Sleep Patterns and the Importance of Tracking

My wife loves to sleep, or at least that’s what I used to think. She tends to sleep as much as possible any day of the week. On the weekends she can sleep in till 2 in the afternoon. I always felt this was excessive and we’ve fought about her wanting to sleep so much many times in the past. I am an early riser but have a lot on my plate so I’ll stay up till late in the evening, get up bright and early and feel great all day long. I have lots of things to do and I feel like sleep is one of the biggest wastes of my time so I get as little as I possibly can to function.

Since my wife and I have been married, I’ve come to terms with her sleep patterns and do what I can to accommodate her. I’ll watch the kids on the weekends during the morning and early afternoon hours so my wife can sleep in as long as she needs to be happy. When my wife is happy, we are all happy.

I can’t help but still wonder why she needs so much sleep though. She’s explained to me that she gets up with the kids a few times every night and the baby still needs to be fed during the night but that doesn’t curb my curiosity.

Fast forward to now, my wife’s birthday is coming up and she’s been wanting some tools to aid her in her battle with fitness. She is not overweight and is the most beautiful woman I’ve ever known plus she’s had 3 kids so deserves even more credit for keeping a trim waistline. She only wants some tools to help her workout be more efficient so I did some research and decided to get her the Fitbit Wireless Personal Trainer.

The Fitbit Wireless Personal Trainer is this tiny device that you carry around with you 24/7. It tracks your steps taken, activity level, estimated calories burned and miles traveled. The Fitbit also wireless syncs with an included base station and uploads all your fitness data to their website where you can view your entire fitness history according to Fitbit. You can manually track food there and all sorts of other cool things. But that’s not why I decided to get the Fitbit. It costs $100 and that’s pretty excessive for a glorified pedometer. What really intrigued me about the Fitbit is that is also will track sleep patterns.

The Fitbit device contains and accelerometer which is the same mechanism in cell phones that can detect movement and if you wear the device while you sleep, it will track your sleep patterns and analyze your sleep efficiency. I thought this might help in detecting why my wife needed so much sleep and with the data collected maybe we could even try and fix the problem.

My wife has worn the Fitbit for three nights now and so far we know that her sleep efficiency is close to 80%. She gets up close to 20 times each night and her activity during those times is close to what it would be during the day meaning she is fully awake and not just walking like a zombie to the bathroom 20 times. She gets up with the kids when they have nightmares, when they need to go potty or have an accident and when they are sick.

I wore the Fitbit for one night to see how my sleep was and not too surprisingly my sleep efficiency was 99%. I woke up one time during the night and I know I didn’t even get out of bed when I woke up. Actually, I don’t remember waking up at all and the only reason I know the device didn’t malfunction is that while all the kids went to bed in their own beds, one of my daughters happened to be wrapped up in my arms when I woke up in the morning proving that I did move during the night.

That explains a lot. For every 8 hours of sleep I get my wife only gets 6. Over the course of each week my wife loses hour after hour and by the end of the week she is short 2 days worth of sleep! The weekend when I watch the kids is the only time she can recoup that lost sleep.

Now as exciting as this discovery is to my wife and me, I do have a financial point to get to here.

Imagine my wife’s sleep patterns are your budget. Each day your budget is being drained and you don’t even know it unless you track your spending. If your spending/saving efficiency is equal to my wife’s sleep efficiency, for every dollar you bring in 20% of that is lost due to bad spending habits. If you make $1000 each week, by the end of the week $200 has disappeared.

My wife gets to make up sleep during the weekend but you can never make up lost cash due to poor habits. Once that money is gone, it’s gone.

This is why tracking is so important. With money there is no way to make up for losing it but you can prevent losing it a lot easier than my wife can prevent losing sleep. You can track your spending vigilantly and change your habits thus raising your spending efficiency. But without tracking you will never know about all the lost cash.

That kind of revelation would make even my sleep restless.

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15 People have left comments on this post



» Sustainable PFNo Gravatar said: { Aug 23, 2011 - 08:08:05 }

In our family I am much more like your wife. And we don’t even have kids yet (but give that 6 weeks …).

