights that I am not sleeping longer, I feel especially clear, relaxed and focused in the morning. One night I told my husband I wasn’t going to wear the SR1. I wanted to test the quality of my sleep without the product. My husband responded, “You’re not?” I replied, “What, you want me to wear it?” His response was, “I want you to implant it.”
The SR1 has not only helped me sleep longer but as a secondary effect helped my husband sleep better. Even the nights that I don’t sleep longer than my previous norm I feel like I am getting more quality sleep and sleeping deeper. I have two months of HRV data since using the SR1. My morning HRV has increased 9 points and is moving on an upward trend, reached an all time high HRV on several mornings and my afternoon HRV and LF/HF power levels have increased. The numbers are impressive especially since the HRV value is logarithmic.
Description: Host Brad Kearns talks with Brock Armstrong (the voice of the MDA blog podcasts and a Sweetbeat ambassador/product tester) and Ronda Collier, CEO of Sweetwater Health, makers of the Sweetbeat Life iOS application. Sweetbeat Life allows for convenient Heart Rate Variability (HRV) measuring and information storage. This discussion will acquaint listeners with the basics of HRV, and proceed quickly to discuss some of the finer points of HRV’s effectiveness in monitoring stress and recovery. Heart Rate Variability is a measurement of the variation in intervals between heartbeats. More variation indicates better cardiovascular fitness and stress management, and is represented in a higher HRV number on a 1-100 scale.
Finer details of this show’s discussion include: how Low Frequency (LF) and High Frequency (HF) values correlate with sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system activity; techniques for how to moderate your stress response and improve your recovery through breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, and extra sleep; and a step-by-step process for how to get started in HRV monitoring (buying the proper equipment, operating the Sweetbeat Life app smoothly, and understanding how to best use the informational graphs generated by the app). This is a fantastic show to help you jump head first into the amazing health technology of Heart Rate Variability!
Ari Meisel interviews Ronda Collier on HRV. See below for a summary and a list of topics. At the bottom you will find a link to the original podcast.
In Episode #104 Ari talks with Ronda Collier, CEO of SweetWater Health™, a company striving to revolutionize mobile health monitoring and stress management by combining verified medical research with the most recent mobile-tech innovations. During their conversation, Ari and Rondatouch on the frequently overlooked value of Heart Rate Variability and the future of health technology.
7 Key Points:
The heart does not beat at a consistent interval like a metronome
Stress isn’t “bad”; How we react to it – our inability to come down – is what makes it bad
People who are in constant “fight or flight” mode normalize stress in their brains, which makes it difficult for them to institute change because these individuals don’t “feel” stressed
Monitoring HRV is a great way to maximize recovery from physical training and keep track of stress
When HRV levels are low do “busy work”; When they are high do “creative work”
Sensitivity to certain foods can significantly impact stress and HRV levels
Good nutrition, consistent exercise and self-awareness are the pillars of healthy living
Time Stamped Show Notes:
02:05 – Happy Thanksgiving from Ari and the Less Doing Team!
02:55 – Felix and Ari address tryptophan
Editor’s Note: Ari mentions that tryptophan occurs naturally in the body – he meant to say the opposite, we can only get it from outside sources vl
03:25 – Tryptophan is not what makes us tired…overeating makes us tired
07:56 – June 9th-12th of 2015, Ari will speak at the Fortune Leadership Summit
Jono, also known as Lifestyle Magnet, is one of our SweetBeat users. He is a real quantified selfer! Read below to see how he has used his data to maximize his snowboarding experience.
“In this video I want to show how I have been experimenting with HRV and Snowboarding. It is the beginning of the season and the muscles are not quite in shape yet. But, the excitement to be on the snow is at an all time high, as in MAJOR stoke! Using an app called Alpine Replay and the SweetBeat HRV app I was able to determine where I was on the slope in relation to what my HRV was doing. When I first looked at the session chart of my snowboarding session and noticed the up-and-down lines for my HRV, I immediately assumed that the bottom of each of the bumps was what corresponded with the bottom of each run. To me it made sense: the body is engaged physically as you descend the mountain and then you recover sitting on the chairlift on your way back up again. Your mood is also elevated as you go up on the lift in anticipation of the next run. However on closer inspection I notice that my HRV continues to get less, or go lower after the run is over. It only starts going up sometime on the chair lift ride back up to the top of the mountain. During the preparation time right before the run as I am adjusting my bindings, my HRV starts to drop and continues to drop throughout the run. What will be interesting will be to see if the speed of recovery changes as the season progresses and I get more in shape.”
