[Transcript] – A Guide To Monitoring Human Stress (& How To Use HRV, Breathwork, Stress Resiliency & Biofeedback) With Jay Wiles Of HANU Health.

Affiliate Disclosure


From podcast: https://bengreenfieldlife.com/podcast/hanu-health/

[00:00:00] Introduction

[00:00:56] Podcast Sponsors

[00:05:48] Guest Intro

[00:07:50] What does “Hanu” mean?

[00:09:29] Jay's personal journey to becoming an expert in HRV

[00:15:46] How is the Hanu wearable different from the other devices that track HRV?

[00:25:12] What causes HRV to vary from day to day, even if stress levels don't appear to vary

[00:30:12] The heart rate strap, and what the Hanu wearable might look like in the future

[00:33:19] Podcast Sponsors

[00:36:52] cont. The heart rate strap

[00:39:54] About the Resonance Frequency Assessment

[00:45:51] Resonance breathing and box breathing contrasted

[00:49:56] What is a BOLT score and why is it important

[00:56:59] When a high HRV is not necessarily a good thing

[01:02:17] Rapid-fire questions on HRV

[01:07:36] Where to get Hanu

[01:10:31] End of Podcast

Ben:  My name is Ben Greenfield. And, on this episode of the Ben Greenfield Life Podcast.

Jay:  We can when someone is very still get very good data. But, once artifact or movement is introduced, then heart rate variability goes out the window.

Ben:  I'll start to read emails and I'll hold my breath. I know that dips my HRV. I can get a cue on my phone when that happens, right?

Jay:  Back when I was doing training, wearables weren't a big thing, and the ones that were out there like Fitbit and stuff were really geared towards the soccer moms. And so, they weren't really utilizing more advanced biometrics.

Ben:  Faith, family, fitness, health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking and a whole lot more. Welcome to the show.

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Alright, folks. So, I'm recording a podcast right now with a chest strap on like a Bluetooth-enabled heart rate monitoring strap. Frankly, I really have not been immersed in wearing these type of things ever since I hung up the hat with Ironman triathlon racing and quit monitoring my heart rate in real-time 24/7. But, I recently received a special package in the mail and it was this newfangled heart rate monitor that ties to this app called Hanu. And, Hanu is essentially a heart rate variability, a stress monitoring or HRV monitoring app and tool which sounds boring but it actually goes way beyond that.

Now, here's a cool thing. If you ever listen to any of my Q&A episodes, you might know that my co-host on those episodes Dr. Jay T. Wiles is basically one of the world's leading experts in HRV monitoring. And, he's actually the guy who has pioneered the development of this thing that basically gives you real-time biofeedback about everything that's going on in your body and then trains you in terms of learning things like stress resilience, breathwork tactics, et cetera. So, I'm actually wearing it right now. Jay, just so you know, I'm a good student. I've got it on.

Jay:  You are.

Ben:  I'm learning.

Jay:  I appreciate it.

Ben:  Yeah. And so, I'm looking at it and I've got heart rate variability, I got heart rate, I got respiration rate, I have life events, I have assessment data, I have exercise data. When I click the little Train button, it says Resonance Breathing, Box Breathing, Custom Breathing. There's assessments on there like resonance frequency assessment, BOLT score. I probably have a lot of questions for you about this thing. But, what do you think? Should we dive in and talk about all things Hanu?

Jay:  Yeah. You got the questions and I hope. And, I think I do have the answers. So, let's do it.

Ben:  Alright. Well, the first question is easy, dude, it's total softball. What the heck does Hanu mean?

Jay:  See, that question is asked a lot. And, initially my wife, because her name is Hannah and we were talking before we were recording on this, she was like, “Are people going to get this confused, you named a company after me?” I'm like, “No. Actually, we searched far and deep for a really good just catchy name. We wanted to keep it short.” And, like any good business entrepreneur, you start to look at other languages and say, “Okay, what is something that is congruent or associated with our company that sounds better than just breathing or whatever else we might call it, HRV?” Hanu is actually Hawaiian for breath. And, what's cool about that is that, yeah, we're based out of north county San Diego is one of our hubs. Obviously, I'm in the east coast as many people may know. But, it has very much a Hawaii vibe in San Diego especially northern county, San Diego with surf city and surf towns. And so, we were like, “Yeah, this is fitting for us. Hanu, Hawaiian breath.”

Ben:  I dig it. Okay. Well, I'm going to add that too on my vernacular now, Hanu. Didn't you say your wife's name is Hannah, right?

Jay:  Yeah, my wife's name is Hannah.

Ben:  Does she actually think that your new app is named after her?

Jay:  At first, we had this discussion where she was like, “Are people going to get confused by this?”

Ben:  If it was me, I would nod and say, “Yes, babe, I just developed my new business after you. I love you so much.”

Jay:  That's exactly what I did. But, I mean, I'm hoping that she just doesn't come across this podcast and she'll never know, so no harm no foul.

Ben:  Yeah. I would just nod and smile if I were you. So, what makes you the expert in this, man? I mean, you and I have talked a lot in the podcast before, but we haven't really talked about your specific history in terms of what got you interested in HRV and how you came to be such an expert? Because you have a podcast and I've listened to it before and it's pretty much just deep, deep dives into stuff that goes way beyond just like, “Oh, here's how to get a higher HRV or low HRV,” you get into parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system balance and the different smoothing algorithms. All these different things that I know you've built into the Hanu app. But, how did you get to be interested in this stuff in the first place?

Jay:  Yeah. I'll try to truncate it because it's a little bit of a lengthy story. But, I'm a clinical psychologist by trade, but my specialization was in a field called health psychology. And, if people aren't familiar with what health psychology is as a discipline, it's really the intersection or the bi-directional relationship between physical and mental ailment. So, a lot of my training was geared towards that. So, when I was doing my doctoral program, I wrote a dissertation in this area looking at demoralization and how it relates to people who have physical ailment and diagnoses and the interplay between that and mental health.

Ben:  Wait, demoralization?

Jay:  Mm-hmm. You want me to unpack that?

Ben:  Yeah, unpack that a little bit.

Jay:  Yeah. So, demoralization is more or less a stronger clinical term for this idea of helplessness. It's a more it's a more pervasive level of helplessness and hopelessness. And so, we know that as people and, again, read my dissertation go find it. So, to all the audience out there, I'm totally kidding, it's an actual dissertation and probably very boring for most people. But, the thing that we found is that most people who experience chronic ailment, so physiological ailment whether it's cardiovascular disease, diabetes, especially chronic pain, cancer, these individuals experience a fair amount of hopelessness and helplessness. And, that significantly relates to overall treatment outcomes both physiologically and psychologically. So, that's what my dissertation was on.

Ben:  Okay, got it. Well, I'm looking at the app right now and it says my stress resilience is fair. So, hopefully, I'm not too demoralized today. No, but we can jump into the app later on.

So, you did this dissertation, you got into HRV, and did you just start measuring on yourself initially? Or, was this something you started using with your patients? Or, how exactly did it flesh out in terms of your business and your day-to-day existence?

