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Archive for the ‘Sleep’ Category

Family Story: Six Months of Tracking Baby Sleep

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

Logan’s parents tracked their son’s sleep schedule from 1 month to 7 months old. They wrote about their experience on their blog and offered up a few reasons that they loved their tracker:

  • Allan could check from work how our day was going
  • I could see that the hard work put into sleep training was paying off; I needed all the motivation I could get!
  • Even though it only took a few minutes a day people thought was a supermom when they saw our site ;)
  • When Grandma and Grandpa babysat I could look at the last few days and say with great accuracy what to expect from sleep, feeding and diapers (‘He had a good nap this morning so he’ll likely take about an hour and a half nap around two, around 6:30 he’ll want to cuddle and might sleep for thirty minutes…’) Truly data driven parenting.
  • The first three months are fuzzy in my mind. It’s nice to look back and see that we made it through it!
  • I love analyzing data and this gave me a little project :)

These are all great reasons, but I’m particularly partial to the last one. Curiosity is what drove me to create Trixie Tracker, so I’m always thrilled to hear it is helping other parents satisfy their own curiosity.

You can discover amazing patterns in your child’s schedule if you simply observe. Become a parent scientist for a few days and see what you learn. It’s worth trying and it’s free!

How One Mom used Trixie Tracker to Help with her Baby's Sleep Schedule

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

I asked parents how Trixie Tracker had helped them. Jena, proud mother of four boys, wrote to let me know how Trixie Tracker gave her the information she needed when trying to address her son’s chronic sleep and napping problems. Here’s what she said:

Nico is my 4th son but the first one whose sleep was so out of whack. He slept 8hrs/night straight for the first 5 months but hardly napped and when he started napping, his night times went awful.

I started tracking him at 7 months using TT so I could see any patterns developing, see how much actual sleep he was getting, and have records to back up what I suspected. By 20 months, even my pedi had to agree that he was not getting an average amount of sleep and that it was time to start delving deeper into things and we were referred to a developmental pedi. After talking to him and a behaviorist pedi, we were finally referred to a sleep specialist neurologist. I was able to show him our records for months so he could see the patterns (or in our case, the lack of them) and how long it would take to put him down at night.

He was able to see what our problems were and see that we really had done everything behaviorally that we could do and recommended putting our son on melatonin. With that, his average sleep has gone from 9hrs/day to almost 10½hrs/day but none of that would have been nearly as easy to get done if I hadn’t had all the records right at my fingertips to show the doctors at every step of the way. My son is much happier now that he gets more sleep and we are as well.

I really can’t imagine trying to have kept a sleep log on my own to be able to show the doctors what we were dealing with so TT has definitely been, if not a life saver, a sanity saver for me.

Parents almost always know when something is a little off with their babies, but sometimes it’s hard to for them to put their finger on it. That’s where Trixie Tracker really shines. It connects the dots and shows you the patterns because it’s impossible to keep all that information in your head – especially if you are sleep deprived.

I’m glad Trixie Tracker was able to back-up Jena’s parental instincts so she could help her son and get her whole family back on a good sleep schedule. Jena, thanks so much for sharing your story.

Day/night switch on Full Sleep chart

Friday, February 3rd, 2006

There’s a new link on the Full Sleep chart that lets you toggle back and forth between the daytime view and the overnight view. All it’s really doing is shifting the position of your data by 18 hours. The daytime view (the normal view) runs from midnight to midnight (00:00-23:59). The overnight view runs from 6pm to 6pm of the following day (18:00-18:00). This allows you to look at your overnight sleep as a visually unbroken span.

This new overnight view may be preferable to some users, but I want to point out that TT still bases all its calculations on calendar days (except of course for the overnight sleep time calculation). The reason I mention that TT uses calendar days is because the overnight calculation spans two calendar days. If *either* calendar day is marked as ‘ignore’, then TT can not calculate an overnight sleep time.

Day/night toggle

What this means is that one ‘ignored’ day in the daytime view shows up as two ignored days on the overnight view. Two consecutive ignored days in the daytime view shows up three consecutive ignored days in the overnight view and so forth. Basically, if you use the ‘ignore’ feature you will always have more ignored days in the night view than the daytime view.

Ignore this day

Friday, February 3rd, 2006

Because of some problems with Sleep Stats grabbing bad data (from vacation days, weekends off, and otherwise incomplete days), I made some pretty significant changes to the way Sleep data is handled. You can now tell TT to ignore any date when calculating averages and stats.

There is a new button on your Sleep Summary page that appears under the Sleep Journal area. It says “Ignore this day”. (Hold your cursor over it to get a longer description.) Clicking this button tells TT to ignore this day when crunching your data.

Sleep Ignore Day example

After you have marked a day as ‘ignore’ the button changes to red, and says “Include this day”. If you decide the data on that day isn’t all that bad, you can easily choose to include the day in your averages again.

Sleep Ignore Day example

Days marked as ‘ignore’ will show up with a red description on your ‘Full chart’ page, so you can use your full chart to see how many days you are ‘ignoring’.

Here are a couple of tips:

  • If a day is already listed as “no data”, it’s not necessary to ‘ignore’ the day. TT already excludes days with no data.
  • Look at your stats page to see if bad data is being including in your averages. Clicking “view” from the stats page will take you directly to the day in question and you can easily mark it with ‘ignore’ if necessary.
  • Excluding days is a Sleep only feature for right now. Eventually the other telemetry will catch up, but I really have to get the site launched first

I changed the way ‘ignored’ days show up on the chart. The colors for ignored days are now grayed back so you can visually ignore them as well computationally.

