• Bola Kwame

You're Smart But Are You Smart Watch Smart?

Updated: Jan 15, 2021

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Nowadays it is well known that the quality of sleep will directly affect our mental health, so there are thousands of articles on the internet with tips to be able to sleep better (among all those, mine is the best, I promise you).

Getting enough hours of sleep, avoiding stressful situations before going to bed or not using the phone in bed are some of those tips, but few talk about how to measure sleep quality. Sleeping a lot isn't enough, it's about sleeping better.

Years ago, to measure the quality of our sleep cycle we had to go to a doctor and sleep in a controlled environment with cables and electrodes stuck all over our body while they watch us. Talk about voyeurism *creepy*. I honestly don't know how you can sleep when you look like a creation of Dr Frankenstein. But today we can all have a sleep monitor on hand for a few dollars, you probably already have one, look at your wrist, exactly: a smartwatch or smart band. With these magical, and oh so clever devices, we can measure our sleep cycle and sleep the better for it.

Sleeping 10 Hours ≠ Rested

Having a healthy life is like a formula, a little like my title. You should start with a balanced diet, add a solid habit of exercise and outdoor activities, but if you don't add a good rest, all else fails.

"But I sleep 11 hours a day, so I'm fine."

Sorry to disappoint you, but sleeping long hours is not the same as sleeping well. You can sleep for 7 hours or you can do it for 15, the important thing is that it is an efficient sleep cycle. To achieve this there are several commonly known tips: avoid working or studying in your bed so that your brain does not associate it as a place of concentration, avoid having a heavy meal before sleeping, try to create an environment as relaxed as possible a few minutes before going to bed ad infinitum.

Are you the kind of person that sleep a lot of hours and always wakes up tired? You are! Come on! We both know it, I was too *sad face* Well that's because you are not sleeping well. Surely you are thinking "but sleeping is the only thing I was sure I was doing right!", I'm basically a sloth! Or a lion (I prefer a sloth, more slothy) Don't worry, there is a solution.

Hasn't it happened to you that you sleep so much yet you need to go back to sleep to rest from sleeping so much? Like you wake up, sit up in bed, and then after a while, you're like, nope, I'm sleepy again. Back to sleep.

There are many devices and software that can help us monitor our sleep patterns and tell us what the problem may be. Currently, there are many apps for Android and iOS that use our phones or our wearables to identify our sleep cycles, personally, I suggest using a smartwatch or smart band because A: it is not a good idea to use your phone in bed as I mentioned and B: that way you won't wake up with a phone with 1% battery in the morning.

How The Sleep Phases Work

Perhaps the terms “sleep patterns" or “sleep phases” sound like gibberish to you, so let's see how our brain works while we sleep, there are two phases, NREM and REM:

  • NREM is the superficial phase, it happens during the first minutes and does not mean a real rest

  • REM is the deepest phase, and it's where you dream and where most of the movie Inception takes place.

These cycles last about an hour and a half and repeat over and over again throughout the entire sleep period.

What smartwatches do is to measure through different indicators such as motion, gyroscopes and heart rate, in what phase of sleep we are. If the device detects that you are constantly moving and your heart rate is high, it is because you are in a superficial phase, if on the contrary, you have not moved in a while and your pulse is low, you are probably in the REM phase.

When you wake up, you will have a complete analysis of how your sleep cycle was during the night and you will see if you really rested or not.

Sleep Cycle Tracker Or The Next Terminator?

In the future, these devices will be connected to the appliances in our home. They will control the lights, the heating, perhaps the television, our electronic devices to prepare the right conditions for sleeping. They will connect with the refrigerator, the shopping list or the medicines that we take and do not take, they will give us advice adapted to our pathologies to try to make our lives healthier.

"Don't tell me when to go to sleep, you are not my real father!"

Smartwatches can be a great ally to help us regulate our sleep cycle, however, you must know how to use them properly. It may be a great motivator at first, but after a few months, you feel like your watch is giving you orders. You just have to stay focused on your goals and having a better sleep to be healthier.

I’ve definitely seen a reduction in getting up at night and my sleep quality has slowly increased (I no longer need 8 cups of coffee to function) This is the one I’ve been using. If you want to try it, I’ll link it here.

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