Jay:  Yeah. So, what's interesting about it is that I had never really dove into the field of HRV when I was in study. I had heard of the term and I've heard of the term “biofeedback” that's much more a clinical utilization of HRV, which is really what Hanu is based on. Again, just heard a little bit about it. I was more interested in the integrative holistic health strategies like nutritional psychology, mindfulness meditation, the role of exercise. And, it wasn't until I became a resident, I worked at a VA hospital in Richmond, Virginia. And, one of my rotations or rounds was I worked in an integrative pain center. It was actually called VIP, Veterans Integrative Pain clinic. Is that VIP? No, I can't even remember the acronym. But, anyway, the role of this clinic was we were taking veterans who were basically just sick and tired of being on opioid-based medications. They were ready to titrate themselves off medication because it was causing so much dysfunction and so much difficulty. And, they weren't getting the pain relief that they wanted so they came here for a more holistic approach. 

And, I initially came there, I was responsible for developing a nutritional psychology clinic because that was really what I was becoming known for, it was my specialization, but it wasn't until I spent some just hardcore time there a lot of time there that I was exposed to some different therapeutics like acupuncture, and guided imagery meditation, and then this little thing called biofeedback. And, again, I had heard that term, but I didn't know what it was. So, I started shadowing somebody who was doing biofeedback with these chronic pain patients. And, you have to remember veterans, they're a very interesting group of individuals but also these are veterans with long-standing pain who are really trying to get off medication. And so, a lot of times, they can be a little bit rough and gruff. And, I love that, it was very challenging, but I love that interaction.

And, when you hook somebody up to a biofeedback machine, initially they think, the strategies that you're giving me is that these are breathing techniques and we're just quantifying the effects. And, at first, they're like, “I don't know if I buy into this.” But then, when they start to see this objective data change and then, more importantly, they subjectively start to feel less and less pain, and we published on this on multiple occasions within this clinic while I was there, then my eyes started to become more open to, “Oh, goodness, this is a very interesting field.” So, that's when I took a deep dive and specializing in the field of biofeedback but also heart rate variability. And, really, because I went into the weeds both from a clinical and research perspective, I just became so passionate about it that I forgot everything else. And, I slightly kid on that, but this is really where I've spent the bulk amount of my time as a clinician, as a researcher in the field of heart rate variability, and developing the best possible therapeutics that I could.

And, you have to remember too, Ben, back when I was doing training, wearables weren't a big thing, there was no such thing as Oura, there was no such thing as Whoop, and the ones that were out there like Fitbit and stuff were really geared towards walking soccer moms. And so, they weren't really utilizing more advanced biometrics like HRV. So, when wearables started —

Ben:  Thanks for insulting all of our soccer mom listeners just now by the way. They just pulled over in their minivans cursing at you.

Jay:  Right, I know. Maybe I can sell them on Hanu because it's made for the soccer mom. Actually, it's made for the biohacker and the soccer mom, which is cool.

Ben:  The biohacking soccer mom.

Jay:  That's right. Yes, right, Hannah Wiles, she's out there. So, anyway, I think that the advent of these wearable technologies really brought HRV to the forefront. And, I think that's where I started to really go deep because I'm like, “Uh-oh, now, we're consumer-facing.” This isn't just clinical, which is where my interest and field of practice was, I'm like, “Now, we're in the consumer phase.” I mean, the light bulb went off and I said there's some huge opportunities here in terms of specialization so that I can help more people, but also too in the wearable space, which is why we created Hanu.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah. Okay. So, my Oura will measure HRV. My Oura ring, the one I use for sleep tracking and activity tracking, stuff like that. There's obviously a ton of different devices out there. Gosh, I could name a billion of them if you were to just go to the app store and type in HRV, or go to Google, or DuckDuckGo. And, if you're independent, libertarian or something like that and DuckDuckGo HRV, and you're going to find a ton, Elite HRV, and the Biostrap and again, the Oura, and the Whoop. So, how is this strap that I'm wearing literally right now as I'm talking to you any different than the stuff that I already have?

Jay:  Yeah, it's a great question. Going back to what I was mentioning earlier, HRV is extremely pervasive. It's basically built into all wearables. And, the way that it is assessed in all wearables is for the most part nowadays has become fairly uniform. So, for most individuals who are tracking HRV, they're either doing it one of two different ways. They're either getting it overnight as a running average while you're asleep or you're getting it the first thing in the morning. So, those are the two common protocols. And, those protocols are really looking at nervous system recovery, how well did you recover over the night time. And then, again, that's a good proxy for informing future training but also informing changes in the human stress response. But, the one thing that's really missing in the market that we saw a huge gap at Hanu is that there's nothing out there other than one other device. There was only that one other device that was really tracking heart rate variability continuously and then providing for us. We wanted to provide these tailored and personalized feedbacks and training.

So, again, what we do that is very differently is that we're actively looking at heart rate variability. It's continuous. It's all day long. And then, when we see you shift in and out of your baseline range, so we have an upper ceiling and a lower shelf, well, then we're going to alert you, we're going to say, “It looks something's a little bit off within your nervous system.” Now, one thing to clarify is that's not an inherently bad thing. I think sometimes people think that these dips in HRV are a bad thing. Having an increase in blood glucose is a bad thing, and it's not necessarily, it's actually can be quite a good thing and it provides us with a level of information but everything is contextualized, which is why in Hanu, we actually will ask people like, “What's going on?” Number one, what's your subjective mood like right now? And then, also two, what's the thing that's happening in the current moment? So, that's what we referred to and you mentioned earlier it's called life events. And, that mechanism is for us to be able to look at trends over time because the best way to self-regulate is to become more self-aware of what's impacting our nervous system at any given time.

Ben:  And, by the way, that's a good point that you made about the fact that you don't necessarily want your HRV continuously high. Some of the clients who I work with and especially the athletes who I work with, I monitor their HRV, and a lot of times when they're wanting to build fitness remarkably or if I'm training an actor to prepare for a movie or a triathlete to prepare for a race, I will oftentimes have certain periods of the week or the month whereas I'm tracking their HRV, because I have access to all their data, I will purposefully get them to a state where their HRV is consistently low for a couple of days and then give them a deload week, or a deload day, a recovery day, or rest week, or a higher carb day, or there's other methods that you can use to allow the body to bounce back more quickly. But, what happens is you almost get this effect that's known in exercise science or periodization literature as a super compensation. Meaning, that their fitness increases even more than it would have if they just kept their HRV high or consistent. Similar to blood glucose like you said, my blood glucose spikes in the sauna, it spikes my exercise, it spikes briefly acutely in response to cold thermogenesis but then it dips, it stabilizes, and those brief forays are actually training my body to be more sensitive to glucose in the same way that brief forays into a dip in HRV can actually be a way to build stress resilience.

Probably a perfect example that would be if I were to wear a real-time HRV monitor in the gym, it's the back squat is the one exercise that I've found that just dumps HRV dramatically. And, a lot of people will be like, “Well, you should quit squatting, bro, because it's lowering your HRV.” Well, no, it means that that's one of the most stressful things I can do in the gym. And, if that's one of the most stressful things I can do in the gym, well, that means that's one of the things that's going to give me the most bang for my buck from a fitness standpoint.

