Published: Verve Magazine, April 2014
Have you ever considered that you can easily monitor yourself while you sleep and pore over the graphs the next morning over coffee? You may be tossing and turning and you don’t even know it
If tracking your daytime activities, footsteps and heart rate isn’t enough, there is sleep-tracking software for the overly anxious. Where beauty sleep used to be about a cup of your favourite brew, a riveting book, and some peaceful shuteye, suddenly it’s all about light sleep, deep sleep, disturbed sleep, and detailed graphs and notes on all of these. Can I get a good night’s sleep without knowing if I’m getting a good night’s sleep?
You can wear a SleepTracker wrist watch, place a Beddit ultra-thin film sensor in your bed or use your pedometer like the uber cool FitBit or the Jawbone Up to track your sleep patterns as well as measure your activity through the day. The latter is quite effective and more accurate, as the new generation of pedometers is a more evolved species of fitness trackers. Not only do they make you mindful of your activity level, they come with computer software accessible via the Internet or your mobile (as an app) giving you the ability to constantly monitor the overall health of your physical lifestyle.
Who needs a doting mother when you have a smartphone? Apps like Sleep As Android or Sleep Bot (only for Android phones) and Sleep Cycle (for the iPhone) watch your sleep cycles and can also gently wake you up when it’s the best time to rise according to your sleep cycle. The Android apps also note sound waves while you sleep, recording if you snore, talk in your sleep, or help you diagnose sleep illnesses like sleep apnea. You are, however, encouraging wireless phone activity very near your body while you sleep.
Either way, these graphs are pretty dramatic – they tell you exactly when your sleep was disturbed (road noise, partner snoring, baby waking up, bad dream?), for how long, and how many hours of a clean deep sleep you ended up getting. Whether it encourages you to strive for a good night’s rest or increases your stress about not getting a good night’s rest is debatable. What it can do is suggest the elimination of sleep disturbances and therefore allowing you to be more productive when you are awake. It can also motivate you to sleep longer and earlier to reach an optimum sleep goal.
But for someone who sleeps fairly decently (taking into account our current lifestyle) and is naturally aware of the possible roadblocks to a restful night, it would seem like one more area of our lives that we choose to monitor in detail. Is it really something worth losing your sleep over?