Tag Archives: qseu13

Christel De Maeyer: My Journey With Sleep Monitoring

Like many people, Christel de Maeyer felt that her sleep could be better. Presenting at our 2013 conference in Europe, Christel shares what she learned from collecting over three years of sleep data.


What did Christel do?
Christel tracked her sleep for 2 years with various devices. She tested the effects of different variables on her sleep quality, including consumption of alcohol, keeping a consistent wake time and changing her mattress.

How did she do it?
She used the Zeo to track sleep for two years, before switching over to a BodyMedia device. While making changes she monitored how her sleep data changed, as well as how she felt.

What did she learn?
Before self-tracking, Christel felt that she woke up frequently during the night, and the Zeo confirmed this. On average she woke up around 8 to 9 times. She suspected the mattress could be part of the problem. After considerable research, she replaced her mattress (to one that had a foam top), successfully reducing her wake-ups to 4 or 5.

Christel discovered that her sleep patterns looked significantly different after just two glasses of alcohol. Her REM diminishes to nearly 0% (though deep sleep seems unaffected).

Christel also found that total sleep time was less important for how she felt the next day than the combination of REM and deep sleep. Even if she only sleeps for six hours, as long as she gets at least 2 hours of combined REM/deep sleep, she feels good.

In addition to these findings and others she explores in the video above, Christel has taken her lessons and now helps others with sleeping issues. You can find more at her website.

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Mark Leavitt: Whipping up My Willpower

When we decide to track one thing, we sometimes find that we are indirectly tracking something else.  That is the theme of today’s talk.

When Mark Leavitt was 57, he found out that he had heart disease, a condition that runs in his family. Mark set about making some life changes. He tracked his weight while adopting a low-fat diet. His tracking showed him that he was making progress and that progress encouraged him to keep tracking. But once Mark’s weight loss stalled and then started to backslide (though he had maintained his diet) his desire to track dwindled and was then snuffed out by a major life event.

Though he was ostensibly tracking weight, this experience gave him some insight into his motivation. He began to build a mental model of his willpower. When was it strong? When was it weak? Using his background as a doctor to make assumptions on the nature of his willpower, he used the tracking of other lifestyle changes, such as movement and strength-training, to test those assumptions and better understand how to follow through on his intentions.

Watch below to see what Mark found worked for him and if you would like to see how Mark’s keeping up with his habits, you can check out his live dashboard here.

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Eric Boyd: Tracking My Daily Rhythm With a Nike FuelBand

In 2013 Eric Boyd started using a Nike FuelBand to track his activity. Not satisfied with the built in reporting the mobile and web applications were delivering he decided to dive into the data by accessing the Nike developer API. By being able to access the minute-level daily data Eric was able to make sense of his daily patterns, explore abnormalities in his data, and learn a bit more about how the FuelBand calculated it’s core metrics. Watch Eric’s talk from our 2013 Quantified Self Europe Conference to hear more about Eric’s experience.

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Peter Lewis on Meditation and Brain Function

As a long-time meditator, Peter Lewis had a suspicion that meditation could improve brain function, so he conducted a self-experiment and enlisted a few other individuals to help test his hypothesis. By using an arithmetic testing application, a timed meditation app, and an ABA research design he was find out that there was some support for meditation improving his brain function. However, other participant’s results weren’t as supportive. Watch Peter’s talk, presented at the 2013 Quantified Self Europe Conference, to learn more about his process and hear what he learned by conducting this experiment. We also invite you to read Peter’s excellent write up on Seth Robert’s blog: Journal of Personal Science: Effect of Meditation on Math Speed and the great statistical follow-up by our friend Gwern.

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Ellis Bartholomeus on Tracking Food with Photos

At the start of 2013 Ellis Bartholomeus decided to start keep track of her life. Since her friends were always asking about her eating habits (she was a consistent traveler and rarely at home) she decide to start tracking her food. Instead of entering in her food into a calorie counting app she started taking pictures of everything she ate. In this talk, presented at the 2013 Quantified Self Europe Conference, Ellis describes her process and some of the interesting things she learned along the way. I was especially interested to hear how these pictures served to act as “anchors” for other things going on in her life:

It became a great way to remember how I spent my days, where I was, with whom. These pictures are very clear reference, they work like anchors in my memory.  It is very joyful to browse through the month food-wise since dinner and breakfast are so often a social occasions, and I was reminded of great conversations and situation while looking at the picture.

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Rain Ashford on Wearing Physiological Data

Rain Ashford is a PhD student in the Art and Computational Technology Program at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her work is based on the concept of “Emotive Wearables” that help communicate data about ourselves in social settings. This research and design exploration has led her to create unique pieces of wearable technology that both measure and reflect physiological signals. In this show&tell talk, filmed at the 2013 Quantified Self Europe Conference, Rain discusses what got her interested in this area and one of her current projects – the Baroesque Barometric Skirt.

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Stan James on Learning From Your Laptop

Back in 2012 we first heard about a neat little project developed by Stan James called Lifeslice. It’s a simple application that tracks what you’re doing with your computer by taking a photo of you, a screen capture, and current location (all stored locally on your machine). Stan kept working on the project adding tweaks while continuing to use it to track how he used his computer. At our 2013 Quantified Self Europe Conference he shared some of what he’s learned from the data including how much time he spends with his computer in bed, in coffee shops, and other interesting tidbits.

All our videos from our 2013 Quantified Self Europe Conference are now available.

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