Jay:  Yeah, 100%. We have physiological expectations of when we should see heart rate go up, and subsequently, heart rate variability go down, and exercise is one of them. I actually had somebody reach out to me. This is a few years ago now. Actually, I think when I did the last podcast on this with you, Ben, someone reached out to me and they're like, “Every time I get in the gym and I get on the treadmill, I see my heart rate variability go from 60 milliseconds down to 5 or 6 milliseconds. Is there something wrong here?” And, I can see why people can become quite confused with that because there's this myth that's being passed around, and I'm sure we'll talk about common myths around HRV that you should be comparing yourself to others and you should have this level of expectation that HRV should just stay somewhat stagnant, and that's a good thing and not necessarily context really is key.

And, what we know from the literature is that even with exercise because it is an immense physiological stressor, you should expect to see HRV go in that direction. But, the rebounding effect afterwards is the really intriguing thing that you see with Hanu. So, after an exercise, the rebound effects that automatically occurs or at least I should say should occur is really fascinating to watch. But, also, if you're using down-regulating techniques or parasympathetically down-regulating techniques like breathwork, the in-between sets or after a session kind of like your post-workout stretch but with your breathing, you will see immensive rebound effects from heart rate variability and heart rate. And, it's really motivating from a recovery standpoint because what you're actually seeing there by seeing those data change, you're seeing your nervous system repair faster and more frequently than you would if you're not practicing these down-regulating techniques. And, that's not to say you need technology in order to do that, but it's really helpful in the conditioning response and then also the accountability response when you can indeed watch it live.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah. And so, speaking of watching it live, so I'm actually looking at mine right now and for MS, which stands for millisecond, right?

Jay:  Yeah, that's right.

Ben:  Okay, okay. So, mine says right now 19, actually it says 20, just change — oh, wow, it went up a little bit while I was talking to you. So, it must be very stress-relieving for me to talk to Jay. Okay. As soon as I started talking, it's ranging 22, 23, 24, moving around in real-time. Now, if I go, I'm literally just holding my phone right now I'm doing this. If I go to my Oura app and I click on my readiness score, it shows my heart rate variability like last night was ranging between 80 and 89. And so, does that mean that when I'm asleep my MS heart rate variability score is that much freaking higher than when I'm awake or is it because a Hanu uses a different type of algorithm than say Oura? Because it seems a pretty big spread from 20, 23 up to 85.

Jay:  Yeah. And, it is. So, yeah, let me first mention that we are indeed utilizing the exact same algorithm. So, when you look at Oura, when you look at Whoop, when you look at other wearables, they utilize a primary time domain indices of heart rate variability called RMSSD. It's the root mean squared of successive differences. And, it's actually looking at the amount of variability that occurs in between heartbeats and the difference that occurs in between heartbeats. So, what this is actually telling us is that —

Ben:  By the way, I'm going to interrupt for people who don't have their rocket scientist helmet strapped on. All Jay was referring to is HRV is just measuring the tiny, tiny bit-to-bit variations in milliseconds from heartbeat to heartbeat. Higher HRV means that you have a little bit better nervous system response because there's more variation. Lower HRV means there's less variation. There'd be like, whatever, your heart beats, there's 0.5 milliseconds. Your heart beats again, there's 0.5 milliseconds. And, again, 0.5, that'd be a low HRV; whereas a high HRV would be it's 0.3, it's 0.6, it's 0.7, is 0.1, and your nervous system is really responding well in real-time, right?

Jay:  Yeah, you got it. You got it. The heart is not a metronome, so you don't want to see it starting to pace itself because that means there's significant taxation on the nervous system and there's potential complications. So, yeah. And, again, not to sound like I'm beating the same drum over and over again, I think I've only said it once actually though is if you want to take a deep dive into HRV physiology, well, yeah, you can tune into the Hanu Health Podcast. But also, I did a two-and-a-half hour, I think, podcast for you, Ben, that I'm sure is probably still available that is the deep, deep dive.

Ben:  I'll link to it in the shownotes. And, by the way, the shownotes for today's show for anybody listening in, it's at BenGreenfieldLife.com/HanuPodcast, Hanu spelled H-A-N-U much of the chagrin of jay's wife, it's not spelled H-A-N-N-A, but that's okay. So, it's BenGreenfieldLife.com/HanuPodcast.

You guys are using the same smoothie, so why is my HRV so much lower? Because I'm not that stressed out talking to you. I mean, you're nice and peaceful, bro. Why is my HRV so much lower than it was last night?

Jay:  Yeah. So, there's a couple of things physiologically that are occurring when we're in a tonic or a sleep state. And so, that more resting phase than what you're doing right now. So, one thing that you'll notice Ben, if you stop talking for the most part, unless your nervous system is significantly revved up, if you stop talking and you stay still and if you especially start to manipulate your breathing or slow your breathing down, you'll see heart rate variability go up. So, talking is actually one that can significantly suppress HRV. Again, not a bad thing but you have to think of what is happening when you're talking. Well, you're utilizing energy. So, when you're utilizing energy, you need your parasympathetic nervous system to retract a little bit. Not excessively but a little bit and for your sympathetic nervous system to sometimes dial itself off. Because again, you need to mobilize energy, you need to mobilize glucose. Talking isn't something that is not a calorie burner, it is.

So, that's one component. But, the other component that we have to remember is that when someone is at rest, so when someone is asleep, what's not happening is a few things. Number one is that while you are unconsciously processing information, so cognition is still occurring because it is an unconscious process, which is very different than someone who might have experienced trauma, so let's say someone who has PTSD, when you are not consciously processing information, then we see that the parasympathetic nervous system is able to kick into more high gear and help with recovery and with repair. So, we would say that from a recovery state, sleeping at night is typically better and obviously, it is needed than us going throughout our day. Now, obviously, we can actively do things to recover our nervous system throughout the day, but it's not likely going to have the amount of potency from a nervous system change then we'll be sleep. So, that's why it's so incredibly valuable and important for sleep.

Yeah. The other thing —

Ben:  Yeah, that makes sense. Well, while you're talking, by the way, I just started breathing and I went up to about 29.

Jay:  Yeah, yeah. That's exactly what you would expect to see. And, you seeing that objective data change is a testament to at that period of time between you were last talking and now, you are having better resilience and fortitude in your nervous system through repair and recovery. And, we'll get into strategies I'm sure in a little bit and we'll talk about why breathing is so incredibly important. But, being able to see that data provides a lot of value and then it keeps bringing us back and back again to condition that response because we see the positive effects that active rest and that breathwork and biofeedback can have in it.

One more thing that I'll clarify to wrap this part of the conversation up, I guess we don't have to wrap it up, but just to put the icing on the cake is that there are significant hormonal responses that are going to affect your stress response regardless of whether or not you're actually stressed. When you're asleep, you're not secreting nearly as much CRH, you're not secreting nearly as much glucocorticoids and cortisol, especially throughout the day.  And so, these are going to help to tame the nervous system. Again, this is really good for repair. And, when you wake up first thing in the morning, well now, we're starting to have more spikes in cortisol. Now that we're having more spikes in norepinephrine and epinephrine and other glucocorticoids, and so we see heart rate go up. It's very different throughout the day than it is at night. And, therefore, we see heart rate variability suppressed. 

So, one thing to clarify here is that it is not inevitably bad that HRV is much lower throughout your day than it is at night because we would expect that from a physiological perspective that is absolutely what you would expect. What is more interesting is actually how well you can stay within your baseline window. So, that's how well you can stay above your lower shelf and within the range of your upper ceiling.

Does that help to clarify, Ben? I just want to make sure I was being clear.

