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Sleep Stage Patterns and Zeo Home Tracking

Discussion in 'Sleep' started by Sparrow, May 16, 2012.

  1. Sparrow

    Sparrow Senior Member

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    I haven't yet had a formal sleep study done, but purchased a zeo alarm clock (http://www.myzeo.com/sleep/shop/) and have been using it long enough now to have a solid picture of what my typical sleep patterns are like, and which days I feel slightly better after sleep.

    I've noticed the light sleep intruding on deep sleep periods that people always point to as typical for us.

    I've also noticed that I wake up many times each night even on the nights I think I've slept through. A number of awakenings, just for very short periods of time (less than five minutes). Often these come straight out of a section of deep sleep, which I found odd. More often I awake from deep sleep than any other stage, by a wide margin. Anybody have insights of why I always wake up at the end of a deep sleep cycle? I don't snore, and to my knowledge don't have any issues with sleep apnea or anything. Seems like there must be some kind of significance to the deep sleep wakings, though.

    And I really don't cycle normally. It's supposed to go deep, light, REM in cycles, which longer periods of deep sleep at the beginning of the night, then longer periods of REM towards the end. But the overall length of the cycle should be pretty consistent, repeated over and over. I have a couple sections of deep sleep early on (but no REM), then huge uninterrupted plateaus of REM sleep later in the night. Extremely little mixing. Much more REM sleep than any normal average, too, and all together with no deep sleep at all in there. Deep and light early on, REM and light later. My husband has worn it a couple of times to compare, and I couldn't believe how much his sleep cycled back and forth compared to mine.

    What's more, the longer those REM sections are, the better I feel in the morning. The times I feel close to partly rested are the nights that I've had more than three hours of REM, in long periods, without interruption. Maybe it's just because it's helpful for me to be paralyzed for that many hours of the night, ;) but I suspect something more to it than that.

    Not sure if most sleep studies last the full night or not, so if others have info about whether they get those huge REM slabs later on in the night, but I'd be curious to know if that's a common trait, or something particular to me. Does anyone else have a zeo? Or did your formal sleep study results show anything similar to what I'm describing?
  2. SickOfSickness

    SickOfSickness Senior Member

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    I would like to know if I have blocks of REM like you. I am not surprised yours were different from your husband's, I would be surprised if a PWME had normal graphs :(

    I had a sleep study where I got only 1/4 of the REM that is normal for a person. If the study was multi day or had been at a different time of day, I may have different results. My study began around 10, you were allowed to go to bed then or if you needed time to fall asleep it was ok. It is harder to sleep in a different bed with wires attached. Then you were woken around 7 if you didn't wake on your own. Usually I don't go to sleep until 4-7 am so that may explain the lower REM. I expected to be unable to fall asleep until at least 5:30 am, but I ended up sleeping a lot of the time.

    About once every 2 weeks, I will get refreshing sleep and feel good and rested for hours. I don't know why but I am trying to find out, so I can get more of it. In another thread we were talking about physical activity in the day being necessary to get into deep sleep stage 4 at night. I want to test this out. I am sure that most nights I am lacking in REM or Stage 4 because of how I don't feel as rested.

    There is a very popular iPhone app (99 cents) that can graph your cycles, I have been meaning to try it.
  3. Little Bluestem

    Little Bluestem Senescent on the Illinois prairie, USA

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    I thought it looked great until I saw “a set of on-line analytical tools, and an email-based personalized coaching program”. I do not like the idea of this company collecting health related information about me. Why do they not just put the analytical tools on a CD? I could consult my own health care professionals if I needed coaching.
  4. Sparrow

    Sparrow Senior Member

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    I'm not specifically endorsing the zeo. But for what it's worth, I haven't had any troubles with it. The e-mail coaching is a pre-set program and you can click a box to specify whether you want it turned on or off. I don't mind too much even if they were collecting and aggregating my sleep data for some reason. Like most companies, they do it in such a way that nobody can be individually identified from it. But if you're uncomfortable with the online aspect, I'm sure there might be similar options out there that aren't online. It was interesting to get to see what my sleep is like, and which abnormalities are regular features vs things that happen once in a while.
  5. peggy-sue

    peggy-sue

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    Stage 4 sleep (deep sleep) is the stage promoted by loads of lovely, vigourous activity during the day.

