What Is a Wearable? How Are Wearables Used?
The term “wearables” refers to electronic devices worn against the skin for the purpose of collecting data. In addition to the Apple Watch and Oura Ring, other popular fitness wearables like the Whoop Strap and Oura Ring track vital indications including body temperature, pulse, and average resting heart rate as well as information about sleep-wake cycles.
As part of my health and wellness regimen, I purchased the Oura Ring earlier this year. I wanted to learn more about my circadian rhythm, the 24-hour cycle that wakes us up at dawn and sets us to sleep at night. Small changes, like sticking to a nighttime routine, can be made easier with the aid of a wearable device. Adjustments to our moods, attitudes and cognitive abilities can have a profound effect on our lives.
I’ve learned a lot about my sleep habits by using a wearable device. So, if wearables can help adults make positive lifestyle changes, why can’t wearables help children make positive lifestyle changes as well?
At-Home Experiment: Nine-Year-Old Meets Wearable
As the Sleep Foundation’s Editor-in-Chief, all I do is sleep. As a result, I was eager to observe the effects on my nine-year-old daughter of a sleep-tracking gadget. The information I get from keeping track of my own sleep and movement patterns is invaluable for planning my days. Using my wearable’s data, for example, I can assess if I should push a little harder or take it easy during my regular workout. As a bonus, I’m grateful for the reminder to get ready for bed early. If my daughter had the same experience, I pondered.
A regular 9-year-old girl, but with a little more oomph. I asked her if she thought it would be enjoyable if we put a wearable to her wrist 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And she even appeared to be excited about it. To have a better idea of what her day would be like, I decided to do an experiment in my house. The daily sleep scores, graphs, and daily energy production of her can be used to anticipate her following day.
We have tight bedtime procedures in our house, including specific times for tasks like brushing our teeth. Whether a wearable can tell me what stage of my sleep cycle I should be in at any given time, I wondered if it could tell me what stage my daughter should be in at any given time.
The Amazon Halo was the unanimous choice of the group. The Halo is a low-cost fitness tracker without a screen (bonus points! ), but it does measure sleep. Black, silver, and pale pink are the standard band colors for the Halo. Fabric and silicone replacement bands are both readily available in a wide range of colors. We finally decided on the hue “unicorn,” which is a silky fabric band in light aqua and rose. Afterward, we installed the Amazon Halo app on my phone, and we were ready to go.
As a parent, I assumed that if my daughter’s sleep scores were in the 90s, indicating that she had a good night’s sleep, she would have a positive attitude on the day. In the same way, a bad night’s sleep would have the opposite effect. Her movement score, I reasoned, would corroborate all of these findings, with less movement indicating poorer sleep and greater movement indicating better sleep.
Mom Was Right (Isn’t She Always?): The Wearable Works
We began checking my daughter’s sleep score as soon as she awoke on the first day of her new program. Her typical scores varied from the mid-80s to the mid-90s, indicating that she had had enough sleep. Her graphs, on the other hand, showed that she was not meeting my standards for deep, restorative sleep (Stage 3). A few nights ago while she was being tucked up for the night I suggested something along the lines of, “Make sure your brain gets around 10% extra deep sleep.” She responded with a look that said, “Huh?” It was well worth a chance, to be honest.
Deep sleep, delta sleep, and slow-wave sleep are all terms used to describe non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, which is the third stage. During the first half of the night, this is the most common period of the night. As the body relaxes further, muscular tone, heart rate, and breathing rate decrease. Getting a person out of deep sleep is significantly more difficult than getting them out of any other stage of sleep. Healing and growth as well as memory and creativity are said to be aided by Stage 3 sleep.
Patterns: Poorer Sleep
When my daughter’s sleep score dropped below the mid-80s, I saw that she was more prone to early weariness, inattention at school (she was remote learning, so I could see it firsthand), and sluggishness. Her temperament and demeanor deteriorated as a result of the poor quality of her sleep. Her exercise levels also decreased as a result.
The fact that my daughter enjoys running, jumping, biking, and so on isn’t a surprise, as I’ve already stated. Her sleep score, however, had an effect on her ability to express her regular indicators of wanting to play outside. Even when I encouraged her to exercise, she refused or abandoned the activity midway through if she had a poor night’s sleep the night prior.
Patterns: Better Sleep
The next day, my daughter was overjoyed when her sleep score reached 90 or higher. Before her good night’s sleep, she had a much easier time dealing with things that didn’t go well, such as a math test that went awry.
A good night’s sleep left her feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world. When she was younger, she was a much happier and more energetic child who jumped into the conversation as quickly as she did on the trampoline. My physical activity would be driven by her, so I didn’t have to do any effort on her behalf.
My Takeaways: Sleep Matters
In a short of weeks, I was able to make educated guesses about the course of my daughter’s day based on her sleep score. After a while, figuring out how she was feeling, anticipating setbacks, and figuring out what may set her off became less of a challenge.
As a result of using the Amazon Halo, it became clear that nighttime was not something to be taken lightly. It confirmed what I had known all along: not getting enough sleep leads to a jumbled day the next day.
Even the most trivial of pleasures, such as watching a movie or playing a game, can have a profound effect on the next day for children. Even if the kids have a good time the night before, they may be cranky and weary the next day. The next day, a child may be even more exhausted and in need of a nap because of a sickness that interrupts sleep the night before.
How Wearables Helped Me Relate to My Daughter
Now that I’m an adult, I have trouble recalling the joys of being a child. Often, adults find it difficult to relate to children because we see their difficulties as insignificant compared to our own. It is all too easy for me to overlook the importance of my children’s complaints, even if they appear to be simple to address for me.
Perhaps more than my kid, this wearables experience had a profound effect on me. I found myself adjusting my approach to her based on how well she slept right from the start of the day. There were times when I would give her extra leeway because she didn’t sleep well or had several overnight interruptions in her graph. Giving her the benefit of the doubt helped smooth out the kinks in our daytime conversations and even allowed us to drift into the evening in peace.
Perhaps more than my kid, this wearables experience had a profound effect on me. Depending on how well she slept, I changed the way I approached her during the day.
Something so easy came to light for me after getting a glimpse into my daughter’s nine-year-old brain. When I don’t get enough sleep, I’m irritable, cranky, and generally unpleasant. A garment reminded me that my daughter is just like her mother, but I’d forgotten about it till now.
My Concluding Thoughts on Wearables for Kids
My daughter’s weekend movie nights weren’t canceled because of the wearable’s new information, but we didn’t make any major changes to her routine. It’s time for her to have those “cheating the system” moments as a kid! What I learned most from this experiment was just how much of an influence sleep had on her day-to-day life. It also taught me how to approach her when she wasn’t feeling her best.
Despite our family’s experiment with the Amazon Halo, there are numerous sleep monitors for children, such as the Garmin Vvofit Junior 2 and Fitbit Ace 2 and 3. A new perspective on your child’s daily and evening habits and sleep quality can be gained by using these trackers.
Do I vote for a society in which every youngster is constantly being analyzed? Not at all. You and your loved ones must be happy with the decisions you make. Wearables can be a pleasant, non-intrusive approach to learning about your child’s inner workings in a non-intrusive way. It’s also fun to see that now my daughter wakes up every day and asks, “Can I check my sleep score?”