Sleep efficiency is the new focus in my endless quest for better slumber. I have been using the Fitbit sleep tracker for months now and I am endlessly fascinated by what its graphs tell me. The Fitbit is a pedometer/altimeter that also has a very cool function that monitors your sleep and then tells you all about it.
If you wear the Fitbit to bed on your non dominant wrist, you wake up to a stream of fascinating information. It will share how long it took to fall asleep, how many times you were restless, how often you were restless and how much actual sleep you got.
Finally it gives a percentage for sleep efficiency. It bases its formula in a fairly simple way. It records from the moment you first fall asleep to the time you wake up and provides you with its sleep efficiency rating.
When I started using the tracker my efficiency was fairly horrible. I was way below 50% and have instituted many changes in the attempt to improve it. About two weeks ago I started taping my mouth shut when I go to sleep at night.
As I wrote last week I tried doing this last year to ill effect. It brought up a bit of a panic effect and simply didn’t feel that good. While I am not sure exactly why I decided to give it another go, this second time around it has been easy and actually comforting.
Sleep efficiency increases when you breathe through the nose.
One reason it is healthier to breathe through the nose than through the mouth is you get more oxygen to the brain which can have profound benefits. If I am in bed for six or seven hours a night that is a whole lot more positive gaseous exchange which is the essence of breathing –oxygen in and carbon dioxide out.
The most obvious side effect of taping my mouth shut has been watching my sleep efficiency numbers go up consistently since the tape hit my lips. I have been somewhere between 60% and 70% for each of the last ten days which I have to admit makes me stupidly pleased.
In my efforts to age well—or at least better than my parents—sleep plays a huge role. My mother was/is something of an insomniac and my father was plagued by nightmares that kept him from sleeping. I believe that their lack of good sleep was partially to blame for the eventual breakdown of their bodies.
I am hoping that snoozing well and improving my sleep efficiency will help me stave off the old age that wasn’t so physically kind to them.