Sleep Tracking: Technology to Improve Sleep Quality
If you struggle to fall asleep at night, stay asleep throughout the night, or wake up tired, you may benefit from sleep tracking. Sleep tracking is an increasingly popular technology that can help you to track, understand, and improve your sleep. Having a better understanding of your sleep can help you to develop lifestyle strategies that further improve your sleep and health.
In this article, you will learn more about the benefits of good sleep and the main causes of poor sleep. You will learn more about sleep tracking and how it may help to improve your sleep. You will understand what is heart rate variability and how it is related to your sleep quality. I will also share my top strategies to help you improve your sleep.
Benefits of Good Sleep
You’ve probably and regularly heard the common advice urging you to sleep from 7 to 9 hours a night. But have you stopped to think about why good sleep is so important? Of course, if your sleep is interrupted or you go without sleeping enough for a long time, you will feel tired and lethargic. There is more to it though. Sleep is essential for your entire health including your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
Sleep is a time when your body can finally rest and relax. It is an opportunity for repair and rejuvenates when your body can take some time to heal. Sleep is absolutely critical for healthy immune function, nervous system function, brain function, metabolism, and more. When you don’t sleep well, your memory, learning, and energy levels will suffer.
A lack of good sleep may increase the risk of inflammation and make you more vulnerable to illness and disease. On the other hand, good sleep may reduce inflammation, pain, and the risk of disease. Good sleep will also support your immune system, boost your brainpower, increase your energy, and improve your well-being (1).
Main Causes of Poor Sleep
Poor sleep may be different for everyone. You may be going to bed too late, waking up too early, and thus only getting 4 to 5 hours of sleep regularly. You may suffer from insomnia, and have trouble falling or staying asleep. You may be woken up by nightmares or night terrors. You may experience interrupted sleep and keep snoozing the alarm in the morning. You may be undersleeping some days or oversleeping other days. No matter what, poor sleep may have serious consequences to your health.
To improve your sleep, first, you need to look at the root causes of your sleep troubles. Poor sleep may be caused by a variety of nutrition, lifestyle, or health issues that you may need to address in order to obtain better sleep and improve your health.
Major causes of poor sleep include:
- Poor sleep schedule
- Bad nutrition and blood sugar imbalances
- Nutrient deficiencies
- LED light exposure
- Chronic pain
- Sleep apnea
- Hiatal hernia and heart palpitations
- Overactive thyroid hormone
- Gut infections
To learn more about bad sleep and how to correct it, I recommend reading this article.
What Is Sleep Tracking
Sleep tracking is an increasingly popular technology that can help you to track, understand, and improve your sleep. Sleep tracking devices can track your (2):
- Sleep duration: They track the period that you are inactive when you fall asleep and wake up in the morning.
- Sleep quality: They track interrupted sleep and show you how much you’ve tossed and turned during your sleep.
- Sleep phases: They track how deep you’ve slept, when and for how long you’ve achieved different sleep phases, and if you’ve experienced REM sleep, which is the deepest sleep phase.
- Environmental factors: They track the light in your bedroom or temperature that may affect your sleep.
- Lifestyle factors: In some trackers, you may enter information about your daily activities that may affect your sleep, including your diet exercise, or stress levels.
Tracking your sleep may give you important information that will help you determine what changes you need to make for better sleep and better health.
Introducing the Oura Ring
There are a variety of wearable trackers on the market and most of them you can strap on to your wrist. Other trackers, you may place on your bedside table or pillow. I personally use and recommend the Oura Ring. It looks just like a regular ring and no one will know that you are wearing a sleep tracker. It is so small that you can put in on your finger, yet it is incredibly accurate and detailed.
The Oura Ring tracks your body and activities all day and night, 24/7, for more accurate and insightful baseline information to help you gain a deeper understanding of your sleep and improve the quality of your sleep. It tracks your body temperature indicating your baseline and any variations that may affect your sleep.
This may help to detect menstrual cycle changes and any early signs of illness. It tracks the resting heart rate and respiratory rate. It also tracks your blood volume pulse directly from the palmar arteries which helps to track your sleep cycle, including light sleep, deep sleep, REM sleep, and hours spent awake.
Sleep Tracking With The Oura Ring:
This little ring helps to optimize your recovery by letting you know when you need more rest and when to recharge. By detecting the amplitude and intensity of your body movements, this tracker records when you are active and inactive during the day, which may help you to increase your daytime activity level to support your sleep and health. To help you with that, it even gives you reminders to stretch or move and tracks your steps and calories to show you your progress.
Oura Ring is more than a sleep tracker. It is a health, fitness, and sleep tracker that is stylish, simple, accurate, and detailed, and allows you to import and export your information quickly. I highly recommend it in order to obtain precise information about your sleep and to improve your health with the help of accurate personal data.
What Is Heart Rate Variability
Heart rate variability (HRV) is the measure of the time variation between your heartbeats. This variation is controlled by your autonomic nervous system (ANS). Your ANS regulates your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, digestion, and other areas of life.
Through the ANS, your hypothalamus sends important information to different parts of your body. It sends signals to induce rest and relaxation. At night, it helps you to fall and stay asleep. However, if you are leading an unhealthy lifestyle, eating a poor diet, stressed out and not exercising enough, or if other factors are involved that may affect your sleep, then your hypothalamus and ANS will have a more difficult job helping you sleep.
