What Is a Wearable? How Are Wearables Used?
“Wearables,” or gadgets that can be worn on the body, are a subset of wearable technology. Wearable fitness devices like the Apple Watch, Oura Ring, and Whoop Strap track vital indications including temperature, heart rate, average resting heart rate, and sleep-wake cycle data.
I bought an Oura Ring earlier this year to keep track of my personal sleep and physical activities. Having a better understanding of my circadian rhythm, the 24-hour cycle that wakes us up at dawn and sets us to sleep at night, was what I was wanting. With the help of a wearable, we can better focus on our everyday routines, such as adhering to a sleep regimen. Moods, attitudes, and cognitive abilities can all be significantly impacted by making these small alterations.
I’ve learned a lot about my sleep habits by using a wearable device. So, if wearables can help adults make great lifestyle changes, why can’t wearables assist 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 easier during my regular workout. Also, thank you for the gentle nudge to begin the process of winding down for bedtime. I wondered if my daughter would have the same experience.
My nine-year-old daughter is just like any other nine-year-old, but with a little extra oomph. My question was, “Do you think it would be amusing to attach a wearable to her wrist 24 hours a day?” She said yes. She agreed and was even more enthusiastic. To have a better idea of what her day would be like, I decided to do an experiment in my house. Could her daily sleep scores, sleep graphs, and daily energy production help us predict her next day?
When it comes to bedtime, our family adheres to a strict routine that includes time points for activities such as brushing teeth. If 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.
We ultimately settled on the Amazon Halo as our final option. The Halo is a low-cost fitness tracker without a screen (bonus points! ), but it does track sleep. In addition to black, silver, and light pink, the Halo can be ordered in any of these three hues. Both fabric and silicone replacement bands are available in a wide range of colors, as well. We settled on the color “unicorn,” a soft fabric band with light aqua and pink. We then installed the Amazon Halo app on my phone, and we were gone!
My expectation was that if my daughter’s sleep scores were in the 90s — demonstrating that she cycled through four stages of sleep with optimal time spent in each — her mood, energy, and outlook for the day would be positive. In the same way, if she had a less restful night’s sleep, the opposite would hold true. I also believed that all of these outcomes would be proven by her movement score, with poorer sleep equaling less movement, while better sleep would result in more movement.
Mom Was Right (Isn’t She Always?): The Wearable Works
Once she woke up, we began checking her sleep score as soon as she could. With an overall average of 80 to 90 points, it was evident that she was getting enough sleep. Her graphs, on the other hand, showed that she was not meeting my standards for deep, restorative sleep (Stage 3). On one occasion, while I was tucking her in, I told her, “Be sure to instruct your brain to hit around 10% extra deep sleep.” She made a “Huh?”-like expression in response. It wasn’t a bad idea.
Non-rapid eye movement at stage 3 of the experiment. Deep sleep, delta sleep, and slow-wave sleep are all terms used to describe the state of sleep. For the most part, this phase happens in the first half of the nighttime hours after a gathering ends. A deeper state of relaxation occurs in the body, resulting in lower levels of muscular tone, pulse, and breathing rate. It is far more difficult to wake someone out of deep sleep than it is to wake them out of other stages 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. With less restful sleep, her temperament and demeanor deteriorated as well. As a result, her activity levels dropped.
As I previously stated, my daughter is a fan of running, leaping, and biking. Her sleep score, however, had an effect on her ability to express her regular indicators of wanting to play outside. Regardless of how hard I encouraged her to partake in physical activity, if she had a low sleep score the night before, she would quickly decline or quit halfway through the exercise.
Patterns: Better Sleep
The next day, my daughter was overjoyed when her sleep score reached 90 or higher. A good night’s sleep rested her body and mind for the rest of the day, making it easier for her to deal with the ups and downs of school and social life.
After a good night’s sleep, she awoke with a lot of enthusiasm and got right to work. When she was younger, we had a much happier and more energetic child who jumped into conversation as quickly as she did on the trampoline. In these days, it was clear that I didn’t need to push her because she would be the one pushing me!
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. My understanding of how she was feeling, anticipating bumps in the road, and identifying potential trigger points became easier.
With the Amazon Halo, it became very clear that going to bed was not something to take lightly. On weekends when I stayed up late watching movies, I was able to confirm what I already knew: a lack of sleep leads to a disorganized day the following morning.
Children’s late-night indulgences, such as watching a movie, playing a game, or having sleepovers, have a significant impact on the next day. Even if the kids have a good time the night before, they may be cranky and tired the next day. The next day, a child may be even more exhausted and in need of a nap because of a sickness that affects their sleep the night before.
How Wearables Helped Me Relate to My Daughter
As an adult, I sometimes find it difficult to recall what it was like to be a child. Often, adults find it difficult to relate to children because we see their problems as insignificant compared to our own. I am much too often guilty of failing to see how important children’s complaints are to them, despite the fact that I find them amenable to resolution.
This experience with wearables has altered me in ways that my daughter’s hasn’t. I found myself adjusting my approach to her based on how well she slept right from the start of the day. Allowing her extra wiggle room was an option if she was having trouble sleeping or I detected a lot of nightly interruptions in her graph. We were able to enjoy a peaceful evening together after giving her the benefit of the doubt during our daytime encounters.
Wearables have had a profound effect on my life, perhaps even more so than on my daughter’s. Depending on how well she slept, I had to adjust my approach to her from the get-go.
This glimpse inside the mind of my nine-year-old daughter opened my eyes to the simple truth that we aren’t all that different. I’m a grumpy, cranky, and generally unpleasant person when I’m tired. My daughter is, too, just like her mother, but I had forgotten until I put on a garment that reminded me.
My Concluding Thoughts on Wearables for Kids
Even though the wearable provided a wealth of new data, we didn’t make many alterations to my daughter’s routine as a result — no weekend movie nights were canceled in lieu of extra sleep. Those “cheating the system” moments are what she needs to have as a kid! This exercise, on the other hand, let me realize just how crucial sleep is to her daily routine. Also, it helped me learn how to approach her on a bad day.
There are various sleep monitors for children, such the Garmin Vvofit Jr. 2 and Fitbit Ace 2 and 3 models. Our family chose the Amazon Halo for our experiment. A new perspective on your child’s daily and evening habits and sleep quality can be gained from the data these monitors provide.
Do I support the idea that every youngster should be subjected to ongoing data collection? No, there isn’t. You must do what is most convenient for you and your family. Wearables can be a fun, non-intrusive approach to learn more about your child. And, hey, now my kid asks, “Can I check my sleep score?” every morning when she wakes up?