- Supplies Guide
I’m nearing the end of the first phase of the sleep study I’m doing under the supervision of Dr. Robert Oexman, director of Kingsdown’s Sleep to Live Institute, a center that researches and develops techniques and technologies to improve sleep.
Thus far, it’s been a simple process.
For the first two weeks of the program, participants wear an Actiwatch on their dominant wrist that monitors activity levels, among other things. I’m supposed to wear it day and night, taking it off only to shower. I find the monitor a little uncomfortable, but mostly because I haven’t worn a watch in a decade. If you’re used to having something on your wrist, I don’t think you’d notice it all. And, as Oexman reminds me, it’s much less annoying than being hooked up to a dozen electrodes for a polysomnography, a full sleep study done overnight in a sleep lab. I did that once several years ago and was miserable—and not just because of all the wires and monitors. The clinic’s mattresses were hard and vinyl-covered. I’ve slept better on the ground while camping.
Back to the current study: Each morning, I fill out a brief questionnaire, noting what time I went to bed and woke up. I also record how many times I remember waking up during the night and why—for me that seems to be needing to go to the bathroom, hearing a barking dog, having a cat jump on my chest or worrying about any number of work-related and personal concerns. Other questions: How refreshed or fatigued did I feel when I woke up? Did I have any pain upon waking?
A portion of the questionnaire asks about my activities the previous day. Did I take a nap? Did I exercise? Did I have caffeine, drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes?
Lastly, I’m supposed to note anything else that might have impacted my sleep quality. That’s where I write what time I took my go-to sleep aid Benadryl. A key reason why I wanted to do the study with Oexman is to stop relying on the antihistamine, which I use purposely because of its “may cause drowsiness” side effect.
As I said, this initial part of the program has been easy. The tougher part, I think, will come when I have to start implementing the changes to my environment and daily habits.