Hey there friends!
How’s your week going so far? I’ve got lots to tell you about today so I’ll keep this intro short. Let’s start with breakfast…
1. Recipe of the Week. Today’s feature is a bit of a non-recipe because there’s not a whole lot that you have to do with the ingredients aside from tossing them all into your glass or bowl of choice. The inspiration for it came this past weekend when one of my friends asked me for some quick, non-oatmeal related breakfast ideas that she could grab quickly in the morning to take to work. Naturally, the gears in my head started turning and the first thing that came to mind was the fruit I had sitting in my fridge.
Before I get to what I made, do you ever find yourself in fruit ruts? You walk into the grocery store and gravitate towards, say, apples and oranges, while totally ignoring the other things like kiwis and berries and melons? Actually, I can’t say I ever just walk straight past the melons – I’m pretty much a melon monster and will happily devour an entire half of a watermelon after a long run. Hello, #watermelonbaby.
Anyways, now that fruits other than apples and oranges are coming into season (kind of?) I’ve been making an effort to toss more of them into my grocery cart. Did you know that 2 kiwis provide roughly the same amount of potassium as a banana, but for fewer calories? Oh yes they do. And potassium is super important for runners because it’s a mineral that, in combination with sodium, helps to balance fluid and electrolyte levels in our bodies. Without it, you’d be in for some nasty muscle cramping.
Nerdy nutrition facts aside, this breakfast, which I’m calling Fruit and Quinoa Parfaits is a fabulous make-ahead option because you can cook up a big batch of quinoa on a Sunday and it’ll keep well in the fridge for the next 2-3 days. Better yet, if you’re really going to be tight for time in the mornings, you could assemble your parfaits in mason jars, along with whatever fruit you have on hand. That way, all you need to do is remember to grab one on your way out the door.
2. The Sleep Cycle alarm clock app. As a fitness junkie, I’m quite attentive to things that will supposedly boost my performance as a runner. With that said, marketing is also what I do in my full time job and I’m very aware of the fact that good marketing is part of the reason why the health and fitness industry is worth the bazillions of dollars that it is today. While I’m confident that many of the products and tools on the market aren’t anywhere near as effective as a lifestyle of eating clean and moving your body regularly, I’m often willing to try things that 1) aren’t too spendy, 2) have been recommended to me by others and 3) doesn’t claim to be a miracle solution for all of my health woes.
While I almost never have problems falling asleep, I know I toss and turn a bit in the night and I’m curious to see if there’s a pattern. On Sunday I downloaded the Sleep Cycle app for iPhone ($0.99), and according to the Sleep Cycle website, here’s how it works:
During the night you go from light sleep to deep sleep, occasionally entering into a dream state which is called REM-sleep. These are things that your normal alarm clock does not care about, and will go off at the set time regardless of whether you are in a light sleep phase or in the deepest sleep. However, since you move differently in bed during the different phases, the Sleep Cycle alarm clock is able to use the accelerometer in your iPhone to monitor your movement and determine which sleep phase you are in. Sleep Cycle then uses a 30 minute alarm window that ends at your set alarm time and wakes you in your lightest sleep phase.
Sounds kind of cool, right? Sleep Cycle needs at least two nights to adapt and calibrate to the accelerometer in the phone so I don’t think my sleep graphs are accurate quite yet. However, the idea is that by having the alarm wake you up in the lightest phase of your sleep, you’ll feel more relaxed and rested than if you were suddenly jolted awake while in deep REM sleep. For runners and active people in general, better rest means greater ability to perform.
I’ve set the alarm for my usual wake-up time of 4am (I know, I know, I’m a crazy one), so the 30 minute alarm window lasts from 3:30-4am.
Before you begin using it, you’ll want to configure the settings:
There are 15 pre-loaded alarms that you can pick, or use your own music from iTunes. I had to laugh when selecting one because a bunch of them remind me of the music they use in kids movies when princesses are waking up. My mornings aren’t typically quite as graceful and dreamy as that, but I’ll take the princess music. Yesterday I actually woke up giggling at it, and if you can start your day with the giggles at 4am, then you know it’s gonna be a good day.
While we’re on the topic of music, you can also enable the Sleep Aid setting, which allows you to select a sound to fall asleep to. (Think ocean waves, rain, etc.) Like I said, I don’t normally need help falling asleep but I picked the waves just because I like to pretend I live near the ocean.
Another cool thing about Sleep Cycle is the Heart Rate feature, which measures your heart rate immediately upon waking. How? By completely covering the iPhone’s camera and flash, the app is able to analyze colour changes on the tip of your finger. This is the first time I’d ever heard about this being possible (and according to this forum, apparently it’s a real thing and is becoming quite common in iPhone apps), but I tried measuring my resting heart rate using my Garmin immediately after, and the two numbers were pretty close. You learn something new every day, I suppose!
The app also has a feature called Sleep Quality, which measures how well you slept. As you can imagine, the longer and calmer your sleep translates into a higher score. However, the app needs to be used for 5 nights in order to calculate this, so I should be able to use it by the end of this week. The only other downside to it is that you’re supposed to sleep with your iPhone plugged in because a night of using the app uses about 30% of the phone’s battery.
I’ve only been using the app for 3 nights so far, but I’m really enjoying the gradual wake-up in the mornings. I’m interested to see whether I wake up feeling more rested after using it for a while, but for now, here’s a look at Sunday and Monday night’s graphs:
Clearly I was absolutely exhausted on Sunday night and fell asleep super fast, whereas on Monday night, I must have had a lot more on my mind. The ‘awake’ spikes indicate that I have the bladder of a goldfish because I evidently got up twice each night to pee, and it looks like I spent more time in deep sleep on Sunday night than Monday.
I think it’s still calibrating (apparently the accelerometer is sensitive to even the tiniest vibrations, and you can see this next to the ‘sleep quality’ line in the graphs above) but I’m liking Sleep Cycle already. The phone has to be positioned between my mattress and bed sheet, and that means I’m not grabbing it in the middle of the night to check Instagram or emails. (Yes, it’s still a bad habit.) Oh, and the princess music. I really like the princess music. 🙂
So tell me…
- Have you tried Sleep Cycle?
- Do you monitor your sleep or have you done so in the past? Did you learn anything from it?