Takeaways from self-tracking data

I’ve been collecting data about myself on a daily basis for the past 3 years. Half a year ago, I switched from using 42goals (which I only remembered to fill out once every few days) to a Google form emailed to me daily (which I fill out consistently because I check email often). Now for the moment of truth – a correlation matrix!

The data consists of “mood variables” (anxiety, tiredness, and “zoneout” – how distracted / spacey I’m feeling), “action variables” (exercise and meditation) and sleep variables (hours of sleep, sleep start/end time, insomnia). There are 5 binary variables (meditation, exercise, evening/morning insomnia, headache) and the rest are ordinal or continuous. Almost all the variables have 6 months of data, except that I started tracking anxiety 5 months ago and zoneout 2 months ago.

The matrix shows correlations between mood and action variables for day X, sleep variables for the night after day X, and mood variables for day X+1 (marked by ‘next’):

corr heatmap over 2017.png

The most surprising thing about this data is how many things are uncorrelated that I would expect to be correlated:

  • evening insomnia and tiredness the next day (or the same day)
  • anxiety and sleep variables the following night
  • exercise and sleep variables the following night
  • tiredness and hours of sleep the following night
  • average hours of sleep (over the past week) is only weakly correlated with tiredness the next day (-0.15)
  • hours of sleep (average or otherwise) and anxiety or zoneout the next day (so my mood is less affected by sleep than I have expected)
  • action variables and mood variables the next day
  • meditation and feeling zoned out

Some things that were correlated after all:

  • hours of sleep and tiredness the next day (-0.3) – unsurprising but lower than expected
  • tiredness and zoneout (0.33)
  • tiredness and insomnia the following morning (0.29) (weird)
  • anxiety and zoneout were anticorrelated (-0.25) on adjacent days (weird)
  • exercise and anxiety (-0.18)
  • meditation and anxiety (-0.15)
  • meditating and exercising (0.17) – both depend on how agenty / busy I am that day
  • meditation and insomnia (0.24), probably because I usually try to meditate if I’m having insomnia to make it easier to fall asleep
  • headache and evening insomnia (0.14)

Some falsified hypotheses:

  • Exercise and meditation affect mood variables the following day
  • My tiredness level depends on the average amount of sleep the preceding week
  • Anxiety affects sleep the following night
  • Exercise helps me sleep the following night
  • I sleep more when I’m more tired
  • Sleep deprivation affects my mood

The overall conclusion is that my sleep is weird and also matters less than I thought for my well-being (at least in terms of quantity).


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