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How to track sleep? And the benefits I have discovered, with charts.

Monday, February 10, 2014

We are following sleep hours in the 5% challenge this week, so I thought to focus on this topic in my blog.

Do you have some tips how to track sleep easily?

What I do now:
1. I have a wirstwatch with stopwatch function next to my bed. When I go to sleep, I start it, and when I wake up, I stop.
I do some short naps during the day, I measure it on the stopwatch, with this latter I'm not so consistent, and I don't track it lately.

2. Every morning, I get an e-mail which asks me how many hours I have slept that night. I type in the hours, and send.

Then from time to time, I go to, and check my answers.
Here you are the last couple of days: is free to use. I've met the developers/founders at a Quantified Self conference in Amsterdam last year, and was impressed.

The benefits I have discovered:
- I'm much more aware when I sleep less then 7 hours in a row.

- Hunger
I see clearly a relationship between being hungry, and sleeping enough. Sometimes, when I very hungry several times a day, but I know I have eaten enough, I check mentally, how much I have slept the night before. At least 50% of the cases I discover that I've slept less then 7hours.

- Lack of exercise
or exercise close to going to bed affects my sleep quality. I sleep best on those weeks when I exercises regularly (but not 2h before going to bed). It might be that's not even the movement that helps, but the fact that my stress level is lower, as the endorphines process my worries away.

- Temperature
does matter for me. We have a central heating system in the house, which goes off at around midnight, and turns back on sometime in the morning. I used to wake up very early in the morning, 1-2h before I needed. Somewhere I've read that the optimal temperature for sleeping is between 17-20 C (62-68 F). Now, I pay attention to the temperature. I even bought a thermostat that could switch on and off at given times, but it broke. So now I just turn down the heating manually when going to bed.

- Worry-book
I have a small booklet next to my bed, and before going to bed, I record things to do for the next day. When going to sleep, I often remember important thinsg, or I have good thought about problems/issues from the day. I think this is due to the Alpha-waves. So, when falling asleep, I often get creative, and instead of getting bored and falling asleep, my mind starts to spin about the problem, and I try to repeat the thought so I don't forget it... so now, I just jot down the ideas, and todo items. Sometimes, I do it in the Notes app of my phone.

- CO2 levels
I bought recently a Withings Body Scale, it also measures the CO2 levels (also tracks temperatures). I don't know how accurate it is, but at least it shows a number.
Unfortunately, the CO2 level is too high in our after a couple of hours going to bed. I decided to occasionally open the doors, and when I wake up to go to the toilet at night, I open the windows for a couple of minutes.
This chart show the temperature (above), and CO2 levels (below) during the day, until midnight:

This one shows from midnight, to the morning:

In brief, blue levels are good, orange are higher than optimal (something above 1 000ppm is less then optimal, intoxication is above 30 000 ppm). It's not dangerous at all, but it's not the optimal zone.

- Dreams
I like to track my dreams. There are periods when I'm better with this, now I'm less consistent. However, the more I track my dreams, the better I remember them. I'm not sure it has an effect on my sleep, but it's fun, and raises my awareness for a good sleep.

So, how do you track sleep?

What works, what doesn't?

What did you learn?

I'd be very happy to hear all tips, feedback, suggestions.

Member Comments About This Blog Post:
GREENGENES 2/13/2014 12:36AM

    Great observations. I work with a colleague who studies sleep in fruit flies which is quite fascinating. Of course he also talks a lot about sleep in humans as well. I find that lack of sleep has a lot of similar issues as you describe and most of the time when I do a poor job of keeping up with my health and fitness plan it is because of lack of sleep.

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FIT4MEIN2013 2/11/2014 11:57AM

    A good sleep has so many benefits! Exercise is the best way to get that sleep.

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PDQ1203 2/11/2014 9:21AM


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LPRUNWALK 2/10/2014 10:28PM

    Great blog. Thanks for this. I was JUST about to work out and then try to sleep, but have decided to wait until the morning. It's almost 11 p.m. and although I'm behind on my exercise for the week and really wanted to catch up, it'll just mess with my sleep sked. Some very helpful stuff here.

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STRIVERONE 2/10/2014 10:08PM

    Thanks for another great blog. I thought it was really informative, but I have all I can do to track my nutrition and physical activities for now. I'll save this for when I get off the plateau I'm on and can maintain my weight about 15 lbs. lower than what it is currently.

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DDOORN 2/10/2014 9:21PM

    Sleep is SO vital! I don't have to track body just stops and drops when it's time to hit the sack! :-)


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GLORIAMAJDI 2/10/2014 8:20PM

    Very good blog Oliver! I found this very interesting because I have difficulty sleeping and have been working on improving my sleep for about a year now. I know that when I don't get about 7 - 7.5 hours, I do not function as well - can't think as quickly and my reasoning and focus will be lacking. I have a FitBit and it tells me how long I am in bed, how many times I was restless and how many times it thinks that I was awake. I think it is fairly accurate. My issues are that I don't go to bed in a timely manner, my cat bothers me a lot (and cannot be evicted without undesirable consequence), and I tend to wake a lot during the night - too hot, too cold, thirsty, etc. Exercise and temperature and definitely important. I also have a routine each evening before bed to help me relax and get to sleep - no computer for about an hour before bed; listen to nice classical music; read for about 30 minutes to help me feel sleepy. It's a work in progress - some nights I do better than others!

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GETSTRONGRRR 2/10/2014 6:11PM

    Well, as you know, I track EVERYTHING!

I wear a Bodymedia Core Armband during the day and sleep with it at night. It tracks time lying down and time actually sleeping.

As you would predict, I feel better and function better when my sleep lying down to ratio goes up

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KANOE10 2/10/2014 4:28PM

    I am not tracking my sleep..but I probably should. There is a correlation for lack of sleep and hunger. Also..I sleep better when I exercise. Thanks for sharing some very interesting tools.

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BEATLETOT 2/10/2014 3:05PM

    I'm clicking "I Liked This," because I did!

Nice to see you, Oliver!!!

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KRISZTA11 2/10/2014 2:38PM

    Thank you for sharing!
Maybe I'm old fashioned but I like the worry book most. Sounds very creative and productive, and I think it makes you sleep better, as things are written down and don't haunt you in the night.

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KALISWALKER 2/10/2014 1:05PM

    I think your tracking has improved the quality of your sleep. Never thought about CO2 levels before, but a good point. Will sleep with windows open now.

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TMCK-40 2/10/2014 11:57AM

  I track with a fitbit! Wow I wake up a lot at night!

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