20 Minute Fitness Podcast

Conquer Sleep With Biohacking & High Tech Sleep Tracking

20 Minute Fitness Podcast #22

In this episode of 20 Minute Fitness, we further explore why getting adequate sleep is so important for our bodies. As you heard in the Best Ways to Boost Recovery Time & Avoid Injury sleep is essential for replenishing your energy stores and restoring your nervous system.

How Your Body Changes Once You Start Exercising

We also discuss how we can effectively track and measure our sleep patterns. In doing this, we can identify any changes we need to make to our pre-bed routine in order to facilitate a better nights sleep. Enjoy!

Show Notes

Why Sleep Is So Important

Sleep deprivation will kill faster than food deprivation. Nearly 7/10 Americans have experienced sleep-related problems. This equates to around 40 million people that have a diagnosis of a sleep disorder. Also, a poor sleep schedule is one of the strongest risk factors for obesity.

In one study,  it was found that short sleep duration may be associated with the development of obesity. Children and adults with a short sleep duration were 89% and 55% more likely to become obese.

Studies have shown that sleep-deprived individuals tend to eat more calories. Sleep deprivation can disrupt the daily fluctuation of appetite hormones. Including increasing levels of ghrelin the hormone that stimulates hunger and it reduces levels of leptin, the hormone that makes you feel more satiated.

Stages of Sleep You Want To Track 

There are four stages of sleep: 

N1

This stage typically lasts between 1 and 10 minutes—you are very lightly asleep, and you can quickly return to being fully awake.

Defining Features: 

  • Although you are asleep, you may wake up feeling like you didn’t sleep at all. 
  • Muscles are not inhibited yet: your eyes may roll a little bit and you may slightly open your eyelids.
  • Breathing starts to slow down and your heartbeat becomes regular.
  • Your blood pressure and brain temperature decrease.

N2

Defining Features: 

  • Usually lasts about 20 minutes, is characterized by a slowing heart rate and a decrease in body temperature.
  • Your brain starts to emit larger waves.
  • Your blood pressure also decreases, and other metabolic functions slow down too.
  • We spend most of our nights in Stage 2 sleep (around 45% of total sleep duration).

N3

During stage 3, extremely slow brain waves called delta waves are interspersed with smaller, faster waves. This is a deep sleep.

Defining Features: 

  • This stage typically starts 35-45 minutes after falling asleep.
  • At this point, you sleep through most potential sleep disturbances.
  • If you actually wake up during NREM Stage sleep, there’s a high probability you are going to feel disoriented.
  • Other names for this stage include “slow-wave sleep” and “delta sleep.”

REM Sleep 

The first Rapid Eye Movement sleep stage lasts around 10 minutes and usually happens after having been asleep at least 90 minutes.

Defining Features: 

  • Your eyes move rapidly in all directions during Rapid Eye Movement sleep.
  • It is during this stage of sleep (the deepest) that powerful dreams usually happen.
  • REM stages typically get longer and longer as the night goes by, and the last REM stage can last an hour.

How can tracking optimize your training

If you start tracking your sleep and recording your pre-bed routine, spend some time looking at your tracker’s data. Also this finds correlations between the best nights sleep and certain behaviors.

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Behavior to look out for could include:

  • What you have eaten
  • What time you had caffeine
  • When did you last exercise
  • Were you reading or using a device that emits blue light etc..

Eight Sleep Tracker says there are a number of reasons why you should be tracking your sleep. Tracking your sleep allows you to identify individual patterns, relative to your own body.  Also, it helps you understand your own lifestyle. Along with what changes you could make in your own behavior to optimize your sleep schedule.

Tracking can highlight any underlying problems with sleep-related issues. If you make a conscious effort to record your pre-bed routine, whether you read or whether you watched a film before bed you can see which activity either benefits or disturbs a quality sleep.

Sleep tracking apps may prevent you from needing to spend the night in a sleep lab. Clinical data collection involves having to sleep hooked up to a machine called a polysomnography and the results are highly detailed. However, it can be expensive. While obviously with a sleep tracking app you get to stay in the comfort of your own bed.

Examples of Sleep Trackers

There is a difference between sleep apps and sleep tracking apps. Sleep apps have been designed to emit sounds of white noise and nature to try and help you get to sleep. Sleep tracker apps measure statistics such as the duration of REM.

Most modern wearables use an accelerometer to track movement both when you are awake and when you are asleep. They can paint a picture of how well you are actually sleeping there are some drawbacks.

If you’re a naturally restless sleeper or someone who tends to roll around a lot during the night, this can limit the credibility of the wearables data. Wearables assume that if you’re moving around at night, you may not be sleeping as soundly as you could. 

In response to this, many wearable companies started implementing other sensors to aid people to better track their sleep. The Fitbit Alta HR uses night time Heart rate data to estimate light, deep and REM sleep.

Meanwhile, the SleepScore Max which uses echolocation. This uses ultra-low power radio waves to track our breathing patterns.

The Ionic also has a tri-wavelength sensor that lets the device measure Sp02. SpO2 stands for peripheral capillary oxygen saturation. An estimate of the amount of oxygen in the blood. More specifically, it is the percentage of oxygenated hemoglobin. This will eventually allow the Ionic to track sleep apnea (this is a condition whereby the individual affected may get pauses in breathing or shallowness of breathing during sleep) .

The Emfit QS works with a measuring strip that sits under your mattress, avoiding the need to wear a device but still tracks your sleep with movement sensors and heart rate monitoring.

Eight Sleep mattresses which allow you to track over 15 factors about your sleep and health, including deep sleep, heart rate, and respiratory rate.


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Charlie Farmer

Charlie is content writer and community manager at Shape.
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