Wearable Devices – Valuable Information About How You Are Sleeping
We’ve written so much over the past several years about the value of sleep. And the two fundamental parameters that really matter in terms of their impact on a wide variety of health metrics include quantity and quality.
When I’ve asked my patients about their sleep, the typical response is something along the lines of, “I think I sleep pretty well” (or not). And the truth of the matter is that this type of response is almost useless.
The emerging science of sleep as has been so well described in Mathew Walker’s book, Why We Sleep, makes it clear that we shouldn’t be guessing as to how long we are sleeping—it’s that important. Further, we now embrace the science that reveals the importance of enough sleep and calls out the significance of the various stages of sleep as well. Things happen in our bodies in the various stages of sleep that set the stage for health or illness.
So while you may have a sense as to how much you are sleeping, it’s anyone’s guess as to how much time you are spending in the well-defined stages of sleep. And this is where modern technology proves so helpful.
In years past, the only way a person could gain a perspective as to the quality of their sleep was to undergo a formal laboratory test called a polysomnogram. This test requires sleeping in a laboratory and being observed by a technician all night long while you are connected to a brain wave machine (EEG) as well as a heart monitor (ECG) and a pulse oximeter to measure your blood oxygenation. I’ve done this. And while it can be revealing, it’s a bit challenging on a variety of levels.
The good news is that we now have access to wearable technology that can easily give us valuable information on the dynamics of our sleep. And there are a variety of terrific products on the market from which to choose. My preference is the Oura Ring, developed by Petteri Lahtela, and you can see my interview with him here. I find it to be super convenient and highly instructive in terms of the data it provides me. I then use what I learn from the ring to tweak various lifestyle choices to improve my readings. The data is instantly uploaded to my smartphone and what I learn is so instructive for me in terms of structuring my activities for optimal health. Here is an example of one of my readings:
On this night I experienced an optimal amount not just of total sleep, but also deep sleep and REM sleep, assuring that I was doing my best for consolidating information in my brain, reducing inflammation, keeping blood sugar in check, and tending to my immune system. And to be sure, there’s a lot more information dealing with things like heart rate and heart rate variability that is really valuable.
So, consider both the fundamental importance of sleep in achieving optimal health as well as the utility of any of the terrific wearable devices now available. Your health will thank you.