Ever watch TV or work right up to the last minute before bed…sometimes past your usual bedtime? No big deal, right? Unfortunately, your body likes consistency – and here’s a look at what can actually happen to your sleep…
To introduce Zeology – our new blog focused on personal sleep stories and the science behind them – I wanted to share a story of my own.
When Sleep Became Personal
Until two years ago, I didn’t care about my sleep. I knew that I was not as mentally sharp with less sleep. I also had read somewhere that sleep deprivation was being correlated to some serious long term health issues (like heart disease and diabetes). I just wasn’t personally motivated to make any changes. For me, sleep was just the net result of another busy day. I’ll just get what I can get.
I’ll never forget the first time I used Zeo and got a look at my own sleep data. I didn’t like what I saw. I think I achieved the lowest reported ZQ up to that point. Our development team had not seen so few reported minutes in Deep sleep before. They asked me if I needed a nap.
I’ve learned a lot about my own sleep since then. For the first time in my life, I can honestly say that I really care about it, and I now strongly believe that my health and wellness depends upon it.
My Ideal Bedtime
Here’s just one of the lessons I’ve learned so far. For me, the difference between getting to bed on time (my new target is 10:30 p.m.) and going later (usually work-related) can mean more than just the lost time in bed.
Take a look at two of my personal sleep graphs – one that begins around 11:15 p.m. and the other around 12:15 a.m. and take note of the differences:
What you might notice:
- 2 wakeups (good, for me) vs 5 wakeups. When I go to bed too late, it usually means that I was in “e-mail jail” and that I went to bed too wired. I wake up more often. Said differently, I just don’t sleep as deeply.
- 25 minutes of Deep sleep vs. 5 minutes. I check my Deep sleep minutes first thing every morning. After I learned about the importance of restorative sleep phases (REM and Deep sleep), it has driven my desire for more. I rarely get only 5 minutes of Deep sleep; when I don’t get enough, I feel like I am missing out on some kind of deposit into my long-term health.
- Total Z of 6.5 hours vs 5.5 hours. That extra hour of sleep has a big impact on my day. You might guess that I am typically close to awake at 6 a.m. I have learned that the best way to improve my sleep starts with an earlier bed time. I now place a value on working or watching TV after 10 p.m. For me, it always comes at a cost.
Here’s the Important Lesson: An inconsistent sleep schedule is one of the 7 Sleep Stealers™. The sleep science community widely agrees that consistent bed time and rise time is a key to a better night’s sleep. Cutting an hour off the front end hurts your sleep more than just losing that hour of sleep.
But everyone’s sleep patterns are different. It’s really about finding out what works best for you and your lifestyle – I stopped comparing myself to other people for this reason. My personal ZQ target is 80. I need to use all of my sleep lessons to get there, but this personal goal drives my behavior now.
Welcome To The World of Zeology
I want to personally invite you to join this new kind of journey into self-discovery, to learn more about your sleep, to tell us what you think (using comments) and to share your sleep stories. We’re excited to hear your thoughts and will always be here to give our perspective from the scientific side of things.
What do you think has the biggest impact on your sleep?