Ben:  Yeah, it does. Well, while you were talking, I actually got up to go up another 8 MS points by clicking the Train button. And then, I wasn't ignoring you, but while I was listening to you, I pressed the, there's two different breathing options on here, Resonance Breathing and Box Breathing. I pressed the Box Breathing one and it started me into a minute of four count in, four-count hold, four-count out, and four-count hold. And, it let me choose my exercise position. So, I chose Standing because it says you can choose sitting, standing, or lying down. And, it went up another 10 points just from doing that alone. So, obviously, there's some built-in features in here that help you if you look at it and it's low. 

And, I actually want to ask you about Resonance Breathing here in a second and why one would choose that versus Box Breathing. But, before I do, I have a couple more logistical questions for you.

This whole idea of wearing a heart rate strap, is this something that you think is going to be end all for the Hanu app or do you guys envision branching out into some wearable or why is it a heart rate strap right now?

Jay:  Yeah, it's a great question. So, when you look at all wearables, what do they base their comparison against when they're looking at the efficacy of their data output? And, in the end, it is a Polar H10 ECG chest strap, which is what you have on which is what we are going to mark it with. I'll tell you a little bit about the road map, but I'll tell you why we chose that. The reason being is because when you're doing something as complex as capturing continuous heart rate variability. And, again, this is continuous, it never stops capturing heart rate variability. When you're doing something like this, you need the most precise instrument that you possibly can. And, the reason that you need that is because when we look at heart rate variability, it is calculated and is measured very differently than heart rate. Heart rate typically will average out; whereas, heart rate variability has to be extremely specific and extremely accurate. This is one of the reasons why you don't see a lot of the more common wearables doing continuous heart rate variability monitoring.

Now, here's the hint-hint for where we're going with this is that while we're going to market with the most accurate device that is possibly available, which is again an ECG chest strap, which for all intents and purposes, you don't have to deal with electrodes, it snaps on, snaps off. You can go around your day and put it on when you want to wear it, take it off when you don't have a 400-hour battery life, which is insane that it will actually capture data for 400 hours of use. We really wanted to go out and highlight the efficacy of our algorithms and our protocol with those who demanded accuracy with their wearable. And so, with the health optimizer, with the biohacker, the peak performer, we can guarantee you that you are always going to have 100% percent accurate data or at least 99.9% accurate data because that's what Polar speaks to their level of efficacy.

Now, what we see down the road is that there is an opportunity for us to market and work with other wearable companies to integrate our software and our platform with these wearables. Now, it will look very different. I think that the health optimizer or the person who wants that continuous hardcore data is probably going to always benefit from wearing an ECG chest strap. However, if someone's not as concerned with continuous accurate HRV, then there are mechanisms to where we could use PPG technology which is photoplasmography. It's basically those little shining green lights or infrared lights that are on wearables. We can when someone is very still get very good data, which is why Oura and Whoop and other companies do this at night. But, once artifact or movement is introduced, then heart rate variability goes out the window. That's because you need something that is extremely accurate.

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Now, from what I understand though, if I'm wearing this strap and my heart rate variability drops into a stressful range, it will actually pull up a notification and bring me straight into a breathing exercise to bring it back up. If I've got, let's say, I know this is one thing that I personally do, I'll get email apnea. I'll start to read emails and I'll hold my breath. And, I know that dips my HRV. I can get a cue on my phone when that happens, right?

Jay:  Yeah, that's correct. So, what's really cool about it is that when you first put on Hanu, we will look and assess your data because HRV and stress resiliency metrics that we use heart rate and respiration rate are very personalized. So, we need to know what's your baseline range. And, the more and more you wear it, the better and better we have in terms of accuracy of identifying that upper window and that lower window. When you fall below that window for a set period of time because throughout the day, you're going to go through dips. But, we know that certain periods of time outside of that window, we're actually going to alert you by pushing a notification to your phone and you'll have two things that you can do. One is log it. And, by log it, we ask for a couple of things. Number one, tell us what was going on. So, for you, Ben, you could say, “Oh, man, I was emailing somebody and I was holding my breath.” So, we actually have that as an option. So, you can click Email and Email Apnea as an option in the life events. The second thing you can do is rate your subjective experience. And, you rate that on a Likert scale from, at that point in time, “I was either moderately stressed, or maybe I was extremely stressed,” or you can go the opposite direction, “I was actually pretty good at that moment in time. Not sure what was going on with my HRV or maybe I was walking and that impacted HRV. And so, I was actually feeling pretty good on my leisurely stroll.” So, you can log it there.

And, again, the point of that is to be able to look back over the past week and say, “What were those things that were affecting my HRV? What was it my commute?” We put that one in there because that happens to a lot of people. Commute can be really, really stressful or maybe it was family relationships or maybe it was a co-worker or a boss or maybe it was email apnea. There's a lot of things that we put in there. And, that's the self-awareness piece, but then we always provide a tailored opportunity for you to train self-regulation or resiliency. And, we do that predominantly through something called resonance breathing. And, I know you wanted to talk about that so we can unpack that one. But, resonance —

Ben:  Yeah, yeah. Well, actually I did want to ask you about resonance breathing, but in terms of this assessment, I did it. I did it sitting in bed when I first got this package a few weeks ago. It was called a, what was it called, resonance frequency assessment. It was 12 minutes of me breathing with this cue that was on the phone that told me when to start breathing. It was a breathing pacer to inhale and exhale with the on-screen instructions. And so, was that the assessment that's actually determining what my ideal breathing rate will be that the app will then use when I am stressed to tell me “Okay, breathe in, breathe out” but it tells me the frequency based on that initial assessment?

Jay:  Yeah, you got it. So, what we do initially is that we set resonance breathing at a rate of six breaths per minute. So, that's either a five-second inhale, five-second exhale, or a four-second inhale, six-seconds exhale, which most people prefer that longer exhalation. That's just what it's said at naturally though. Technically, that is not resonance breathing. So, we are the only app that I know that is hardware integrated thus far that does true resonance breathing off of a true resonance breathing assessment. So, in the biofeedback literature, the most studied and what has been found to be the most efficacious biofeedback treatment in therapeutic is resonance breathing.

And, let me explain what resonance means. So, when we talk about resonance, we're talking about cardiovascular resonance. So, if we think about what resonance means in music per se is that I might sing a note in a building that has great acoustics. But, if my notes a little bit off, it may not resonate with those acoustics. But, if I hit the note perfectly, then it may resonate really, really well within that room and sound great.

Well, we actually know that our heart responds to different rates of breathing very similar to what I just mentioned in that analogy. What we can do in order to find that is go through what's called a resonance breathing or resonance breathing assessment. And, this was developed and coined by Dr. Paul Lair. He actually sits as an advisor on our board at Hanu. And, we brought him on to give us the true efficacious evidence-based protocol that he developed on resonance breathing. So, what you did Ben and what anybody who has Hanu will do is that we ask that one of the first things that you do is run through this resonance breathing assessment because the intention behind it is to find what is the most optimal breathing rate for stimulating vagal tone, for stimulating the autonomic nervous system, and helping you to better engage in a relaxation or parasympathetic response. And so, with that, this assessment also looks at what breathing rate increases HRV the most, what breathing increases a process called respiratory sinus arrhythmia, which is the distinctive changes in heart rate across the respiratory cycle the most. So, we call that heart rate amplitude or respiratory sinus arrhythmia amplitude.

