My Journey with Sleep Monitoring
productivity | sleep
Christel de Maeyer
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. Before self-tracking, Christel felt that she woke up frequently during the night, and the Zeo confirmed this.
So I changed a lot of things during that process, and in 2010 I got the Zeo to monitor my sleep basically. And at the beginning I just put it on and I didn’t have any big intentions with the Zeo basically, but I learnt a lot about my sleep patterns.
The reason why I did it so long was basically I think with sleep you need to do it long. Seasonal effects will turn up, stress factors will turn up, different situations at work, vacation and so on will give different sleep patterns. During the year sometimes you get sick and so on. I learned that you can look at the graphs that you get presented.
So basically I change my lifestyle years ago. Basically reduced the stress that I had during work; I was a project manager at that time for websites, at the end of the 90s it was a kind of a stressful job. So I had to change my stress level, and started to live more regular, changed my sleep habits and so on, so that was basically the thing that I did over a few years.
The Zeo I use it more as a way to look at towards preventive health care, and I do also social experiments with people. I provide with a Zeo or with a body media armband to see how they behave and check their behaviour change, and if so if they can put that into a routine and basically make the lifestyle more sustainable health basically.
So, you will see that I started in September 2010, we went through a few graphs and what I immediately noticed was that I was waking up quite a lot, and I also felt like in the morning my body was hurting a little bit so I thought maybe I should change my mattress, and you can see here I had quite a lot of wake ups.
So I changed my mattress and I did a lot of research on mattresses because I don’t like to buy things compulsively and it was a lot of and basically more expensive than anyone else for their mattresses, so I could learn a lot about the mattresses. And from the moment I chose my mattress my sleep was enormously improved. And my wake-up time was also reduced by four or five times instead of eight or nine wake ups during the night.
Other things that I have a lot of impact in my sleep is alcohol. Even if I only drink two glasses of alcohol my sleep is completely different and I am sleeping very restless.
Smoking a joint, I’m in the Netherlands, so here you can go into a coffee shop and go and smoke a joint. I thought when I was smoking joints I didn’t have any REM but I did, so I thought this was something with my conscious so I thought maybe I should better stop smoking, so I stop smoking altogether, and also the joints I still do it but much less.
I also started exercising, and here you can see when I drank alcohol I had deep sleep but I don’t have any REM and I still have normal deep sleep. That’s really amazing actually, so you think you sleep well but you don’t of course.
I also change my sleep habits along the way, so I learned if I go to bed later or I go to sleep at 10, and then I go to sleep at 12 and then I get up at eight, and then at seven and then at nine that completely disrupts my day and I don’t feel very well. So I changed all that, so I’ve started to lift, and actually very regularly you might think that could be boring and in a way it is kind of. But at the same time you have a very productive day, so for me that really mattered.
So alcohol was a problem, not enough sleep also. You know, if you have very short sleep your day is not really productive, so that I changed. And basically now I’m also measuring wit Body Media which is a sleeve, so the graphs I will show you the sleep in in a minute over the different years. So I did three years, and basically what you see here is the month September in 2010 and September 2011, and 2012.
The Body Media doesn’t give that much detail sleep quality. I think the sleep quality measurement is very important to see, but then again I use the Body Media together with the Zeo and I see the wake ups and I see more or less the same ones with the ones we see in the Zeo.
So here I was in the US and the problem with Body Media you cannot switch time zones directly or I don’t know how to do it or whatever so it gives a bit of a disrupted view, but basically it’s more or less the same what the Zeo reports except the REM or the deep sleep that’s not there.
So what I optimized is in the morning I’m very active and I do a lot of work that I have to concentrate on. And I’m studying again so I write usually in the morning. I do my exercises in the morning. I try to do 10 minutes run, 10 minutes Tia chi, 10 minutes run and I do that three times a week. Very regular always in the morning at the same time and I feel very productive afterwards to start my day as well.
So basically what I learnt from it and took away, I’m 51 so I feel like I’m very dynamic and I can do a lot of stuff is that I’m very productive, very energized during the day and then the afternoon it kind of gets different and I’m less concentrated and I do different kind of work; I meet with people I spend time, so I don’t have to concentrate too much. It’s a different rhythm.
And in the evening I’ll just relax and I’ll feel automatically tired and I get the drowsy feeling to go to sleep and I think it’s really wonderful to do that.
This is my sleep profile so in 2010 basically what changed was the wake up time because of the mattress I think so I sleep very well now. My deep is a little bit higher than before, but he rest it’s really difficult to optimize your sleep and you can say okay, I’m going to do a bit more physical activity and so on and that makes you a little bit more tired. But it doesn’t have a lot of impact and I tested it with a lot of other people as well. So it’s fairly difficult to optimize your sleep. But basically I think the secret at least when you get a little bit older I think when you’re 20 it’s different, it’s lead a regular life or consistent life and try to plan things differently.
That’s a blog on sleeping with technology and you can read my findings there to.