This is it! I’ve finally hit the end of the sleep challenge and I can finally look back at a year of data and see if I can spot anything interesting from the data. This post will give the quarterly update from October through December, and then I will look at the results from the entire year.
For those just coming on-board with this post, in 2017 I set out to track my sleep each month with the target of sleeping for at least 7-hours. I used a Fitbit Charge HR to track my sleep and I gave monthly updates on my progress. I also used a few quarterly updates that looked at data over longer periods of time to see what sorts of trends and patterns I could extract from the results. While I wanted to try and maximize my sleep, in truth I am terrible at keeping a nightly routine, so at the mid-point of the experiment, I set the goal of trying to get at least 10 nights in each month where I hit my target of 7-hours.
To see a recap, you can go to the individual posts below:
You can also see my quarterly updates:
First, let us look at the fourth quarter’s results.
Fourth Quarter – October through December
The fourth quarter results fall in line with what I’ve been seeing over the course of the year. Sundays prove to be the most consistent night of 7+ hours of sleep, followed by Saturday. Monday usually gets a high number of hits, but this time around it appears that I’m not sleeping as well when I transition from weekend to work week. I don’t have an explanation for this, other than I probably am going to bed too late (as opposed to lost sleep due to anxiety of going to work the next day).
And now, time for the final reveal!
Sleep Results for 2017
The grand total for the year are:
January – 4
February – 8
March – 6
April – 7
May – 4
June – 7
July – 11
August – 11
September – 9
October – 8
November – 7
December – 10
Out of the 365 nights of sleep for 2017, I hit my target 92 times, for a 25% success rate. This is a very strict number, which reflects poorly on the overall experiment, but one bit comfort I take from this is that, as I have pointed out a few times over the course of this challenge, the data is skewed when we look at the time I spent asleep, versus the amount of time the Fitbit tracker tracked me as asleep. Any amount of sleep disturbance or restlessness meant that the device wasn’t counting it as sleep time. So, while I might have been asleep for over seven hours if I had any kind of restless sleep, the quality sleep tracked came in under 7-hours.
Is there another way of seeing the data to determine if the 25% rate is overly skewed?
Time spent Sleeping
We can adjudicate this by looking at the actual time I was asleep, versus the target sleep. This way, any nights where I slept more than 7-hours would pull my averages up and cancel out some of the nights where I slept less than 7-hours.
For 2017, the Fitbit tracked me as sleeping 2,137-hours. If I assume 7-hours for all 365 days, this would give us 2,555 hours of sleep. Viewed from this perspective, I hit 84% of my target sleep, with only a 418-hour deficit of sleep spread over the 12 months.
The problem with tracking only the successes throughout the year is that it ignored any sleep that falls under 7-hours. Month over month, my progress tended to looked bad and reflected poorly on my ability to set goals and maintain progress. While it’s true that I was failing in hitting absolute targets of sleep, the presentation almost suggested that if I didn’t hit my sleep target it was because I wasn’t sleeping at all.
So, while I was only 25% successful in hitting targets, I was able to get 84% of the sleep the target would imply.
One note of caution – if I’ve learned anything these last two years, it’s that I’ve learned and reflected on what it feels like to be sleep deprived. Running a theoretical sleep deficit of 418-hours for a year might not seem bad, but in practice is something to be concerned about. Sleep deprivation has consequences that affect me in many ways, such as my ability to resist temptation, my productivity at work, the likelihood that I will exercise, and my interpersonal interactions with friends and family. There was one time where in my sleep-deprived state, I let a door swing shut before my dog was fully through the threshold, and it caught him in the rear paw. Despite a yelp of pain from him, there was thankfully no physical damage to his paw. Still, I felt terrible about my carelessness and it was a reminder that my ability to focus and pay attention is compromised when I don’t sleep.
Tracking my sleep for this blog was an interesting experience. I do not plan to continue giving regular updates as I progress through 2018, though I will still be monitoring my progress in my personal notebooks. I found a lot of value in seeing the aggregate results. The monthly updates were mostly in line with my intuition, but it was still good to objectively see how poorly I am with sleep.
It will be an ongoing work of progress to do better. The main takeaways from this experiment are that,
1.) I’m terrible at maintaining a disciplined nightly routines to go to bed at a reasonable time;
2.) working at the bar, even 2-nights per week, dramatically impacts my sleep during the week; and
3.) I need to pay more attention to the things in and out of the bedroom that cause disturbances in my sleep (such a the dog jumping on the bed, evening alcohol consumption, and potential sleep apnea due to my weight).
There are many avenues I can explore to improve the quality and quantity of sleep I get each night. Perhaps, I will explore them in time. However, it’s time to put down the measuring devices and enjoy a bit on unquantified time.
Thanks for following this journey of sleep.