Apparently, I Suck At Sleeping #Zeo #biohacking @bulletproofexec

Zeo_night_1

Those of you that know me know that I view most (ok, all) things as Information Systems.  I chalk that up to my nature, but also to actual nature, since if you come right down to it, that's really what things are.  The work of scientists and futurists like Claude Shannon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_Shannon) and Ray Kurzweil (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_kurzweil) has bolstered that viewpoint.  Building on their work and adding their own have been the biohackers, people like Tim Ferriss (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Ferriss ; http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/) and most recently, Dave Asprey (http://www.bulletproofexec.com/) who have taken the idea of biology as an information system that much further.

One of the things that has been bothering me lately is that I am mostly tired all the time.  Since I work a full-time job and take three classes a week in grad school, people think I'm over-working myself.  While that may be true to a certain extent, it's not the cause – I have worked much more in the past (there was one month at my previous job I worked 333 hours) and I know of other people who have a similar schedule and who aren't completely exhausted.  So when I came across Dave Asprey's post here: http://www.bulletproofexec.com/top-6-biohacks/ I decided I'd at least start with some of the top biohacks.

The first and easiest was the sleep hacking (http://www.bulletproofexec.com/category/sleephacks/).  Most of it made immediate sense, since I know that if I get around six hours of sleep, then I'm usually pretty good – the trick is getting up after six hours.  (Actually, I'm usually my best in multiples of three, but getting up is always the issue.)  I can usually get up after nine.  However, that's often impractical since sleeping nine hours a day doesn't really leave enough time for everything else.  Additionally, that sleep still wasn't restorative – I was often tired.  So I did what anyone would do and went to a doctor.

The doctor (aside from charging a ridiculous amount of money) spent most of the time asking me about my job.  He didn't actually do very much – I saw him for about 15 minutes.  I had blood and urine taken, and after a few days they called me to tell me nothing was wrong with me – the levels of everything they checked for were all fine.  Well, that's great – except it didn't address at all the problem that I had asked about.

So I decided to take matters into my own hands.  From Dave's blog I learned about the Zeo (http://myzeo.tellapal.com/a/clk/10CPhN – that's a referral link) which is an alarm clock-like device that measures your brainwaves at night to see how you've been sleeping.  You have to wear a headband (the toughest part of the whole thing) but it sends the information from the wireless headband to the alarm clock.  This has two immediate benefits.  The first is the obvious – it tracks your sleep patterns.  The second is that it has a "smart wake" feature which wakes you up at the best time closest to when you want to wake up (say, 0830) based on your sleep patterns.  (It woke me at 0829 this morning, and it's soft alarm was all I needed!)  You can upload your sleep data to your online Zeo account and keep track of it to see the patterns over time and adjust your habits accordingly.

As it turns out, my first night was interesting – apparently the headband fell off at about 0425 this morning, so as you can see my "ZQ" (the score they assign to your night's sleep) is only 18.  However, the data that I got even before that is quite interesting!  Apparently, in the two and a half hours the headband was on and recording, I already know it took me 23 minutes to fall asleep (part of which was due to the headband) but that I woke up twice without knowing it in that short time!  I only got 13 minutes of REM sleep and 19 minutes of deep sleep.  A fairly obvious pattern emerged – I'm waking up often and not getting enough restorative sleep!

Having the data will allow me to get a much better idea of what's going on, and now I'll be able to take steps to adjust accordingly.  The Zeo cost $250 (with replacement sensors – you can get the system itself for about $200) and so far, it's worth it.  Considering that the doctor charged about twice that (though my out-of-pocket costs were lower) with no meaningful results, I've already gotten significant value from both the Zeo and my first attempts at real biohacking.

Comments (1)

  1. Andi Castonguay 2011-07-27 at 21:22

    Hi Thomas, I stumbled across this post via a Twitter search–thanks for sharing your sleep data, as well as your passion for life hacking. Even though your first night was quite brief, I’m really encouraged by the amount of information you were able to pull from it. Keep on writing about your sleep journey and share any insights you have; the more people share, the bigger the life hacking movement grows.Best wishes & sleep well!-Andi@Zeo

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