And then, when we are breathing, what is the best match of breath to heart rate? So, what I mean by that is when you breathe in and you breathe out, how closely does heart rate follow? So, as you're inhaling, is it a one-to-one? Heart rate is increasing as you inhale. And, as you exhale, is it one-to-one? We look to see what breathing rate gets you the closest there. So, we take you through a system of assessments which last about 12 minutes long. So, it's a little bit lengthier, but once you get it, you're done. And, resonance frequency rate does not change across the life span, they've actually seen —

Ben:  So, I was going to ask you if you had to retest the bunch, but it'll just stay the same, huh?

Jay:  No, it just stays the same. And, actually, there's been a lot of research about this indicating that if it does change that the most it will ever change would be half a breath per minute. And so, a lot of times, it's not worth doing it. But, you can take this thing as many times as you want, it just might be a little bit a waste of time because you're going to likely get the same answer over and over again.

Ben:  There's bound to be one person out there who measures the amount of cacao nibs that they put in their smoothie who are going to really hold that half breath per minute deer.

Jay: That's right. No, it's so true. But, what we do is we take you through a series of breathing trials and you start off at six and a half breaths per minute and then we take you down to as low as four and a half breaths per minute, and you test each trial at a at lowering a half breath per minute, so six and a half, six, five and a half, five, four and a half. Do it for two minutes for each round, and at the end, you're presented with your resident frequency rate. What was yours, Ben? I'm curious. Do you remember?

Ben:  No, I'm going back to see if I could find it in the app. No. I can't see it in here. Oh, wait, it says 6, but I don't know if that's correct.

Jay:  Six?

Ben:  Yeah, yeah.

Jay:  That's probably correct. Yeah, if it says six, it's probably correct. Yeah. And so, what we then do is we'll populate your resonance breathing training. You don't have to change it, it'll automatically populate to whatever your resonance breathing is. And then, when you do receive a notification or alert, and we say, “Hey, are you ready to train?” that's our go-to because when we look at the evidence base of biofeedback, nothing is as strong in terms of autonomic nervous system change as resonance breathing. So, we think that's our hallmark training is that you get the true 100% evidence-based assessment that comes from the mouth of the guy who created it, Dr. Paul Lair, but you also get the training built-in as our go-to unique personalized training for you.

Ben:  Yeah. I've got the resonance breathing pulled up right now and it's cueing me with this breath pacer to do the inhale and then the exhale. Although, I think that eventually, you guys should totally work in some haptic sensation so I don't have to actually look at the screen to do it. I think that would be pretty cool because then, you can just be checking, okay, good, it is coming. I was going to say I could be checking email and just get that automatic cue because I actually read this book. I forget the name of the book, but it's basically a book about resonance breathing. And, in the book, there was a downloadable mp3 that you could play in the background. Gosh, I wish I could find it. I could play it for people to hear. But, essentially, what I did for a month was I'd play it when I was checking emails and it sounds this ding, click, click, click, click, ding, click, click. And so, it's an audible cue for me to know when to inhale and when to exhale, but I could totally see especially people who are in an office where there's other people working, they don't want that noise some haptic sensation for the resonance breathing, which would be pretty cool.

Jay:  Yeah.

Ben:  I'm glad you're working that in. But, what I was going to ask you was obviously the resonance breathing because I have it pulled up right now, it's doing it, is for me, for example, the six-count in and the six-count out. But, unlike the box breathing, there's not a hold. So, because you have both options in there, which one's better for HRV; the box breathing or the resonance breathing?

Jay:  Yeah, yeah, great question. So, obviously, I should mention this to users as well, sorry, to listeners, hopefully, users, that you Ben, you're under the alpha testing group. So, you're actually the one of the first people to ever have this. So, consider yourself lucky my friend. But, you're one of the first people to have it. And so, we've only built in a few of the trainings in thus far. And, I'll explain a little bit of those here and the differences between those. But, as we progress, actually even the next week, Ben, in the app, you'll see about 12 new biofeedback and breathwork practices added in, but we've parsed them out into different categories. 

So, our first one that we're really focusing on, we kind of term it, it's our relaxing calming vagal stimulating practice which includes, of course, resonance breathing. We have box breathing. We have custom-type of breathings in there where you can set the custom inhales, exhales, and hold times to however long you want to. We're creating one in there that was something coined by Dr. Andrew Huberman called the physiological sigh, which is a really interesting strategy. But, all of these are intended with relaxing and calming the nervous system.

So, what we will see, and this is something to really clarify too, is that most people are likely going to see either some change if not a significant change in heart rate variability when they're engaging in resonance breathing. It's very common for people the first time they try doing it to see heart rate variability significantly increase. And, the great thing about our application too is that while you're training, you see one heart rate variability metric, you also see your stress resiliency score, which I'll talk about that here in a bit. You see heart rate and then you see a timer obviously because we like to put that in there. But, at the end of your session, you see very advanced HRV biometrics. And, you can really look to see how in all different areas HRV has changed. The time domain indices, which there's about five or six of them, and then the frequency domain indices which there's about five or six of them. And, if people don't know what that is, we can talk about that but also too within the app. You can just click the info button and we're going to have a description of what to look for and how it relates to your personalized data.

But, back to the question about breath holds. So, what we actually know is that if you're consciously or unconsciously breath holding is that that actually stimulates a bit of a stress response. So, let's go back to email apnea. So, when you hold your breath and this results in a bit of CO2 pooling, so CO2 pools up which is our primary stimulus to breathe. And, when that happens, then we either catch ourselves or we notice that something seems a little bit off and then our body naturally, our autonomic nervous system will kick into gear, and then we will breathe.

Now, from a hurry variability standpoint, what we actually know is that that can cause a bit of a decrease in HRV, even if you've changed your respiration rate to a pretty slow, we'll even call it a resonance breathing rate. So, why would we include that? Why are breath holds important? Well, when we practice conscientious breath holds, which is very dissimilar, I should say, in some respect to unconscious breath holds like email apnea, what we found in the literature is that there's an interesting response. Yes, you might initially see some changes or fluctuations in heart rate variability in a downward direction, but the recovery period that occurs afterwards because of the vagal stimulating effects that CO2 and slow pace breathing has, we actually see that post-recovery period of HRV going up. So, I would say that a good clarification is that if people do see heart rate variability going down during a practice, it doesn't mean that heart rate variability training or biofeedback is ineffective. These practices are causing significant physiological responses in a good way, but a lot of them will come post-recovery especially subjectively and objectively you'll see that on the end.

Ben:  Okay, got it. Now, the resonance breathing and box breathing makes sense then. And, I'll probably just experiment with them and these newer breath work assessments or the breath work exercise that you have to see what responds best. But, in addition to that under the assessments category, you have that resonance frequency assessment that we talked about, that 12-minute assessment. But then, you also have the BOLT score on there. I've briefly talked about the BOLT score in the podcast where you take a normal breath into your nose and then a normal breath out through your nose. And, after you've taken that normal breath out through your nose, you hold your nose with your fingers and hold your breath. And, you see how long you hold your breath. And, I think a good score is 40 plus seconds or something like that. And, people who do a lot of breath work training can sometimes get longer than a minute. What's the body oxygen level test? Why do you put the BOLT score on there?

