An exploration of sleep and insomnia, with a single destination in mind:
a good night's sleep.

Monday, November 2, 2015

What a Year of Sleeping Data Taught This Poor Sleeper, And How You Can Benefit From What He Learned


Bio-sensors – everything from blood pressure monitors on smartphones to FitBit's on wrists that measure your locomotion - are all the rage these days and one man decided to use these new gadgets to monitor his sleep.
PBS's Hari Sreenivasan checked his sleeping data for a year.
 What he learned may help you sleep.


As a self-described poor sleeper much of the time, PBS news anchor Hari Sreenivasan bought a smartwatch that checked his movements, skin temperature, perspiration, and even attempted to get a measure of his heartbeat. It combined all these data and more and generated an image of his sleep time. He could see in great detail how often he slept, when he was awake and even the different phases of the sleep cycle like deep and light sleeping.

He took a year's worth of data and checked it against days in which he felt he had a great night's sleep, waking up refreshed and energized, versus days in which he was dragged-out tired.
What he found may be unique to him, but I doubt it. At the very least, you can try what he learned. You have nothing to lose and may gain an excellent night's sleep.

He found the following correlated to a good night's sleep:

         any sort of strenuous physical activity during the day - like a run or a bike ride
         not eating late at night, especially no spicy foods
         not checking my smartphone or computer screen right before bed
         a hot shower right before bed
         sleeping with the windows open or in a cold room

These correlated to a poor night's sleep:

         time zone shifts/ flights
         lack of exercise during the day
         late night computing/smart-phoning
         late night meal especially if it is spicy or very sweet
         sleeping pill

As any researcher will tell you, correlation is not imply causation, but sometimes it does.


Sreenivasan noted, "Breaking the sleeping-pill crutch was one of the first major changes I made, thanks to the data. What I saw was that while I definitely sleep longer after taking a pill, I don’t sleep better. For me, the extra time seems to be spent mostly in light sleep versus deep sleep or REM sleep, and I almost never wake up feeling refreshed. Sleep experts also point out that cognitive behavioral therapy is as successful if not more so than taking pills, without any of the long term side effects."

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