Sleep deprivation

Sleep is my constant challenge. For a while I was on some meds that caused me to do some weird things, like fall out of bed and not remember it the next morning! One day I got up in the middle of my sleep to go to the bathroom and tried to write down the time and it looked like this:

The appearance of an alien hieroglyphic above is actually my attempt to write 6:10 (am). I tried to write a “6” but instead wrote a “1,” tried to scratch it out missed, then wrote a 6, tried to write a colon but obviously missed my destination, and then added the 6 and the 10 after it.

Yes, sad commentary on the effect of drugs on one’s performance. Happily, I am no longer taking that medication!

Recently I discovered an app called “Sleep Time,” which uses the accelerometer in the iPhone to track your sleep cycles. Since I’ve only used it two days, it is still calibrating, but I’m pretty impressed at least by how accurate it is in figuring out the times I was awake. And it’s got a nice design and looks pretty too! 🙂

The way it works is that you stick it on the corner of your bed or under your pillow and it measures your movements during the night. Supposedly your body does different movements during different stages of sleep, one of them being a state of paralysis. (I can testify to that when there are times that I am semi-awake, dreaming, and unable to move my body! Now I know why!)

The first night looked like this:

Here’s the second night:

As you can see, the second night I didn’t get such a good night’s sleep, with long periods of being awake. It’s also interesting because every night I have the same pattern of 5 hours of pretty decent sleep, and then it’s hit or miss after that, usually lots of tossing and turning. This morning I felt like I lay in bed for 2 hours wide awake, but this graph shows that I fell asleep. I think it’s right because even though I felt wide awake, I do recall having a dream.

Apparently my sleeping is not very efficient, with 17% of my time being awake. That means instead of sleeping 7 hours 17 minutes I really slept about 6 hours.

Reviews by people say this app is pretty accurate, but since I’ve only used it two days I don’t know how accurate it is. However, I’ve been keeping a sleep log on a spreadsheet for a couple weeks, and it’s pretty consistent — I get a good 5 hours every night, and then about once a week or more unable to sleep more, and all the other days getting only restless sleep maybe 2 or so hours more. I think I’m in a constant state of sleep deprivation. No wonder I am so tired.

It’s long and complicated as to the source of my sleep issues — I’ve been working with the doctor through them — and unfortunately there are no good solutions for now.

The app also has a way to set the alarm so it gives you a 30-minute window when it will wake you up. It will track your sleeping stage and way you up during a stage that will make you feel most rested. It also generates sounds that help you relax and fall asleep (thought I have not used that feature yet).

Since I’m flying out tomorrow and skipping two time zones, it should be interesting to see what happens to my sleep!

A Yee

Angela Yee is a professional designer (graphic design, stage design, interior design — and teaches leadership skills at

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