My latest project in the “personal growth” department is sleep. I’ve known for years that sleep is a critical part of our ability to function at a high level, whether its for work or sports but I never really paid much attention to my own on a daily basis. My work is mentally and emotionally demanding and my triathlon hobby pushes my physical limits so I decided to see if I could improve both by focusing on sleep. My bedtimes are irregular depending on what I have going on at night, and I don’t have any insight into the quality of sleep I do get. I am definitely not one of those 4-hours-a-night entrepreneurs since I’m an emotional wreck when forced to do that for more than a few days.
Sleep affects concentration, focus, emotional stability, memory, metabolism, food cravings, and most importantly, our immune system. I’m becoming convinced the most important thing we can do to improve our health in addition to diet and exercise is getting enough sleep.
So the first step was to start tracking my sleep. After doing some research on fitness trackers, I chose the Jawbone UP24 for a variety of reasons – the battery lasts a week, it was rated the most comfortable to wear (which is important if you are going to wear it to bed), it integrates with the most fitness apps, and it provided the most sleep details. It costs about $139 depending on the size you get. (Note: this is not a sponsored post, just a genuine part of my sleep project).
I’ve been monitoring my sleep now for about two weeks. While I tried not to alter my sleep habits at all so I could get baseline data for where I’m starting, I did find myself trying to hit the sack by 10pm each night because UP nags you if you don’t get to bed on time.
What I’m finding so far is that my sleep patterns are very irregular and don’t necessarily depend on the amount of sleep I get. Below is a variety of sleep profiles from four different nights:
You can see from the graphs that some days I stay in steady states of deep and light sleep and other times I am go in and out between the two as much as 20 times! The other thing I thought was interesting was that, except for that day I got 9.5 hours of sleep (a glorious weekend that was), I seemed to spend about 3.5 hours in deep sleep no matter how long I spent in bed.
Soooooo, what does it all mean, Basil? I’m not sure yet. The next thing to experiment is what I actually do during the day on the nights I get good/bad sleep. All sorts of things can affect sleep like sugar, caffeine, alcohol, exercise, stress, and even the weather. While UP can track exercise and lets you enter the food you eat, it doesn’t appear to let you export that data and correlate them to each other to see trends. So I’ll have to do that manually. Stay tuned and here’s to a good night’s sleep!