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👶😴 Newborn Sleep Data

I am the father to a 12-week old boy. I wanted to run a short analysis on his sleep and how that impacts my sleep. I failed and I am going back to bed as soon as I finish jotting down what I did not accomplish.

I miss work. My company, along with the continent I am on, provides for very generous parental leave to both parents. I am grateful. I will always cherish the time I had to focus on this new phase of family life. I get up with our newborn, eat breakfast with him, and then bring him and a coffee to wake up his mom. We open the blinds to see the city of Lisbon and lounge about in bed, playing games with him and reading to him, until he nods off for his first nap of the day. I will cherish these mornings forever.

The leave provides serious time to help care for our son. To keep the house in order. To run errands. To walk our giant dogs as my wife recovered. This kind of policy matters. This policy will also remind you that you probably miss the intellectual challenge that work might provide to you. I sure do.

I have been undertaking small baby-centric projects that feel like work in the same way that a child might use cardboard to assemble the cockpit of the Millenium Falcon. It’s not that I don’t love my son or spending time with my family. I do! The baby just sleeps a lot and at some point I can only watch him on the baby monitor for so many hours in the day.

I created tickets for myself. I spent a few hours painstakingly recreating the GitHub markdown table styling in my blog. I made spreadsheets that mimicked old supply chain homework to anticipate breastfeeding inflow and outflow. I could swear to my wife that I am not working while at the same time enjoying a Platonic shadow of my job ahead of returning to the office. I realize this is insane.

You know what else is insane? A newborn’s sleep. I was going to run the following experiment as part of my make-believe-work:

  • Wear an Apple Watch to bed and use the device’s sleep monitoring feature
  • Compare nights when I am responsible for getting up with the baby to nights when my wife owns that task (we trade off)
  • Evaluate how much an newborn should be sleeping and compare that to my child’s data
  • Bring in ChatGPT or Llama 3 to analyze some of the results just for grins

I gave up about five days into it. The results are below if you are curious. Turns out that when a baby wakes up to eat in the middle of the night, you wake up for about an hour. If you are relatively lucky like we are then by the time your child hits the ~12 week mark you can probably get by with 1 or 2 wake ups each evening.

Sleep Data

That data is helpful. You can see patterns and begin to plan routines.

Other than curiosity, I am not sure that the data about me is useful at all. I feel that way about all sleep data in the age of wearables. I cannot tell you my resting heart rate if I had not measured it over the last few weeks, but I could definitely tell you if I slept poorly last night. I don’t need an app to tell me that. What do the metrics provide if you are not trying to diagnose something like sleep apnea?

I also find the Apple Watch uncomfortable to wear in bed. Even though I otherwise love it. I probably slept worse than normal because of this, at least initially. Post update: where I did find interesting data is in the baby app that we have started using. You can see some real patterns forming that I am sure our son will modify significantly every week for the next few years.

I head back to work towards the end of this month. I’m not saying I need it, but I do think everyone in my house will be better for it.

Published May 4, 2024

Austinite in Lisbon. VP & CoS, Emerging Tech at Cloudflare.Sign up for emails