Sleep app-nea

Why is sleeping like a baby the “gold-standard of sleeping? Babies wake up every couple of hours! As an adult that sucks! I sleep like a real baby and consequently wake up every couple of hours.  Some nights I wonder if I get any shut eye at all.

Like most people these days, I have lots of gadgets that connect to the internet and can record all the things I do. How far I have walked; how many steps I have taken; my heart rate and how long I have “slept” for.

Fit bracelets, smart phones and watches of all types let you track it all. But I have a real issue with those sleep apps.  You enter what time you got into bed and turned the lights out and then the hit stop when you “wake-up” in inverted commas. For instance, I usually like to get into bed, read for a while (NOT from a screen mind you!) and have the lights off by 10PM. My morning routine is dictated by my day job so I have to get up at 6:15AM. According to the sleep app this means I have had 8 hours and 15 minutes of sleep… perfect!

yeah right … if only that were true. The app does not consider that in that 8’15” I

  1. Tossed and turned until I fell asleep
  2. Got up to go to the toilet at least once
  3. Came up with marvellous ideas to contribute to world peace/make money/great story ideas
  4. Wrestled with the blankets and the pillows
  5. Felt my shoulder aching
  6. Woke myself up with my own snoring (ohh that’s embarrassing!)
  7. Tried to write a mental list of the things I needed to do at work the next day
  8. Got disturbed by the “bing” of a What’s App message from my daughter who lives overseas
  9. Spent 10 minutes resolutely refusing to check the message
  10. Checking the message and smiling at the incredibly cute picture of my grandson
  11. Being woken up by a kookaburra at least 30 minutes before the alarm goes off.

 

So, it’s not really a sleep app but a “how-long-I-lay-in-bed-with-my-eyes-closed-pretending-to-be-asleep” app.

Some nights I feel like I don’t sleep at all.

The sleep app needs to get a whole lot smarter. Perhaps in the future we could have some sort of blue tooth implant which is able to relay the brain activity to the phone and it would only track when we are truly asleep. This might be closer than we think. Back in 2002, Professor Terry Clark from the University of Sussex, UK, developed a remote sensor to monitor the electrical activity in the brain[1]. Back then Prof Clark thought the “possibilities for the future [were] boundless”

More recently, a 2014 paper published in Plos One[2] by researchers from the University of Barcelona reported that a brain to brain message was sent from India to France. The researchers are working on developing a brain to computer interface where you will be able to operate your computer by just thinking about the action. At the moment, you need to wear a rather bulky “helmet” which might interfere with your sleep even further.

When it comes down to it does it really matter? Why do I need to track my sleep? Is it just giving me one more thing to be anxious about? One more thing to disturb the sleep cycle? In my opinion, we are getting way to wound up with tracking everything so closely. Sure, we need to ensure we get enough sleep, practice good sleep “hygiene” habits and rest well so we can function in a busy world. But does tracking my sleep improve it? I think not. I know when I have not had enough sleep – I don’t need the device to tell me! It’s not like recording my bed time and wake up time will do something to change the space-time continuum and stretch the time out. The answer is still early to bed, early to rise will make a person healthy, wealthy and wise!

Sleep Hygiene

This interesting term refers to the habits we should practice ensuring we get a good night’s sleep. Insomnia is often the result of poor sleep habits.

Good sleep hygiene means;

  • Going to bed and waking up at the same time. Even an hour difference either side can make a difference a bit like jet-lag.
  • Don’t treat your bedroom like a second lounge room. Keep for sleeping and …ahhh… “cuddling”. Going into the bedroom should be code for sleeping
  • Have a comfy bed and pillow. If you have sore joints or a bad back have a look at this website for tips on how to arrange pillows to help you unkink the bits! http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/back-pain/multimedia/sleeping-positions/sls-20076452
  • Not boozing before bed. You might go out like a light but you won’t stay asleep and your sleep will be disturbed
  • Avoiding caffeine – you will know your own limits here. For me anything after 4pm rules me out.
  • Not going to bed if you are not tired and conversely not staying up when you are tired.
  • Getting a good dose of the sun early in the morning. Avoid putting those sunnies on for 15 minutes or so, so you can set your body clock.
  • Get your worries under control by writing in a journal or diary before you go to bed to get it all out of your mind.
  • Milk – because it contains tryptophan – a sleepy time protein – helps but don’t eat too much just before bed. While a light snack may make you sleep better by avoiding feeling hungry and regulating your blood sugar; a big meal may lead to uncomfortable, gurgling bellies!
  • Don’t use screens! The blue light emitted by your devices will trick your brain into thinking its day time. Apart from that the risk of falling down a Pintrest vortex is way too high and before you know it you’ve pinned some wonderful craft pages but its 1AM! If you want to read; read a real book or magazine.

[1] http://www.sussex.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressrelease/media/media260.html

[2] http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0105225#s3

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