Sleep is a precious thing, when you get it! When you have a husband/wife or partner, children and/or medical issue, sleep may be a luxury you don’t get much of. People who have Chronic Pain or even patients with various acute pains may have a hard time getting a good or should I say, a quality night’s sleep. Some of the benefits of sleep that you may or may not know include such issues as, it improves your memory (1), your mind goes through a process of refiling all those things you learned throughout the day and is more or less making room for the incoming information of tomorrow. This entire process happens each and every night when you sleep. Another benefit is it also helps you to live longer (2), but on the other side of the coin to much sleep can also affect the length of your life. Sleep also aids in the quality of one’s life (3). If you’re an artist, photographer, writer, etc. you definitely want your 6-8.5 hours of sleep, it has been proven to help increase your creativity and processing. Along with it improving your memory it can also improve your grades (4) and sharpens ones attention (5), in class. So if you have an upcoming paper or exam you need to be ready for, make sure you organize your time and your sleep. Studies have found that the body’s metabolism and its sleep cycles both look to the same area in the brain when active, so when one is faulting the other may be also. Having these two running properly also helps in having a healthy weight (6). These are just a few of the benefits of a good, quality night’s sleep.
In the past year or so, I have been using a FitBit Fitness Monitor (http://www.fitbit.com), as well as it monitoring my miles walked, stairs climbed, food I ate (if I enter them), floor levels climbed and more the FitBit One and FitBit Flex have the capability to monitor my sleep patterns. It is able to do this by using the same technology as your smartphones uses to set the screen for vertical or landscape, horizontal with the way you turn the phone. If you turn on the sleep monitor the Fitbit is able to sense if you’re laying down (horizontal) or standing up (vertical) or even if you’re moving around a lot when sleeping. When you change positions it starts its internal timer, which then stops when you change positions and all this is recorded into your FitBit account which you set up when the unit is purchased. Here is a recent copy of my sleep cycle for August 27th, 2014.
Don’t worry if you forget to start the sleep monitor, you’re able to manually enter, when you went to bed and when you woke up and the unit will take your history and will fill in the chart for you. From using the FitBit One device, I have been able to monitor my sleep patterns and was able to determine when, I am usually up and in pain, “1:30am, 3am and 4:30am.” When I usually get the most sleep, “if I go to bed between 10-10:30pm,” what foods interact with my sleep if I eat them late in the day and that my average sleep time is only 4-1/2 to 5 hours. This does not take into account the amount of time it takes me to fall back asleep once I’ve been up.
Don’t think I’m trying to sell you the FitBit Health Tracking Device, I guarantee you I don’t work for them and that there are quite a few other systems on the market that do the same thing. Sleep monitors can include a device you wear for the monitoring or as simple as a smartphone app. Such devices include (but not limited to), FitBit One and FitBit Flex, Sleep as Android (Android app), Jawbone Up, Sleep Cycle (app) and SleepBot (Android app). These five monitors were chosen by LifeHacker.com as the top sleep monitors in the field. You can read the LifeHacker article at, http://lifehacker.com/5993005/five-best-sleep-tracking-gadgets-or-apps. If you’re having a hard time sleeping and if you’re like me and really despise sleeping pills due to the groggy, light headed feeling you get the next morning and you’re not sure where to go next, start monitoring your sleep with a device as simple as a pen or pencil and a pad of paper.
Keep track of:
* When you go to bed?
* When you get up during the night and for how long?
* Why are you up? (pain, restroom, dog, kid, etc.)
* When you Wake Up in the morning?
* What you ate for dinner and any after dinner snacks (include all liquids)
* How do you feel when you wake up?
If you don’t feel like you’re getting a quality night’s sleep or you are having to take naps through the day, I would first speak with your primary care doctor. If they agree, take item 1 and 4 and adjust them by reducing your liquids, changing when you eat dinner or even what you eat for dinner and after. Doing this will help determine if having to get up is due to food, liquids, pain or something else. We need our sleep just as much as we need the sun for vitamin D or the air to breathe. My routine is 4-5 hours of sleep a night through the week due to pain and by the weekend it catches up to me, and I usually take a minimum of one nap a day on the weekends to play catch up. As you can see, I have been trying to regulate my sleep by doing all of the above and have even tried several sleep aids both prescribed and over the counter. After all this, we are still trying to find the sleep aid that will work best for me. I hope this helps you find what help you sleep best.