What My Whoop 4.0 Taught Me About Weed and Sleep

What is your first thought when you think of some of the ways you can use a fitness tracker? Do you have visions of squats, marathons, HIIT workouts and yoga? What about sleep

At the end of last year, I had the chance to try Whoop 4.0, Whoop’s newest passive tracking wristband. What I loved most was the ability to monitor my workouts, read my body’s signals, and translate that into a more effective fitness program. However, when I got the whoop, calibrated it to my body, and started collecting data, a whole new side of tracking became incredibly attractive: my sleep.

Sleep is uncharted territory for most of us. We take part in it every night, a third of our lives, and yet we are fundamentally unaware of it. Do i snore Do I speak in my sleep? How do I behave in the middle of a dream? For many of us, the answers to these questions lie in feedback from our partners, which means it’s not really a firsthand experience.

So when I discovered that Whoop was not only recording my waking moments and activities – pilates, hiking, rest days, and stress – but also my sleep, I was intrigued. I finally got a look at what happens when I fall asleep.

The data

So first of all, what metrics does Whoop actually use to measure sleep success? Respiratory rate, disturbances, bed time, performance, light sleep, REM and deep sleep are recorded. There are also recommendations that tell you how much sleep you need to get maximum recovery. (It turns out that counting the same number of hours every night is not that easy. Because of the activity that day and the day before, I may need to go to sleep earlier – or if I have rested, I can stay awake Somewhat later.)

Hayley Helms

Sleep scientists say the optimal length of sleep is between seven and nine hours. Anything else, and you are putting yourself at an increased risk of developing dementia, among other things. As important as the hours of Zs you catch is quality. Did you get adequate REM and deep sleep? Did you dream? Were you able to sleep undisturbed?

When I looked at my first recorded sleep data, I was shocked. Whoop had noticed 24 disturbances. I had the feeling that I hardly knew myself – was I really up that often all night without realizing it? What else did I miss?

The following night was similar – 22 incidents with an efficiency rating of 89 percent. The third night, however, was different – I had 12 glitches, half my typical rate, and an efficiency value of 95 percent. I was also asleep in a fraction of the time it took the past two nights. The biggest difference that third night? The introduction of cannabis.

The experiment

It’s no secret to anyone who is even partially familiar with weed that many proponents of the plant speak of its ability to improve sleep. But is it hearsay, or at least anecdotally legitimate? I decided to give my answer like a guinea pig and did a little experiment: For the month of December, I would record my sleep every night. I was sober for the first two weeks. For the second two weeks, I took 10 mg of cannabis every night. At the end of the experiment, I would compare my sleep scores, focusing on disorders.

Moonberry

Decency

loves peppermints

Decency

I’ve used two forms of cannabis: Moon Berry Blaster candies and Feals CBD mints. I had noticed that the full flowered gums had a tendency to make me drowsy in the morning, so I incorporated the CBD to help combat it.

The results

Taking part in my self-determined sleep assessment was easier than I thought; Before the sleep experiment, I had used cannabis semi-regularly to combat extremely vivid dreams that woke me up several times during the night and sometimes kept me awake. Cannabis limited my psychedelic dreaming and also helped me fall asleep quickly. But be careful, spoilers: This deep sleep feeling was little more than an illusion.

My whoop showed me that after a month of testing, I still have an average of 24 glitches per night, with the exception of one evening when I only logged six. The respiratory rate is quite individual and as long as it doesn’t fluctuate a lot you are good. Mine hovered at about 17 breaths per minute throughout the experiment. My sleep efficiency stayed in the 90 percent range, save for a couple of dips into the 80s.

My sleep levels stayed constant, which puzzled me: When I didn’t use cannabis for the first two weeks, my dreams were vivid, intense, and frequent. When I took the cannabis, I hardly had any dreams. I was researching the real effects of cannabis on sleep and I was concerned about what I found out.

According to Matthew Walker, a scientist and professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley and the author of the book Why we sleep, Cannabis is catastrophic to our REM and deep sleep, two critical elements to health and wellbeing. Essentially, weed keeps you from dreaming, which is problematic because we need dreams to process our days, solidify information and learning, and recover for the day ahead.

I may have “paused” my dreams, but my brain is one step ahead. According to Walker, every night of the missed dream, our brain logs the dreams we should have had. When you stop using cannabis, you get a REM rebound where you have incredibly intense dreams. For some habitual users, prolonged lack of REM has led to periods of waking dreams and hallucinations. Yikes

While cannabis can actually have health benefits, better sleep doesn’t seem to be one of them. What I learned from my whoop: It’s more important to be in a comfortable and safe place. My best nights sleep, like the six I’ve mentioned, happened when I was camping under the stars. Thanks to a product that is at the forefront of modern hyperconnected technology, I’ve learned exactly where I need to be: away from it all, back into the wild.

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