HOW TO Measure Sleep?
Are you counting sheep, taking sleeping pills or do any other tricks to fall asleep at night? Do you wake up at random intervals? Are you stressed even if you have to think about going to bed? You have to try sleep tracking, the most comfortable and efficient part of the digital health movement. Here, we show you the ins and outs of how to sleep better.
How do you know whether you need sleep tracking?
Every single one of us needs sleep tracking – as everyone gets some sleep and every now and then has quality or quantity issues. Let us explain that. There is a lot of confusion about rest and the amount of necessary shuteye these days. Is it fundamental to have eight hours of sleep every night? Can we make up for lost sleep time at the weekend? Does eating cheese before bedtime cause nightmares? Is snooze truly overrated?
Let me answer these questions backward. The response to the last question is a definite no. Although Gallup has reported that over the past 50 years, we’re sleeping one hour less per night than we did back in the 1950s. Moreover, many people take pride in sleeping as little as possible – especially in college campuses or in the tech sector and Silicon Valley, saying they’ll sleep when they are dead. Well, inadequate shuteye can eventually lead there – it is long known that sleep deprivation has even been used for a long time as a means of interrogation by many secret services, including the CIA.
But let’s move forward. Cheese and nightmares? Absolutely no scientific proof for the correlation. Compensating for sleep deficit at the weekend? Well, no matter how it seems, based on research that’s not happening either. But we have at least one piece of good news for you: you don’t need eight hours of sleep each night – actually, we don’t know yet how much sleep your organism craves. But why would a standardized rule determine our bedtime when we know that everyone has a different body and different needs?
That’s when sleep tracking comes into the picture.
1) Let’s do a sleep tracking experiment!
Dr. Meskó was frustrated by the quality of his sleep for years. One day, he would wake up refreshed after just 6 hours of sleep, but another he spent fatigued, even after getting the usually recommended 8 hours of shuteye. Given how crucial proper rest is to brainpower, health, and overall well-being, he wanted to optimize how he spent his nights – so he did a six-months-long sleep experiment alongside a week-long bedtime journey testing various apps and sensors.
You don’t need to do that – but for a starter, you can pay more attention to your sleep if you want to optimize it, eventually through technologies as skillful and straightforward supporters. Let us show you how!
2) Get a sleep app!
You don’t need to invest in a sleep sensor right away, a freely available sleep app is perfect for the first time period. Download Sleep Cycle for iOS or Sleep As Android for your Android smartphone. They will both reveal valuable insights about your sleep: they track light and deep sleep, record if you snore; if you talk in your sleep or have sleep abnormalities; and wake you up at the best possible time with their smart alarm.
Measure your sleep for a couple of nights. The Urbandroid Team behind developing the Sleep As Android app says that your phone should be about 30-40 cm away from you, not in close contact. However, it is different when your phone is able to use the Sonar; which utilizes the speaker and microphone available in every smartphone to produce ultrasonic signals. So you might want to check out the placement tricks here depending on the capabilities of your smartphone.
Anyhow, tracking your bedtime with a sleep app will reveal eye-opening insights about your organism’s needs. For example, Dr. Meskó experienced that he feels on top of his game with 7.30 hours of shuteye, so it will not matter if he stays in bed for a longer time or has more deep sleep, his sleep quality will not increase.
3) Analyze your sleep tracking results!
Tracking sleep is an exciting experience. You learn a lot about your habits and how they affect sleep quality. For example, what happens if you drink or eat anything before going to sleep? What if you exercise? And what about checking your social media newsfeed?
These are valuable details – which will have an effect on your sleep. Thus, if you are tracking sleep with an app, note every vital aspect of what you did before going to sleep. Did you have a glass of wine? Or did a kid wake you at night? Did you go to bed earlier or later than usual? These will be the keys to improving your bedtime.
4) Time to invest in a sleep sensor!
After a couple of weeks, you will see your sleep patterns and realize the loopholes in your own system. Did you recognize you are a heavy snorer or that you have trouble getting into deep sleep when the weather is too hot? But what if you know all this, you have your sleep app, and you still cannot sleep better?
That’s when the time has come for a sleep sensor. There are many devices to choose from – Apple Watch, Fitbit, Live by Earlysense, Viatom, but if you also want to utilize the holy grail of sleep tracking, the smart sleep alarm, then you’ll need the algorithm of the sleep app because that operates through the application – not the sensor. Thus, you have to check with Sleep Cycle, Sleep As Android or any other app the list of compatible wearables. With the help of a sleep sensor ensuring more accuracy when measuring your sleep patterns, you can set out a flexible sleep regime completely personalized to your own needs. You will spend as much time in bed as your organism requires, and the smart sleep alarm will wake you up in the morning fresh and energized.
Are you a skeptic? Check out Dr. Meskó’s sleep routine with the smart alarm: before going to bed, he asks the sleep app what time it wants to wake him up based on the desired quantity of sleep and bedtime. I always leave a 20 minute-long puffer time, thus if I want to wake up at around 5.50, it will signal between 5.40 and 6.00 that it’s time for a brand new day. The phone vibrates gently, and he has to solve four math equations (or take a photo of a QR code somewhere in the house, say cheese in the camera, etc.) to make sure he’s awake.
5) Maintaining a solid sleep rhythm
After you figure out your sleep pattern, your body’s wishes and you start organizing your days accordingly, you will realize that you can live your days energized and build up a solid “sleep buffer” for the long-run and for days without the necessary amount of shuteye. Dr. Meskó needs that during speaker season when he has to frequently travel on a tight schedule.
Imagine that the difference between five coffees for barely functioning and waking up energetic might only be two minutes. If the sleep sensor paired with the appropriate sleep app could find you the perfect time slot to wake you up, while you sleep, why wasting time not doing it? Start your sleep tracking journey today and contact us if you have any question!
- News shaping the future of healthcare
- Advice on taking charge of your health
- Reviews of the latest health technology