    We're not able to do loads of lovely activity, stage 4 sleep isn't promoted - it's the stage we all suffer from lack of.
  6. SickOfSickness

    SickOfSickness Senior Member

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    I wrote in another thread what I am trying to do. Normally I sleep about 9-10 hours and I conserve energy and avoid physical activity. Sadly I waste too much mental energy when I get anxious or stressed, or physical energy when I have to socialize and other times. If I do much more than my normal physical activity, I need an extra 2-3 hours sleep, but if I get stage 4 sleep, I am better off. So I am trading hours in the day for better quality hours. I get sore and weak the next day or two, so I can't repeat it without pushing myself hard.
  7. Sparrow

    Sparrow Senior Member

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    Unfortunately the zeo clumps together stage 3 and 4 sleep, so I can't distinguish whether or not I'm ever getting that deep.

    Oddly, though, slightly more or less deep sleep time doesn't seem to affect how I feel the next day (I had expected it would). Just the REM stuff.
  8. free at last

    free at last Senior Member

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    Again this ties in with my experiances

    http://forums.phoenixrising.me/inde...s-going-to-happen-gloom-and-doom.17477/page-2
  9. Calathea

    Calathea Darkness therapy

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    When I went for a sleep study, they put me in conditions that were notably different from my usual sleeping environment, and which will have substantially damaged the results. These were:

    1) Wrong time - the whole reason I was there was for a circadian rhythm disorder, yet they wanted me to be in the dark from 9pm onwards, and decided that I had simple insomnia because I didn't fall asleep at 11 on the dot. Then they forced me out of bed at 7 am, refused to let me lie down during the day, and ignored the striking fact that I collapsed onto the floor due to sleep deprivation.

    2) Better darkness conditions - I was put into a room in total, absolute darkness for several hours before I went to sleep. I now know that my sleep pattern is substantially affect by light/darkness signals, and they were providing an environment that was artificially dark, compared to a normal home sleeping environment. This may have meant that I had better melatonin release than was normal for me, and thus showed my sleep as in some ways better than it typically was.

    3) Generally uncomfortable conditions, due to being in a hospital and having electrodes all over my head. I'm not entirely sure what this does to sleep, but my guess would be that it is likely to delay sleep onset and perhaps affect depth of sleep. I was also more physically exhausted than usual due to the ME flare caused by the trip to hospital, I think possibly in the "wired but tired" stage, so that too will have affected things.

    Of course, the solution to the second problem is to be in total darkness during the night, and either total or virtual darkness for several hours before bed (look up darkness therapy if you want to know more about virtual darkness, but basically it means eliminating all blue light, as that's the wavelength which suppresses melatonin production). Total darkness for hours before bedtime has been declared by all researchers that I know of to be effective, but impossible to carry out in real life.

    Anyway, that was my last interaction with the sleep clinic, I didn't even get a followup appointment. But my main point is that sleep studies can be rather iffy, especially for ME patients.

    This does sound like an interesting gadget. Things I'd personally be keen to experiment with:

    1) Dietary factors that can affect sleep, particularly caffeine and sugar. This also includes timing of meals and drinks.

    2) Whether the amount of deep sleep changed if you altered the balance of your daily exertion to include more physical exertion and less mental exertion. Theoretically it should be possible to shift the balance, since both physical and mental exertion are exhausting with ME.

    3) Whether the time of day of the physical exertion made a difference.

    4) Whether bathing/showering in the morning vs. in the evening made a difference.

    5) Whether sex made a difference (many people conk out after sex).

    6) Whether light exposure made a difference. This would probably be the most important one for me, as I've found that it makes a profound difference to my sleep onset and to a lesser extent, sleep quality. The main ways in which this is important is having total darkness to sleep in, and eliminating all exposure to blue light for around three hours before bed. Using bright light first thing in the morning (going outdoors or using a therapeutic lightbox) may also have an impact.
  10. Sparrow

    Sparrow Senior Member

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    I've tried to test a lot of these to one extent of another. Overall, they've all had less of an effect than I had expected or hoped, which is too bad since those are the parts that I can change or control to some extent.

