Tag Archives: qstop

Hot Stuff: Body Temperature Tracking and Ovulatory Cycles

For the past eight months I’ve been tracking my temperature every minute using small, wireless sensors.

I work in a lab that recently showed minute-by-minute body temperature can tell you fascinating things about female physiology, at least in mice. Using temperature, we can tell what day a mouse will ovulate, whether or not it will become pregnant within hours of pairing with a male, and in the same time, whether or not its pregnancy will be successful. Just as interesting, the temperature reveals that some mice have stable ovulatory cycles and some don’t. We wanted to see if any of this holds up in humans (read: lab mates, a sporting family member and myself). I’ll show you what we did, what we found, and how to get started if you’d like to start tracking your temperature too.

Why Temperature?
Think of metabolism as a continuous symphony and body temperature as the din that carries through the concert hall walls.

Many of the metabolic reactions taking place throughout our bodies generate small amounts of heat and are actually coordinated in a similar way to musical chords. For example, during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle progesterone levels will pulse in concert with estradiol, often following a luteinizing hormone pulse occurring 15 minutes prior. These fluctuations, as well as other things that affect metabolism (ovulating, eating a meal, etc.), translate into small temperature ripples which register on the surface of the body.

Temperature has long been used as a predictor of ovulation. But most temperature based techniques rely on a single measurement per day. Limiting data collection to one time point per day is the equivalent of listening to the symphony only at what we hope is the crescendo of each piece: with training, we might identify the chord, but we’ll still miss most of the show.

What are we doing and what have we seen already?
To see if we could use high temporal resolution temperature to recapitulate any of our previous findings, we began monitoring distal (wrist), axial (arm-pit) and core (ahem, core) temperatures every minute, using small devices called iButtons. We’ve seen some interesting things so far. I’ve shown the temperature data as a heat map, because it allows you to see many measurements while giving a clear picture of the overall pattern of rising and falling average temperatures over the course of 28 days.

HeatMap_LabMate

Temperature Can Predict the Start of Menstruation.
In the graph above, which uses my lab mate’s data, you’ll see that the range of temperatures she passes through in a day shifts a little higher every day leading up to the start of spotting/ menstruation. This timing is clear in her data, but it isn’t identical for everyone, though. My cycles are irregular and the chart below shows that menstruation starts when my average temperature reaches its highest level of the month. Note that this can be more than once per 28 days, as in the month graphed below.

heatmap_Azure

In my mom’s case, the heat map below clearly shows the shift between follicular (cooler) and luteal (warmer) phases. I’ve outlined the profiles of the Progesterone (P) and Estrogen (E) that my mom takes each day as part of hormone replacement therapy. In the valley where both hormones are low, she transitions from follicular to luteal phase. This corresponds to a temperature increase, and a few days later she gets her period.

HeatMap_Mom

These findings keep us coming back for more: more subjects and more longitudinal data for each of us. Perhaps the differences we have observed between us support that there are different ‘types’ of cyclers in the population, just as there are different body types. And maybe the temperature features we have in common will apply to other women.

So how do we gather the data (and how might you)?

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iButtons are about the size of the button on your jeans, and one side has a sensor which is worn pressed to the skin. A sweat band is enough to secure one button to your wrist, and the axial button can be tucked into a bra strap or secured with a non-irritating skin tape (here is my favorite so far). Body temperature shouldn’t ever fluctuate more than a couple of degrees C, so devices with high precision are key. This model is accurate up to .0625 C. Both the resolution and the sampling rate can be user-specified, meaning you can take very precise measurements very frequently. I find that anywhere between one and three-minute resolution works well to capture changes throughout the day.

iButtons don’t ever need to charge, but the data needs to be read once the memory fills up. Depending on the sampling rate, that’s every 3-7 days. At the end of a recording period, the ibutton is touched to its reader, and a simple interface allows the user to view the data and export it as a csv. iButton will plot the data, but it won’t do any further analysis. We’ve taken these csv outputs into Matlab and Python for our analyses, and because they are widely used formats, anyone could make graphs and start to play with their data. I’m not associated with the company, but I’m excited to share what we’re finding and want others to know how to jump in. An ibutton and a reader together cost about $100.

