When was the last time you got out of bed and felt rested and ready to take on the day? Is it news to you that such a feeling is possible?
Sleep is absolutely crucial to our physical and mental health — so much so that a long-term shortage of it can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease and shorten your life expectancy. If I were to ask you how you slept last night, your first criteria for judging that would probably be how long you slept. I’m here to tell you that isn’t the full story.
Drawing from one of my fellow students’ sleep data, I created this infographic illustrating the inexact, fickle nature of human sleep. If you’re looking to get more out of your time in bed, upping the quantity of your sleep won’t help you much. Only establishing a consistent, predictable rhythm of sleep will keep you feeling rested.
I plotted out my subject’s sleep and wake times in the first graph below — they varied widely from the median from night to night. It’s no wonder that the subject’s stress levels were higher on nights when she deviated farthest from her sleep schedule: sleep quality hinges less on the length of your sleep and moreso on its consistency with natural indicators.
ABOVE: augmented reality simulation (uses an app called Artivive — try it!)
Our bodies’ circadian rhythms are influenced by a set of biological signals called zeitgebers — these include light exposure, body temperature, exercise, caloric intake, and even social interactions. Managing these carefully is critical to getting decent sleep.
The most important zeitgeber is light: your body expects to wake up alongside the sunrise and fall asleep a couple of hours after sunset. Going to bed too long after dark or waking up too long after the sun rises can throw off your day from the start. Exposure to the unnatural blue glow of a phone screen can disrupt your circadian rhythm too, especially if that exposure happens in the middle of the night.
Still, even natural rhythms don’t tell the full story of human sleep. Practicing good sleep hygiene is the final piece to effective sleep regulation. Sleep hygiene is an overarching psychological concept governing sleep that deals with separating our sleep from the rest of our lives. That looks different for each of us as individuals, but using your bed only for sleep is a great way to start — that means no homework, no phone, and no eating between the sheets.

check out more of my work:

Data vis: "Partisan Pawprints"
As a reckless challenge to see how many different data inputs I could combine into one visualization, I chronicled five years of my life through travel, dogs, politics, and culture.
Identity: Starspot
I made an identity system and package design for Starspot, a company making beginner-friendly astronomy equipment, plus a series of "trading cards" for real-life stars.
Restoring the neighborhood collective
My degree capstone project investigated sparsely-attended civic meetings that make huge housing and land usage decisions in communities across the United States.
App prototype: Canopy NWA
I prototyped a volunteer coordination app in Adobe XD for a local organization that helps refugees from around the world resettle in Northwest Arkansas.
Identity: James Lewis butcher & deli
I drew 30+ simple geometric food-related icons as part of a modular brand system.
Visualizing the Earned Income Tax Credit
In my third project with Reimagine Arkansas, I made a series of data visualizations on SB10, a bill that would create an EITC for working families in the state.
Frazier Homes
I developed a minimalist identity inspired by early 20th-century craftsmen for a local contractor and applied it to business cards, yard signs, and shirts.
STNDRD, the clothing brand for everybody
I made a quirky, expressive brand system for a clothing company focused on ethics and inclusivity.
The housing rainbow
In my second project with Reimagine Arkansas, I made a quote wreath and a series of illustrations pushing viewers to think of housing as a spectrum.
Snarky Stickers for SoarBlue
I made a series of stickers and Instagram graphics for SoarBlue, a liberal activist shop based in Fayetteville, AR.
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