Below is a short explanation of the podcast and a link to listen!
“Expert Ronda Collier, CEO and co-founder of SweetWater Health and the SweetBeat app, joins the show to give a detailed chat on heart rate variability (HRV) and how to understand it, use it for training, use it to monitor and lower stress and more. On the show we explain what HRV actually is and what it measures, including details on the nervous system, the components of HRV and stress including high-frequency waves, low-frequency waves, rMSSD, and how to make sense of and interpret those. We also discuss what numbers are “good” and “bad” and what you want to see based on age/gender, when to measure HRV, how athletes can use it for their training programs, stress vs. HRV on the SweetBeat app, psychological components to HRV, other HRV apps available what you need to get started with HRV, and much more including a couple specific questions from listeners.”
This is an excerpt taken from the article mentioned above by Ben Greenfield, in which he has used SweetBeat to monitor his training and recovery. He goes over a little bit of background information about heart rate and heart rate variability. Followed up by some very interesting graphs from his personal sessions.
First, I’m going to explain HRV to you, and then I’ll tell you the best way to track your HRV.
The origin of your heartbeat is located in what is called a “node” of your heart, in this case, something called the sino-atrial (SA) node. In your SA node, cells in your heart continuously generate an electrical impulse that spreads throughout your entire heart muscle and causes a contraction (Levy).
Generally, your SA node will generate a certain number of these electrical impulses per minute, which is how many times your heart will beat per minute. Below is a graphic of how your SA node initiates the electrical impulse that causes a contraction to propagate from through the Right Atrium (RA) and Right Ventricle (RV) to the Left Atrium (LA) and Left Ventricle (LV) of your heart.
So where does HRV fit into this equation?
Here’s how: Your SA node activity, heart rate and rhythm are largely under the control of your autonomic nervous system, which is split into two branches, your “rest and digest” parasympathetic nervous system and your “fight and flight” sympathetic nervous system.
Your parasympathetic nervous system (“rest-and-digest”) influences heart rate via the release of a compound called acetylcholine by your vagus nerve, which can inhibit activation of SA node activity and decrease heart rate variability.
In contrast, your sympathetic nervous system (“fight-and-flight”) influences heart rate by release of epinephrine and norepinephrine, and generally increases activation of the SA node and increases heart rate variability.
If you’re well rested, haven’t been training excessively and aren’t in a state of over-reaching, your parasympathetic nervous system interacts cooperatively with your sympathetic nervous system to produce responses in your heart rate variability to respiration, temperature, blood pressure, stress, etc (Perini). And as a result, you tend to have really nice, consistent and high HRV values, which are typically measured on a 0-100 scale. The higher the HRV, the better your score.
But if you’re not well rested (over-reached or under-recovered), the normally healthy beat-to-beat variation in your heart rhythm begins to diminish. While normal variability would indicate sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system balance, and a proper regulation of your heartbeat by your nervous system, it can certainly be a serious issue if you see abnormal variability – such as consistently low HRV values (e.g. below 60) or HRV values that tend to jump around a lot from day-to-day (70 one day, 90 another day, 60 the next day, etc.).
In other words, these issues would indicate that the delicate see-saw balance of your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system no longer works.
In a strength or speed athlete, or someone who is overdoing things from an intensity standpoint, you typically see more sympathetic nervous system overtraining, and a highly variable HRV (a heart rate variability number that bounces around from day to day).
In contrast, in endurance athletes or people who are overdoing things with too much long, slow, chronic cardio, you typically see more parasympathetic nervous system overtraining, and a consistently low HRV value (Mourot).
In my own case, as I’ve neared the finish of my build to any big triathlon, I’ve noticed consistently low HRV scores – indicating I am nearing an overreached status and my parasympathetic, aerobically trained nervous system is getting “overcooked”. And in the off-season, when I do more weight training and high intensity cardio or sprint sports, I’ve noticed more of the highly variable HRV issues. In either case case, recovery of a taxed nervous system can be fixed by training less, decreasing volume, or decreasing intensity – supercompensation, right?