Interested?
Temperature tracking is a scavenger hunt: we don’t know precisely what we’re looking for, but clues keep turning up that lead us in interesting and verifiable directions. Multiple hormonal systems in our bodies (the stress axis, the digestive system, the thyroid axis) affect body temperature, and the reproductive system is just one of those. This raises the question: could we see predictable changes in temperature associated with a long run, a large meal, or a bad night of sleep? Probably. Mapping the personal, research, and clinical applications of high temporal resolution body temperature tracking will take time and user participation. Luckily, it gives interesting and useful personal feedback along the way.

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Steven Jonas: Spaced Listening

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It’s hard for me to like an album the first time I listen to it. I can almost feel some part of my brain reject the music, even from bands I like, because it’s not familiar. However, after a few listens, the album will grow on me and I’ll find myself humming melodies that I previously couldn’t sit through. That is, unless I turned off the album the first time around and never gave it a second listen.

I suspected that this behavior was having a negative impact on my ability to appreciate new music when I noticed that almost none of the music that I listen to has come out after 2006.

In this talk, given at a recent QS Bay Area meetup, I discuss the system I set up that scheduled when I should listen to an album to help me over the hump to appreciating an album on it’s own terms instead of rejecting it because it wasn’t familiar.

Spaced_Listening_by_Steven_Jonas_on_Vimeo

Click to watch Steven’s Show&Tell talk.

Tools used:
- Anki
- Google Forms

QS17 is coming soon

Our next conference is June 17-18 in lovely Amsterdam. It’s the perfect event for seeing the latest self-experiments, debating the most interesting topics in personal data, and meeting the most fascinating people in the Quantified Self community. There are a limited number of tickets left. We can’t wait to see you there.

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Meetup Today in Portland

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There is a Quantified Self meetup happening in Portland tonight. Mark Leavitt will present an update to his Health E-Seat project (his office chair is a recliner/recumbent bike hybrid). It will feature some in-progress projects on tracking intentions and recording mood and music. The night will end with a talk about my attempt to apply the findings of a study on improving learning with smell to my spaced repetition practice.

Tuesday, April 11
Portland, Oregon

To see when the next meetup in your area is, check the full list of the over 100 QS meetup groups in the right sidebar. Don’t see one near you? Why not start your own! If you are a QS Organizer and want some ideas for your next meetup, check out the myriad of meetup formats that other QS organizers are using here.

QS17

You can see many great talks at our next conference on June 17-18 in lovely Amsterdam. It’s the perfect event to see the latest self-experiments, discuss the most interesting topics in personal data, and meet the most fascinating people in the Quantified Self community. There are a limited number of tickets left. We can’t wait to see you there.

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Meetups This Week in Dublin and Austin

IMG_4626Dublin recently put on a fantastic meeting with a couple of great talks about gut health (which you can watch). They are back at it again, with three speakers on bio-markers related to nutrition. Austin’s theme is nutrition as well, with the main talk on a person’s data collected while losing 95 pounds on a ketogenic diet.

Tuesday, April 4
Dublin, Ireland

Thursday, April 6
Austin, Texas

To see when the next meetup in your area is, check the full list of the over 100 QS meetup groups in the right sidebar. Don’t see one near you? Why not start your own! If you are a QS Organizer and want some ideas for your next meetup, check out the myriad of meetup formats that other QS organizers are using here.

QS17

You can see many great talks at our next conference on June 17-18 in lovely Amsterdam. It’s the perfect event to see the latest self-experiments, discuss the most interesting topics in personal data, and meet the most fascinating people in the Quantified Self community. There are a limited number of tickets left. We can’t wait to see you there.

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Getting to Know the Gut: A QS Dublin Report

Earlier this month, the Quantified Self Dublin group got together for an engaging evening of talks on gut health by members of the local medical community.

CDSA Explained

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Francesco Polito, a nutritional therapist, talked about the markers that are found in a Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis (CDSA). This is a test that he has his clients get to understand the current state of their gut. Francisco walked through the test results, explaining what each marker represented and what it could mean if it is out of range. It’s an incredibly fascinating talk and I will be writing more about it in-depth next week. In the meantime, you can watch a video of the talk and review his slides, which contain an actual CDSA report from one of his clients.

