It basically means optimizing your life for the goals you want to achieve and the ways to measure it.
Fortunately, we have many ways to do it with today’s technology. Wearable technology is a hot subject in the last year! And for a couple of years now you can track your exercise, eating and sleeping activities pretty easily.
But even if you don’t have the latest Nike+ Fuelband, you are still able to do it only with an app.
I decided I want to hack my sleeping habits, or to put it in simple words, get my sleeping habits to where I want them to be. Not Easy!
What are your goals?
First you need to define what your goals are. What’s the ideal for you and how you will get there. If you don’t define the goal it would be hard to compare.
I had a goal of trying to shift my sleep slowly towards waking up earlier. Hopefully as early as 6:00AM. A couple of months ago I managed to wake up on some of the days at 6:15 or 6:30, and it felt extremely rewarding.
Waking up early is really important for me. It makes me feel good and is something that can make you a happier person.
Also, my wish was to just wake up at a certain time without the feeling of wanting to go back to sleep.
So, Since it’s hard for me to get out of bed I expected/assumed that waking up at the right time of my sleep cycle would actually make me happier, regardless of the time I wake up, assuming it’s a common time people wake up in the morning which is around 7-7:30AM.
I used an Sleep Cycle for that matter which got really high votes on the AppStore, for helping me achieving these goals.
Sleep cycle measures your movements during your sleep and monitors your sleep quality. Since your ideal time for waking up is different every day because your sleep cycle might be different, choosing a precise time of waking up is impossible.
Therefore, you need to choose a time window to be woken up at and choose your wake up time at the end of that window. So eventually you’ll be awake when you actually planned to wake up.
As example, I wanted to wake up today at 7:00AM , so I set the time for the app to wake me up between 6:30AM and 7:00AM. Sometimes, within that time window the app chose to start waking me up slowly on the optimal time of my sleep cycle, so by the time it was 7AM I should have been fully awake.
I was hoping that on that time, I’d be able to jump out of bed and start my day. Well…It doesn’t necessarily works this way….
Reality is that just like every snooze, after 7AM the app keeps ringing and waking you up, but you still feel tired and want to keep sleeping. Eventually I woke up at 7:30AM and got out of bed around 20 minutes afterwards.
You’d claim that I sleep too little. There are nights that I sleep too little (and even then I expect the waking up process to be easier when I monitor my sleep with the app), and that influences my ability to wake up. But on other nights when I sleep more than 7 hours or close to 8 hours, which is normal, I expect to get up fresh and start my day. It’s was still not easier.
What info are you able to discover from Sleep Cycle report screens?
Sleep Cycle has a set of beautiful reports where you are able to understand more about your sleeping habits. It shows how awake or asleep you are during your sleeping time and give a score to each night according to your “performance”.
Here are a couple of examples of my sleeping cycle from the App and an analysis of it.
16-17th of November – Took me a long time to fall a sleep but eventually I had my deep sleep as the graph showed. It was short but I considered it as a good night. So why my sleep quality is only 56%? If this is because of the length of the sleeping time, I know this by myself. It’s pretty obvious that Short sleep time = bad sleep quality. I don’t need an App for that.
25-26th of November – It took long time to fall asleep & long time to wake up. I counted it as good sleep, still the graph shows I never got into real deep sleep stage, but it was a long night, and therefore might have got high percentage of sleep quality (77%). So, there is inconsistency between the graph and the overall score for the night.
Sunday 15-16th of December – On this day I marked that I’ve been working out, I went skiing that day, which was great and had really good sleep quality as they define it. And still I woke up not happy, probably because I woke up later than I aimed to wake up.
You should really try and nail the problem
What I’m trying to say is that I don’t get the way that sleep cycle measures your sleep quality, and I’m trying to find some consistency to optimize my sleeping habits. The only thing I understand from the app is that long sleep time = good night , short sleep time = bad night , and even this is sometimes inconsistent with my subjective feeling of how well I slept.
I’m abandoning Sleep cycle, I decided I’m going back to my old alarm, which actually makes me get out of bed to turn it off (with sleep cycle the phone is next to your head, so it’s easy to turn it off), which does help me to wake up more easily.
To be fair, there are a couple of things needed to be mentioned on this experiment:
1. I put the phone on my mattress next to my head when I sleep. I understand it’s not the most accurate way of measuring your movements, and that having a wearable wrist band (Anyone wish to buy/get me one?) would probably be more accurate monitoring my sleep.
2. Our bed at home consist of only a single mattress and therefore, the app probably records some of my wife’s’ movements as well. Though Sleep Cycle addresses this issue , and suppose to solve this, some of my analysis of the sleeping graphs might be incorrect because of that. I’d still then expect them to help people understand their sleeping graphs more easily.
Here is my sleeping graph for the whole 33 nights I’ve been using it. Hope to find other ways to hack my sleep.
If you wish to read more about Sleeping cycle apps and how they work here is another interesting post about sleep cycle and similar apps from psychology today
Note: This post was written a couple of months ago. Since then I was not good with my sleeping at all. I’ve been traveling as well and this seems very hard to keep a routine with. In the last week or so, I feel I’m back to a regular (still not my goal) waking up habit and pattern.
Now Over to you
Do you use any App or other ways to learn more about your sleeping habits? How is it working for you and in what ways you’ve managed to improve? Leave your thought in the comments below.