Sleep, the great medicine that lies at our feet.
Sleep is not a throw-away activity that is welcome when we get everything else done and really serves no purpose. Completely wrong. Before the 1950s we could get away with underestimating the importance of sleep to restore and regulate our bodies and minds, but no more. Five decades of solid research has confirmed that we can’t get away with poor sleep if we want to manage our stress. Every year much more is learned to show us we just can’t hide from or gloss over the power of sleep.
Quantity and quality. That’s what our sleep comes down to. Fortunately, since 2009, tools are now available to help us track and, in the case of two devices, coach us towards getting the sleep we need to counter stress.
Zeo – This is a simplified brainwave monitor that gives us a map of what sleep experts call, our sleep architecture. Sleep architecture is the pattern of brainwave changes and duration that churn away as we snooze. Typical patterns have us moving quickly into deep sleep, then into dreaming, back into deep sleep, and so on throughout the night. Deep sleep and dream sleep patterns are especially important. They will determine how clear headed we will be and how refreshed/recharged we feel.
Zeo (pictured) shows us how long we have slept, what our sleep patterns look like, and ranks how well we have slept (Zeo Score). For added benefit, Zeo has an online service that allows users to upload data for comparison with other sleepers and provides suggestions on how we can sleep better. Pictured is the table side receiver unit that picks up signals from a headband the sleeper wears all night long that transmits brainwave data.
Up by Jawbone (pictured), Fitbit (not shown here), and Bodymedia (not pictured) – All of these devices are built to track movement so that we can push ourselves to be in better shape through: walking, running, and exercising. Each unit tracks steps, estimates calories burned, and keeps track of total time we spend at various activity levels. In addition to keeping an eye on daytime movement, they can track nighttime movement (or its absence) as well. Have a lot of movement during the night? Then you are spending more time thrashing than snoozing deeply. Built-in clocking software gives a nice chart of the amount of sleep by date, number and duration of awakenings, and estimate deep sleep/dreaming periods.
Lark (pictured) is a movement sensor but is made for only tracking sleep sessions, not daytime fitness activities. It also includes a silent vibrating alarm.
Do any of these devices substitute for a night in the sleep lab or professional sleep coaching? No, but they put so much more real information in front of us than has ever been available to the average person before. Armed with this new data, we can shape our sleep and shape our lives. These devices here, they are affordable, they are helpful, they are powerful. Get one to guide you towards better sleep and thereby, away from stress.