I suffer from sleep maintenance insomnia. Or so I am lead to believe by my research into sleep habits. After many years of not realizing I had an issue, I came across a great interview in one of my favorite podcasts, The Drive with Peter Attia, with Matthew Walker sleep guru and writer of the book “Why We Sleep”.
He described in a very straight-forward means that sleep is way more important for our health and well-being than is communicated and the 6 hours or so that’s standard in the American lifestyle is far from sufficient.
How to fix it? Not likely medication but behavioral modifications. I started down this path, but I haven’t been successful enough.
Things I’ve explored:
- Darkening the room
- Glycine before bed
- Sugar and Caffeine reduction
- No reading or movies in bed
- Getting up instead of waiting for sleep
But still it’s been a little rough. However we can’t fix what we can’t measure. So for the past year I’ve been tracking my sleep with a fitbit. Here’s the data so far for 2020:
Our Y axis is hours of sleep. The X axis are dates. The blue line is the amount of sleep I got each night in hours. The orange is the total time I was in bed. So, if we look at that very first data point, I had just over 8 hours in bed, and I slept for about 6.5 of those hours.
The amount of time in bed is called your sleep opportunity. Having a sleep efficiency of 85% is pretty normal for someone around age 40. Note: It’s highly age dependent, as you get older your sleep efficiency drops.
Last week I made a major step forward in my quest for sleep – I contacted a sleep doctor. I have my first appointment on Wednesday.
I’m pretty excited. Right now my data shows an average of 6.2 hours of sleep for me per night with an abysmal standard deviation of 2.2 hours. I’m hoping I can adopt new habits that will bring me above 7 hours of sleep per night average. We’ll see how it goes!