Getting a good night’s sleep is elusive for a lot of people, yet it is important so that you can enjoy your very best in overall health and wellbeing. For this reason, tracking your sleep can be very beneficial to help you understand your own personal sleeping patterns and what impacts your lifestyle choices may be having on them.
Healthy adults require 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night, cycling properly through sleep stages including deep sleep and REM (dreaming) sleep.
Getting the right amount of quality sleep can benefit your health and wellbeing in the following ways:
- Regulate your appetite and control your weight
- Reduce your obesity risk
- Enhance your immune system
- Reduce your Type II diabetes risk
- Reduce your heart disease and stroke risk
- Possibly reduce your risk of developing certain cancers
- Improve your daily productivity
- Boost your mood and creativity
- Reduce risks for depression and anxiety
- Improve your concentration
- Decrease risks of accidents
By tracking your sleep, you can achieve insights into how you sleep, what affects your sleep, and what you can do to improve your sleep. Together, these can enable you to make changes so that you can sleep better and wake feeling more rested.
Tracking your sleep can help you answer questions such as:
- Does caffeine after a certain time interrupt my sleep?
- At what room temperature do I sleep best?
- During which hours do I sleep better?
- Does exercising help me sleep better?
- How does drinking alcohol affect my sleep?
- How does digital device use at night impact my sleep?
What you Need to Know About Tracking your Sleep
Modern technology has many benefits, and among these beneficial forms of tech are activity trackers. These may be apps on your phone, smartwatches, or other forms of technology which track and monitor things like your daily steps, distance walked, energy intake versus expenditure, weight loss, heart rate, and basal metabolic rate. You can even track your sleep patterns.
So-called sleep trackers don’t directly measure sleep itself. Instead, they monitor your activity levels, and during times of inactivity, they determine that you are asleep. This provides an estimate of your sleep – but not a definitive measurement of it. Only formal sleep testing or a medical sleep study conducted in a sleep clinic or lab can do this. As such, sleep tracking devices are not a replacement for formal sleep testing.
So why use a digital sleep tracker? Tracking your sleep yourself is great for helping you to recognise and gain a basic understanding of your sleep patterns.
Sleep Trackers – Types
- Some sleep trackers are wearable – these sense motion via an acceleromonitor. When you are inactive for an extended period, the device assumes you are “asleep”. They may be worn on the wrist or a finger.
- Some sleep trackers are in fact motion-monitor pads which are placed either under the sheets or beneath the mattress.
- Sleep apps on the smartphone or tablet can broadly estimate sleep based on activity levels but generally require manual input of sleep patterns.
- Commercial sleep tracking devices as mentioned above are useful for getting a clearer picture of how you sleep but may overestimate the amount of sleep you are getting. Medical-grade sleep trackers are more accurate when measuring sleep during longer night-time periods of sleep – they are not good at accurately monitoring daytime napping.
Why Check REM Sleep?
A crucial part of the sleep cycle, REM (rapid eye movement) is your “dreaming” sleep period. This is the time during sleep when your brain processes its daytime experiences and resets. The only way to track and check REM sleep is in a sleep lab or clinic, through a supervised medical sleep study. This measures the brainwaves associated with your sleep.
Track Your Sleep If:
- You wish to optimise your performance
- You wake a lot throughout the night
- You experience insomnia regularly
- You experience extremely vivid dreams
- You suffer nightmares or night terrors
- You are sleepy during the day
- You snore
- You suspect you may suffer from sleep apnoea
Waking during the night is normal for everyone. What is not normal is having trouble falling back to sleep, or tossing and turning throughout the night. These will impact your wellbeing during the daytime. By tracking your sleep, you understand your own sleep patterns better and are able to address these for the benefit of your overall health and wellbeing.
ApneaRX is an NZ-based company that offers a wide range of advice and information relating to sleep. We also provide revolutionary, scientifically-backed solutions to help you to stop snoring and potentially alleviate the severity of sleep apnoea for a better night’s sleep.