Deep Sleep

What a week.

I expected coming into this week that there were going to be frustrations; but it has been such a roller coaster. I ranted in Delayed Departure about West Hills Ford and the experience that I have had there. But after four weeks; I had finally made some headway in the middle of the week by contacting the corporate number and getting on a three way call with the location.

On Thursday, I spoke with someone at the location who told me that they hoped that after all this trouble my moonroof wouldn’t break in transit. It was an ominous foreshadowing that had me feeling uneasy all day. I even messaged family about the comment because it was such a strange thing to say.

Come Friday : Call #1 – The new part has arrived. {excellent!} Call #2 – The new part won’t be installed until Monday. {Not ideal, but okay} Call #3 – The new part is broken. {I don’t even have a response}

So, here we are.

It can help to have an inexpensive, easy to set up tent handy

I am staying at my sister’s place with her family until the BIG road trip; and she has been kind enough to give me and Bruce use of her property rather than me having to pay for a campsite or hotel room while my van continues to wait for a moonroof. The extra few days have given me the chance to try out a few new camping items. We typically sleep in the van on our trips to the coast; but I decided to get a tent with a mesh top so that we can sleep outside some nights. I am also not sure on KOA’s policy; but there are places where sleeping in your van while camping is not allowed. To avoid any confrontation, it can help to have an inexpensive, easy to set up tent handy.

In addition to the tent, I picked up a dog stake with a 20 foot cord rated to hold dogs up to 125lbs. Bruce is around 75lbs, and he isn’t going to be getting any bigger; but the individual cord options jumped from 60lb to 250lb. Rather than going way over what I actually need or risk my German Shepard breaking off his leash, I picked up a combo pack with the cord and stake that are supposedly rated to 125 as a set.

It has been great to try everything out. And Bruce is more than happy to spend the extra days with his dog cousins as opposed to riding long hours in the van. The first night we did leave ourselves pretty cold. I got a couple of blankets for over the top of us and one to lay on and thought that would be enough. It was not. I was really kicking myself because in my van was my backpacking pack from the weekend I spent at North Fork Skokomish River Trail in the Olympics. Complete with extra blanket, extra warm coat, and my mummy bag.

Thanks to the magic of modern technology, I can see how my sleep patterns change

So, after one night, I drove to the Auto Glass Plus that broke my moonroof and got the bag out of my car. I can’t underestimate the difference that a mummy bag can make. Living in the Pacific Northwest, I know this fact. But sometimes we have to be reminded.

Luckily, there is a very quantifiable way to look at our own sleep patterns. Thanks to the magic of modern technology, I can see how my sleep patterns change when I am sleeping comfortably in a mummy bag, in the cold, in the van, or in a bed separated from nature by four walls and a roof. A few years ago, I picked up a smartwatch on Amazon for under $25 for the purpose of watching my sleep. I am also trying to be more active when I am not traveling – I tend to do a lot of hiking and exploring when I am gone and then hibernate between big trips – and the step counter is valuable to be able to set and meet goals to build a change in my habits. But the main goal was to find an inexpensive smartwatch that could both tell time and track sleep.

The motivation behind getting a smartwatch for tracking my sleep was my interest in Lucid Dreaming. I created a blog several years ago called Lucid Sometimes and in the years since have adapted the blog into a handbook that I published on Amazon. During that time, I was looking for any and all tools for improving my Lucid Dreaming. For something that I planned to wear frequently at night I wanted a watch that was small and unobtrusive; but I also wanted a watch that could tell time. It surprises me how many of the smartwatches that are made to be small and ‘basic’ don’t have the most basic function of a watch – to tell time.

The watch that I got may not have as many capabilities as a FitBit; but for around $20 I have something that accurately tracks sleep patterns, accurately tracked my nearly 10,000 steps for the 5 mile hike I did at Skokomish River here in Washington (10,000 steps, according to a quick google search, is around 5 miles), and has lasted a couple of years without any functional issues. Good Deal.

Over the past two years, I haven’t worn the watch every day, or even most days. However, I do have a collection of data that I am confident is representative of my overall sleeping patterns.

there is a pretty clear pattern to how much of my time asleep is light sleep versus how much of it is deep sleep.

During a typical night I will sleep around 9 hours. An hour of that time is often not actually spent asleep, waking up here and there for ten to fifteen minutes to have a snack or use the bathroom. But if I go to sleep at 10:30, I am usually planning to sleep until at least 7:30.

If we look only at times that I have tracked my sleep indoors; there is a pretty clear pattern to how much of my time asleep is light sleep versus how much of it is deep sleep. There are also patterns that emerge as to the times when I am going in or out of a sleep cycle, which is useful in my lucid dream research; but what is really incredible is the changes to my time in deep sleep when I change my environment.

Indoors, the lowest amount of time that I have spent in deep sleep while tracking has been 1 hour and 16 minutes. The highest amount of time that I spent in deep sleep indoors was 3 hours and 16 minutes. Those are the outliers, though. The vast majority of nights that I have tracked my sleeping I have spent between 1 hour 30 minutes and 2 hours 30 minutes in deep sleep.

When I went backpacking (Take A Hike), I expected that the first night out I would get really good sleep. The five mile hike in wasn’t extremely strenuous; but it was a five mile hike with gear and I haven’t been backpacking in awhile. That first night I got 4 hours and 41 minutes of deep sleep. That’s a lot! I got slightly less deep sleep the second night; but all of my activity that day was walking around the river valley. At first I was stunned when I saw that I had gotten another 4 hours and 8 minutes of quality deep sleep. But that is how quickly we are able to shed the stress and expectations of every day life and reset our brains when we go out into the wilderness. Two days of camping and I had gotten almost as much deep sleep as I get in a typical work week.

On Thursday night, I was back in a tent, this time with my dog, Bruce, and not nearly as prepared for it to get cold. It has been so warm the last few days I thought that I would be fine; but around 1:45 in the morning I got cold enough that I started waking up for large chunks of time. In total, I was only in the tent for 6 hours and 45 minutes. An hour and 45 minutes of that time was spent awake. Luckily, of the other five hours, I was in deep sleep for 1 hour 30 minutes.

the correlation between being in the mummy bag and getting a ridiculous amount of deep sleep is VERY strong.

Last night, when I got smart and picked up my backpack and mummy bag from my van, I clocked in 3 hours and 26 minutes of deep sleep with 0 minutes of sleep. In all, I only slept a little over 6 hours; but more than half of it was deep sleep and I woke up feeling fantastic.

The mummy bag made such a huge difference; it got me thinking about my big road trip. If I want to maximize on my sleep time to make the most of each day; it makes sense to sleep in the mummy bag even though we will be sleeping in the van. If things are getting hot, we can move to my tent. But the correlation between being in the mummy bag and getting a ridiculous amount of deep sleep is VERY strong.

I am setting a goal for myself to average 3 hours of deep sleep per night throughout my trip. That is an hour longer than typical; but it seems super doable for a trip spent primarily outdoors.

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