When I Started To Prioritize Sleep
Updated: Oct 21
Becoming Aware of the Importance of Sleep
From a young age, especially middle school and high school, I struggled with going to sleep, and staying asleep to the point where I dreaded going to bed. As soon as I tried to sleep, my mind could not turn off and the energy of thoughts would keep me awake for hours. Looking back, I realized I had gone through big life changes, including a move to a different city that removed me from my childhood friends. I moved to a place where I had to start from scratch with making friends, which can be daunting. This likely fueled a little anxiety and poor sleep patterns.
By the time I entered college, I started to get into triathlons, and looking into health, diet, and sleep. Getting good sleep while in college was always in the back of my mind. I knew it directly impact performance and recovery. However, I admit I did not prioritize a good night’s rest. I went to bed at inconsistent times, partied on the weekends, and woke up feeling tired every day. I had no discipline, which is one of the keys to getting quality sleep.
When I Started to Prioritize Sleep
In my previous job, I was a sales representative for a hydration company that had a people first culture towards the employees. It was my first career coming out of college, and I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by a team who prioritized health and wellness. One of the perks from that job was getting a free 6-month subscription with Whoop.
Whoop is a high-tech fitness wearable device that measures advanced biometrics. Whoop also tracks your sleep, recovery, and daily activity strain. It acts like a daily coach that gives recommendations on the amount of sleep hours needed to recover and improve performance for the next day. Every morning, you get a chance to review your previous night’s sleep, my favorite part about using whoop. If I had poor sleep, I ask myself what I did yesterday. Did I drink alcohol? Was it a stressful day? Did I not hydrate well enough? Did I switch up my diet? Were my allergies bad? There are so many factors that can disrupt sleep. Whoop gives you the option to fill out a journal every morning, which can help identify trends and keep you accountable with any negative habits you might have picked up recently.
Two months in to using Whoop, I was surprised to learn that I was getting better sleep than expected and getting relatively close to hours needed. However, I still felt tired daily and had a general feeling that I didn’t get quality sleep. It wasn’t until a recent trip to the dentist and seeing slight inflammation in my gums, that prompted me to get a sleep study done. The last thing I wanted to do was to be hooked up to a machine every night, but I was willing to commit to a device that could greatly benefit my health.
During the sleep study, I was not expecting to be hooked up to so many wires. It was an awkward process, not only with the wires but trying to sleep when a team is watching you behind a wall analyzing data.
It was one of those nights where I didn’t feel like I slept at all and was wide awake the whole time. I was counting down the minutes the whole time. By the end, I was fully expecting to have to redo the study.
Surprisingly, I was told they received enough data, which was a sigh of relief. Despite feeling awake and aware the whole night, Whoop showed that I had 5:45 hours of sleep and 3:20 of that was restorative. It also showed 1.1 wake periods per hour which is low compared to my 2.3 average.
Ultimately, the sleep study didn't detect signs of sleep apnea. While the study didn't show anything serious other than potentially having insomnia, I will continue to use whoop as a daily resource to dial in healthy habits and identify any disruptors. If you have any suspicions with having sleep apnea, I highly recommend doing a sleepy study to rule out anything serious. It’s worth looking like Cyborg for a few hours.