    I've tried to implement all of the normal "sleep hygiene" stuff, which helped very slightly but not more than that. I also take some sleep herbs and Douglas Labs melatonin, which knocks me out like a hammer within 15 minutes of putting it under my tongue (and MUCH more effectively than other sleep aids I've tried, including any other brand of melatonin). Not sure if it would help anybody else or if it's something particular to me, but it's been a huge help for the getting to sleep part. When I take my pill, I WILL go to sleep. It's just the quality of the sleep, and occasionally waking at night, that's the issue.

    So far it seems like...

    -Tiny amounts of caffeine anywhere during the day might cause more of those tiny awakenings (though I don't tend to remember them, or notice a difference in how I feel in the morning whether or not they're there)
    -Suffering bad post-exertional symptoms tend to cause more disruption of deep sleep periods with lots of little bits of light sleep.
    -Night sweats, wired feeling at night, and racing heart at night seem like they come and go with no reason (though I'm in the process of tracking now whether they could have something to do with my hormonal cycle), though it's possible that eating a tiny bit right before sleeping helps to minimize or prevent them.
    -Sleeping a ton more hours is more likely to feel better. There's more REM sleep towards the end of a night's sleep, and it really does seem to be REM that makes me feel better, so the more sleeping I do in the morning, the better my chances at feeling slightly refreshed.

    Not much else so far has seemed to have as much of an effect as I had hoped, though I guess that makes a certain amount of sense. I imagine those kinds of changes can have a subtle effect, but they are not the reason behind our primary sleep dysfunction, so fixing them cannot solve it. I've still got a bunch more experimenting I want to do anyway, though...
  11. Calathea

    Calathea Darkness therapy

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    Oh yes, following a siesta pattern, I forgot that one. Do you ever have naps or siestas, and if so, what does it do to your sleep?

    How much caffeine are we talking about? I tend to have small pieces of dark chocolate, often only 5g or so, and will occasionally have a cup of fairly weak tea (often white tea or green tea). The tea is mostly for medicinal purposes, I find that it's an effective bronchodilator when I get air hunger.

    I've a feeling that blood sugar levels were fairly important for me with regard to the racing heartbeat and associated stuff. Not that it was being formally monitored, but I can spot the difference between eating something sugary, eating a refined grain, and eating a wholegrain - it makes a fairly big difference in how I feel. Same goes for regular mealtimes.

    What sort of range of number of hours are we talking about, and which was the magic number for you?

    Since you're so responsive to oral melatonin, I'm curious about the darkness side of things. How dark is your bedroom? Do you ever get exposed to more light during the night, for instance for a trip to the toilet? I never got anywhere with the one brand of melatonin tablets I tried, but I find that darkness therapy (which stimulates natural melatonin production) has a profound effect on me, similar to that of a good sleeping tablet. Speaking of which, have you tested yourself when on a sleeping tablet, and if so, what did you find?

    Hormones - entirely possible, yep. I'm fairly sure there's been research into PMS and insomnia, and a lot of hormonal issues are exacerbated by insufficient melatonin, e.g. breast cancer rates are sky-high in shift workers. Are you doing FAM tracking or something, then?

    I'm guessing that you've already spent quite a bit of time devoted to improving your sleep before getting this gadget, which may be why you're only seeing minor differences. I might have a single cup of tea during the day, perhaps once or twice a month, but I would never even dream of having three cups of coffee in a day, as some people do. We're at the fine-tuning stage, eh. It's a pity that occurs when sleep is still moderately crap, but eh, that's ME for you.
  12. Sparrow

    Sparrow Senior Member

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    It's hard to say for sure whether anything is or isn't affecting things, because there is some degree of natural variation from night to night even if I seem to be keeping things as consistent as possible. And, of course, there are so many factors that it would be difficult to control them all. Generally my pattern of activity, sleep time, diet, etc. is pretty consistent most of the time, but who knows what other details might be affecting things. If I haven't noticed changes, it just means that I haven't noticed a consistent pattern of changes from that activity, or that the variation isn't any different than between any other nights. Obviously things I've mostly discounted could still be an impact, or might have a bigger impact on some other people than on me. I'm the first to say that we're all a unique little puzzle.

    But for what it's worth, I would be happy to share anything I have or haven't noticed.

