Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Logging More Sleep

Photo by BSmith4815.
Disclosure: I am participating in the Verizon Boomer Voices program and have been provided with a wireless device and six months of service in exchange for my honest opinions about the product. 

As a midlife woman, I've got a long list of responsibilities, and even though I'm tempted to skip sleep in order to get more done, I am wise enough to know that the fall out is never worth pulling an all-nighter.

Been there, done that, got the sleep-deprived t-shirt.

Photo by JenavieveMarie
I think the last time I skipped sleeping by design was in the late 1980s as a graduate student. Now I try diligently to get adequate sleep.

Shifting hormones, however, sometimes rob me of a full night's sleep.

Morpheus, you elusive god of sleep!

I'm trying a number of things to safeguard my sleeping habits:

  • avoiding stimulating food or drinks in the evening
  • managing my hypoglycemia through healthy food choices
  • winding down an hour before I want to actually be asleep
  • getting 30 to 60 minutes of solid exercise earlier in the day
  • doing devotional reading and/or meditation to manage anxiety
  • saying "no" when I start to get overscheduled / overwhelmed
There are other things people can do to improve the quality and quantity of their sleep, but that's my list.  

L to R: Sleep Wristband, Clip, and FitBit One
Recently, I added another dimension to my tool box for better sleep management.

From July 2013 through September 2013, I have been wearing the FitBit One activity tracker.  Yes, it includes a pedometer. However, it also works as a sleep monitor.

1. Remove the FitBitOne from its clip.
2. Press the button to start the timer.
3. Slip the device into the pocket of the wristband.
4. Secure velcro edges of the wristband around the wrist.
5. Settle down into the linens and beckon the gods of sleep.

Morpheus! Hypnos! Somnus! Caer Ibormeith! Mr. Sandman!

During the night, the FitBit One will note when I am still and when I am moving around, which provides a rough correlation to the amount of sleep I'm acquiring.

In the morning I follow these steps:

1. Find the button on my FitBit One and press it. The display shows the cumulative time of my sleep. The format is much like that of a stop watch, showing hours, minutes and seconds of total sleep.

2. Walk past the computer containing the installed the software for Fit Bit One. The dongle attached to one of the USB ports searches for the FitBit One automatically and uploads sleep data.

3. I click on the icon for sleep. Here is the data for my previous night's sleep.

In the chart above, I went to bed past midnight, which is really late for me. Last night was the deadline for the U.S. federal government shut down. I stayed up way too late talking with my husband about the ramifications of the shut down. (He blogs about politics.)

The chart above shows that I was fitful for several minutes, indicated by the red lines. Once I settled down, I got good sleep until around 4 am.  I got up shortly before 6 am, which is about an hour late for me for a weekday.

As a midlife woman in peri-menopause, I am always very pleased when the sleeptracker shows that I am often holding still at night for 3 or 4 hours at a time. That's more than I would have guessed since sleep disturbance is a common problem for me and other women experiencing menopause.

The software that comes with the FitBit One also shows me my sleep habits over the last week. Here is a sample week from August when my family and I were trying to establish a back-to-school routine.
By looking at my sleep patterns over three months, I have discovered that I function well on 7.5 hours a night. Consequently, it's best if I wind down at 8:30 pm, enter bed at 9:00 pm,  and drift off at 9:30 pm.

This data has made me more dedicated to keeping to a regular bed time--except when the federal government shuts down. Fortunately, this has only happened 18 times since 1975. Does this fact mean that I will go several weeks without my husband talking about politics in the middle of the night?

Well, a girl can dream!


Perimenopause: What's Going On? 


  1. That is really cool!! I'm lucky in that my biggest challenge is getting myself to bed (always one last thing to do!) but once there, I usually fall asleep fast and stay asleep, except for tossing covers off and on, depending on my 'warm' flashes. I try hard to get at least 6 hours of sleep, but I think I function best on 7. One day...

    1. Good luck capturing that elusive Morpheus, god of sleep!

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