Huberman and the Rise of Self-Optimization

There is something insidious that’s been lurking on my TikTok For You Page for the past few months. Every dozen or so videos, I’m fed one about self-improvement. And I’m not talking about getting more sleep, but biohacking your very existence to preserve your health and improve every aspect of your life.

Much of this biohacking discourse is led by a man named Andrew Huberman, who, against my most ardent attempts, didn’t respond to a request for an interview. Huberman seems to be, by all accounts, a very smart person. He’s a neuroscientist and tenured professor in the Department of Neurobiology at Stanford School of Medicine and has studied brain development, brain function, and neural plasticity. He’s been lauded with hella Awards as a McKnight Foundation and Pew Foundation Fellow. He is also a podcaster and a partner of the sports and nutrition company Momentous, with which he offers branded dietary supplements. It’s unclear just how successfully he’s sold Momentous, but a bundle of five bottles will cost you nearly $200.

On his podcast, he discusses his strict daily routine. He starts his day with yoga Nidra, exposure to sunlight for at least five to ten minutes, and a cold shower, then waits two hours before drinking coffee. He doesn’t smoke or drink. He follows an intermittent fasting regimen, weight trains for 45 minutes to an hour every other day, takes a long list of daily supplements, microdoses with testosterone, and, at night, drinks a sleep cocktail of magnesium threonate and apigenin. He seems to be a very healthy man. He is also probably pretty rich, which inarguably improves the quality of his life. There is an undeniable monetary benefit to telling people how you live when it is deeply rooted in science and then selling them supplements.

Huberman has a significant group of loyal fans on social media, some of whom have taken on the loving moniker of Huberman Husbands, a title created by Sierra Campbell, a TikTok creator who bonded with her husband over biohacking and Andrew Huberman’s podcast.

“I don’t know which is worse, having an Almond Mom or a Huberman Husband,” Campbell said in a tongue-in-cheek video. “But the case for the Huberman Husband being worse is not only do I have to live with him my whole life, but I’m also going to live forever.”

While Huberman Husbands have taken over a large swath of the biohacking-obsessed, he isn’t the only person who talks about self-optimization. For the most part, Huberman’s most devoted fans seem…pretty normal.

@siececampbell Replying to @Kaylea ♬ original sound – Sierra Campbell

“I see the humour in the trend,” Heather Mao, a TikTok creator who runs two gyms and follows Huberman’s advice, told Mashable. “I see the ridiculousness in the whole Huberman Husband trend, and I see how people go extreme with it.”

But, she says, she likes it because it’s a lot of information that’s backed by research, and you can take what works for you and leave the rest. And many of the biohacking tips Huberman shares are free.

“We have a cold tub in our basement, and that absolutely was not free,” Mao said. “But other things like morning sunlight, some of the things that’ll help with your sleep, they’re low cost and they’re not gonna add a ton of extra time onto what I’m currently doing.”

That’s a trend with a lot of self-optimization online. Eating well, exercising, journaling, and meditation, for instance, are self-optimization or biohacking tips as old as time, and they’re all not particularly time-consuming or expensive and are proven to be beneficial for you. 

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