November 27, 2023

Dr. Andrew Huberman's Top Research-Backed Longevity Hacks

photo of April Benshosan

Written By

April Benshosan

photo of Mary Stratos, PA-C, IFMCP

Medically Reviewed By

Mary Stratos, PA-C, IFMCP

Lifeforce Physician Assistant

Dr. Andrew Huberman's Top Research-Backed Longevity Hacks

Could Dr. Andrew Huberman's wealth of knowledge get us one step closer to the fountain of youth? Dr. Huberman, PhD, a neuroscientist and professor of neurobiology and ophthalmology at Stanford Medicine, has authored countless studies and made significant contributions in areas like brain development, cognitive function, and neural plasticity. But it's his dedication to arming people with science-backed tools to support their health and longevity that's amassed his millions of followers. 

And his podcast, Huberman Lab, is precisely where those biohackers, longevity nerds, and health-minded masses go to get schooled on the best ways to optimize your life. Don’t have hour-long commutes to tune in? Here are Dr. Huberman's top longevity tips to start implementing into your daily routine — because who doesn't want to hit the brakes on going gray?

Dr. Andrew Huberman's Top Longevity Hacks

Morning Sunlight

1. Get Morning Sunlight

If you're an avid listener of the Huberman Lab podcast, you probably already know how Dr. Huberman relentlessly advocates for getting morning sunlight within five to 15 minutes (ideally) — or within the hour — of waking up. 

“There are hundreds, if not thousands, of quality peer-reviewed papers showing that light viewing early in the day is the most powerful stimulus for wakefulness throughout the day. And it has a powerful, positive impact on your ability to fall and stay asleep at night," according to Dr. Huberman. Exposing your eyes to bright light first thing in the morning triggers the release of cortisol, which helps boost alertness during the day. 

Essentially, getting sunlight in the a.m. optimizes your circadian rhythm, which is the body’s mechanism for anticipating when to wake up and go to sleep, says Lifeforce Physician Assistant Mary Stratos, PA-C, IFMCP

According to a 2017 study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, our circadian rhythm plays a major role in our health and longevity, and chronic disruptions to this biological clock are linked with negative health outcomes. Not only that, but morning sunlight and an optimized circadian rhythm can support the production of healthy mitochondria — and this is crucial because mitochondrial dysfunction is a primary cause of many chronic conditions and aging, Stratos says.

Avoid Light at Night

2. Avoid Light at Night

In the same way you seek sunlight within an hour of waking up, you should also dim the lights and turn off your smartphone before going to bed. Viewing light at night, according to Dr. Huberman, "has detrimental dopamine-lowering effects and can cause depression [and] cortisol increases."

On X (formerly Twitter), Dr. Huberman recently pointed to an October 2023 study in Nature, one of the most prestigious scientific journals. The research found that greater night-time light exposure is tied to an increased risk for major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, PTSD, psychosis, bipolar disorder, and self-harm behavior. On the contrary, bright light exposure during the day was associated with a lower risk for many of these psychiatric disorders. What's more, a 2010 meta-analysis in the journal Sleep that included more than 1.3 million people observed that a shorter duration of sleep was associated with a greater risk of death. 

whole-healthy-foods

3. Practice Intermittent Fasting 

According to Dr. Huberman, "Many aspects of our health are impacted by when we eat — not just what we eat." 

One of the key pillars of intermittent fasting is avoiding food after the first hour you wake up and potentially longer, he says. "The second major pillar is that for the two and ideally three hours prior to bedtime, you don't ingest any food or liquid calories." Intermittent fasting can support liver health, metabolic health, weight, and several other total-body functions that ultimately may contribute to a longer lifespan.  

In fact, a 2019 study in the journal Circulation found that intermittent fasting is associated with better longevity. 

Lifeforce Peak Rest Sleep

4. Try Certain Supplements for Better Sleep

In his Toolkit for Better Sleep, Dr. Huberman calls sleep "the foundation of our mental and physical health and performance in all endeavors." Aside from seeking light in the morning and avoiding it at night, Dr. Huberman also takes a cocktail of supplements that help support sleep. Specifically, he pops magnesium threonate or magnesium bisglycinate as well as apigenin and theanine. 

RELATED: Magnesium: The Best Supplement You’re Probably Not Taking

It's important to consider your personal sleep schedule and how certain supplements can help address specific issues in your slumber patterns. For example, if thoughts flood your mind the minute your head hits the pillow, you might consider magnesium and/or apigenin. Dr. Huberman recommends magnesium threonate or magnesium bisglycinate (which are interchangeable) because they have a mild drowsiness effect. Apigenin, which is a derivative of chamomile "also acts as an anxiety-lowering compound, which is essential prior to sleep for people to essentially turn off their thinking or to be able to reduce the amount of ruminating," Dr. Huberman says.

People who tend to wake up in the middle of the night and have trouble falling back asleep might consider 900 milligrams of myo-inositol a night. "Myo-inositol can help shorten the amount of time it takes to fall back asleep if you wake up in the middle of the night," Dr. Huberman says. Theanine can also help you fall asleep faster; however, it's not recommended for people who wake up in the middle of the night due to vivid dreams. 

And if you're on any medications, make sure to speak with your doctor before adding new supplements to your routine. 

Lifeforce Omegas

5. Consider Taking Omega-3s

There's no shortage of evidence pointing to the efficacy of omega-3s on mood, brain health, and longevity. Among this research is a 2021 meta-analysis in The Lancet that found taking EPA (or eicosapentaenoic acid, a type of omega-3) is significantly associated with a lower risk of dying from a cardiovascular event. 

According to Dr. Huberman, "Ingesting one to three grams of EPA, in particular, the form of fish oil capsules or liquid fish oil can be beneficial for a number of different aspects in brain and body health, and can enhance focus and cognitive ability," And this is especially true in developing brains, he says.

Dr. Huberman also mentions that omega-3s can support metabolic health, enhance the ability to do focused work, and potentially offset the amount of anti-depression medications people take. 

How Alcohol Impacts Your Mind-Body Health

6. Limit or Eliminate Alcohol Intake

"Even low to moderate levels of alcohol consumption can increase our levels of stress when we're not drinking," according to Dr. Huberman. 

Alcohol changes the relationship between what's called the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and the adrenals. "People who drink regularly — so it could be one or two drinks per night, or people who drink just on the weekend — experience changes in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis [which maintains what you perceive as stressful] that result in more cortisol, the so-called stress hormone, being released at baseline when they are not drinking. As a consequence, they feel more stress and more anxiety when they're not drinking," Dr. Huberman says

A drink or two might make you feel relaxed in the moment, "but when the alcohol is gone from your system, you’ll be wired to be more stressed and anxious than before you drank,” says Dr. Amy Shah, a double board-certified MD and nutritionist. “At first, experts thought this was just in people with underlying anxiety or depression, but research shows that it happens more and more to people who don’t have a previous diagnosis,” Dr. Shah says. “If you’re a regular drinker, your baseline for anxiety is higher.”

It's no surprise that chronic levels of stress are linked to a shorter lifespan. Indeed, a 2023 analysis in JAMA observed that people who had just 2 alcoholic drinks a day had an increased risk of all-cause mortality.

Looking for more health, longevity, and lifestyle support? A Lifeforce Membership gives you access to biomarker testing (including a full hormone panel) every three months, plus ongoing personalized advice from a Lifeforce clinician and health coach. Learn more here

This article was medically reviewed by Mary Stratos, PA-C, Institute for Functional Medicine Certified Practitioner. 

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