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Help Me Fix My Insomnia with My New Toy


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Summary: I have a new device that measures my brainwaves while I sleep. I am trying to experiment and use statistics to figure out which treatments help and which are a waste of money.




I have been fighting insomnia for the last nine years. Last month I got a Zeo, a device I wear on my forehead at night to measure my brainwaves. It tells me how much light/deep/REM sleep I get each night. I have used it since February 11 and the nightly sleep scores correlates very well with how I feel the next day, along with my memory of my sleep pattern from the night before.


Since I also wear a Fitbit and use a heart rate monitor while exercising, I entered all the data into a spreadsheet and had it calculate various correlations. Here is what I have data on:

  • Zeo score
  • Total sleep
  • Light sleep
  • REM sleep
  • Deep sleep
  • Times woken
  • Time awake at night
  • Time to fall asleep
  • Total steps for the day
  • Calories burned exercising
  • Average heart rate while exercising
  • Max heart rate while exercising
  • Minutes of strength training
  • Dose of progesterone cream that evening
My diet, sleep supplements, bedtime, and bedtime routine have been as consistent as possible with two little kids around. I wish there were fewer variables or that they were easier to control.


I ran all sorts of correlations and here are the r-squared values that showed any actual relationship. (r-squared values explain what % of the data is explained by the relationships between variables)

  • max heart rate during exercise vs zeo score for the night (24%)
  • average heart rate during exercise vs zeo score for the night (23%)
  • max heart rate vs total sleep (23%)
None of the following show any relationship so far:

  • calories burned vs anything
  • deep sleep vs anything
  • rem sleep vs anything
  • time to fall asleep vs anything
  • steps walked vs anything
  • minutes of strength training vs anything
  • any parameter of sleep vs max heart rate, avg heart rate, or calories burned the next day ---- This one surprised me. I thought a higher sleep score from the night before would lead to a harder workout, but it doesn’t seem to matter. A higher zeo score does lead to me feeling better during the day, especially the first two hours of the day.
Now I need to figure out what (easily measurable) variables to test. Ideas I have so far:

  • calcium
  • tryptophan
  • 5-HTP
  • GABA
  • grams of starchy carbs
  • changing dosage of melatonin
I don’t know what to start with or how many nights I need to try each for. Also, does anyone with more statistics knowledge know how many nights I should try a new treatment for before a washout period (time between experimental treatments) and another new treatment? Things are further complicated by the fact that my sleep gets worse the week before my period.


I wish I remembered more statistics from high school and college. (Although most of the courses were about calculating things, not actually interpreting data.)

Edited by HoppyTheToad
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Our experience with melatonin was that after three or four weeks the body became used to it and required either a multi week break or a higher dosage.


I'd suggest a full week on this one at minimum to look for effects. A longer time will yield more certainty but you will run into the decreasing effectiveness issue if you go too long.

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