So, I record my time tracking by hand, and later I sum it up and divide it out by hand.
It takes me about an hour a week. I regularly get the suggestion that I should get it into a spreadsheet or an application to cut that time down.
By doing it by hand, relatively slowly, I'm forced to turn the implications over in my mind of the numbers.
For instance, I slept 8.2 hours on average over the last 13 days.
If I saw that on the sheet, I wouldn't pay much attention to it.
But... here's how I got there -
6 + 11 + 6.5 + 6.5 + 11 + 6.5 + 2 + 12.5 + 9.5 + 8 + 10 + 8 + 9.5 = 107 /13 = 8.2
Note that there's only two days in there between 7 and 9 hours. Five days were under 7 hours and five days were over 9 hours.
That's probably not good, and I should work on it.
And actually, these numbers don't even tell the whole story - a lot of those large numbers are a 7 hour sleep and a 4 hour nap later - it's just my sleep-per-day count.
This is one advantage of going through numbers slowly, by hand, instead of on a computer. If I saw 8.2 while skimming a spreadsheet, I'd say okay, that's pretty normal. Instead, I see my sleep is all over the place, and I think I should structure my day a little more systematically to smooth that out.
Hmm. Interesting sleep data. Not so much about the deviations or the mean, but the actual amount slept - 8.2 per night.
I'm not sure how much an ideal amount of sleep is. I do know that I like 7.5 - 9 hours of sleep, averaging 8. I feel about guilty about all my sleeping but I can't take naps. I can't function well on less than 7 hours nightly sleep. But it still sucks that I can't cut sleep to increase production because productivity goes down so badly!
The hidden benefit in adding this all up by hand is that you also get better at mental arithmetic - an often overlook but very valuable skill to have.
If you don't have the associated standard deviation, a mean is generally useless.
Look at yours: it's 2.8. This indeed shows that your sleep pattern is irregular and that your mean does not make any sense.
If your data was 8, 9, 7.5, 6.5, 9, 8.5, 6, 10.5, 9.5, 8, 9, 8 and 9.5, it would give you the same mean but the stdev would be 1.25, which would show a much more stable dataset.
What's the use of tracking 'average hours' anyway? I think it would make more sense, especially in your case, to track deviations. Anything below 6:30 hours and anything above 9:30 gets flagged for night sleep; anything above, say, 1 hour gets flagged for day naps. Having a '8.2 hours average' doesn't say anything if you have as unhealthy deviations as the ones you demonstrate here. It is only justified to track averages in sleep hours if the deviations are small. I'm curious to see if you start tracking your sleeping goals in a different way. Of course, that also means *defining* them in a new way.
Keep us updated ;-)
I use Fitbit to track a lot of metrics, including sleep hours. It updates automatically and creates nice graphs for you to see.
I find 5 cycles a night (~7.5 hours) and a 20 minute nap ideal, at least for me; you might try aiming for it for a week to see how you do on it.
I see no benefit to manual tracking; all the data's visible on the spreadsheet too, not just the totals. Hell, the spreadsheet should show night sleep and day naps as separate entries, right? And as far back as you like....
I don't think this detracts from your point (manual review has its own merit), but it sounds like you aren't tracking the right things in your hypothetical spreadsheet. It sounds as though regularity of sleep (e.g. something like standard deviation, which is around 2.7 for your figures) is more important to you than mean average sleep (or is at least measurably important). Your central point that manual review can help us ensure we are tracking the right things is important, but at the same time, when we have identified those things that can be tracked there is no reason not to automate away metrics provided we don't obscure useful patterns in the process.
Got a good question from a reader about sleep. One of my goals is to sleep less than 8 hours/night
Hello, and thanks for inviting your blog visitors to email you directly. I just came across your site today, and got some good reading out of your "top stories" list. What compelled me to write, though, was a trend I noticed on some of your "goals" posts: sleeping less than 8 hours per night.
It caught my attention, because at first glance it looks counter-intuitive. Yet I understand exactly what you mean.
Cut. Return to monologue later. Get to the askin':
How is it working out for you?
Along with exercise and nutrition, sleep is one of the primary determinants of your happiness and wellbeing. If you don't get good sleep, you will not only be tired, but also pessimistic, unmotivated, lazy or even depressed.
Research has shown that self control is a limited resource that is greatly diminished when you're exhausted. If you don't get good sleep, you are less likely to be productive and stick to your good habits (such as exercise). You are also more likely to do things that you know are bad for you (such as eating sweets).
Good REM sleep plays a critical role in the development of long term memories. If you're trying to learn anything at all, you better make sure you get enough high quality sleep.
Proper sleep is also essential for maintaining a robust immune system. If you want to be happy, healthy, smart and productive, you have must make sure you get good sleep.
Do you think that your physical health and emotional wellbeing can be considered in isolation? Think again. They both come from the same body, and they both require that you sleep well.