If you can measure, you can improve it… Sleep?
During the spring of 2008 I started to forget things and words a healthy, athletic 30 year old should not have hard time remembering: simple English words like “plate” and names of my closest co-workers I had spent most of the waking hours with for a few years. And I was getting sick all the time, while I typically “never” get sick from the common flu’s and cold’s. First I was puzzled, but quickly realized that my 3-5 hour nightly sleep hours might have something to do with it.
I admitted that I had to focus on sleeping more. Sounds simple, but it was tough to change the habit of working until midnight or 1am and waking up around 5am or 6am for a kick-ass workout before getting back to office. Unfortunately “sleep when you’re dead” -philosophy is way too over-rated and I believed in it too, for too long.
I decided to set a goal of 7 hour average sleep each week (7-day moving average) and most importantly, start tracking my sleep hours on my master spreadsheet.
In a couple of months I recovered, got my memory back and got rid of all the sickness that had haunted me.
Today I shared the stats with a co-worker of mine and suddenly realized that I have 3 years worth of sleep data! I’ve been able to stay pretty close to the 7-hr average, but still have way too many 4-5 hour nights. Interestingly, I can also see a huge spike in the sleep hours during Jan/Dec each year, and a few other times: every time I take a break from work and have a 1-2 travel vacation. And not surprisingly, there’s crunch time in February and March each year, following the more restful period over the holidays.
But most importantly, this simple tracking tool has allowed me to stay accountable and increase my average sleep from 5-6hrs/night to about 7hrs/night.
What I’m tracking now is my speed of thinking and problem solving and trying to correlate it with my sleep hours. More on that later…
If you can measure it, you can improve it…