Jay:  Yeah, great question. So, one thing to mention, actually I haven't mentioned yet and I feel a little bit bad is that on our podcast that we do, the Hanu Health Podcast, it's actually co-hosted by Patrick McKeown. And so, Patrick McKeown wrote the book “The Oxygen Advantage” and he's one of the preeminent experts in in breath work. And, he loves what we're doing and so he's a part of our crew as an advisor and also a co-host on the podcast. And, he created what was called the body oxygen level test. 

And, basically, this is just a test of CO2 tolerance, and it's a test of functional breathing. We know that as someone, if they're experiencing dysfunctional breathing and that could be related to health concerns, it could be because of stress and anxiety or just because they've been conditioned to breathe dysfunctionally throughout their life, then their level of CO tolerance tends to be way down. And, we know, again, that CO2 tolerance is actually the reason why we can deliver oxygen to muscular tissue to be utilized through the Bohr effect. CO2 actually works as the transporter key to oxygen via hemoglobin. And so, this test allows you to see what is your baseline level of CO2 tolerance and are you experiencing functional breathing. So, if it's below 10, we have some significant problems. These are people who have asthma or maybe even cystic fibrosis or they're really stressed or they're overworked. We'll see that people below 20 is still not great, but we're working our way up. And, like you mentioned, once you get to 40 and above, that's really the target goal. So, we built that there and what you'll see is that across time, you can take the test as it was designed by Patrick McKeown. You can take the test and you can look to see whether or not the practices that you're engaging in in Hanu is affecting that level especially if you're doing a lot of good quality breath hold practices.

One of the things that we're also building in to the application, which is going to be very directly linked to this BOLT score, body oxygen level test, is we're going to have actual oxygen advantage practices. So, the ones that were developed by Patrick with the intention of increasing CO2 tolerance and functional breathing, and will directly link to BOLT score. And so, you'll be able to see if I practice one of those practices called breathe light to breathe right, which is a Buteyko type breathing pattern is that we'll see how does this actually affect my nervous system response, so we're looking at obviously heart rate variability, and heart rate, and respiration rate, but then also how does this affect my BOLT score. And, what most people will see is that the more and more they practice it, that BOLT score will go up and up and up.

Ben:  Yeah. I think what's interesting a lot of people don't realize because sometimes we learn that carbon dioxide is acidotic and you want to be in a state of metabolic alkalosis, you should avoid CO2 at all costs. I think a lot of people don't realize how calming CO2 can be. I mean, what's his face, was it James Nestor talked about this and breathed how there's some clinics that will literally do what's called carbogen therapy where you'll breathe CO2 as a way to build stress resilience. And, I think a lot of people listen to the podcast know that a lot of times I'll go on walks and I'll use this one thing developed by another breathwork practitioner named Anders Olsson called the Relaxator. And, I put it in my mouth and it restricts the amount of air that I can exhale thus causing me to retain CO2 kind of similar like that elevation training mask that some people will wear when they're exercising or similar to the recommendation to breathe your nose when you're doing hard exercising. And, there's a significant improvement in stress resilience when you do that. I mean, very similar also to when you're doing a breath practice. I'll use the other ship app. For example, sometimes do breathwork. And, a lot of times some of the sessions you're building up massive amounts of CO2 in your system, and almost what we were talking about where you should purposefully lower your HRV with specific exercises or purposefully cause blood glucose fluctuations through cold thermogenesis, or heat, or exercise. In a similar way, you should purposefully actually have periods of time during the day where you're amping up your CO2 levels because the bounce-back effect of that is increased stress resilience.

Jay:  Yeah, yeah, 100%. I mean, we say that just exercise is a stressor on the body and we know the physiological effects both immediately and afterwards. A lot of these breathwork practices especially more oxygen advantage-related practices that we've built into the app and then some of our other more custom-type of breathing practices that we've included especially among the performance breathing and focus breathing domains which are really our practices that we've built to excite the nervous system. You're going to see that response. 

And, yes, initially when you're doing it, you might see these changes in a downward direction that might not feel very great because you're like, “Oh, man, my heart rate's going up, my HRV is going down. This obviously can't be good for me.” But then, what you start to see is this compounding effect. “Oh, man, now throughout the day, my baseline HRV is increasing. It's actually getting better. I feel more resilient because I'm doing these things that do,” yes, cause a transient or an acute stress effect but in the long-term build way more fortitude and resiliency within the nervous system. And, it's invaluable.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah. Well, it's interesting too because I know a few cases where you may actually not want to necessarily have a high HRV and I talked about how before when you're an athlete or someone who's training and you go through a hard week. Yeah, you actually want your HRV to drop. And, often that drop is associated with a slight reduction in your resting heart rate. And, that can be a sign you're getting super close to an overtrained state. You don't want to stay there for long at all just a couple of days and then you program in a deload day or a deload week and you super compensate and you get way more fit. 

But then, there's also this in-between zone that I'm aware of that I wanted to ask you about where when you're training really hard and heavy and I see this, especially in endurance athletes, you'll see an increase in HRV but the increase in HRV rather than it being a good increase with a slight drop in resting heart rate, it'll increase and then the resting heart rate will go up. And, from what I understand, and correct me if I'm wrong, that's a sign that you're accumulating fatigue and that would be a sign that the high HRV may not be a good thing, might be increased parasympathetic load. Meaning if your HRV is high but then you also notice your resting heart rate is going up, that might not be a good high HRV, right?

Jay:  Yeah. But, no, you're absolutely correct on that. And, again, it just makes sense to ensure that you're looking at patterns on different metrics. And, this is why, again, when someone does biofeedback or they do what's called a snapshot, and I'd really love to talk about the snapshot feature, Ben, because I know that you haven't gotten that yet but you're getting it soon. But, when someone does a snapshot or they do biofeedback, they're going to get these advanced biometrics and they're going to see —

Ben:  Yeah, just talk about it right now, by the way. Fill us on the snapshot thing as you're talking.

Jay:  So, one of the things that they're going to look for is, what are the changes in all data biometric points? So, we're looking to say not just HRV but what has happened to heart rate, what has happened to all the domain indices that come along with HRV. And, we know a couple of things from research and then I'll talk about snapshot.

So, a couple things from research is that indeed if someone has a significant spike or a significant drop in heart rate variability, so either one of two ways, and that also corresponds with an increase in heart rate. So, that's the key variable is that heart rate goes up.

Ben:  Specifically resting heart rate, right?

Jay:  You got it. Yeah, yeah, resting heart rate. Then, we know that can be signs of fatigue. And so, we've seen this on multiple occasions in the research and then I've worked with a lot of athletes just as you have been who I've seen this case. 

So, what's going on here is that when people have overtaxed their nervous system, and let's say we're going to go to the high HRV high heart rate, when they've overtaxed their nervous system, what ends up happening is is that heart rate goes up because we need to continue to mobilize more energy because the body is still trying to, even though it's trying to repair, it's still out of whack. And so, basically, the only way that the cardiovascular system can keep up is to pump out more blood and to shunt as much of the energy as we can into cells to repair. But, the problem here though is that when heart rate variability starts to go up or it starts to skyrocket, it's the parasympathetic nervous system really fighting hard and saying there is something wrong here in terms of repair. You look like you're overreaching, you look like you are overtraining, and so it does this compensatory mechanism where you see it goes up but the body feels absolutely like garbage, like fatigued. 

