The average person spends one-third of their life – or 25 years – sleeping, so it’s important to get this right. Of course we all love to sleep, and we need it to get through our busy working and heavily tech-centric lives, but are we getting enough of it? A very timely reminder has emerged to help us focus on our sleeping patterns – it’s currently Sleep Awareness Week in Australia. We're all aware of the big problems that can be caused by lack of sleep. Things like lower concentration levels, slower reaction times, a weakened immune system, weight gain, an increased risk of heart disease ... the list goes on.
The Sleep Health Foundation recommends that most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep every night – anything more than 11 is overkill, and anything under 6 is alarming1. But the actual amount of sleep that each individual needs varies, and this is one of many differing opinions out there. So how do you know where to start in terms of improving your sleep quality and/or quantity?
The data and tech geeks that we are, we know a few apps and wearables that can help keep your sleeping habits in check. There are plenty available, ranging from tools that monitor your heart rate and time spent sleeping, to apps that can help you fall asleep by providing meditative music. The thing that we need to keep top of mind is our relationship with data:
There is a cost associated with collecting this data. After all, it's an effort that may actually interfere with sleep. You’re using your smartphone when using these apps which expose you to screen time, and lights can inhibit your ability to fall asleep.
There is also a cost associated with analysing this data. If you're not sleeping well, seeing it on a graph might create a psychological barrier. Who gets to keep this very personal data, and how do you feel about researchers and/or marketers using your data? Privacy should be a real concern.
There are of course benefits, especially for people with more serious disorders like sleep apnea, but this means you’ll have to do a cost-benefit analysis to make sure these tools will be worth your while.
Have you found sleep apps and tracking data on sleep helpful or a burden? Is this one case where it might be better not to love data ... but to just close your eyes instead?
Check out our infographic for more interesting facts, sleep no-no’s and ways to improve your sleep.
1 Source: Sleep Health Foundation, Sleep Needs Across the Lifespan, Last updated April 2015 http://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/fact-sheets-a-z/230-sleep-needs-across-the-lifespan.html