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Sleep problems?
February 18, 2010 12:16 PM   Subscribe

Sleep problems? There are a slew of new products out there that purport to help people improve the quality of their sleep by tracking things like brainwaves and movement. Thomas Goetz (who seems to have written the book on these types of things), offers a glimpse into a handful of the more well known offerings.
posted by erikvan (19 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't know why (perhaps a lack of sleep), but I read this as being about people with sleet problems, and I was confused until I clicked the 2nd link. Honestly, I was excited about someone who had dedicated part of their life to reviewing solutions to the issues surrounding sleet. Maybe next time.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:21 PM on February 18, 2010


I don't understand what the point is of these devices. If your sleep is lousy then having your iphone play music when you are in the lightest phase of sleep isn't going to do you any good. Sure, a night in the hospital for a sleep study is a pain in the ass, and the sleep isn't restful at all, but that isn't the point. The point isn't to give you one good night of sleep, it's to collect data so that, while this one sucks, the others will be awesome. None of the devices mentioned in this article could in any way help someone uncover an incredibly common sleep disorder such as sleep apnea. Screw your brain wave alarm clock and sleep coach, I need a CPAP and I wouldn't have known it without an extensive sleep study.
posted by lucasks at 12:28 PM on February 18, 2010


Falling asleep? Get some exercise, sunlight during the day, at night have a glass of wine, and read a really dull book. Done, settled.

Now could medical science please focus a little more attention on the much bigger problem: waking up, and the quality of our awake time?
posted by Davenhill at 12:30 PM on February 18, 2010


I've had a SleepTracker watch for years, and it does work (for me at least). Especially when I had to wake up at different times every day, it was great for avoiding the grogginess that goes along with waking up in the middle of a deep sleep. My only gripe is the price, but it looks like accelerometers are getting a lot cheaper and more common these days, so using some sort of sleep-pattern-aware device for waking up is probably going to get more reasonable for people that don't buy wacky overpriced gadgets all the time.

None of the devices mentioned in this article could in any way help someone uncover an incredibly common sleep disorder such as sleep apnea. Screw your brain wave alarm clock and sleep coach, I need a CPAP and I wouldn't have known it without an extensive sleep study.

That's not what these devices are about. They are supposed to wake you up when you are more ready to wake up (ie in the part of your sleep pattern when you are close to being awake). They are just slightly smarter alarm clocks, not a fix for serious medical problems like sleep apnea.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:38 PM on February 18, 2010


OK, for some reason I read it as some sort of less invasive sleep disorder screening device. I think the reason I got confused is that the author contrasted against more extensive measurement. Please disregard my prior comment.
posted by lucasks at 12:47 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Falling asleep? Get some exercise, sunlight during the day, at night have a glass of wine, and read a really dull book. Done, settled.

I know insomniacs who'd string you up for that. (They're grouchy, they don't get much sleep). That "done, settled" that comes so easy for you is tantalisingly out of reach for them.

I've used Sleep Cycle, but the problem is it wakes me too gently: I drift into consciousness, and think to myself "what, 40 minutes before getting up time? What's the point of that?" and then fall back asleep. The shrieking jolt of my regular alarm clock has me out of bed and running before I'm even awake, which is just what's required of an alarm clock.

Damn those graphs it produces are addictive, though.
posted by bonaldi at 12:56 PM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]




Falling asleep? Get some exercise, sunlight during the day, at night have a glass of wine, and read a really dull book. Done, settled.


My boyfriend with the crippling nightmares and me with the chronic insomnia and all our medically required sleep pills and time in the sleep clinic would like to ask you to shut the fuck up.
posted by The Whelk at 12:57 PM on February 18, 2010 [15 favorites]


Falling asleep? Get some exercise, sunlight during the day, at night have a glass of wine, and read a really dull book. Done, settled.

Vigorous sex right before sleep also seems to work, but only if your partner doesn't try to keep you awake with pillow talk afterward. But these kinds of tips only really help people who don't have real sleep issues. When my insomnia torments me, there's nothing that really helps. My drinking a bottle of red wine and reading Twilight sufficiently disproved the latter part of your theory.
posted by Hylas at 1:15 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have the wonderful problem of getting up too early. No, not an hour before I need to. Not two hours. Three if I'm lucky. Four hours a lot. Five on occasion. This may not sound bad to some people but it is wearing me down after all these years. I can go to sleep easy. It's staying asleep that is hard.

Will these gadgets help me? I'm too tired to slog through that article.
posted by melt away at 1:30 PM on February 18, 2010


Falling asleep? Get some exercise, sunlight during the day, at night have a glass of wine, and read a really dull book. Done, settled.

Now could medical science please focus a little more attention on the much bigger problem: waking up, and the quality of our awake time?


Not only totally obnoxious and from someone who obviously has never dealt with insomnia, but the tools referred to in the FPP DO FOCUS ALMOST ENTIRELY ON WAKING UP and not on sleeping more soundly.
posted by tastybrains at 1:43 PM on February 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Looks like Metafilter is grumpy after not getting a good night's sleep.

I would have thought it obvious my first sentence was a flippant segue to an attempt at humor and could not have reasonably been mistaken as a serious, one-size-fits all comprehensive cure for a problem that has so many causes, but obviously I've forgotten that self-righteous indignation usually has a hair-trigger.

