Body Talks – Listen to the Sounds of SleepBody Talks – Listen to the Sounds of Sleep https://www.bodywhealth.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Sleep-Ba-BS-1024x527.jpg 1024 527 BodyWHealth https://www.bodywhealth.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Sleep-Ba-BS-1024x527.jpg
Sleep is a critical component of health and happiness. Here are four simple questions that will ensure that you’re sleeping optimally.
“Listen to your body when it whispers so you don’t have to hear it scream.”
I have a strong interest in WHealth Tech – that is the technology that enables us to quantify our health and happiness. There is an epidemic of equipment that we can strap on, wear or carry that helps us measure our bodily functions and sometimes our emotional and mental state.
I’m not yet convinced that we’re doing better than Mother Nature. She has equipped us with the most intimate and delicate sensors. More than this, over millions of years she has helped us to prioritize the messages we get from these sensors to not only survive, but to thrive.
The progress we’ve made as modern humans (like electricity, computing, and cellular communications to name a few) has led us into a lifestyle that has eclipsed our original biological design. This mismatch is massively disruptive to our health and happiness. I’m a little worried that our obsession with technological probes will further diminish our sensitivity to critical internal information, compounding our precarious position.
This article is one in a series that is designed to focus your attention on natural signals of health and happiness.
Sleep is a critical part of our biology. During the day, we stress ourselves physically, emotionally and mentally. At night, we recuperate, restoring our socio-biology so we can perform at our best the next day. It is critical to get the balance between stress and recovery right for us to be healthy and happy.
There are many commercial devices available today to track your sleep. Many of them simply detect your motion in bed and make inferences about your physiology from your activity levels. These are easily accessible because they’re cheap, but provide the least hard data. At the other end of the scale, you can buy an expensive device that tracks your bodily functions (including heart rate, breathing, and temperature) as well as your activity. It offers the best insight into your nocturnal physiology short of checking yourself into a sleep laboratory.
I decided to test-drive a top-of-the-range monitor—a brand regularly used in hospitals to monitor sick patients that costs several hundred dollars. It generated a huge amount of data. Numbers that quantify the amount of time I slept, the depth of my sleep, the variability of my heart rate through the night, and generated several ratios, charts and reports derived from these individual measures. These were condensed into a single number called “sleep score” that is supposed to represent in a simple way the overall quality of sleep each night.
Frankly, all this data gave me no additional insight into the most important question. Did I get enough sleep, of adequate quality to allow me to restore my body and mind?
If you’re serious about tracking your physical condition to achieve personal mastery, you must monitor your sleep. Rather than spending hard-earned cash on an expensive sleep monitor, I suggest that you ask yourself 4 simple questions each day:
- Did I wake refreshed?
- Did I feel sleepy during the day?
- Did I sleep long enough?
- Was my night unduly restless?
If you can answer Yes, No, Yes and No respectively, then you had a good night’s sleep, and if you keep going this way, then you will get the balance right over the long term. Frankly, the first two questions are enough, because if you’re listening carefully to your internal sensors, and are bold and disciplined enough to make the right decision based on your answers, you will be honoring your natural design, and Mother Nature will reward you!
Let me hasten to add that this detailed tracking remains helpful in diagnosing and monitoring many medical conditions, and many elite athletes find it valuable. I don’t believe that it’s a good investment of your time or cash if you’re simply focused on peak performance.
If you’d like more detailed insight into the biology and importance of sleep then read these other articles:
Read more in the Body Talks Series here: