It’s time for the last sleep data episode! On episodes one and two I wrote about sleep quality and recovery data. Today we’re covering the three remaining graphs: heart rate, breathing and movement data. Did you know that you could notice illnesses before getting the actual symptoms by keeping track of your heart and breathing rate data? Or that movement data can be used to see how hard your workout was for your body?
A healthy person should see clear pattern of the heart rate going down as the sleep deepens and up in light and REM sleep.
The Average BPM is simply your average heart rate for the whole night. The Resting BPM, on the other hand, is the smallest 3-minute average heart rate you had during sleep. It can be used as a mild indication of stress or overtraining. After you have established your baseline Resting BPM during a couple of weeks, you can keep an eye on notable deviations from this normal Resting BPM level of yours.
The general rule of thumb is that if your Resting BPM bumps up by more than 7 beats per minute, you should consider skipping your workout or opt for something a little lighter and find some ways to relieve your stress. A relaxing bath or a calming walk outside might do the trick, for example. What I love to do when I want to get moving but am feeling too worn down for a hard workout is walk down to the beach near by (and watch the sunset) 🙂
A higher Resting BPM may also be indication of some other malfunction in your body, for example an oncoming sickness such as the flu or inflammation. I’m rarely ill, but from what I’ve heard from people who use Emfit QS is that their heart rate tends to rise a couple days before they actually have noticed for example the actual symptoms of the flue. Pretty interesting, huh?
HR trends on Emfit QS.
Note! Do not confuse rapid, short-term deviations in Resting BPM with long-term changes. For example, exercise tends to decrease resting heart rate over time and this only tells that you are getting fitter!
Average BPM is simply the average breathing rate for the whole night. The typical breathing rate for a healthy adult at rest is 12ñ20 breaths per minute. Your breathing rate may increase because of medical conditions such as fever, illness or inflammation, and a rise in Avg BPM may be an indication of this. Therefore, if you see an unusual rise in either your heart rate or your breathing rate, I would recommend taking it easy and maybe popping some vitamins – just in case.
While it has been argued that vitamin C doesn’t really help prevent colds, taking it before the symptoms of cold hit you may shorten the duration of symptoms. Citrus fruit should be one good option. Just keep track of your heart and breathing rate and when you see an unusual bump and suspect a cold, try taking some vitamins. How handy is that? Talk about a real life fortuneteller. Chances are you will still get the cold, but it may not last as long.
The movement data gives an indication of how restless your sleep is. If there is lots of activity, your sleep quality is probably poor too. Average Activity measures larger movements than those caused by your breathing and beating heart such as a twitching leg or arm or changing position only slightly. The number of Toss & Turn indicates bigger movements.
A higher value both in Average Activity and Toss & Turn might be a sign of a restless night. I’ve also heard that movement data can also be used to study how hard a training session was. More movement than usual could mean that the workout was hard for your body. However, do remember to inspect these numbers against your own baseline values. A long-term increase in movement data may be an indication of an approaching over training condition. If you notice that your values have increased over a longer period of time, you might want to check if your resting heart rate has been increasing along with a drop in long-term HRV. All of these may be signs of overtraining or your body experiencing too much stress or strain. This means that your body needs more rest.
Thanks for reading! Now that you’ve got a full package of info for using sleep data to your benefit, make sure you leverage it!
Aittokoski, T. CTO of Emfit
Mayo Clinic Jan 2017, Cold remedies: What works, what doesn’t, what can’t hurt