Other ways of taking care of myself

Monday, January 09, 2012

Today I thought I'd write about a couple of other ways I am taking care of myself.

This afternoon I'm going to see a new doctor to talk about medication management. I'm on a few different meds whose effectiveness and side effects change over time, and I've found it really helpful to see a doctor regularly (every month or two) to discuss how things are going. It lets me catch any problems while they are still small. My old doctor moved his practice elsewhere, and I had been procrastinating on finding a new one. But a month ago, I finally looked up other nearby doctors, and made an appointment. Of course, the earliest appointment was a month away -- but now it's here. So I can get back on track with managing my meds properly.

I've also been tracking my sleep. I use a system called Zeo ( ), which consists of a small headband and a bedside device about the size of an alarm clock. The headband has 3 electrical sensors made out of metallic thread (so they're soft), and can read your brain waves well enough to tell what stage of sleep you're in -- deep sleep, dreaming, or light sleep. It also has a small Bluetooth transmitter that beams the sensor data to a memory card in the alarm-clock device. It saves data about your sleep through the whole night. In the morning, you plug the memory card into your computer. The Zeo website can automatically read and graph your sleep data. The graph looks like this:

Red means awake, light green means dreaming, gray means light sleep, and dark green means deep sleep. You can see I woke up briefly when my husband got up for work, then went back to sleep. (Benefits of being a grad student…)

Their website lets you record things like how much caffeine or alcohol you drank the previous day, whether you watched TV before bed, etc. So you can keep track of how different things affect your sleep.

I remember a SparkPeople article (
) discussing how your sleep can affect your weight: bad sleep makes your body pump out stress hormones that lower your metabolism, lower your energy, and make you hungrier. If I can track how I'm sleeping, then I can figure out how to sleep better. That will help me get healthier!

So I like the idea of combining the sleep data with the data I'm tracking on SparkPeople. It will give me a "big picture" of what's working and what's not working. And I can bring all this data to my doctor, so that he* can help me better.

I have so much fun being a data nerd!

(*I'm referring to my specific doctor in this case, who happens to be a man. As a woman studying biomedical science, I obviously don't want to imply that all doctors are men!)
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Zeo sounds neat! I like the different ways you're taking care of yourself. Big picture.
    2355 days ago
  • DRB13_1
    It's great that a sleep sensor is available for home use. It would be interesting to see the differences if you listen to ambient (spa) music before or during sleep. May you have sweet dreams! emoticon
    2356 days ago
    Rainthief, I've been using it since Christmas night -- my parents got it for me for Christmas, which was super incredibly awesome of them.

    It costs $150 for the bedside system. (It's $99 for the iPhone-based system, where the headband is supposed to just talk straight to an iPhone, but the reviews I've read of that indicate that it's not ready for prime time -- there are still a lot of bugs. So I'd go with the bedside system.) It isn't exactly cheap. But I'd consider it worthwhile if you have sleep issues. I was starting to save up to buy it myself when I got it as a gift.
    2356 days ago
    That is really neat; I might look into that. Sleep definitely affects things like weight. How long have you been using it?

    And, coming from a data nerd - there is no shame in it. Only more nerdiness.
    2358 days ago
    Nothing wrong with being a data nerd. emoticon
    2358 days ago
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