    Naps - Haven't noticed any difference at all in what shows up on the zeo. Haven't done a lot of formal investigating on this one, though. I do know that the naps themselves tend to be full of REM sleep when I have them. That seems to be a good thing for me, so I think I would probably be better off napping more often.

    Caffeine - I'm talking about a small amount of dark chocolate (maybe a quarter to a third of a chocolate bar at most). Though again, I didn't really feel the difference the frequent mini-awakenings made, just noted they seem to be more frequent with caffeine any time in the day. They still show up without any caffeine at all, though, so that can't be the sole cause anyway.

    Blood Sugar - I think this is involved in the heart/sweating/wired feelings too. Dr. Myhill mentioned something about a cortisol response triggered by low blood sugar,and I think she's on to something. Mine doesn't seem to get better if I go without carbs, though (she advocates a paleo diet, I believe). I seem to feel better if I eat something right before bed to get me through to my next meal. I'm not sure that the hypoglycemia I tend to experience is reactive at all. Seems to have some other cause.

    Range of Hours - I don't know if I have a "magic number", since the better nights sleep still come infrequently. I do know that six, seven, or eight hours is not NEARLY enough for me, as I consistently feel much worse in the morning on those nights (truly awful on the unfortunate six hour ones). Nine is about my average now, because I get awakened when my husband gets up. Eleven or so seems much better, and gives me a much better chance of feeling at least a little better in the morning. To my knowledge every morning that I've been pleasantly surprised by waking feeling better has been after at least ten or eleven hours or more. Really I should probably switch my schedule over to that all the time. It gets complicated with the husband involved, though, as I tend to wake up and have trouble getting back to sleep if he comes to bed when I'm already sleeping, and I don't imagine he's crazy about the idea of losing eleven hours or more every night. :)

    Darkness - I had already blacked out the windows in the bedroom and was trying to dim the lights before bed when I started using the zeo. That alone seemed to help quite a bit. I noticed a very tiny bit of impact from the other brands of melatonin I tried, but not nearly enough to actually put me to sleep, even at triple the dose. Just the Douglas Labs stuff (they should be paying me for this!). As with many supplements I take, I've found that the quality difference between brands is dramatic. Or there's something else in it that for some reason works profoundly for me. Either way, I will never, ever, ever be giving it up now. :D

    I used to have to get up to go to the bathroom every night. For some reason that went away (no complaints there!). I'm not sure how much impact the light had, as just waking up for any reason enough to become truly conscious tends to make it VERY hard for me to get back to sleep, whether I get up out of bed or not. I think that has more to do with the weird cortisol stuff for me (I get almost like an adrenaline burst shortly after waking, but without the emotional side, and I know that my waking cortisol tested off the charts high, so I figure it seems likely that it's something along those lines. Either that, or it's related to my OI issues. Seems to also trigger sometimes when I roll over).

    Sleeping Medications - I have generally stayed away from hardcore sleeping pills, since thankfully I found the Douglas Labs melatonin pretty early on in my experimentation, and it's enough to get me unconscious on all but the weirdest nights. It seems to be common wisdom that sleeping pills don't do a lot to improve quality anyway, just quantity, and I have a history of responding horribly to medications, so I've shied away from them so far. I did use the zeo under the influence of an antihistamine once that caused drowsiness, and maybe a drowsiness-inducing muscle relaxant a couple of times. As I recall, there weren't any major differences, though (which again surprised me greatly). Haven't given it a firm trial, though, since I didn't want to take that sort of thing unless I really needed it. My husband has used the zeo when taking 5-htp and when taking Trazodone (he has some insomnia and sleep disruption too, of a different kind), and they each had a HUGE impact on his sleep cycle patterns. So I'm sure that they would probably change something.

    Hormones - At the moment, I'm just trying to track when I get the weird sleep symptoms and look very generally at where I might be in my cycle. To be honest, I'm amazed that this hadn't occurred to me sooner, but I haven't really paid attention to it at all before last month when I made the connection that it had been really bad and, hey, I'm just about to start my period (duh). If it looks like there's evidence for a correlation, I might get more detailed with it.

