This project creates a night light out of recorded sleep data. Typically, people cannot remember their sleep, so by recording it and keeping a memory of your sleep, then you can begin to reflect on how you sleep and what effects your sleep quality.
The goal is to create a symbolic night light that helps you go to sleep. The night light patterns are based on the data of previous sleep. Some questions I was inquiring before starting the project: What does mapping your sleep teach you? Does the night light help you sleep better? Does being aware of your sleep patterns help increase your sleep quality?
Precedents & Inspiration
I was inspired by Laurie Frick’s work on data visualization and creating beautiful sculptures and pieces based on memory (1). I have recorded my sleep data for the past year and I feel like the information is useful and interesting, but the app I was using did not visualize it in a way that helped me understand how the activities I do that day effects my sleep quality. It was basically raw data put into a bar graph, which I personally find hard relating to. Also, you could only view details on a day-to-day basis, and could not look at your activity data as a whole and compare. So I thought if I can create a tangible way to view this data, it would help me be more introspective about my sleep and how I can start sleeping better.
Prototype & Process
I recorded my sleep using the “Sleep Cycle” app and took the raw data into Grasshopper in Rhino. I used Grasshopper to parse out the data and quantify it. After quantifying it using the GH Python plug-in in Grasshopper, I organized the data in a way that was inspired by tachographs, a device that records a drivers speed, distance, and other activities (2). That was the process of how I got the patterns of the night lights. Each plate consists of compiled data for one month.
After I arrived at a pattern that is visually clear and appealing, I laser cut it onto chipboard. I used a potentiometer and a DC motor to spin the plate and a string of yellow LEDs to light it up. The DC motor was spinning too fast and I was not able to get the desired effect.
Also, when testing out the night light, I found the motor to be too loud and I could not go to sleep, so I had to eventually turn it off. For future iterations, I hope to create a quieter model that actually moves at a readable pace, possibly using a stepper motor that I can control easier. Another issue I faced was the lights were too weak to project onto the ceiling, so my next iteration would involve stronger lights. During Zip Crits, a valid suggestion was to incorporate color to the design to help with sleep quality. For future iterations, I like the idea of programming the lights to change from a blue to a yellow light, so when the light is blue it alerts the brain to think and be introspective, and when it turns yellow it helps the brain go to sleep (3). Finally, I would like to work on the packaging of the design as a whole, maybe use a sturdier black material so the light can pop out more and the sturdiness gives it durability. I would like to also work on embedding all the wiring inside the contraption and have just a switch on the outside to make it more user-friendly.
Questions and Reflection
Based on the questions I was asking before starting this project, I learned that embodying my sleep into an object actually helped me become more aware of my sleep habits and that’s caused my sleep quality to increase the past week because I am conscientious of what I do during the day and how it can affect my sleep. This nice thing about this project is how personalized it is to the person. For example, I may sleep better if I have caffeine that day, while someone else’s sleep quality decreases when they have caffeine. Before embodying my sleep memory into an object, my sleep data had no meaning to me. I question whether the tangibility of something makes it more meaningful? Do we prefer printed images over digital images? Does the fact of making something tangible give it more meaning? I believe data means nothing unless you give it meaning.
(1) Laurie Frick's Work: http://www.lauriefrick.com/sleep-patterns/
(3) Future development of the light color: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160608154233.htm