Recent quotes:

Deep sleep may act as fountain of youth in old age | EurekAlert! Science News

"The parts of the brain deteriorating earliest are the same regions that give us deep sleep," said article lead author Mander, a postdoctoral researcher in Walker's Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory at UC Berkeley. Aging typically brings on a decline in deep non-rapid eye movement (NREM) or "slow wave sleep," and the characteristic brain waves associated with it, including both slow waves and faster bursts of brain waves known as "sleep spindles." Youthful, healthy slow waves and spindles help transfer memories and information from the hippocampus, which provides the brain's short-term storage, to the prefrontal cortex, which consolidates the information, acting as the brain's long-term storage. "Sadly, both these types of sleep brain waves diminish markedly as we grow old, and we are now discovering that this sleep decline is related to memory decline in later life," said Winer, a doctoral student in Walker's lab. Another deficiency in later life is the inability to regulate neurochemicals that stabilize our sleep and help us transition from sleep to waking states. These neurochemicals include galanin, which promotes sleep, and orexin, which promotes wakefulness. A disruption to the sleep-wake rhythm commonly leaves older adults fatigued during the day but frustratingly restless at night, Mander said. Of course, not everyone is vulnerable to sleep changes in later life: "Just as some people age more successfully than others, some people sleep better than others as they get older, and that's another line of research we'll be exploring," Mander said. Meanwhile, non-pharmaceutical interventions are being explored to boost the quality of sleep, such as electrical stimulation to amplify brain waves during sleep and acoustic tones that act like a metronome to slow brain rhythms.

Fitbit charts a wild heart and a calming mind

Humans rely on two feats of engineering, each astonishing in its own right. First, the body is endowed with an ability to constantly and instantly adjust to changing conditions. And, second, the body has an equally constant and instantaneous capacity to suppress awareness of those adjustments.

Fitbit creates research library with Fitabase, publishes results of corporate wellness study | MobiHealthNews

The library currently has 163 different published studies that mention using a Fitbit (or a few of them) as part of their study design. The pace of research using the wearables has been accelerating every year, Ramirez said, posing what Fitabase believed was a need for a comprehensive library. “So we wanted to make it a public resource where anyone who wants to explore Fitbit research can have a one-stop shop. It’s meant to be a library down the street, and it will continue to grow as people do more research.”

Fitness trackers do not increase activity enough to noticeably improve health | Society | The Guardian

The participants were assigned to one of four groups – a control group which had no tracker, a group which wore a Fitbit Zip device and the two final groups were given trackers and also offered financial rewards, either cash incentives for themselves or donations to charity for the first six months of the trial.[…] The researchers also measured participants’ levels of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) per week as well as their weight, blood pressure and cardio-respiratory fitness at the start of the study and six and 12 months later. They found that during the first six months of the study, only participants in the cash incentive group recorded increases in physical activity. The mean daily step count among wearers was 11,010 steps in the cash group, 9,280 in the charity group, and 8,550 in the Fitbit group. After a year, those in the cash incentive group had returned to the same levels of physical activity that they recorded at the start of the trial. Advertisement But by contrast, those in the Fitbit group showed improved levels of physical activity, recording an average of an additional 16 minutes of MVPA per week than they did at the start of the trial. However, the authors said that this increase was “probably not enough to generate noticeable improvements in any health outcomes”. They also found that Fitbit and charity participants showed similar step counts to when they were measured at six months.

Fitbit numbers

While the entire industry saw a bump during last year’s holiday season, companies such as Jawbone, Garmin, and Samsung saw their wearable sales decline quickly after Christmas. Fitbit’s never dropped to their pre-holiday levels, and began ramping up again this spring. In a regulatory filing submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission last month, Fitbit says it sold 20.8 million devices between September 2009 and the end of this March, 10.9 million of which it sold in 2014. People are seeking out Fitbit products specifically When people buy Fitbit products online, the most common place they’re doing it is on the company’s own website. More than 43 percent of Fitbit sales take place on, slightly edging out Amazon, which accounts for 40 percent of online sales of Fitbit devices. This likely means that many people know they want a Fitbit before they go to make a purchase, rather than searching on Amazon and choosing between brands. For Fitbit, it has the added advantage of allowing the company to avoid splitting revenue with a retail partner.

@elerianm says too much data dilutes the experience

Multiple metrics can confuse rather than enlighten; and they can add to a sense of underachievement. My Fitbit, even though it’s the most basic model, goes beyond measuring steps and miles. It also claims to be able to tell me how many calories I have burned and the number of “active minutes” in the day -- and it sets a daily target for each. I have no idea how I am supposed to internalize all these data points, including their order of importance. So I find myself pursuing multiple objectives that are highly correlated but, frustratingly, are not sufficiently linear in their relationship -- adding to the potential for performance anxiety.

The Apple Watch fails one key fitness test

That’s a much bigger problem than anybody seems to be acknowledging.For one thing, that fact makes the Apple Watch the only fitness tracker on the market that can’t track your sleep. One of the great joys of the Up band, Fitbit, and other bands is that they track not just your steps, but also your cycles of deep and light sleep. Not the Watch. For a device so thoroughly designed to help monitor your physical well-being, that omission is a heart-breaker.And if the watch is on your nightstand, you can’t exploit its brilliant wrist-tapping feature as a silent alarm that won’t wake your partner.
When I hit thirty-five thousand steps a day, Fitbit sent me an e-badge, and then one for forty thousand, and forty-five thousand. Now I’m up to sixty thousand, which is twenty-five and a half miles. Walking that distance at the age of fifty-seven, with completely flat feet while lugging a heavy bag of garbage, takes close to nine hours—a big block of time, but hardly wasted. I listen to audiobooks, and podcasts. I talk to people. I learn things: the fact, for example, that, in the days of yore, peppercorns were sold individually and, because they were so valuable, to guard against theft the people who packed them had to have their pockets sewed shut. At the end of my first sixty-thousand-step day, I staggered home with my flashlight knowing that I’d advance to sixty-five thousand, and that there will be no end to it until my feet snap off at the ankles. Then it’ll just be my jagged bones stabbing into the soft ground. Why is it some people can manage a thing like a Fitbit, while others go off the rails and allow it to rule, and perhaps even ruin, their lives?