What is the Human Charger?

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I’m willing to bet that not many of you will have heard of this device before. The Bodyshot team have been getting into biohacking (basically using science and technology to improve health and performance) and this is one of the devices we spotted and bought. I love the name and the images it conjures up, but what is it, what does it do, and more importantly, does it work?

The back story

The Human Charger is designed by a company called Valkee, another innovative product to come out of Finland (along with the OURAring, Polar and Nokia to name just a few). It was launched in 2007 by Juuso Nissila and Antti Aunio, a scientist and engineer, who wanted to design something to help them cope during the long, dark winters of northern Finland. The device has been approved for sale in Europe as a treatment for Seasonally Affective Disorder (SAD), but the designers also saw a use for it as a way of managing jet lag, and more generally improving wellness and performance.

The Human Charger

The device itself is a small, slick piece of kit that is slightly smaller than an iPod Nano, and slips easily into a pocket. The device shines a UV-free blue-enriched white light to the brain via the ear canal for up to 12-minute doses, via a comfortable pair of headphones that sit snugly in the ear. It’s primary use is for jet lag and SAD, but it can be used for general health and wellbeing, so I thought I’d give it a try to help me with my sleep patterns. I find when I get tired, I crave carbohydrate-rich foods and my energy suffers, and I frequently wake earlier than I need to but can’t get back to sleep. I’ve just started using it, but I’m wondering if this device could help me get back on track.

Why white light?

Essentially, we need light to control certain functions such as sleep, appetite, sex, temperature, mood and every levels. Normally, light reaches the brain via the eye, which in turn passes messages to the brain. However, if there’s not enough light, these functions will slow down and gradually stop. That’s where the Human Charger comes in. The designers realised that light can enter the brain through the ear canal as well as the eyes, which provides us with another way to get the all-important light to the brain.

A remedy for jet lag

Jet lag is another term for misaligned circadian rhythms brought about by the rapid crossing of time zones. Circadian rhythm refers to the body’s internal clock, and is drive by a part of the brain called the superchiasmatic nucleus, which is turn is set by light. When we used to wake at sunrise and go to sleep at nightfall, our internal body clocks were perfectly aligned, but the onset of shift work and the 24/7 culture that we live in today has changed the way our bodies respond. Many of us will have disrupted circadian rhythms, which manifest itself in problems like insomnia, waking early or at random times of night, sugar and carbohydrate cravings and low energy levels.

Seasonally Affective Disorder (SAD)

SAD is a condition that affects people in the colder, dark winter months. It’s also known as winter depression or the winter blues. The symptoms are much like depression, and can be very debilitating; persistent low mood, anhedonia (a loss of pleasure in things or events which normally cause pleasure), irritability, loss of sexual appetite, loss of appetite, sleeping problems, relationship problems and oscillating moods. It is believed that people suffering from SAD suffer from a lack of natural light, which affects their serotonin and melatonin production. Serotonin is an important brain chemical for regulating sleep and melatonin is a hormone that anticipates the onset of darkness. Combined, they play a vital role in helping us maintain healthy circadian rhythms and sleep patterns.

What else can it help with?

The Human Charger also claims to help with cognitive function, anxiety, sleep disorders and for times when you need to nap but can’t. It’s clear to me that this has a lot of potential uses within our client base, many of whom suffer from issues relating to stress, sleep, weight management and digestive issues. Very often, a poor sleep pattern is the underlying cause. I generally feel a little less upbeat in the winter months than I do in the spring/summer, so I’ll be very keen to see how it helps with my energy, sleep and mood in a few months’ time.

My experience

I’ve used it on a few morning as a boost after an early start with clients, and I did feel lifted afterwards. I’ve yet to use it for jet lag, but the device also comes with an app that allows you to program in your travel plans, and it will then tell you when to administer a dose of white light. It is to be used before and after your travel and there are a number of positive reviews online vouching for it’s success. I have a long trip planed next May so it will be a while before I get to test it out myself. It’s early days for the Human Charger and I, but I intend to write a longer blog in a few weeks and share my experiences with you after at least a month of usage. For more information, visit the Human Charger website.

Leanne Spencer is a fitness entrepreneur, bestselling author of Rise and Shine: Recover from burnout and get back to your best, and founder of Bodyshot Performance Limited. Bodyshot is a health and fitness consultancy that uses innovative techniques such as DNA testing, wearable tech and bespoke coaching to transform the lives of our clients. Visit www.bodyshotperformance.com or send an email to info@bodyshotperformance.com if you’d like more information. 

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