Tag Archives: technology

My little (n=1) sleep study

I week and a half ago I blogged about a new iPhone app, Sleep Cycle, that I was trying out.  In a nutshell, it’s an alarm clock that also monitors nighttime movement to determine when you’re in the various sleep stages.  It attempts (within in a half hour window) to wake you up when you’re in light sleep, leaving you feeling more refreshed. By looking at your nighttime graph, you can also see what kind of sleep you got.

After the first couple of nights, allowing the app to calibrate itself, I had a period of a few days of poor sleep.  Here’s one graph:


The time axis is along the bottom. The left hand axis goes from deep sleep at the bottom to “awake”at the top.  I fell into deep sleep immediately (at 12:30 pm) but had a number of periods of near-wakefulness throughout the night, and relatively little time in deep sleep. 

A week later, I had nights like this:


Apart from one period of wakefulness early in the night due to Wilson barking at a stranger (to him) in the house, I was in pretty deep sleep for most of the night.

One thing I have realised is that my natural sleep cycles put me in deep sleep around 6:30, which is typically the time I set my alarm for.  This means that I have to pull myself out of sleep with great effort, and don’t feel particularly refreshed when I wake.  Examining the entire series of graphs suggest that waking at either 5:30 or 7:00 am might be better for me. Not great choices, but 5:30 would work if I could get myself into bed earlier in the evening.

I find this very interesting, especially when I’m in a time of life when my sleep can be very disturbed.  More insight into some of my natural patterns should help me get a handle on how best to manage this most precious of resources.

Those of you with an iPhone can download the app at iTunes here for $0.99.


High-tech tracking for a low-tech need.

A recent series in the National Post on the quantified self got us thinking about our sleep (or lack thereof).  We both have issues, although different, and though it would be a good idea to track our sleep patterns.

In seeking an easy journalling device, I came across this nifty iPhone app that is extremely intriguing. Using the accelerometer in the phone, Sleep Cycle  tracks your sleep patterns (based on movements in your sleep) and helps you awaken in the morning during light sleep, ostensibly making the morning wake-up easier, less disruptive, leading to a better day (or at least morning).

You place the phone upside down on your mattress under the sheet (I use the top corner of my bed) and the during the first couple of nights it calibrates your sleep cycles.  You set the alarm (using one of the included gentle sounds to wake you up) and it awakens you in the period up to 30 minutes before the time when it determines you are in light sleep.  Here’s an example from the website of what a night of sleep might look like.


I have used this for two nights and got two very different looking patterns, which makes sense since I had very disrupted sleep last night, compared to the first night.  

Here’s an example of a good night’s sleep.


And one of a disrupted night (which looks quite a bit like my last night.)


It also tracks how long you sleep and lets you review your previous nights with a simple swipe of the screen.  You can also send your sleep graphs via email and (if you so desired) post them to Facebook.

Here’s a link to the app in iTunes.  For $0.99, it’s a steal.  I’ll post my personal gleanings after a few more days of use.

Day One of Paleo Diet

Other than a massive headache, it went okay.

I’m not sure whether the headache was due to lack of caffeine, lack of sugar, too much Angry Birds on my iphone, or an act of God, but I couldn’t make it to choir last night and only managed to watch two episodes of Weeds and one of Mad Men before retiring to the kitchen sofa with a book and promptly falling asleep.

Here’s how the food portion of my day went:

Breakfast:  two scrambled eggs, two mini cucumbers, two large black plums, tea with honey

Snack: almonds

Lunch: tuna salad with real mayo (no dairy) and pickle relish, two plums, two mini cucumbers

Snack:  cashews and raisins

Cocktail:  arak with water

Dinner:  large spicy sausage with mustard, steamed broccoli with dijon-honey dressing, strawberries, two plums, plain tea

Snack: mixed nuts

My digestive system has felt a bit wonky, but better this morning.

I also decided that I’d make coffee and drink it black, because I have a meeting this afternoon and didn’t want to risk another headache.  I actually quite enjoyed the coffee and realised that I’m not ready to give it up, even without cream. 

This morning, I made a mushroom and two-egg omelette, and had an orange and two cups of java.  Larabars look suitable for the diet, so I’m going to start carrying a couple in my bag for those times I need to eat and suitable fare isn’t available.  And a bag of plain, raw almonds.