I constantly wake, if/when I can fall asleep. Last night I last looked @ the clock @ 1:55am and I woke @ 6:35. I was up a number of times but I did not count. Mainly rolling over, checking how soon I can expect to see the sun …

Thanks for the heads up on the Fitbit – i’ll look into it.

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Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

I’ll be doing a complete review of the Fitbit later on this week so check that out if you still have questions.

ANy idea why you sleep like that? I mean, do you eat right before bed, drink caffeine during the day ? How old is your mattress? Just curious

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Sustainable PFNo Gravatar Reply:

Not totally sure Jesse. The mattresses we have is 2 years old (bad back – I needed a new one and we love it!). I do drink caffeine, likely too late into the evening (last cup of diet coke @ 8pm?). But even on caffeine, eventually, I should crash. The body can’t stay awake for years …

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Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

I know if I drink caffeine it stays with me like nothing else, I’m up all day and night but I don’t drink soda and only take caffeine (in pill or 24/hour energy form) when I actually need to stay up day and night haha. Not to pry too much 🙂 but how much do you exercise?

» KristinNo Gravatar said: { Aug 25, 2011 - 10:08:52 }

I gotta try it!!!!! Mine is bad also!!

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» GeoffNo Gravatar said: { Aug 26, 2011 - 08:08:56 }

Jesse, that’s crazy, I feel for your poor wife as mine is in a similar boat (I get way more sleep than her and she’s up at 5am w/ our daughter every day).

Of course if I got her the fitbit I think it would just make her mad at me for being able to quantify exactly how much more sleep i got :).

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Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Haha I hear that Geoff, but at least it would explain exactly where she stood on sleep 🙂

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» Invest It WiselyNo Gravatar said: { Sep 10, 2011 - 08:09:06 }

Great analogy, and it’s important to have this information so we can then act upon it, or at least have more understanding. I wonder what my own sleep efficiency is…

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Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Thanks Kevin, you’ll have to let me know if you ever find out your efficiency, I wonder if men generally sleep better than women.

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» Funny about MoneyNo Gravatar said: { Sep 21, 2011 - 07:09:23 }

LOL! That’s such a hoot! I can’t believe you found a gadget to measure each others’ sleep patterns.

Just wait till she (and you) get old. For women over about 40 or 45, the internal alarm clock starts to go off at about 4:00 a.m., on the dot. Well, that’s when it’s not going off at 2:00 a.m. Getting back to sleep is out of the question. Men start waking up once or twice a night to run to the bathroom, but apparently most men are able to get back to sleep at night.

One way to stay asleep all night, if you’re going to be available to ride herd on the kiddies’ nocturnal excursions, is to take a Benadryl. Don’t overdo it, though: your body can get used to the stuff and then it doesn’t do any good. And when you’re old you shouldn’t use it often, because it aggravates cognitive decline.

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Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

They’ve got a gadget for every purpose nowadays 🙂

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» Flume BankruptcyNo Gravatar said: { May 31, 2012 - 09:05:53 }

This sounds like an awesome gadget! I have issues sleeping but do not want to spend a bunch of money to do an overnight stay at a sleep specialist. I might have to check this thing out. I know you had said that you were going to write a full review of the FitBit. Did you ever get to it? Have a link I can find it at?

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» AndreaNo Gravatar said: { Jul 24, 2012 - 10:07:58 }

Thank you so much for sharing the tips. I am such a bad sleeper you know lol. Most of the time I keep on twisting and changing different positions while sleeping. Basically it’s due to the nightmare as well lack of sound sleep. I am going to give your tips a try by this weekend.
Andrea Jones

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» Kate @ Womens Personal Finance BlogNo Gravatar said: { Nov 20, 2012 - 04:11:19 }

Several weeks ago i decided to run outdoor in the evening for better sleeping! And it helps me, so i can advice you to do the same!

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» zu HauseNo Gravatar said: { Aug 29, 2013 - 08:08:34 }

We can definitely see your enthusiasm in the type of work you get involved into. The world needs more passionate and creative persons as you are. Awesome job!

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