Resting Heart Rate and REM

My dad got hold of me a couple of weeks ago, wanting to know whether I’d like his old FitBit. The button had stopped functioning, he said, and he’d replaced it before realizing that superglue and a replacement mechanism from Amazon would restore his original piece to working order. He wound up fixing the old one but keeping the new one.

Hence, the offer.

I’m not into, like, moving and shit but I had been considering getting  a FitBit in the past couple of weeks, actually, purely for data mining purposes. I have been curious for some time what my heart rate is during various points of my day, what it is on average, and also I’ve been interested in collecting my own sleep data.

Most app algorithms, including those used by the FitBit and other biofeedback trackers, are dubious and often not transparent. In the interest of brand secrecy most companies will not disclose the algorithms they use to track sleep data, although it almost always comes down to a measurement of resting heart rate and movement data tracked over the course of time. The more you wear the device to sleep, the more “accurate” your data will become, assuming that you’re taking the accuracy of the algorithm itself with a grain of salt.

What this means is that your FitBit may consider a deep-sleep movement to be a less deep-sleep movement and say that you’re outside deep-sleep brainwave periods for longer than you are. But if you track your data from the same source over the course of time, you get a chance to see the same (potentially flawed) data and compare it over time. So it may not be the most accurate data, but the consistency of it regardless of accuracy should be pretty valid.

Does any of this make sense?

Okay. So even though my FitBit may say that I’m spending less time in REM sleep than I actually am, the ability to see what my patterns of sleep quality are over time could still be useful.

Over the past two weeks, the data reflects what I basically already assumed. Between four and six hours’ actual sleep with an average of 30 to 60 minutes awake and/or restless during that time.

Nothing really new to gain from that information, but I’m glad to have the ability to continue aggregating the data and developing a comparative analysis in the coming weeks. It’s also been reinforcing to be able to compare data like sleep quality to actual life events, and the correlation between stressful days and fitful nights is as expected – positive and consistent.

I intend to do a bit of an informal study using the various YouTube offerings I play while trying to fall asleep (and the videos that play after them following the onset of sleep, as I do not use a sleep timer on my television) to see whether one or another is more effective. I’m compiling playlists now, so that the videos and the order in which they play will be consistent and I can track them  consistently.

My initial hypothesis is that this bad boy is going to be the most effective:

But we shall see.

Of greater surprise to me was the fact that my resting heart rate is consistently elevated.

Like cardio elevated.

On average my heart rate remains between 112 and 140 for the majority of my day.

I work at a desk. Typing.

During therapy, my heart rate zipped up to around 174. I mean it was a bad session. EMDR tends to stress me out. But still.

I wish I’d gotten the FitBit sooner, actually, because a, say, three-month study of weekly sessions compared against heart rate in-session would have been fascinating. Oh well. Pretty sure I know how that would have turned out. Explains the heavy sighs and inability to catch my breath in-session, though.

So that’s fun.

I’m committing to remembering to check my heart rate every time one of the girls or just parenting in general is triggering me. I feel like it’s not only a good opportunity to take a few seconds to rethink what’s about to come out of my mouth, but also an opportunity to remind myself to self-intervene in the moment, which is the hardest part of behavioral change for me.

I’m good with before, and I’m good with after.

It’s in the moment that I need to be physically stopped and re-centered.

Anyhow. I wonder if there have been any studies on anxiety/trauma consumers using something like FitBit or another biofeedback device to learn to self-regulate and self-intervene. I mean, I’m certain there are. I just can’t go down that particular rabbit hole right now though. I’m only a few pages into the trauma and ludonarrative dissonance study I Insta’d yesterday, and I’m only halfway through another meta analysis of complex trauma research and policymaking from a couple of years ago. Another 75 pages or so do go on that front.

I need to learn to narrow my investigative focus. This is why I can’t use Pinterest. It’s a legitimate danger for me, that website.

Ugh. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

Anyhow, my use of the word “uncluckable” yesterday led me to track down my original source for that perfect little linguistic nugget and, as a result, I’ve been overindulging in Drag Queens Read Mean Comments videos, which seriously have gotten me through some of the most trying times of my life.

If these delicious bitches can put their haters in the corner then goddamn it so can I.

Trixie and Katya are two of my favorite queens of all time. Detox’s face is a thing of beauty. And I want Mrs. Kasha Davis to be my auntie. Obviously, she can’t be my mom.

Because Rupaul is my dream mom.

I’ve been working on internalizing that woman since 1994.

I won’t, Mama Ru. I won’t fuck it up.

Mwah, girl.


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