    And you're right - I had already tried everything I could easily think of to improve my sleep before I got the machine, so I'm sure if I had been testing sooner I might have noticed more of a difference. I think darkening the room was the biggest impact for me of those kinds of interventions. No electronics before bed did make it much easier to fall asleep too.

    It's funny when I go to write up posts like this one and am forced to articulate what is better or worse for me... I tend to find a lot of things that I know to be true and that my gut tells me would really help me, but that I'm not doing consistently. Like naps. I know that rest is better for me. I'm sure of it. And I know that for some reason my brain seems to benefit from more, more, more REM sleep time. Yet I don't nap often. I think sometimes I get so caught up in the day to day struggle and the search for more answers that I lose sight of the easy things right in front of me. Do less. Rest more. Get better. :)
  13. Calathea

    Calathea Darkness therapy

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    Naps can be weird things, though. Sometimes I nap and it's good, I need it, I wake up feeling refreshed, and it doesn't disrupt my night's sleep. Other times I wake up so groggy that it takes me longer to recover than I spent napping, and/or it messes with my night's sleep. Part of it, I think, depends on where I am in my sleep cycle when I wake up, but that still doesn't account for all of it.

    "Do less. Rest more." - if only it were as easy as it sounded! Still worth pointing out every time.

    I actually ended up writing a website about my experiences with sleep, mainly the light therapy and darkness therapy stuff, if you're interested. I think Dr Myhill gets quoted a few times, definitely on the topic of hypoglycaemia. It was odd when I put together a list of sleep hygiene rules: much of it felt blindingly obvious, but didn't turn up in the usual sleep hygiene lists you see about the place. Amazing how far you can find that you are missing the obvious points, too. Anyway, darkness therapy is well worth playing with if you notice such strong effects from melatonin, room darkening, and avoiding electronics before bed. It's about more than just dimming the lights, that won't stop you from getting blue light suppressing melatonin in your system, though of course it's better than nothing. For instance, did you know that the main reason why people are so often told to avoid electronics before bed is that computer and TV screens emit a huge amount of blue light? I used to find that I would be up until 5 am if I got carried away at the computer, but now that I have the orange specs on, I get sleepy properly at the right times. Which is nice, because I like being able to use my computer.

    I also trained myself not to turn the light on when I go to the toilet at night, since even a few seconds of light is enough to disrupt melatonin production. I think there's a circular relationship between nocturia and sleep, actually. The nocturia disrupts your sleep, and the poor sleep means that you get less of the hormone which tells your bladder to shut down for the night.
  14. Little Bluestem

    Little Bluestem Senescent on the Illinois prairie, USA

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    I think those orange specs might be a good thing for me. Where did you buy them? What brand are they?
  15. Little Bluestem

    Little Bluestem Senescent on the Illinois prairie, USA

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    Sparrow, do you know if you can get get the sleep data from the Zeo without putting the information about your supplements, diet, and exercise on the website? Besides not wanting to give out that much personal information, I just don't have the time.
  16. Calathea

    Calathea Darkness therapy

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    I go into details on my sleep site. I generally recommend starting with buying a yellow light bulb, as it's the cheapest option and the easiest way to test out whether darkness therapy works for you. If it does work, then it tends to be more convenient to get tinted specs. If you don't need prescription glasses, then you're laughing: just pick up any pair of blue-blocking glasses (sunglasses and the like), preferably in orange or brown. Orange is lighter but distorts colours more. If you need prescription specs, then either you can buy specialist fitover blue-blocking glasses, which I personally found really uncomfortable but presumably work for some people, or you can pay to have a pair of prescription specs made up and tinted, which is what I ended up doing. But do try it out with yellow light bulbs first. Some people can't get on with coloured lighting (my partner is one, the eye specialist says it's because he has extreme myopia), and I have no guarantee that this will actually work for everyone, as ME sleep problems are downright weird. Apart from the odd comment on my blog, the main feedback from people in general who are using darkness therapy for sleep is found on Amazon.com reviews for orange specs, which as I recall has all been positive.
  17. Sparrow

    Sparrow Senior Member

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    I'm intrigued by the orange specs too...

    Little Bluestem - Absolutely. There's a section where you can check off things and add extra details if desired, but you don't have to do any of that to access the sleep information itself, or graphs about it, etc.
    Little Bluestem likes this.

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