The joke was supposed to be that the problems for sleep difficulty are very often caused by problems during our waking life (stress, trauma, health) and that if science did a better job at improving the quality of our lives (reducing stress, trauma, improving health) the sleep part would take care of itself, naturally.

Yeah, I'll show myself out... and to spite all of you grumpy-Gus-types, I'm going to take long nap. :)
posted by Davenhill at 2:33 PM on February 18, 2010


My apologies Davenhill, I'm just a little grumpy about the belittling of of sleep disorders cause whenever I'd bring it up someone would go with a jokey-why not just watch CSPAN yucks and it turns out my sense of humor dissipates at hour 53 of wakefulness.
posted by The Whelk at 2:40 PM on February 18, 2010


"Falling asleep? Get some exercise, sunlight during the day, at night have a glass of wine, and read a really dull book. Done, settled."

Gosh, I should have thought about that while I was getting up at 4 a.m., ocean swimming and running 40 miles a week and lifting weights barechested in the sun and still wanted to put a bullet in my head by midnight.
Alcohol is the last thing anyone should drink for sleep. It prevents you from getting in to deeper sleep and reaching REM.
Mindless repetitive tasks are better than than books. (Unfortunately I tended to get fixated on combinations. Great for training. Not so much if you're trying to get your heart rate down at 1 am.)
"The more we engage with our health, it turns out, the better our health."
Health decisions? One of the worst things you can do is look at the clock in the middle of the night and start your brain thinking on how much time you have before you have to wake up, all that. So we're going to use gadgets to make folks *more* conscious of it?
Bit like saying 'Don't think of an elephant.'

"Imagine if your watch told you when to wake up."
Like a watch with an alarm function? My. God. Yeah yeah, when you're at your lightest stage of sleep. So I wake, up to 30 minutes early or late, depending? 'Yeah, sorry I'm late, my REM state wasn't finished according to my watch so...'

I dunno. Does "Though it's good at gathering the data, though, it's not so clear what you do with it" sound too self-referential for this piece?
posted by Smedleyman at 2:47 PM on February 18, 2010


My apologies Davenhill, I'm just a little grumpy about the belittling of of sleep disorders cause whenever I'd bring it up someone would go with a jokey-why not just watch CSPAN yucks and it turns out my sense of humor dissipates at hour 53 of wakefulness.
No apologies necessary. It was a very poorly executed attempt at flip humor on my behalf on a touchy subject, so I had it coming. Or should have seen it coming and thought better of it. But really, I'm not exactly a normal baseline for the topic anyway - I can't nap and actually hate going to sleep, so go figure.

I wouldn't joke about CSPAN - it may be boring, but politics has a way of exaggerating the troubles of the world, and focusing your mind on them.

I've found that (certain) audiobooks* help me fall asleep on nights when my mind is racing. It takes your focus off of the outside world and unlike reading a book, you can listen in the dark, with your eyes closed and head on the pillow.

On rare occasions when my sleep schedule is really out of whack, I've found Melatonin can help move your sleep time up, but because it can make dreams more vivid it may not necessarily improve the quality of your sleep (and can even make you feel less rested).

But obviously these are pretty pedestrian suggestions meant only for casual and occasional problems with sleeplessness. YMMV.

* Of course, it can't be a riveting book. I have a book on 'Reading the OED' (which is even more boring than it sounds), overly abstract gibberish like in "The Fabric of the Cosmos" (lots of theoretical physics with plenty of mundane examples), and Medieval history usually do to the trick for me. Or fiction books that I already know with soothing narration, e.g. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (decent, but slow, plodding, and very soothing narration).
posted by Davenhill at 3:19 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


My last sleep study didn't indicate the need for a CPAP. I have a deviated septum, allergies, and snore. I wake up after six hours and can't get back to sleep, although Unisom helps sometimes, as does occasional Ambien. My sleep is just good enough to not warrant serious medical attention but bad enough to ascerbate my ADD and affect my work as a teacher.

I welcome any additional information that can be gathered and used to address this persistent problem.
posted by mecran01 at 4:07 PM on February 18, 2010


Get some DR33M3R
posted by msbutah at 5:01 PM on February 18, 2010


While we're at it:

Davenhill: "if science did a better job at improving the quality of our lives (reducing stress, trauma, improving health)"

I kind of think those are my responsibility. Doesn't Science have enough problems already? (One of my co-workers told me the other day that Science has FAILED. On account of he's a Christian climate change and evolution denier. So there's that.)
posted by sneebler at 6:08 PM on February 18, 2010


Does Insomnia Shrink Your Brain?
posted by homunculus at 6:30 PM on February 18, 2010


I kind of think those are my responsibility. Doesn't Science have enough problems already?
Certainly I agree that more people can or should be making better choices in their lives, e.g. reducing stress, improving their health, etc. where they can. But that's not always possible.

My complaint is just that Science seems to spend a bit too much time trying to find treatments for symptoms rather than finding a cure for them. Coincidentally there's usually more money in the treatment than the cure, so...
(One of my co-workers told me the other day that Science has FAILED. On account of he's a Christian climate change and evolution denier. So there's that.)
Sounds more like your co-worker failed Science, amiright? :)

Well, there really is nothing to say to someone whose mentality is trapped in Medieval superstition and motivated by religious fundamentalism. Just be thankful his pastor isn't telling him to blow up buildings (IRS and Oklahoma federal buildings excepted, as are all buildings overseas, which you get double points for destroying by remote control)
posted by Davenhill at 12:47 AM on February 19, 2010


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