Thursday, 20 August 2015

What My Fitbit Tells Me (So Far)

I have the Fitbit Flex. It counts steps and does a reasonable job of detecting restless sleep. It doesn't detect stair-climbing. The app that comes with it lets me log sleeping hours, food, water and exercise activities and times. It makes some generic assumptions about calorie-burning during those activities. Using one is excellent at keeping me honest about what I'm tracking, and there's a thing that should be called "the Fitbit effect"

My Fitbit will tell me, in about five hours, that I haven’t had a lot of sleep tonight. Every August I get a few nights when I can’t get to sleep. There’s no reason: it just happens. (Written Monday night / Tuesday Morning)

My Fitbit tells me three things: how far I walk each day, how much sleep I’ve had, and how many calories I’ve burned. I tell it how much work I do in the gym. As well as the app, they send me a mail every week with a summary. For the last week in August, I walked just over 5 miles a day, burned just under 2,900 calories a day, and slept for 6 hours and 50 minutes a day. That’s a week at work. The calorie count will include three sessions in the gym. In that week, I didn’t lose so much as a single gram. Burning 2,900 calories a day.

My sleep can vary between just over six hours a day to just over seven hours. I may get the odd eight-hours at the weekend. I’ve never slept more than 7 hours 20 in the week. Bear in mind that the Fitbit knows when you’re being restless and deducts that time. I can be restless for up to 35 minutes a night, rarely more, and almost never less that 10 minutes.

I feel more rested and clear within myself after 7+ hours sleep than I do after less that 6H:30M. Except for tonight (Mon PM-Tues AM), I’ve almost never had to get by on less than 6 hours. On the very rare occasions I get 8 hours, I feel as if I’ve physically wound down and it takes me a while to get going. But that only happens at the weekend.

What do all these stats tell me? That I should stop worrying about getting eight hour’s sleep. It’s not going to happen. I should go to bed when I’m tired and not worry about functioning on six hours’ sleep. I can do that just fine. I get quite a bit of my evenings back doing this. Bedtime at 23:00 is fine, as long as I’m tired. (This is possible because I’ve abandoned the 05:30 wake-up in favour of 06:00.)

I’m getting more than enough exercise every day. No need to feel guilty about that.

I need to look at how many calories I eat during the day, because I’m burning 2,700 - 2,900 a day and my weight isn’t shifting. Logging food on the Fitbit is a bit tedious, but maybe the English food list they have will help. That’s going to be the next project.

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