We Review the Valkee HumanCharger – and are surprised by the results
As I write this review, I am sitting here with what looks like a small pair of fancy earbuds in my ears. Except instead of pumping out sound – these earbuds pump out light.
Bright white light.
Directly into onto my grey matter (that’s brain tissue, for the uninitiated).
Why, pray tell, would I want to do that?
Well, it’s part of a nifty little biohack I’ve been testing called transcranial bright light exposure (TBL).
I’ve heard about TBL from a number of people, including our former guest Ben Greenfield, and I have to admit, I was more than a bit skeptical.
First and foremost, I was pretty sure that despite a laundry list of pretty amazing features… the brain is not light-sensitive.
And when I heard that the device in question – a TBL device by Finnish company Valkee (aptly named the HumanCharger) – creates no UV… well, I was even more skeptical.
But, the device is approved in Europe for treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and so I had to ask myself…
How the heck could something like this possibly work?
But when Valkee reached out to me and told me they love our podcast, well, I was just so flattered that I agreed to test their device. Along with a free test unit (thanks, guys!) they sent me over a ton of peer-reviewed studies and research citing the validity of TCL. Interesting…
The device arrived just 3 days before I headed off for Miami as part of my trip that included the Summit at Sea cruise (which, by the way, was a game-changer). Perfect timing.
The procedure is very simple – albeit a bit confusing.
- Download the smartphone the app (optional)
- Tell the app your flights, connect it with TripIt, or read the manual and calculate your treatment times manually based on flight times and time zone changes
- Shine bright, white light on your brain for 12 minutes, 2-4 times a day, for a few days before and a few days after your flight
Again, I was skeptical, too.
I feel like Iron Man every time I use it.
The HumanCharger product itself is sleek, svelte, and absolutely oozes luxury and quality. It’s fun to carry around, and the lit up logos in the earbuds were an instant conversation starter with everyone who saw them. I feel like Iron Man every time I use it.
The app, however, is just about the exact opposite. As a good friend of mine who deals with Chinese electronics manufacturers said upon seeing the app, “dude, that is China style GUI.” And where it lacks in aesthetics… it also lacks in smooth operation. The Valkee app left me unclear on whether or not I could trust it to properly calculate the dosage times – so much so, that I had to go over it with their support team, just to be sure.
In the end, however, it came up with a nice schedule, and I proceeded to “dose” myself with TCL 4 times a day for 3-4 days before my flight.
I arrived in Miami, jumped in the back of a friend’s convertible, and was told that we were going out for dinner.
At this point, I had been traveling for about 18 hours, across 7 time zones, and had nothing but a 5 hour ambien-induced coma keeping me alive.
Let me I assure you – I am not someone who handles jet lag well.
Fortunately, I was due for a dose.
The HumanCharger worked almost too well.
Over the next 4 days, I used the HumanCharger to keep me up – and shockingly jet lag free – to make the most of my Summit experience.
In fact, the HumanCharger worked almost too well. Whereas some jet lagged folks were able to party till 5AM, the sleep schedule outlined by the app had me ready for bed at 1-2AM, and ready to bounce up at 7AM the next day.
Still not completely convinced, I headed back to Tel Aviv, expected to get hit with a major whammy of jet lag. 2 weeks since, and I’m still waiting for it to hit.
The device worked so well that I was able to host a dinner party the day after arriving.
I gave it to a friend as he returned from China, telling him “you missed the 3-4 days of doses you should have been taking before the flight, so who knows if it will work.” He, too, reported less jet lag than he has ever experienced in his 24 years of traveling back and forth to the orient.
So, while their app looks like it was designed by a disgruntled teenager in an off-brand electronics company’s sweatshop, I have to say: I strongly recommend this product for anyone who flies anywhere ever.
As I write this, I’m in Hamburg, Germany, and I’m using it to reset my clock to the 1 hour time difference.
1 our might not seem like a lot – and that’s why I didn’t use the HumanCharger leading up to this trip. But this morning, waking up at 5AM in pitch black, I was reminded that even a little jet lag is a bummer.
I’ll be using the HumanCharger for any and every timezone shift, no matter how large or small, from now on.
And on those particularly painful winter mornings, too.
Sure, it might be placebo effect… but if it keeps me from ever having to deal with jet lag again… who the hell cares?
Happy jet setting!