Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Fitbits, sleep and nightmare scenarios

Two weeks ago I bought a fitbit.
I've had activity trackers before. Pedometers, mostly, and I found the simple ones usually worked best. This was great for the budget, since they always (always) fell off, usually into the toilet - though I did have one migrate down my pant leg.

I purchased a refurbished fitbit through Groupon, which meant it cost about 1/2 what they charge in the store - which suited my inner cheapskate. It doesn't have any complicated programming or buttons to push, and it's basically a pedometer you wear on your wrist. But it's a pedometer that links to a webpage where you can (if you choose to do so) keep track of not just your steps, but diet, water intake and even sleep.

I did not purchase this to do the "10,000 steps a day". I got it for information. I know from my previous pedometer experiments (before I dropped them in the toilet) that keeping track does motivate me to get off the couch more. Not "Join Cross Fit and start doing 10K's" more, but more than I would normally do.

And I'm a bit of a geek, so having a tool that tracks my progress and make pretty charts and statistics of my activity without my having to do anything other than wear an (admittedly dorky) bracelet? That is pretty cool.

If you are more of a social butterfly, you can also join the forums and do the social media thing. This is not really my cup of tea. It seems almost everything  has a social media option these days - I'm just waiting for my lettuce to have a user group. (

I move about as much as I thought I did, which is to say, pitifully little (I average about 2 miles a day). But what I found most surprising was the sleep logging function. Before, had anyone asked, I would have said that I slept well: around 7-8 hours a night. I generally wake up once, around 3am, pet the cat, roll over and go back to sleep. Well, according to the fitbit, I've been living (sleeping?) in a fool's paradise. This is what an average sleep log looks like.

I wake up a lot. In two weeks, I've only managed 7 hours of sleep once. Though to be fair, I have been watching the conventions, and those are enough to give anybody nightmares.

Anybody else experimenting with fitbit out there? Are the fancy ones worth the price? Will thousands of people voluntarily giving their biometric data to the cloud result in a dystopian nightmare future where everyone is required to wear tacky rubber health monitoring bracelets by our new corporate overlords, the insurance companies?

And if you fall behind on your sleep, you will be  denied caffeine and forcibly re-educated in government run sleep centers painted in soothing colors and filled with hypo-allergenic pillows. (Which you will be billed for - of course.) These are the kinds of thoughts you have when you are sleep deprived.

1 comment:

  1. I don't have any of these devices and haven't had them, so I'm not helpful with the technical information, other than to point out that innumerable reports have shown these trackers to be almost comically inaccurate.

    That's not why I avoid them, though. For me, I feel like I'm obsessive in so many areas of my life already that I don't need one more thing to be hyper about. If that makes sense. Whether they're inaccurate or not, if they help people be more motivated to move and live my healthful lives, why, more power to 'em.