Video of Francesco’s talk
Francesco’s slides

A Gut Hormone Primer

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Natasha Kapoor, a researcher at University College Dublin, gave a primer on hormones in the gut. She explained the relationship that ghrelin has with appetite.  Higher ghrelin levels correspond with increased hunger. This is concerning, since lack of sleep can cause ghrelin to rise, meaning that carrying a sleep debt could induce you to eat more than you otherwise would. It may follow, then, to try and manipulate ghrelin levels to help control appetite. However, clinical attempts to lower ghrelin levels are not advised since it is a complex hormone involved in more than just hunger, such as cardiovascular function, sleep and memory.

Still, there are other hormones that play a role in appetite. Natasha described three hormones that have the opposite effect as ghrelin, making you feel full while eating a meal: cholecystokinin, peptide YY and glucagon-like peptide-1. She is currently recruiting subjects for a study on whether these hormones could be manipulated to control appetite through a “gut hormone infusion” method. As Natasha explains in the video below, there are more mundane ways of taking advantage of these hormones to reach satiety quicker, such as eating your food in a certain order (hint: start with the protein portion).

Video of Natasha’s Talk
Natasha’s slides.

If you live in the Dublin area, you can join their meetup group and be notified about upcoming events (like the next Tuesday!). You can also keep up with QS Dublin on twitter.

If you are interested in exploring more about the microbiome, we’ve had a number of interesting Show&Tell talks on gut health:

QS17

You can meet Justin and other members of QS Dublin at our next conference on June 17-18 in lovely Amsterdam. It’s the perfect event to see the latest self-experiments, discuss the most interesting topics in personal data, and meet the most fascinating people in the Quantified Self community. There are a limited number of tickets left. We can’t wait to see you there.

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A Night of Cycling: A QS Belfast Report

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Recently, the Quantified Self community in Belfast came together to learn from an Olympic cyclist on how he used personal data to inform his training.

I spoke to Jonathan Bloomfield, QS Belfast’s organizer about how the evening went. Jonny has been running the group since 2015 and was happy to be hosted by Novosco, a tech firm. The speaker that evening was David McCann, a former database programmer turned Olympic cyclist. McCann spoke about how personal data informed his training and how he uses it as a coach at the SCRAM center in Lisburn. He brought in the bike trainer and sensors that he uses to monitor his performance.

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After McCann’s presentation, a person at the meetup jumped on the bike (since he was wearing a cycling jersey, I think he had a couple days notice) and everyone was given a live demonstration of a ramp test with various performance and biometrics projected on a monitor, such as lactate and heart rate levels.

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Jonny said that the live demonstration was a hit with the people there. If you are interested in what people have been learning from their cycling data, there have been many fascinating QS Talks on the subject:
Sky Christopherson – Quantified Self and the London Olympics
Dave Miller – Cycling Power Meter Data
Steve Dean – Project Faster: Tracking to Improve Cycling Performance
Arlene Ducao – This is Your Brain on Bike
Dave Miller – VO2Max

If you live in the Belfast area, you can find out about the next QS Belfast event by joining their meetup group. As an organizer, Jonny works to make his meetups a place for people to relax, be comfortable and have a good time. The rest of us can follow the group on Twitter.

Let’s get together at QS17!

You can meet Jonny and other members of QS Belfast at our next conference on June 17-18 in lovely Amsterdam. It’s the perfect event to see the latest self-experiments, discuss the most interesting topics in personal data, and meet the most fascinating people in the Quantified Self community. There are a limited number of tickets left. We can’t wait to see you there.

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Bay Area Meetup Recap

Last week the QS Bay Area group got together for an evening of Show&Tell talks at the Institute For The Future in Palo Alto. There were talks on gut health, time management, statistics and a self-experimentation lab.

The first talk was from Karl Heilbron about a simple experiment where he supplemented his diet with probiotics and had uBiome samples taken before and after. He was surprised to learn that the probiotics had little to no effect. He decided that, for now, it didn’t make sense to keep paying for them.

What I love about this project is how it reflects how people are using their data in their lives. Karl didn’t prove that probiotics don’t have an impact. He gathered some data, and it didn’t show enough evidence to justify continued taking of the supplement.