We know that these people have a lot of CRH floating around, so corticotropin-releasing hormone. We know that cortisol is typically high with these individuals. And, we also see the opposite effect of when HRV goes really, really low but heart rate goes up, then that's another sign. That's the more common one that happens. But really, yeah, the high HRV, high heart rate is definitely a sign of burnout and an over taxation of the autonomic nervous system. And, we see this with people with depression as well. So, people who are just really have a lot of malaise, they have a lot of cognitive rumination, it's like they don't want to get up and do anything because the body just wants to park itself because it says, “We've got to recover,” but the sympathetic nervous system is like, “But, you're stressed” so it's this weird dichotomy and fighting which represents itself in high HRV and high heart rate. So, that's definitely not a good thing.

Now, to speak real quickly about the snapshot feature, which is what you would use to measure something like this because you want to have some consistency. So, a lot of applications, yeah, you can take it overnight or you can take it first thing in the morning. I'm a huge fan of first thing in the morning. And, the reason being even though I do look at my Oura, and my Whoop, and my Garmin, everything I wear I wear probably too much, but I'm testing a product so I'm trying to build a company so I need to make sure that we're on par even though I don't wear my Hanu at night. I don't recommend people sleep with a chest strap on. This is more of a daytime device. 

But, I take it in the morning and a lot of this comes from Marco Altini's research. He's an advisor to us. He's also an advisor to Oura, but he's just the preeminent data scientist and heart variability. And, what we found is that when you take your snapshot in the morning, which could just be a one to two maybe five-minute max, we really just say two minutes is pretty good, even one minute is pretty good. What we're doing here is that we're getting this consistent type of reading that's within context. So, first thing in the morning before you've had coffee, before you've really gotten out of bed. I just lay in bed and I take it. What I'm looking for here is I'm looking to say, “Okay, after I've gotten my rest and recovery and sleep,” which should be the most optimal time to repair my autonomic nervous system from a human stress response basis but also from a performance basis, “Where is my heart rate variability compared to all the other days?” I think it's the best basis of comparison. So, Snapshot allows you to do that and it tracks that but also too, I utilize Snapshot as a mechanism for testing and tracking.

So, there's a lot of companies that will claim we can increase HRV by x percent or we do this and we do that. And, what's great about this one is that you can throw on your Hanu and you can start a timer and you can look to see where your data was initially. You can look to see what happens while you're using said product, or maybe you're in the sauna, or maybe you're doing a cold plunge, or you're free diving, whatever you're doing. And, you can look to see the effects over time within this snapshot and start to log them and start to compare them. So, I utilize that one a lot. I think that's going to be a fan favorite for many of the biohackers and health optimizers who are self-quantifiers and experimenters.

Ben:  That's super cool. I can't wait for that feature to come out. So, I'm looking forward to the, what's it called on my phone, the test flight app for the insider VIP testers.

Hey, I actually had a couple things I was wondering about too just random questions that probably aren't life-changing for most people. But, I'm just curious, why did guys seem to have slightly higher heart rate variability than the ladies do?

Jay:  Yeah. And, that's well defined in research just in case people were like, “Ben, why are you trying to give the advantage to the guys here?”

Ben:  Well, it's true. I've seen it.

Jay:  It really is. So, there's a couple of theories and then I'll give probably more of a broad answer to it. So, what we actually know is that HRV is highly variable and very bio-individual. What we see is that gender makes a difference, males typically have a higher HRV than females. We know that taller people typically have higher HRVs. So, I'm like, I'm in the zone, man, I'm 6'5″, I'm male, I'm good to go. And, we also know that they're just genetic variables so we know that if you have a parent who has a naturally lower HRV, again, not a bad thing, I think we really need to highlight that a “low HRV,” and a low is only when we start comparing ourselves to others, it can be compared to ourselves and I should explain that. But, for the sake of this discussion right now, there are variables that are going to impact where your baseline HRV is. 

So, when we speak to males, a lot of the times, males are typically taller and we actually know that taller individuals will just typically have a higher heart rate variability than others. The theory here is due to the length of signaling when it comes to post-ganglion and pre-ganglion neurons. And so, that's a fancy way of saying that when we think about our nervous system and the way it connects to different organs, well, males are typically taller and have typically longer nerves. And so, signals typically don't shoot as fast or they don't oscillate as fast. And so, therefore, heart rate variability stays a little bit higher. And, again, it's not substantially higher, but it is higher.

The other answer to this is that when you ask people who are within the domain of heart rate variability research and cardiovascular research is that we don't fully know. It could be because that males will typically not secrete nearly as much cortisol and norepinephrine and epinephrine throughout the day, and that could be a feature that's causing less activity in the sinoatrial node or the pacemaker of the heart. But, the end answer is that we don't know specifically, we just have these theories that we can throw out there.

Ben:  Interesting. So, the other thing that I know is that just generally people who are cardiovascular well trained have a higher HRV score. But, do you think it differs whether you are fit from a strength training standpoint versus a cardiovascular standpoint like if you're endurance athlete versus a strength athlete?

Jay:  Yeah. What I come across in the literature is that the single greatest influencer to heart rate variability is exercise but more specifically it's overall cardiorespiratory fitness. So, when we look at VO2 Max, which is going to for the most part favor the endurance athlete over the strength training resistance athlete is that these individuals who have higher VO2 maxes have higher cardiorespiratory fitness typically will have higher HRV. The exception to this is that a lot of endurance athletes are overtraining or they're overreaching, especially if we think about Ironman athletes or those who are doing Ultra Endurance races, their HRV can be more suppressed sometimes because of the amount of overtraining. But, what we find is is that when they do take time to recover, it rebounds like crazy and heart rate variability is much higher.

What we do see, and this is great interesting research, is that even those who are not paying particular emphasis to endurance training or aerobic training will still have much higher heart rate variability readings. And, I should preface this with those who are doing more weightlifting who are doing strength training, we still see them having higher heart rate variabilities than those individuals who are either doing limited amounts of aerobic exercise or the ones who are especially stagnant and doing no strength training. So, it would only make sense.

I should also say one last thing about this. And, again, this might turn us to also discussion on myths is that a lot of people think that, “Oh, does that mean then that the endurance athlete who has higher cardiorespiratory fitness because their HRV is higher, does that then mean that they are healthier or they have a longer life span than individuals who are just saying doing resistance training and not focusing as much on aerobic output?” And, the answer to that is that we're comparing apples and oranges here. So, their increased HRV is much more of a reflection of their cardiorespiratory fitness status and may not tell us anything within that context about their psychological or emotional well-being, which could be significantly impacting their overall health and lifespan. 

So, I think there's just a lot of nuances there that need to be addressed because sometimes people just think, “Oh, higher is better and I need to get that up as high as possible.” Well, it's not going to necessarily hurt but the intention may be incorrect. And, I think the intention here really matters.

Ben:  Okay. Alright, that makes sense. Well, gosh, we've covered a ton related to this app and measuring HRV. I guess probably one important thing is even though I'll put all the details at BenGreenfieldLife.com/HanuPodcast, you mentioned a few times as that I that I'm doing some insider beta testing of this thing. And, I believe that this recording we're doing right now is going to come out pretty soon after we record it. So, is this actually available yet for people to get where we at in terms of it being available?

