What does your circadian rhythm say?

It’s always been clear that sleep is a big deal and more and more research is coming out to show the massive effect sleep can have in our lives. Especially at critical times of our development.

I have been tracking (quantifying) my sleeping solidly for about 3-5 years and its surprising to see the effect of the things like different alcohol drink, cheese, coffee, milk and chocolate. I also been to many events, with the last one being Cafe Sci: Myth and Science of Sleep. I generally track my dreams now, which is quite different from previously when I use to track them with a lot more detail.

Tracking sleep can seem a but of nonsense; I mean leaving your phone on your bed while you sleep or using a wristband device to collect data can seem poor for data collection. However with some calibration and a few months data, it becomes clear through the patterns whats good quality and bad quality sleep; oppose to the length of sleep. The key being the cycles of sleep… Light sleep into REM into deep sleep into light sleep and over again.

Sleep as Android data

Here is me sleeping in a hotel for 5hrs 49mins after drinking cocktails in London during the week of Mozfest. You can see the alcohol puts me into deep sleep quickly but it takes a while for my body to get back into its normal sleep pattern. I also had a done a lot of walking that day.

graph_detail_20171019_1.11

This clearly shows although I had 7hrs 21mins of sleep when I woke up, I felt like crap. To be fair I had red wine, and was on cold meds to get rid of my long lingering cold. Once again I was in a hotel, this time in Sarajevo. No coffee this time.

graph_detail_20171119_1.30

This is from todays sleep, even with a few scoops of ice cream and coffee, I slept extremely well and woke up feeling pretty fresh and ready to take on the world.

I use Sleep as Android with my Pebble watch. I do sync everything to Google Fit, Google Drive and Dropbox to make a personal back up for myself.

Ultimately I would clearly say I have learned so much by looking at the patterns, especially over a longer period of time.

The smartwatch trap

The Pebble iOS Smartwatch

Ade tweeted this blog and I had a quick read.

I found this interesting and so true in the respects of what I think about smartwatches…

Once watch makers accept that we don’t want/need a tiny smartphone on our wrists, they’ll start making much more compelling watches. The only smartwatch maker that gets this right now is Pebble.

Just as phones serve a fundamentally different use case than tablets, watches serve a fundamentally different use case than phones. Watches are primarily for knowing things, not doing things.

Many of my friends who have the apple watch have given them up as the battery and consistent charging makes it a burden.

Funny enough theres also another older blog which I always think/talk about when people asking me about my pebble watch.

  1. The more you have to charge a watch, the more you have to take it off.

  2. The more you take a watch off, the less useful it is.

  3. The less useful the watch is, the less likely you are to put it back on.

Sleep tracking is a big deal for me and that means the only time my watch gets any charge is every once in a while, as I’m in the shower. Of course this isn’t every day because most of the time I’m in the shower wearing it.

Manchester Quantified Self, rebooted on 1st June

Fitbit stats

Its been a while since the last Quantified Self Manchester meetup. Mainly because I was away in Tokyo over April, then in May there was the May bank holiday. Its meant to happen every first Monday of the month.

The meetup is always interesting but lacks repeated members, so I rebooted it with themes thanks to Vimla.

The theme for June 1st is Sleep and Wellness and we welcome talks around this including

  • How you do sleep tracking?
  • What are the benefits of sleep tracking?
  • What you do with your data?

We normally start at 7pm with actually talks at 7:20pm, giving you time to meet other people and settle in. This part lasts till about 8.30pm.

If you have been interested in the Quantified Self to understand what self tracking is about or just nosy about what people are doing to improve their wellness. This might be a good time to come along learn more and contribute your experiences.

Sleeping on the weekends

I’ve been doing lots of research into dreams and sleeping and I just wanted to share this nugget of information.

Why is it So Hard to Wake Up in the Morning?

Your clock is controlled by the suprachiasmatic nucleus, a part of the brain that controls the body’s biological rhythms. But, says Jean Matheson, a sleep-disorders specialist at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, these preset natural rhythms often don’t align with daily realities—work or school start times cannot be adjusted to fit a person’s sleep schedule. People who have trouble crawling out of bed probably have an inner clock set to late wake-up and sleep times, a condition known as phase delay.

It is possible to adjust your phase-delayed body clock, Matheson says, but at a price: No sleeping in on the weekends. “When people sleep late on weekends, they revert to their natural phase-delayed rhythm,” she explains. This makes it harder to wake up early on weekdays. You can train yourself to wake up earlier, Matheson says, by setting your alarm 15 minutes earlier each day (and heeding its call).

When I was younger, I use to be able to cycle my body clock on the weekend. So I would sleep in late on the weekends but wake up early on weekdays. Now I’m older, I’ve finally come to the realisation that I can’t do it no longer.