Tracking your HRV is a simple, noninvasive, and a fascinating way to check ANS imbalances. When your HRV is low, it means that your body is stressed and in fight-or-flight mode, whereas, higher HRV means a more relaxed and healthier state. Low HRV may be associated with depression, anxiety, health issues, or even the risk of cardiovascular disease or death.
Tracking your HRV with a device, such as the Oura Ring can allow you to gain a better understanding of your body, more resilience to stress and greater cardiovascular health. You may incorporate mindfulness, meditation, more exercise, and better sleep habits, and consequently, see improvements in your HRV and overall well-being. It is important to note that if your HRV is consistently and alarmingly low, then you should visit your healthcare professional to look into potential health issues and causes (3, 4, 5).
Top Strategies to Improve Sleep Quality
Using a sleep tracking device, such as the Oura Ring, can provide valuable information about your sleep. This information, however, is not enough to achieve quality sleep. You need to adopt appropriate lifestyle strategies to obtain better sleep. Try my top strategies to improve your sleep quality, employ them on a regular basis, and notice the difference in your sleep and energy levels.
Your bedtime habits can certainly support or interfere with your sleep. Make sure that your bedroom is a safe sanctuary with a peaceful vibe, comfortable bed and bedding, and good pillows. Avoid stress and electronics at nighttime.
Try meditation, breathing exercises, journaling, and light stretching to prepare for bed. Keep a regular sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time allowing for 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep. Here are some additional helpful tips.
Do Not Hit Snooze
Hitting snooze may be tempting and satisfying at the moment, but it’s counterproductive. Trying to fall back asleep for a few minutes, then waking up again may interrupt your hormones and circadian rhythms. Snoozing will only leave you tired.
Do not hit snooze, just wake up and get up when the alarm goes off. Keeping a regular sleep schedule and sleeping the recommended 7 to 9 hours will help you to quit snoozing for good.
Get Some Sunlight
Sunlight is critical for your circadian rhythm. The first sunlight of the day signals your brain that it’s morning time. Your brain will signal to your adrenal glands to secrete cortisol which prompts the release of glycogen which then results in a burst of energy waking you up.
Getting some sunshine in the morning, even for just 5 to 15 minutes, can help to boost your energy levels and wake your body up. Step outside, do some grounding, go for a short walk, or sip your morning coffee, tea or lemon water outside.
Avoid Artificial Light
Light stimulates your body to stay awake. Artificial light coming from electrical devices is blue-light which may actually fatigue your body.
Artificial light before bed or upon waking can particularly interfere with your sleep and circadian rhythms. If you must use electronics, I recommend trying some blue light blocking glasses and using blue light filters.
Blackout Your Room
Most people tend to sleep much better in pitch-black rooms. Research has shown that sleeping in a lit room may delay melatonin production and sleep, whereas fully dark rooms are a better option. I recommend blackout curtains and a sleep mask (6).
Balance Your Blood Sugar
Blood sugar imbalances interfere with stable energy throughout the day and natural tiredness at night. They may lead to a burst of energy, sugar crashes, and disrupted sleep.
I recommend that you eat an anti-inflammatory diet focusing on healthy fats as fuel and keeping your sugar and carb intake very low. To learn more about a healing diet and its benefits, I recommend reading this article.
Understand Caffeine Intake
While caffeine in coffee may have some benefits, including enhancing your performance and boosting mental energy, too much caffeine during the day or caffeine too close to bedtime can cause an issue. It may keep you awake longer than you want to stay up.
It is best to avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening and to keep your caffeine intake at a moderate level. If you are sensitive to caffeine, you may need to avoid it altogether.
Try Supplemental Support for Sleep
Certain supplements may help to support your sleep cycle by helping to improve physiological pathways in your body. Here is what I recommend:
Magnesium deficiency is a chronic issue our society is dealing with. This mineral is essential for your sleep, energy levels, blood pressure, muscle health, mental health, and other areas. I recommend Brain Calm Magnesium because it is specifically designed to calm your nerves and improve your sleep.
Melatonin is a powerful antioxidant that helps your body to sleep. Supplementing with Sleep Support, a bi-phasic time-release melatonin that doesn’t wear off in the middle of the night may help you to fall asleep easier and stay asleep throughout the night.
Magnesium with Melatonin
You may even try a combination of magnesium of melatonin. Using a Magnesium Lotion that contains melatonin may help to relax your body and put you to sleep easier. Just rub a pump on the bottoms of your feet, or your abdomen, back of your neck, arms, or legs about 30 minutes before bedtime.
Adaptogens are substances that help your body to endure stress and function better. Certain adaptogens help to lower your cortisol levels, improve stress and anxiety, and to improve your sleep.
This is why I recommend Cortisol Defense, a supplement made with ashwagandha and L-theanine, designed to improve your sleep quality and daily energy levels.
Certain herbs can help to relax your body, calm your mind, and improve your sleep. Some of these herbs include valerian, lavender, lemon balm, chamomile, kava, and passionflower, all of which make a fantastic tea. I personally love and recommend Nighty Night Tea, a delicious herbal tea to improve your sleep.
You can also use a good electrolyte and adaptogen blend that is designed to help relax your muscles and calm your mind for a great sleep. We designed the Relax Calm with many of the top herbs for relaxation and key electrolytes to calm your body and mind.
Sleep is essential for rest, repair, and rejuvenation. It is critical for your energy levels, brain function, nervous system, immune system, metabolism, and all other areas of your health.
Sleep tracking is an increasingly popular technology that can help you to track, understand, and improve your sleep. I recommend that you try sleep tracking and employ my top strategies to improve your sleep for better energy, health, and well-being.