Jay:  Yeah, absolutely. So, yeah, you're a part of the alpha testing group and we were going to originally release to market in October, so on October 1st. But, we're crashing that, my friend. And, hopefully, that's a happy thing for everybody. We're actually going to market on August 1st. So, we moved it up a couple months which we're very excited about but also very nervous about. You can go on to HanuHealth.com/Ben. And, I know we have a coupon code for you, I believe it's Ben40. And, you can pre-order the device now and we'll start shipping on August 1st. The retail device is it's $300 and that gives you 12 months access to our software and IP platform, and then you also get the device in and of itself so we just include the chest strap with it. And, it's $300 but that 40% brings it down to 180 bucks. 

And, the one thing that we're trying to do to throw the icing on the cake here is that anybody who pre-orders, if they listen to this podcast and they pre-order for that crazy 40% off price, we're actually going to throw in weekly webinars and Q&As with me. They're live weekly webinars with me where you can come on listen to all the things that we're adding into the app, all the things to expect, get a little bit of didactic education on how to use it, and what to look for, how to personalize it, but also too, ask me any questions that you may have about your data and your experience. So, we see this as a good opportunity to really engage with our customer base and give them a little bit extra for being the first in.

Ben:  Sweet, I dig it. It's super simple to use, not too many bells and whistles but enough to where you can really control your HRV and learn a lot about your real-time biofeedback. So, I dig it, Jay, and I appreciate you coming on the show to share all this with us. And, it's fun for me to have you on the podcast and have you do most of the talking instead of me because usually, it's the Q&A episodes where I'm supposed to talk. And, I get to shut my yapper and just listen to you on this episode. So, thanks for coming on, man.

Jay:  Yeah, man. You always steal my thunder on the Q&A, so I wasn't going to let you do it here.

Ben:  I hear you. Alright, well, all the shownotes are going to be at BenGreenfieldLife.com/HanuPodcast, H-A-N-U-Podcast. And, I'm going to go play around with all these new breathing tactics I've learned, Jay. And, I appreciate you and everything you're doing for helping people out with their stress, man.

Jay:  Yeah. Thanks, man. Really appreciate you having me on.

Ben:  Alright, folks. I'm Ben Greenfield along with Jay T. Wiles from BenGreenfieldLife.com. Have an amazing week.

More than ever these days, people like you and me need a fresh entertaining, well-informed, and often outside-the-box approach to discovering the health, and happiness, and hope that we all crave. So, I hope I've been able to do that for you on this episode today. And, if you liked it or if you love what I'm up to, then please leave me a review on your preferred podcast listening channel wherever that might be and just find the Ben Greenfield Life episode. Say something nice. Thanks so much. It means a lot.

Hanu Health is a venture-backed health technology company at the intersection of HRV, breathwork, stress resiliency, and biofeedback.

They have designed what they call “the most sophisticated and accurate wearable for detecting changes in human stress response, using continuous HRV monitoring as its primary metric.”

Hanu (use code BEN40 to save 40%) is a non-invasive and easy-to-use hardware/software system that acts as a stress coach whenever you are wearing it. It uses gentle vibrations to alert you as to when you might be experiencing signs of stress and provides in-the-moment exercises and training to help you build stress resiliency. This close-looped feedback system means that Hanu is continuously monitoring your stress response and is always there to provide you with valuable means to better attend to stress in the moment. 

Dr. Jay Wiles, my guest on today's show, is no stranger to the podcast, as you've heard him and Ben cohost the Q&A episodes since 2019 (search “Jay Wiles” here to find his episodes). What you may not know about Dr. Wiles, though, is that he is the co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Hanu Health.

A clinical health and performance psychologist with board certification in heart rate variability biofeedback and peripheral biofeedback, Jay works as a leading consultant in psychophysiology to health influencers, professional athletes and teams, executives, and high performers. Jay has pioneered new and innovative means of using heart rate variability (HRV) and respiratory training as both diagnostic indicators of the dynamic nature of the human stress response, alongside therapeutic tools for regulating and conditioning this response for peak human performance.

Jay Wiles has an extensive history of working with top-performing athletes in the PGA, LPGA, MLS, MLB, ATP, and WTA. His consulting firm, Thrive Wellness and Performance, has held contracts with leading biotechnology and health technology organizations where he has engaged in research, development of therapeutics, and development of behavioral retention programs. Dr. Wiles has also hosted the Hanu Health Podcast since October 2021.

An international speaker, scientist, clinician, and influencer, Jay Wiles is a subject-matter expert and authority on the interconnection between the human stress response and health performance/optimization.

During our discussion, you'll discover:

-What does “Hanu” mean?…07:50

  • Hanu a Hawaiian word that means breath

-Jay's personal journey to becoming an expert in HRV…09:15

  • Specialized in “health psychology”
  • “Demoralization”: learned helplessness and hopelessness
  • Chronic ailments can be traced to demoralization
  • Biofeedback training with military veterans produced noticeable improvements in health and well-being

-How is the Hanu wearable different from other devices that track HRV?…15:46

-What causes HRV to vary from day to day, even if stress levels don't appear to vary…25:30

  • Talking can significantly suppress HRV (utilizing energy)
  • Sleeping is of course far more potent than any daytime activities
  • Hormonal responses will affect stress responses, even if not stressed out
  • Shoot for staying within a certain range, versus a particular number throughout the day

-The heart rate strap, and what the Hanu wearable might look like in the future…30:10

  • Need the most precise instrument to track HRV as possible
  • Calculated very different from heart rate
  • Nearly as accurate as an ECG strap, without some of the inconvenience of wearing it
  • Integrate Hanu software and platform with other wearables (use code BEN40 to save 40%)
  • The app will trigger a notification to do a breathing exercise if the HRV dips below a certain level
  • Rate subjective experience
  • Train self-regulation and resilience via resonance breathing

-About the Resonance Frequency Assessment…

  • Set resonance breathing at 6 breaths per minute
  • Hanu app offers true resonance breathing based on the assessment (use code BEN40 to save 40%)
  • Heart responds to different rates of breathing
  • Assessment developed by Dr. Paul Lair
  • Find the most optimal rate for stimulating vagal tone, parasympathetic response
  • Breathing trials lead to resonance breathing rate

-Resonance breathing and box breathing contrasted…45:45

  • Physiological sighs – Andrew Huberman
  • Most people will see some change in HRV when engaged in resonance breathing
  • Breath-hold stimulates a bit of a stress response
  • Conscientious breath holds are different from unconscious

-What is a BOLT score and why is it important…50:30

-When a high HRV is not necessarily a good thing…56:50

  • Significant spike or drop in HRV corresponds with an increase in resting heart rate is a sign of fatigue
  • Overtaxed nervous system (burnout), heart rate goes up
  • Snapshot feature on the app; first thing in the morning
    • Consistent reading within context while still in bed
    • After rest and recovery, where is HRV compared to other days

-Rapid-fire questions on HRV…1:02:36

  • Why do men tend to have higher HRV than women?
  • Do strength or endurance athletes have a leg up when it comes to HRV?

-And much more…

-Upcoming Events:

Resources from this episode:

– Dr. Jay T. Wiles:

– Podcasts:

– Books:

– Other Resources:

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