We are entering a new era when billions of data points relating to health are being collected via health wearables such as Fitbit bands. A recent article revealed some fascinating information about the sleep patterns of many people in the U.S. (see: What Fitbit's 6 billion nights of sleep data reveals about us). Below is an excerpt from the article. It's chock full of interesting data including graphs so read the whole thing if you are interested.
Most of Fitibit’s bands...have built-in heart-rate monitors, which produce much more accurate sleep-measurement results than earlier bands. These bands track your sleep automatically, in your own bed, on your normal schedule, under normal conditions. Since Fitbit began tracking sleep stages in March 2017, it has collected data from 6 billion nights of its customers’ sleep.... The measurements include not just how long you sleep, but what stages of sleep you experience....Women sleep 25 minutes longer a night than men. They average six hours and 50 minutes of sleep a night, whereas men get only six hours and 26 minutes. Neither group gets anywhere close to the recommended eight hours a night. Women get about 25 minutes more sleep a night than men. Women also get about 10 minutes more REM sleep than men every night, too — a gap that widens after age 50.....The news for women isn’t all good, though: They’re 40% more likely to suffer from insomnia — trouble falling asleep — than men....[W]e get less deep sleep as we age. When you’re 20, you’re getting half an hour more deep sleep a night than when you’re 70. We get less and less of the good sleep as we age....Northerners go to bed five minutes earlier than Southerners. They wake up earlier, too. That may seem like a very small difference, but on the scale of billions of data points, it’s significant....The average American goes to bed at 11:21 p.m.
This is only the beginning of our journey involving the huge amount of health data that will be collected by wearable health devices in the future. The current Fitbits will look primitive a few years hence when accurate vital signs will be collected continuously for a huge swath of the population. Many more of us will be wearing these devicess in the future because many of them will be distributed free by health insurance plans (see: Wearable Health Monitoring Devices: a Means to Lower Insurance Costs?; Health Insurance Company Pays Its Policy Holders to Stay Fit; Apple Watch "Gifted" to Insurance Policy Holders; Any Gotcha's with the Deal?). For privacy advocates, this may look like a nightmare. For technology and data enthusiasts, it will be a fascinating time.