I’m off to Canadians Connected 2010 this afternoon down at the Westin Harbor Castle.  It’s a Symposium and the AGM for CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), of which I am a member, owning a couple of .ca domains. Terry O’Reilly and Mitch Joel are two of the speakers and it should be an interesting afternoon. Hashtag is #cira2010 for those of you on twitter and interested.

Social Maladroit? Moi?

Found myself on Colin Marshall’s site The War on Mediocrity.  Now, I don’t know anything about this guy, or even how I ended up on his site, but his five-part series The Plight of the Social Maladroit is very compelling reading.  Marshall discusses how communication today, particulary via the internet, including so-called socail networking sites, has become “autistic”, or non-collaborative.  Tweeting, Facebook, blogging, he argues, are intrinsically one-way forms of communication and as such, we may be losing the ability to interact socially in a give-and-take manner, whether face-to-face or online.

His series is in five parts, and I’ve excerpted a small bit from each part to give you a sense of where he’s going.  The series is definitely worth a read and some meditation, whether or not we have an online presence or not. Parents, in particular, might learn something about their teens modes of communicating.

I strongly encourage you to go to his site and read through the five parts.  If you start at Part 1, you can easily click through to the next.  Below, I’ve included a sentence or two from each part to stimulate your interest, but really.  Go there and read it. 

Me?  I’m determined to leave more comments, reply to more Tweets, and work on my collaborative, interactive skills online.  And in the real world. 

The Plight of the Social Maladroit

Part 1:  Put it Out There

It’s no wonder that scattershot autistic declaration has become the internet’s dominant form of speech. You could hardly design a better enabling device: allow people to lob as many messages as they can type into the void, and have that void sometimes reward them with just enough of a response to imply the alluring promise of much, much more.

Part 2:  Carnegie Knew Everything

If, like those “talented” kids who grow up lazily shielding the dubious glory of their intelligence, you buy your own hype, you might come to believe some weird things. If other people bow before the awesome power of your brain, for instance, then what could you ever stand to gain from interacting with other people? They’re worshiping you, after all. You’re a god to them! The assumption that you only need your projects, your own brain and maybe the friendship of the 99th percentile most like-minded and demographically similar people in your region….

This all comes back to Dale Carnegie, doesn’t it? I somehow happened on his immortal How to Win Friends and Influence People in high school and, despite the book’s dopey aspirational title, found that its ideas made so much sense I could hardly think directly about them.

Part 3:  The Problematic of the Dale Praxis

Just as the near-epic challenge of developing a Dale Carnegie-style “genuine interest in other people” often goes unacknowledged, it seems to me that people tend to be wrong in the same way about openmindedness — or empty-mindedness, ready-mindedness, or beginner’s-mindedness, or shoshin-mindedness….

I would submit that, like anything worthwhile, cultivating this sort of receptive mind demands actual sacrifices. I’ve mourned living people due to to their unwillingness or inability to understand this. If I could only frame life in one way, I’d frame it as the constant pushing outward of one’s own comfort zone, with all the attendant risks. If you’re not doing that, you are, in some sense, dead. With constrained interests, you’re similarly dead. Without the willingness to separate your interests from your identity, from your various prejudices and from any other of the aforementioned lingering brain garbage? Dead.  

Part 4: The Secret Ingredients of Failsauce

But from what I can tell — in the parlance of the previous installment — nobody is quite so fucked as he who lacks an interest in social connection, even if he’s awesome at work which itself has ostensibly nothing to do with the social world.

Part 5:  Everything is a Collaboration

The deep trouble begins when you start seeing your potential audience, collaborators or audience-collaborators as the Other. This is the mindset of so many hapless teenage dudes on the hunt for a girlfriend: they forget that they’re making a connection and not, say, playing solitaire. Adam Cadre made an astute point about this in regard to the generation of guys raised on computer games: “Want the treasure behind the door? Find the key. Want to get past the troll? Give him the fish. Want the monkey to follow you around? Give him some bananas. Want the girl to love you? Give her the right object, and just like the door, surely she will open up and yield her treasure.”