Sleep seems to be a reoccurring theme that almost all of the modern health experts I've researched make sure to cover in their books. Science has shown how sleep has a strong influence in both your mind and body's daily functions. In my Recommended Books' tab, you can find a great book on this topic - Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson. Sleep, food, and exercise are enormous factors on your hormones, which in turn dramatically affect your health.
"You likely need to prioritize sleep more than our overachieving, productivity-obsessed culture would have you believe." - Ben Greenfield's Beyond Training p. 224
"Research shows that even a single night of poor sleep can interfere with your performance in the gym, and two nights is enough to ruin it. Multiple studies have also clearly demonstrated that athletes who get enough sleep perform the best." - Michael Matthews' Bigger Leaner Stronger p. 108
For the past month or so, I have been recording my sleep cycles as much as possible with my Apple Watch. Below is a slideshow showing the data from the app I use, Pillow. I'll take a look at 10 days that were least interrupted and seemed to follow a typical pattern.
One important thing to note is how the Apple Watch creates this data - by taking your heart rate throughout the night. My typical heart range during sleep, according to the watch, ranges from 45-90bpm. Low heart rates are categorized as "Deep Sleep", higher heart rates are categorized as "Light Sleep" and "REM" is usually in between, and I'm assuming the watch assumes I am in REM based on the amount of time I have been asleep and when my heart rate is in a particular range.
Here is a part of Shawn Stevenson's book Sleep Smarter that describes your sleep cycles and gives tips on how to use this information to your advantage:
Here are some the takeaways I got from looking at this data:
Shawn's Sleep Hack
Something that I did not know before reading this book is what Shawn describes on the pages I posted above - the fact that you can feel groggy when you wake up, even if it is after a long period of sleep based on what cycle you wake up in. Waking up when you are at a low heart rate/deep sleep will make you feel like crap, while waking up during a closer to normal heart rate/light sleep is prime time.
I have used this hack before of setting my alarm clock for 6 hours on the dot and this really worked for me! I tested it multiple times and felt great waking up. I know not every sleep cycle is the same, they range from 60-90 minutes, but this is definitely one hack I like to use. Because sleep cycles are inconsistent, a better idea is using an app that wakes you up in your lightest sleep state during the wake up time-frame you establish. I have not tried this and am not sure if I will because I don't plan on sleeping with my watch on every night.
Conclusion/Other Sleep Tips and Tools
To be honest, I don't feel like I got too much valuable information from looking at this app besides that I like seeing how much deep sleep I get each night. But overall, the information is not consistent enough for me to get much else. I was hoping to establish cycles so I would know specific times I am in light sleep, REM, and deep sleep but this information will not help me gauge that.
From what I have heard, the Apple Watch is not very accurate when it comes to detecting heart rate but it is the only tool I have. Tech experts usually suggest either a chest strap like Polar's heart rate monitor or a Garmin watch.
The only thing that usually keeps me from falling asleep within minutes of hitting the pillow is heat. Something I've been doing recently is a cold bath that lasts for about 15 minutes, about 30 minutes before I head to bed. Body temperature is a huge factor related to sleep and heart rate. I have heard of several other benefits of cold thermogenesis but this is the most noticeable one for me so far - even if my room is warm, my body is nice and cool and I can get to sleep fast.
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