How to Measure Sleep?

Measuring your sleep quality with apps and bedroom devices can give you valuable insights. Sleep tracking devices can help those with sleep disorders gain restorative deep sleep. With so many options to choose from, a better night’s sleep is at arm's reach.    

Tossing and turning every night, a light sleep cycle with zero restorative rest is just as detrimental to your health as sleeping too much

World Records for longest Sleep Time

  • Wyatt Shaw, a seven-year-old from Elizabethtown, Kentucky, slept for 11 days straight in October 2017. Doctors performed numerous tests to no avail, finally using anti-seizure medication to wake him from his coma. Wyatt needed to relearn how to walk and talk, his condition improved, and is cognizant of his experience.   
  • Further back in 1959, a UK hypnotist Peter Powers hypnotized himself and slept for eight days straight. 
  • The rare neurological disorder, Kleine-Levin Syndrome, can put a person in a deep sleep for weeks.    

World Records for longest Time Awake 

  • In 1959, radio presenter Peter Tripp stayed awake for 201 hours on his radio show in a glass booth in Times Square, by day 3 Peter was hallucinating and angry at everyone around him 
  • In a sleep deprivation TV experiment in 2004, Shattered kept 10 contestants awake for 10 days completing exhausting challenges, the winner stayed awake for a total of 178 hours and won £97,000 

There are many apps and tools to help track your sleep. In doing so you gain valuable insight into your physical health and sleep quality

Potential Effects of Sleeping too Long

Tossing and turning every night, a light sleep cycle with zero restorative rest is just as detrimental to your health as sleeping too much. While there are certain times when sleeping more is beneficial, such as recovering from surgery or illness, generally, if you are sleeping more than twelve hours per day you could be at risk of depression, diabetes, stroke, heart disease, or obesity. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night, any more could make you feel groggy and moody upon waking, and impair your cognitive functions.  

Do I Need to Track my Sleep?

There are many apps and tools to help track your sleep. In doing so you gain valuable insight into your physical health and sleep quality. Good quality sleep is essential to maintaining physical health and mental wellbeing, having as much sleep data to hand can help improve your sleep quality

Some people feel that sleep apps are intrusive and while they do monitor your vital signs and sleep beside you all night. You could use the app or sleep tool for a few weeks to gather your sleep data and then disregard it. Experiencing a sleep disorder is unpleasant but there could be ways to improve your situation without the need for sleep medicine.             

How do Sleep Trackers Work?

Sleep trackers work by monitoring your heart rate, motion, respiration, and environmental factors in the form of a wristwatch or ring, a device that sits under your sheets, phone apps that monitor motion and sound, or even a smart mattress that tracks your sleep/wake cycles for better restorative sleep.   

Sleep tracker features:

  • Sleep duration - tracks your inactivity to record when you fall asleep and wake up
  • Sleep quality - tracks your tossing and turning to detect your interrupted sleep 
  • Sleep phases - track your stages of sleep to wake you up during a light sleep phase rather than REM sleep  
  • Environmental factors - monitors room temperature, light, and sound 
  • Lifestyle factors - can include information on your caffeine intake, stress level, and diet to give you an overall picture of your sleep health 

How to Track my Sleep?

Wearables

A wristwatch such as an Apple Watch or fitness tracker or a ring that you wear on your finger can monitor your heart rate, temperature, and gather insights into your sleep habits. As it is worn on your body, some can monitor your blood oxygen levels, rapid eye movement sleep phase, and body temperature which tells the app when your sleep cycle phases.   

iPhone

Your iPhone has a Bedtime feature in the Clock app where you can set a wind-down time, bedtime, and wake time. Your phone will alert you to wind-down before bed and silence notifications to your set time so you can relax and not be distracted from sleep. Check out the Sleep Analysis section in the Health app for your sleep data. A sleep app can track your sleep and record your snoring or sleep talk.

Bedroom Devices

A smart mattress or sensor that fits under your current mattress can monitor your movement, heart rate, and respiratory rates so you know how long you slept, how long it took you to fall asleep, and data on your sleep quality and stages of sleep. Other features include cooling and heating technology for a more comfortable sleep.

How to use my Sleep Tracker Data?

Your wearable sleep tracker or bedroom device doesn’t necessarily tell you when you’re asleep. Rather, it makes an estimate of sleep time based on your movement, sounds, temperature, and external factors. For a more in-depth analysis, you would need a professional sleep study at a clinic to monitor your brain waves and stages of sleep more accurately. A sleep study is beneficial in diagnosing sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and insomnia. Your sleep app or sleep tracker data is displayed in an easy-to-read graph that allows you to make better sleep hygiene decisions. 

How to Improve Sleep Quality

  • Ask your doctor for a check-up or sleep study if you feel you are suffering from a sleep disorder
  • Make healthier food choices as vitamin deficiency can negatively impact your sleep quality
  • Fresh air is essential to mental wellbeing, tackle anxiety by walking outside every day or enjoying a new outdoor sport or activity
  • Take some time out from work or home obligations by enjoying a hot bath, reading a book, painting, or indulging in a creative pursuit, self care is important too!
  • Clean up your sleep hygiene by disconnecting from electronics 1 hour before bed, don’t watch any scary or violent movies/TV before bed  
  • Upgrade to a more pressure relieving, cooling, and comfortable mattress that aligns your spine and supports every muscle     

Conclusion 

Deep sleep is a crucial phase of sleep where Rapid Eye Movement takes place. In this sleep cycle phase, important processes are taking place. Your memories are cataloged and stored, hormones are replenished, muscles and tissues repaired, and energy restored. Any disruption to your sleep cycle process can cause a bodily imbalance and impact your cognitive ability and mood. Measuring your sleep with sleep apps, wearables, or mattress sensors can give you valuable insight into the quality of your sleep and help you create a sleep plan that fits your schedule and lifestyle. While technology can offer some insights into your sleep quality, a healthy diet, fresh air, and exercise are excellent strategies to get your sleep hygiene back on track.