But wait – we’re not done yet! HRV can get even more complex than simply a 0-100 number.
For example, when using an HRV tracking tool, you can also track your nervous system’s LF (low frequency) and HF (high frequency) power levels. This is important to track for a couple of reasons:
-Higher power in LF and HF represents greater flexibility and a very robust nervous system.
-Sedentary people have numbers in the low 100’s (100-300) or even lower, fit and active people are around 900 – 1800 and so on as fitness and health improve.
Tracking LF and HF together can really illustrate the balance in your nervous system. In general, you want the two to be relatively close. When they are not, it may indicate that the body is in deeply rested state with too much parasympathetic nervous system activation (HF is high) or in a stressed state with too much sympathetic nervous system activation (LF is high). Confused as I was when I first learned about this stuff? Then listen to this podcast interview I did with a heart rate variability testing company called Sweetbeat. It will really elucidate this whole frequency thing for you.
So how the heck do you test HRV?
When it comes to self quantification, there are a ton of devices out there for tracking HRV (and hours of sleep, heart rate, pulse oximetry, perspiration, respiration, calories burnt, steps taken, distance traveled and more).
For example, there is one popular device called the “emWave2″, which seems like it is the ost popular heart rate variability tracking device among biohackers. The emWave2 is a biofeedback device that trains you to change your heart rhythm pattern to facilitate a state of coherence and enter “the zone.”
Basically, when you use the emWave2 a few minutes a day, it can teach you how to transform feelings of anger, anxiety or frustration into peace and clarity. It actually comes with software that you run on your computer which teaches you how to do this. But the emWave2 is kinda big, and you certainly can’t place it discreetly in your pocket or take it with you on a run – although they have just developed a phone app called “Inner Balance” that can allow for a bit more portability and ease-of-use, albeit with less biofeedback potential.
Then there are devices such as the Tinke. A small, colored square with two round sensors, the Tinke, made by a company called Zensorium, is designed to measure heart rate, respiratory rate, blood oxygen level, and heart rate variability over time. Every time you measure, it gives you your “Zen” score and your “Vita” score, and you can simply use a measurement like this every morning to see how ready your body is for the rigors of training.
All you need to do is attach the Tinke to your iPhone, and then place your thumb over the sensors so the Tinke can measure cardiorespiratory levels. Tinke captures blood volume changes from the fingertip using optical sensing and signal processing. It takes about sixty seconds to measure all the parameters you need, from you stress level to your breathing and more.
You can use the Tinke anytime, anywhere, and it’s designed primarily to encourage deep breathing exercises in order to promote relaxation and alleviate stress levels. While it’s not a medical device, it can assist in stress relief and recovery when you combine it with regular deep breathing exercises, and I’ll admit that as a self-proclaimed biohacker I am addicted to playing with my Tinke every morning (which almost sounds a bit perverted to say).
Then there are simple apps that simply use the lens of your phone camera to check your heart rate or heart rate variability, or even teach you how to breathe properly. The Azumio Stress Check App is a perfect example of that. It’s not incredibly accurate, but it’s inexpensive and a good way to start.
Of course, there are also wearable body monitoring units you can clip to your body throughout the day, such as the Jawbone UP and FitBit, which measure sleep, movement and calories, but won’t measure heart rate, pulse oximetry, or heart rate variability – so I don’t consider these to be ideal recovery monitoring devices per se. Finally, there are wristwatch-like units that are getting fancier, such as the new MyBasis watch, which is a multi-sensor device that continuously measures motion, perspiration, and skin temperature, as well as heart rate patterns throughout the day and night – but once again, this device doesn’t measure things like heart rate variability and pulse oximetry (although there is a similar device under development called a MyBoBo which may offer these measurements).
And while I’ve experimented with a variety of heart rate chest strap style measurement tools, include the Bioforce and Omegawave, my top recommendation for measuring your heart rate variability is the SweetBeat system, and this is what I personally use every day to track HRV. I like the SweetBeat because it’s easy-to-use, intuitive, allows you to track your heart rate variability in real time (such as when you’re out on a run or working at your office) and is also something you can use with meals to test food sensitivities by tracking heart rate response to foods.