Burning the midnight hour

Doc Searls writes about intelligence on his blog. But he talks about sleep too…

Smart people SLEEP LATE yells the headline of this opinion piece in the Winnipeg Free Press. It begins,

Sleep is a fundamental component of animal biology. New evidence confirms that, in humans, its timing reflects intelligence. People with higher IQs (intelligence quotients) tend to be more active nocturnally, going to bed later, whereas those with lower IQs usually retire to bed sooner after nightfall.

After that Doc Searls launches into a discussion about what is IQ and how silly the whole notion of a IQ really is… But what got me was the idea of sleeping late and waking up late.

Since #mybrushwithdeath, back in May/June I’ve been changing my lifestyle around. One of those changes is to do with my time I go to bed. Before I would generally go to bed about 2-3am and wake up about 10am on a week day and on a weekend sometimes go to bed about 9am and wake up about 2pm. Yeah quite shocking… But now I’m going to bed about 12am and getting up about 9am everyday (even weekends).

However things are starting slip, not purposely. Although I’m sticking to the new routine, I’m finding once again that I’m much more productive late evening and at night. I don’t know why, I just am.

I got a feeling I’m fighting nature/biology on this one.

Wake up to light in the mornings

Philips Wake up light

I heard about these light alarms which wake you up using daylight from a large bulb instead of a nasty buzzing noise like traditional alarms. So in an aid to improve my wake up routine I invested in a Philips Wake-up Light HF3463. Of course I never paid 100 pounds for it, actually I picked it up for 20 pounds because I knocked the retailer down again and again due to the bad state of the box, paint on the power lead and that it was a return product.

So far I got to say its working pretty well, I do feel better waking up to the bright light and I tend to wake up about a minute or two before the set time or the noise of blips (which I have mine set to). It all sounds like marketing crap but there is something about the bright light which does work even in my room with lots of glowing leds from machines and mobiles.

Will this be a path to a more healthy lifestyle of waking up early and feeling full of energy? I doubt it, I still feel very rough in the mornings and feel so much more alive at night but anything which gets me up without that jolt has got to be pretty good.

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The benefits to sleeping late

Manchester at Night

This one comes from Wired magazine via Imran Ali again. 3 Smart Things About Sleeping Late. I have to agree with every single one of the points. It still kills me getting up early in the morning but whats worst is when i'm in the creative zone at 1:30am and then have to start heading to bed, knowing theres a bunch of things I could get done if I stayed up a little longer.

1 // You may need more sleep than you think.
Research by Henry Ford Hospital Sleep Disorders Center found that people who slept eight hours and then claimed they were “well rested” actually performed better and were more alert if they slept another two hours. That figures. Until the invention of the lightbulb (damn you, Edison!), the average person slumbered 10 hours a night.

2 // Night owls are more creative.
Artists, writers, and coders typically fire on all cylinders by crashing near dawn and awakening at the crack of noon. In one study, “evening people” almost universally slam-dunked a standardized creativity test. Their early-bird brethren struggled for passing scores.

3 // Rising early is stressful.
The stress hormone cortisol peaks in your blood around 7 am. So if you get up then, you may experience tension. Grab some extra Zs! You'll wake up feeling less like Bert, more like Ernie.

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Another late night rant…

Open times

Ben pretty much sums up what I've been thinking and ranted about many times.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m a “night person”. Having been on vacation for two weeks now, I’ve been able to set my own sleeping rhythm (well, more on that in a moment). I settled into a pattern of going to bed around 4am and getting up around mid-day, although some nights I haven’t turned into until 7am.

Yes, getting up at mid-day sounds pretty lazy. But I get so much work done between about 10pm and 4am that it more than makes up for it. It’s been like my old hacker-days when I was at school — I would come home from school and just learn programming, build websites, that kind of thing. I learnt so much by working late at night.

My mind just focuses to another level and I loose track of time as I churn out code, designs, specs, blog posts and goodness knows what else.

When I’m at work, I often will stay at the office until 7pm. Around 4pm, after the meetings and telephone calls have died down I get into that buzz, which continues until home-time.

I'm actually quite lucky because in the past I've worked for a few Cinemas which requires working till 3am on Fridays and Saturdays. Then working for Tesco latenight till 6am on Thursdays and Fridays got me into the habit of changing my sleep patterns on a pence. So although I prefer to work through the night and am actually more productive at night. I can change to going back to 10-6pm with no problems. I think it can all be learned too. Sarah can never work out how i'm able to stay up really late through-out the weekend and then go to work the next day for 5 days. I'm also able to fall a sleep within 5mins of putting my head down – a skill which can be learned too.

But that aside, what happened to the 24 hour culture? Why do tech conferences start at 9am? and why on earth does the London tube shut down at 12:30am on a weekend? I remember one of the neat things about working over night was the odd but interesting things Channel4 use to put on. I could never work with headphones on all the time at night so having the radio or tv on in the background at low volume was ideal. Nowadays I can just put on some podcasts. Geez I would have been so much smarter if timeshifted media was around when I was stacking the shelfs in Tesco.

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