Should You Use a Sleep Tracking Gadget at Night?

sleep tracking gadgetsSufficient sleep is vital to good health. Medical researchers have warned us about the dangers of poor sleep. Poor sleep could mean lack of hours of sleep or poor quality sleep. Either could result in high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, and dementia. The ideal number of hours of sleep is between 7 and 9.

Why Sleep is Necessary

Your body needs sleep because that’s when restoration happens. Healing is at its peak during sleep. This is why you need sufficient sleep when recovering from an illness. Your brain also processes memories during sleep, distinguishing between important and unimportant items there. Think about it as a maintenance procedure wherein the brain deletes unimportant files and stores the important ones in the long-term memory. The result of all physical and mental restoration is you waking up feeling energized and refreshed.

Where Sleep Tracking Gadgets Fit

However, it’s not just how long you sleep that’s important. How well you sleep is just as important. This is the goal of many sleep tracking devices or apps. They are made to monitor your sleep duration and quality. However, it’s good to note what type of device you’re using. A few devices measure key aspects of sleep cycle, such as brain wave activity and eye movements.

Motion Trackers?

One of the most popular devices out there is the motion tracker. A lot of people use it despite absence of scientific evidence for its effectiveness in tracking sleep. As its name implies, it only tracks motion, which is not indicative of the quality of sleep. It doesn’t measure your muscle tone, heart rate, breathing rate, or eye movement.

Smartphone Sleep Apps, Anyone?

They have mixed reviews. They are nothing more than alarms on your phone with a few tricks. According to descriptions, they track your sleep cycles and wake you up when you’re in the light phase of your sleep. Obviously, that’s when you’re about to wake up in the morning. So the app rings the alarm, prompting you to wake up. You could wake up on a vibrating pillow. It’s not so nice. Sleep tracking on your phone apps is not a good way to get a diagnosis of the quality of your sleep.

So What Should You Use Instead?

Aside from the fact, that you don’t need to track your sleep, unless your doctor advises you to go through a sleep analysis. Most of the sleep gadgets out there provide insufficient data regarding the quality of sleep. They don’t measure biometric indicators of sleep. You’re better off not using anything at all and just concentrate on getting 7-9 hours of sleep and making sure you sleep without distractions.

Maybe you can wait for the more accurate sleep gadgets, those that measure brain wave activity, heart rate, breathing rate, eye movement, and muscle tone.

If you can find sleep trackers that measure brain wave activity and biometrics, then get any of those.

Tips to Help You Conquer Insomnia

insomnia tips

Insomnia can wreck your life. Being unable to sleep at night or having difficulty sleeping may be due to several bad habits you can kick off for better quality sleep. There are many ways to beat insomnia and reclaim your glorious respite at night.

Follow a uniform sleep pattern.

Irregular sleep patterns can wreak havoc on your body clock. It is important to keep uniform sleep habits because your brain and body adapts to a specific sleep habit. The best way to do this is to wake up at the same hour every day. This will force your body to stick to its natural rhythm even if you stay late one night.

Make your bedroom comfortable.

You can trick your brain into putting you to sleep by making your surrounding ideal for sleep. It should be dark, so turn off the lights, or at least dim them. Make the temperature comfortable, not too cold and not too warm.

Do nothing else during sleep time.

Put away your books. Turn off your laptop and phone. Don’t listen to music. All these things will only stimulate your brain, thus keeping you awake.

Stop taking long naps during the day.

People who take long naps during the day tend to sleep late at night. Napping affects your body clock. Just take short naps. A 10-minute nap is all you need to recharge your brain. Long naps adjust your sleep rhythm and may keep you awake and alert longer at night.

Ditch the midnight snack.

It sounds cool, but it’s not at all. Your digestive system is supposed to rest at night. When you eat right before turning in, you’re activating your digestive system. In so doing, you keep your body awake when it’s supposed to be resting.

Reduce caffeine intake.

Caffeine is a stimulant you find in coffee, tea, and chocolate. It stays in the body for up to 24 hours. Drinking coffee in the late afternoon or evening is a bad idea if you want to sleep at 10 p.m. and you want to sleep well throughout the night.

Stop drinking.

Alcohol affects many things in the body, including sleep. Do not mistake alcohol’s intoxicating properties for sleep inducing properties. It may appear to make you less alert, but it actually messes up with your brain and disrupts your sleep.

Keep unwanted thoughts out.

Brooding on earlier fiasco at work can keep you awake until 2 a.m. That’s bad if you want to perform better the next day, because cognitive and physical performance are affected by sleep. Worrying and thinking too much keeps your brain active even if your body is already tired. If you have a hard time shaking off negative thoughts, and they are affecting your health, you may consider seeing a therapist or a counselor.

Engage in regular exercise.

Exercise improves your cardiovascular health, immune system, and brain function. It releases endorphins, the good hormones. People who exercise regularly tend to have better quality of sleep. You don’t need to go to the gym. Just walk for at least 30 minutes a day. Jogging, running, and swimming are great options too.


Should You Exercise When You’re Sick?

exercise when sickGetting sick when you’re in the middle of a muscle building or fat burning program can be frustrating. It means indefinite rest time till the illness passes. Sometimes that could mean weeks or even months of recovery until you start getting back on track. The thing is you just can’t pick up where you left off. Some lost muscle memory and stimulation mean decrease in performance, in which case, you may have to revert to lighter weights or less intensive training.

Should you work out or not?

It turns out there’s no straightforward answer to this question. It all boils down to what type of sickness you have. Is it serious? Is it debilitating? Is it something that demands ample rest time?

A common cold could mean you should stay away from the gym for a while until the symptoms disappear, so you don’t spread the virus to other gym goers. However, you can still work out at home if you have your own equipment. Or maybe you can do bodyweight workouts for a while until you can go back to the gym, hopefully not too long.

What if you have a fever?

Fever is one sign that you have to forego workouts until you’re well. Fever and exercise don’t go well together. When you have a fever, your body’s temperature is already elevated beyond normal. When you exercise, your body’s internal temperature tends to rise too because you’re burning calories and activating your muscles, all causing cascades of chemical reactions in the body that raise your temperature. You don’t need any more rise in body temperature when you have a fever.

What should you do meanwhile?

If you don’t have a fever, but you have other symptoms like drowsiness or weakness, it’s best to just skip all workouts and just rest until you recover and regain your strength. It’s a bad idea to lift weights or hit the treadmill when you’re lethargic or just not feeling okay.

So this is what you’re going to do. Assess your condition. How bad are your symptoms? Can you get up from bed? Are you able to go about your daily activities without feeling worse? If yes, then consider warming up. People with colds or mild flu feel better after doing a 10-minute cardio as a warm-up. But if after warming up, you don’t feel okay or your symptoms get worse, stop!

Is your breathing affected?

A simple cold may be accompanied by some nasal congestion, which is easily remedied by decongestants or a steam bath. Most people with common cold can continue their fitness regimen without any problem.

But if your illness is accompanied by chest tightness or bronchial congestion and tightness, it’s a good idea to cancel your workout and wait for complete recovery. Remember that your body needs more lung work when you exercise to bring in more oxygen and take out carbon dioxide. When your air passages are congested due to infection or allergy, your respiratory system will not be able to handle the demands of a workout.

As a rule, if you’re sick and able, test the waters. If you’re okay with a set, then you’re probably fine. But if you start feeling dizziness, chest pain, or anything bad, stop, drop and dumbbells, and go home.