Slide from Karl Heilbron's talk

Slide from Karl Heilbron’s talk

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Click to watch the video of Karl’s talk

Eric Mann spoke about his attempt to manage his work time better. He used a series of scripts to get his calendar data into Excel and created a dashboard that gave him insight into where he’s spending his time, with whom, and whether it’s helping with his work goals.

Slide from Eric Mann's talk

Slide from Eric Mann’s talk

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Click to watch Eric Mann’s talk

 

Eric J. Daza is a biostatistician how helps researchers design their studies and analyze their data, so it was interesting to hear his perspective on principles for analyzing the smaller data sets that make up QS data.

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Slide from Eric J. Daza’s talk

Click to watch the video of Eric J. Daza's talk

Click to watch Eric J. Daza’s talk

 

The last talk came from Mike Snyder, one of the most interesting and innovative scientists currently using self-collected data to make new discoveries. A recently published paper out of Mike’s lab: Tracking Physiomes and Activity Using Wearable Biosensors Reveals Useful Health-Related Information, by Xiao Li, Jessilyn Dunn, and Denis Salins, uses two years of Mike’s extremely detailed self-tracking data (backed up with group research) to show how heart rate data can predict sickness before symptoms appear.

Slide from Mike Snyder's talk

Slide from Mike Snyder’s talk

Click to watch Mike Snyder's talk

Click to watch Mike Snyder’s talk

If you live in the Bay Area and want to know when the next QS event is happening, join the group on Meetup!

Join us at QS17

Our next conference is June 17-18 in Amsterdam. It’s the perfect event to see the latest self-experiments, discuss the most interesting topics in personal data, and meet the most fascinating people in the Quantified Self community. There are a limited number of tickets. We can’t wait to see you there.

 

 

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Meetups in Denver and Prague This Week

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The Quantified Self group in Prague will be getting together for a fascinating discussion about Hans Selye‘s work on stress and it how to apply it to one’s life.  Denver will be getting together to explore the concept of flow.

Monday, March 27
Denver, Colorado

Tuesday, March 28
Prague, Czech Republic

 

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QS17 Conference Program!

BreakoutImage2-LongWe aren’t ready yet. But we can’t resist giving an advance look.

This year’s QS conference will be in Amsterdam on June 17/18, 2017. QS17 is a ”carefully curated unconference,” which means his means that all of the sessions are proposed by our attendees. We spend about six months before the conference starts getting in touch with everybody and working together to create something that we can all be inspired by and learn from.

We can’t help being a bit nervous at the start. It’s impossible to know in advance what you are all working on until we ask – and then you amaze us. An incredible amount of experimentation and knowledge making has been happening since your last meeting, and we’re seeing all kinds of novel metrics, methods and discoveries. (This year, I’m especially interested in learning more about tracking using 3d body scans, pulse wave velocity, and muscle activation.)

Typically, we don’t release the program until it’s closer to the event. But we are so thrilled by how the program is developing that we can’t resist giving a preview of what’s coming. This is not the whole picture – and there is still time to suggest a session if you have something you want to share. But here’s the latest QS17 program, as of today. Just remember, it is only a preview, and it’s going to grow and change.

And if you haven’t registered yet, please don’t delay. There are a limited number of tickets left!  Register for QS17.

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Meetups This Week in Washington D.C. and Copenhagen

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photo by Erica Tanamachi

Copenhagen has an amazing slate of presentations lined up for their Quantified Self meetup this week. Katarzyna Wac will speak about what she’s learned from using a continuous glucose monitor (there’s an interesting discussion on this topic going on in the QS forum).  Thomas Blomseth Christiansen will talk about what he tracked while training for a half-marathon. Jakob Eg Larsen will look at sleep and resting heart rate over a long time period. And finally, Frederik Ackermann will give pointers for designing N=1 experiments.

Wednesday
, March 22
Washington, D.C.

Thursday, March 23
Copenhagen, Denmark

Join us at QS17

Our next conference is June 17-18 in Amsterdam. It’s the perfect event to see the latest self-experiments, discuss the most interesting topics in personal data, and meet the most fascinating people in the Quantified Self community. There are a limited number of tickets. We can’t wait to see you there.

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