Archive for the ‘sleep’ Tag

Announcing a Genomera Sleep Study – Orange You Sleepy?

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Michael Nagle and Eri Gentry are bringing you the first group sleep study at Genomera, looking at the effect of blue-light blocking (aka “orange” or “amber-tinted”) glasses on sleep!

Blue light and sleep

We were inspired by a talk at the Quantified Self Boston meetup – “The Science of Sleep” – in which Sanjiv Shah immensely improved his sleep by wearing blue-light blocking glasses several hours before his bedtime. Using the Zeo, a small EEG headband worn during sleep, he was able to show that his average time to fall asleep without the glasses was 28 minutes, while his average time to sleep using the glasses was 4 minutes. What’s more, his deep sleep increased from about 60 minutes to 85 minutes with the glasses!

Research suggests that these glasses improve sleep by advancing circadian rhythm. Humans don’t produce melatonin, a hormone related to sleep, until darkness sets in. In this modern age, a host of electronics replace darkness with stimulating lights and images, delaying the onset of melatonin production. These glasses may function to improve sleep – as well as mood – by blocking blue light, which tells our bodies to begin producing melatonin, allowing for a more natural bedtime, even with continued nighttime electronics usage.

A group sleep study using the Zeo

“Orange you sleepy?” is an open group study during which participants will track their sleep using the Zeo for three weeks. 

  • During Week 1, participants will track sleep – with no other interventions. 
  • During Week 2, they will wear blue-light blocking glasses and continue to track sleep.
  • During Week 3, participants will track sleep with no interventions.

Interested in joining? Go here to sign up for the study and here to check out the study.

Where to get blue-light blocking or “orange” glasses

These can cost from $5 to more than $100. See google shopping results for a general, confusing overview. What to look for: (1) that the glasses do, indeed, block blue light. Look for the terms “blue blocker” or the name brand “BluBlocker” and (2) glasses that block as much light as possible — that is, glasses with maximum eye coverage and as little gap as possible in between your skin, like these $4 wraparound glasses available on eBay or these $40 StarShield glasses on Amazon. 

Where to get a Zeo

Check out Zeo here and click through to product page to buy.


Does above average REM sleep cause sleepiness?

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

One of the most interesting discussions on sleep I’ve seen has been unfolding over the past 1.5 years at the Zeo forums. A subset of Zeo users who are not getting enough “Deep Sleep” (as Zeo calls it, otherwise known as phases 3+4, and the sleep during which your body repairs itself) are getting too much REM sleep (the dream state, when your brain pieces together information you’ve gathered in the past day). 

These users are saying that they’re chronically exhausted, despite having a normal amount of total sleep, and speculate that their dream state minds may be racing so much that it leads to daytime exhaustion. [Note: I am one of these excessive dreamers – and I am pretty much always exhausted. (She types as she finishes her 5th cup of coffee…)]


My first reaction was that the inverse may be true: that a stressful/exhausting daytime life leads to increased REM. From personal experience, when my life is more stressful, I have nightmares. When my life is either boring (aka…happy?) or when I’m not getting enough sleep, my dreams are mundane. It could be that nightmares – or more exciting dreams – cause more REM sleep and boring dreams cause less. It’s too bad that, during those times, I neither took notes on daytime sleepiness nor owned a Zeo.

But times have changed! I own a Zeo, a tiny sleep-monitoring device. Which is AWESOME. I’m thinking and reading more about quality sleep. For the first time in my life, I am becoming an aware sleeper!

Without wearing this 3-point EEG on my brain every night, I wouldn’t be able to ask questions about my own states of Deep and REM sleep, let alone start interventions to change them. That’s the path I’m taking now – first, with experiments on myself, then, it’s on to group experiments, crowdsourced clinical trial style. We’ll be sleeping together: for science!

Update: Average REM sleep for adults is 90-120min, per Wikipedia

 (I get about twice the average. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN???)