Faded Ignore Day example

Nap Totals

Friday, February 3rd, 2006

TT now separates out naptime from the total sleep-time. You can see this on the sleep summary and the home page.

Here’s how the nap total is calculated
Any sleep entry where the ‘Fell asleep‘ time is between 8am and 6pm is counted as a nap. This is the inverse of how the overnight sleep-time is calculated (6pm-8am).

This may not be the perfect solution. The advantage to defining a specific time span is that you can accurately compare data to the group average (forthcoming). The disadvantage is that there may occasions when your data steps outside the defined area. For example, if your child gets up at 5am and takes a morning nap from 7:30 to 8:30, that nap wouldn’t be counted toward the daily nap total (it would actually get added to the overnight sleep total).

Even if each user were able to define their own day and night times (for example, day: 6am-5:40pm or night: 7:15pm-8:30am) it is likely that you would run into exceptions from time to time that would cause the calculations to be off.

Eventually I plan to develop a smart algorithm that will distinguish naps from overnight sleep. In the meantime, I think this solution will work — especially as your child gets older and on a better nap schedule.

One note: Please don’t change nap or sleep times to force them to be counted as either naps or overnight. It might make your nap or overnight totals ‘seem’ a little more accurate for the day, but it’s actually damaging the integrity of your data over the long run. The best thing to do is to keep as accurate records as you can, and wait for TT to get smarter :) thanks!

Sleep Probability Chart

Monday, November 28th, 2005

The Sleep Probability chart uses a gray scale to display the probability of your child being asleep at a certain time of day for the selected dates. Areas of high contrast (black and white) mean your child is on a predictable schedule. Areas of low contrast (light, middle and dark gray) mean a less regular schedule. A uniformly gray chart would mean a completely random sleep schedule.

Sleep Probability Chart for a Newborn (birth to 1 month)

Sleep Probability chart for an individual child (1st month)

6 Months Old

Sleep Probability chart for an individual child (6 months old)

12 Months Old

Sleep Probability chart for an individual child (12 months old)

Essentially, this chart shows your child’s sleep schedule by compressing daily sleep charts into one image. This kind of compression is extremely good at showing how patterns form and evolve over time. For example, it can help you identify the average bedtime or realize that your child is transitioning from 3 naps/day to 2 naps/day.

The number of gray scale values depends on the number of days in your chart. If you have two days in your chart, then there will be three colors: black, 50% gray and white. The reason is that the different possibilities for being asleep at a given time for the two days would be:
2/2 (100% – asleep both days at a given time),
1/2 (50% – asleep one day, not the other at a given time) and
0/2 (0% – asleep neither day at a given time)

The more days in your sample, the more possible gray scale values. So if you have a months worth of data (31 days max), there will be 32 shades of gray:
(0/31 through 31/31). This would be approximately 0% black, 3% black, 6% black, 10% black, etc…

(What? You’re not tracking yet? It’s easy to create these cool charts for your baby. Discover Trixie Tracker and sign up for the Free Trial today.)

Related links: this chart was first seen on the Trixie Update in March 2004.

Sleep Scatterplot

Wednesday, October 26th, 2005

The scatter plot shows a distribution of sleep and awake entries. It’s very good at showing patterns that aren’t evident in the regular day-to-day sleep chart.

  1. The chart shows 30 days of data, which are divided into three color groups. Plots in the most recent 10 days are solid. Plots in the middle 10 days are faded a little bit, and the oldest plots are faded even more. This lets you compare recent patterns to older patterns on the same chart.
  2. Horizontal patterns in your chart indicate consistency in the length of a nap (or awake entry).
  3. Vertical patterns indicate consistency in the schedule of naps (or awake entries). The example below contains a vertical column of plots around 8:00pm. This indicates a very successful, consistent 8:00pm bedtime. It also shows that the child usually sleeps through the night — but not always.
    Scatterplot with vertical trend

  4. ‘Clumped’ patterns indicate consistency in the schedule and length of naps (or awake entries).

Side Note:
This chart is modeled after a sleep analysis story posted on The Trixie Update a while back.

Please note: The middle section titled “Analysis of Patterns and Developing Trends” was done by hand. I don’t have the smarts to write code that can analyze patterns and create a chart like that. Eventually I will hire someone with a math or computer science background and put that person in charge of creating pattern algorithms, but that’s down the road.

Sleep Notes/Journal

Thursday, June 2nd, 2005

We have finally implemented Sleep notes. It’s a little different than the other telemetry notes. Instead of a note being associated with a specific sleep period, it’s associated with the whole day. I’m calling it the Sleep Journal, and it’s very similar in function to the Journal Entry on your Journal View page.

You write in your Sleep Journal by going to the Sleep Summary page. After you have written something, that text gets pulled into your Journal View and also shows up as a “pop-up” note on your sleep chart.

There are a couple of reasons (mostly technical) the Sleep Journal was implemented in this way instead of letting you attach a note to a specific nap or wake period. I also thought it might make sense from a narrative point of view to write about the whole day so that when you browse through your sleep history there will be more of a story. This is open for discussion. If you think it would be better to have individual notes per sleep event, let me know.