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Manic Sleep Tracking 

A manic search for a good night’s sleep. 

Without sleep there is no health. 

Sleep to improve life. To lose weight, to get jacked, live long, be smart. The secret sauce, the magic pill, the last refuge for sanity. Sleep. Repeated over long enough time span, you become superhuman. Nietzsche’s Ubermench, with a sleep tracker. 

I am Joe’s lifetime of sleep deprivation. 

I’ve never been a good sleeper. Then Tim Tim said to get more sleep, and as a happy sheep, I obeyed. 

Here’s what I’ve done this year to try to address my chronic shit sleep. I think that’s the medical name for the condition. 

And yes, I’ve gone overboard. 

Part 1 – Tracking Sleep. 

It’s hard to know how well something is working until I track it. 

Unfortunately, when it comes to home sleep tracking devices, none are very accurate. Until they invent a consumer device that reads brain waves, it’ll be hard to get a good reading. 

Fortunately, I’m not focusing on accuracy. As long as a device is consistently inaccurate, I can track change over time. 

So far a good tracker seems to be Resmed’s S+ nightstand sleep tracker. It uses sonar to track movement and breathing patterns, and from that makes guesses on deep and REM sleep. 

I guess it’s good enough. 

I wonder if real scientists have the same standard for their equipment? 

I’ve tried the Beddit, and it broke. They sent a replacement, and it broke again. I emailed customer service, and they told me to buy the new model. No thanks Beddit. 

On the wearable front, by far the worst has been the FitBit (Charge 2). It tracks sleep time and not much else. Maybe it’s the only honest tracker out there. 

Then there’s the Chinese MiBand by Xiaomi. I don’t know what to make of this little guy. He makes some pretty big promises, like being a to track deep sleep. Simple and rarely needs a charge, and the device I’ve used the longest, so it has the most data to work with. 

Last and latest addition is the Jawbone Up3. It claims to track Deep and REM sleep, using heart rate and skin response tracking. I’ve only had it for a week, so can’t say much about it. 

Four trackers, every night. Not sure what improved more, my chance of sound sleep, or my chance of getting electrocuted. 

My favorite accidental discovery: 

Playing cards – The biggest challenge was to quickly and consistently test brain performance in the morning. There’s no app that does this well. Especially one that randomized tests for frequent retesting. But real life playing cards do! About 15 minutes after waking up, I take a deck, shuffle it, and try to memorize as many cards in 30 seconds as I can. My record has been 7, my average is 4. 

We have all of this data, now what? 

A spreadsheet! A Google Form that I fill out in the morning. It feeds into a spreadsheet for later analysis. The sheet consolidates all of my tracking data, along with any notes or sleep experiments. 

And the experiments? That’ll be in part two of my manic sleep search. 


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