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Sleep tracking

 “Good morning! It looks like you were sleeping”.

That’s the message, I wake up to every morning from my Suunto watch. The next thing I get is an evaluation of “how I slept” – measured by movements, time in bed, and heart rate. As I’m now a bit of a fan of this feature, I thought I’ll give you some insight in what sleep tracking is and my (not-so) magic numbers!

Why Sleep?

To me, sleep is a very important component of performance – I can try to neglect it (which I especially did when I studied…”Naah, 6.5 or 8 hours, it’s really not that big of a deal”). And yeah, I manage to do my training quite well with 6.5h of sleep…the thing is, that I’m just doing it better with 8-9 hrs of sleep. So to be honest, when I convince myself that 6,5hrs is enough – then I’m just lying to myself. But it does take some prioritizing now and then to make it to 8h+ (especially if there’s a early morning session the next day).

Why Sleep Tracking?

Some would say that I’m a bit of a data geek, which iiiis…kinda true. So I’m pretty excited about this opportunity to not only track my training with my watch, but also my sleep.

I do it for several reasons. First of all, it’s to track the variation of my resting heart rate (because it’s an indication of fitness level and recovery state). The watch tracks my heart rate through the wrist and when I wake up, I get data of my average and minimum heart rate during the night.

Secondly, when you set up your Suunto watch for Sleep Tracking, it asks you to set a target for how much you want to sleep and when you aim to be in bed. By doing this, it’s been 10% easier to get to bed in time – just because I know that my Suunto is ready to track my sleep (although it doesn’t start tracking until I’m actually sleeping….can’t fake it!) – and well, it just helps me stay accountable …to my self.

RHR…say whaaat?

If you already know the basics of resting heart rate and it’s association with fitness level – move on to the next paragraph.

RHR refers to resting heart rate.  It’s a valuable variable of fitness level and recovery state. The resting heart rate (as well as your maximal heart rate) is variable from person to person. So just to make it clear; you can’t win medals for the highest maximal heart rate or the lowest resting heart rate (not that I know of at least). In general terms the resting heart rate of a person is a strong indicator of that person’s fitness level. Aka. you want to aim for a lower RHR (because it means higher fitness level …unless you feel dizzy while having a low RHR, then it might suggest that your heart is not working properly and you should call The Doc).

So in other words, when you are in bad shape, your resting heart rate will be higher, and as you come (back) into a training regime, it will lower. A sign of your fitness increasing!

RHR is normally higher in women than men, but it’s not strongly associated with age. A “healthy” (hate to use that word but either way)…a “normal” (arh#%!, also that word though)…whatever, you know what I mean…is around 65 BPM (beats per minute) for men and 70 BPM for women. For fit athletes, 45-50 BPM for men, 50-55 BPM for women. And for fitter athletes lower than that!

My golden number (aka lowest measured RHR) is 38, but I know better athletes than me, with both higher and lower RHR. The important stuff here is your own RHR relative to your own data. I know, that my current RHR of 50, suggests that I’m not in horrible shape…but still have some way to go in order to be fit-fit again. (So does my training data and weight scale tell me 😉

More important is how your RHR variates from day to day. If it varies from 60 to 63 back to 59 BPM, don’t worry. If it’s constantly been at 58-60BPM and then you observe some days with RHR of 65-70BPM, then you pay attention! When you during some days measure an elevated RHR, it is likely a sign of some kind of stress; overtraining / under-recovering, mental stress, illness coming up, or likewise. A sign to take your foot off the pedal for a day or some…at least if you want to maximize your performance, and don’t we all, ha? 😉

My Sleep Data

The reason I’ve found it “funny”/motivating/relevant to track my sleep especially in this period, is because I’m working on a come back from my probably worst shape in 10 years (not even exaggerating!). Which means, my resting heart rate some weeks ago was almost too bad to be true – but the funny part comes when you see it decrease. Dear Progression, I think I love you! Moreover, it gives me valuable feedback of when I push a bit too much in training and my body can’t keep up with recovering from it.

On January 18th, my average heart rate was 66. My lowest heart rate was 60. I slept 8:10h and 2:50 of them were “deep sleep” (me not moving).

Yesterday, February 8th, my average heart rate was 54. My lowest heart rate was 50. I slept 9:15h and 2:35 of them were “deep sleep”.

So the sleep data is suggesting that I’m getting fitter. Funny enough, so does my training data. Slowly but surely. It’s a feeling that I’ve missed for most of 2017, so it’s beyond gold and stardust to feel it coming back.

How to set up the watch

If you don’t have a Suunto Spartan WHR – move on to the next paragraph.

This is simple.

From Settings go to Sleep. Turn on Sleep Tracking and set your Sleep Target. Make sure to turn on “Do not disturb while sleep tracking”.

Is the data accurate?

I’ve tracked my sleep every night for 6 weeks now. The first week, I was either sleeping incredibly variated – or the data wasn’t accurate. I’d say the latter was the fact. I found out, in order to track more accurately, I needed to turn on the “Do not disturb” option. Seems like a detail, but since then, my sleep data have seemed to be quite reliable…no big variation from day to day and no data too good/bad to be true. For example, this week my average heart rate has been 55-55-56-54-54-55-54. I trust the data.

(I have however observed a variation from week to week (avg heart rate gradually decreasing), which is most likely just the actual me-getting-fitter-reason.)

A strong point in getting trustworthy data is, that you have to be aware of how to place the watch (on your arm). As the heart rate monitor is measuring from just above the wrist, you need to have a close connection between skin and watch – which means you’ll have to place the watch some cm’s up the arm (not on the “ulna” and “radius” bones) and tighten the watch a bit (still need some blood and oxygen to the fingers, tho’ ;).

Coolio, I guess, that’s all for now. If you’ve got any questions, shoot away. Nothing left to say than:

Bonne Nuit – Good night – Godnat – Sleep tight – Gute Nacht – Sov godt 🙂

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