Hugh’s Sleep Diary: Week 5 - Anxiety and dust mites

A bit of a dud week, but some positives
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It's been a strange week - I don't need to tell you that - and the reasons don't stop short of my sleep diary.

Last week I said I wanted to think more about how my environment may be affecting the quality of my sleep, but progress has been disappointingly minimal. First, I've had a big hit of sleep anxiety which I should have seen coming. Second, the Withings Aura and Netatmo indoor monitor I ordered didn't show up in time to make any observations. There are a couple of good things to note, but overall it feels like a bit of a dud week.

It's been a good example of how quickly the minutiae of sleep tracking goes out the window when the more obvious problems rear their heads. Beddit keeps telling me how much variation there is in my patterns, and how much I'm snoring (I may have a solution!), but I know that I've not slept well this week; I don't need any type of tracker to tell me that.

So first, the anxiety. I knew this would happen. I've spoken it about before and as I've become more interested in my sleep patterns the more it's weighed on my mind. Even background sounds, while helpful, won't always help you drift off. "It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy," Professor Zeitzer told me. "If you think your sleep is going to be bad, your sleep is going to be bad. Because you're anxious."

It goes to show that worrying too much over bad sleep can become the cause and not the solution of the problem. One thing I find helpful at times like this is listening to a podcast in bed, but ultimately it's about learning to fret less over the hours and minutes of sleep I may or may not get.

But elsewhere there's better news: I think I've found one of the big causes of my snoring. I hadn't mentioned this before but I suffer from a dust allergy. My sinuses swell up, my nose runs, and I sneeze like you wouldn't believe. It's worse at certain times of the year, and it's slowly started creeping back over the last few weeks. It also affects me when I sleep, and when it does I wake up with a stuffy head and sore throat, the result of all that lovely mucus. And yes, it makes me snore a lot.

So this week I installed an Airmega connected air purifier, and after four days of using it I'm noticing less irritation. Just looking at the last few days of data I can see I've snored less than usual. Still a bit, but if it keeps up I can definitely say I've made a significant step towards a better night's sleep.

And there have been a few other small improvements too. By keeping caffeine, alcohol and sugar intake to a minimum after 6pm my heart rate is remaining constantly low during sleep, which is good.

So, some benefits, but this week will be spent monitoring the other elements in my room. Is the light affecting my sleep? How about the temperature? That's the stuff I want to know about, which will give me something meaningful to put alongside my sleep tracker stats to see where the real improvements can be made.

I never expected this diary to be an easy route to better sleep; the idea was more to log the ups and downs, and this week was definitely a down. Here's to a better one next week.

Hugh's Sleep diary: Week 1 - Separating science from nonsense

Hugh's Sleep Diary: Week 2 - Drowning in numbers

Hugh's Sleep Diary: Week 3 - Trying to sleep at 40,000 feet

Hugh's Sleep Diary: Week 4 - Learning to listen to my body

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Hugh Langley


Now at Business Insider, Hugh originally joined Wareable from TechRadar where he’d been writing news, features, reviews and just about everything else you can think of for three years.

Hugh is now a correspondent at Business Insider.

Prior to Wareable, Hugh freelanced while studying, writing about bad indie bands and slightly better movies. He found his way into tech journalism at the beginning of the wearables boom, when everyone was talking about Google Glass and the Oculus Rift was merely a Kickstarter campaign - and has been fascinated ever since.

He’s particularly interested in VR and any fitness tech that will help him (eventually) get back into shape. Hugh has also written for T3, Wired, Total Film, Little White Lies and China Daily.

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