Back in February I bought a Jawbone UP band to help me keep track of my sleep and exercise habits.
In 2012, I overextended myself, averaging about 4 hours of sleep per night in Q4, and spent the first 6 weeks of 2013 fighting some form of cough, cold or flu. As someone who typically gets sick maybe once a year, 6 weeks of battling was intolerable – particularly because I was training for the Livestrong half marathon (yes – I ran the race and with a cough). Add in the pressure at home to participate more with my family (I was basically sleeping all weekend to recover from the workweek), and it was clear I needed to change my behavior.
As someone that has always prided himself on being the hardest working guy in the room and thriving on little-to-no sleep, the idea that I couldn’t sustain the work lifestyle I was maintaining was frustrating to say the least.
I came to realize that the only way to get my act together was to have a physical + digital reminder to take care of myself – and the analytics to prove that my changes in behavior were actually working. Enter Jawbone UP…
After researching Nike FuelBand, Fitbit and Jawbone UP, I chose the last – particularly because it wraps around you’re wrist (so I don’t have to worry about forgetting it when I change clothes or accidentally throwing it in the laundry, as people were describing the experience with Fitbit), it’s waterproof (so I never have to worry about taking it off when I swim or shower) and, most importantly, it tracks key metrics about my sleep.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the amount of steps and exercise (running or swimming) I get directly impacts the quality of my sleep that night and my mood the next day. For example, on days that I run, my sleeping pattern is typically
- Fall asleep in 11-17 minutes
- 50-60% deep sleep
- 50-40% light sleep
I’ll typically get 6-7 hours of sleep that night, and feel more energized and less stressed the next day. This improves my overall productivity, making it easier for me to wake up at 5am the next day to go for another run. I use those runs to work through the key issues and deliverables I need to prioritize that day, as well as think through long term strategies for our, and our clients’ business. Suddenly office hours become much more productive, and I spend less time in the evening stressing about obstacles, thinking through strategy or working on deliverables that I didn’t get to during the day.
Sounds great, right?
Well, the trick has been sustaining that behavior and being cognizant about the inverse behavior and effect.
Unfortunately, living the consultant lifestyle – traveling 30%+ of the time, networking with clients, potential clients and our teams in other offices on top delivering the actual consulting work, it’s difficult to maintain the above system and habits.
Take last week for example. We had team members from other offices as well as a client in Austin for meetings. Below is a log of my week.
(*Note the way Jawbone UP tracks sleep is by date, meaning while we would usually describe the sleep we get on Monday night, UP logs that sleep as Tuesday’s sleep. So, for purposes of the below bullets, I’ve described sleep the way UP logs it and as seen in the image below.)
- Monday. Woke up at 5am and ran 3 miles. Productive day. Had dinner with the team and drinks with the client after.
- Tuesday. Got 3 hours, 24 minutes of sleep (40% deep sleep : 60% light sleep). Chose to get an extra hour of sleep instead of going for a run. Very unproductive day. Had dinner with the team, but skipped drinks after to pack and work on a presentation. Couldn’t figure out what to pack and couldn’t get through the presentation. Spent too much time on both tasks, and completed neither.
- Wednesday. Got 4 hours, 29 minutes of sleep (66% deep sleep : 34% light sleep). Skipped run to pack and finish the presentation. Somewhat productive day. Flew to NY in the afternoon, and slept on the plane. Grabbed dinner and drinks with a former co-worker.
- Thursday. Got 5 hours, 28 minutes of sleep (68% deep sleep : 32% light sleep). Woke up at 6am and ran 3 miles. Productive day. Had a drink with another former co-worker that night.
- Friday. Got 6 hours, 15 minutes of sleep (65% deep sleep : 35% light sleep). Woke up at 6am and ran 4 miles. Felt much more energized and productive. Slept on the flight home
- Saturday. Got 7 hours of sleep (43% deep sleep : 57% light sleep). Productive morning. Napped in the afternoon.
- Sunday. Got 7 hours of sleep (59% deep sleep : 41% light sleep). Lazy day. Took another nap
- Monday. Got 7 hours, 19 minutes of sleep (56% deep sleep : 44% light sleep). Woke up at 5pm and ran 3 miles. Very productive day
This is actually a fairly typical workweek. And, as you can see by the data, losing sleep on Monday and Tuesday night affected my productivity and effectiveness on Tuesday and Wednesday. I basically spent Wednesday – Sunday catching up through naps on planes or at home on the weekend until my deep sleep to slight sleep ratio balanced back out.
I’ve also noticed that when I lose sleep and/or travel I eat more and less healthily because I crave energy boosts; the effect is usually short bursts of energy followed by longer lulls in energy.
But, my behavior on this trip actually changed for the first time. While I still had dinner/drinks meetings on the trip, I was cognizant to limit my food and drink intake to modest portions. This boosted my energy enough to ensure I fit in runs on Thursday and Friday morning, which boosted my overall energy, productivity and recovery.
I’ve decided to redouble my self-monitoring efforts, and, on Monday, synched my UP app with the Lose It! app (where you can track your meals and caloric intake, as well as set and track progress toward weight loss goals) and with the RunKeeper app (which tracks my runs).
In two days, I’ve lost 3 pounds – just by running 3 miles on Monday, 4 miles on Tuesday and sticking to my calorie budget for those days.
Clearly I’m not the only one that was concerned about my health, as over the last few months I’ve seen a plethora of new UP bands around the W2O office, starting with my colleague Aaron Strout and now even our President, Bob Pearson.
What I’ve found most interesting about the influx of UP bands around the office is that most people started where I did, being more concerned about monitoring and analyzing sleep than tracking steps, exercise or even meals. It will be interesting to see how people’s use of UP progresses, as they start using the features UP provides to correlate data and behavior and monitor their health holistically, not just sleeping habits.
- Steps for More, and Better, Sleep – NYTimes.com (wfoster2011.wordpress.com)
- My Jawbone UP Is Telling Me I Need More Sleep! #VZWBuzz (lifewithoutpink.com)
- Having Trouble Sleeping? Try These Deep Sleep Snoozing Tips (nhltoxicloadgreenliving.blogspot.com)
- 9 Sleep Problems and the Best Ways to Fix Them (drsnooze12.wordpress.com)
- Steps for More, and Better, Sleep – NYTimes.com (korusfood.wordpress.com)
- Jawbone UP by Mike Joliat (thetechsideoffit.com)
- You’re Probably Making These 10 Sleeping Mistakes (spyghana.com)