09.18 Interview Takeaways

We conducted five interviews to learn more about their family routines, ideal sleep situations, and disruptors to those situations (especially in terms of health). We synthesized the information to come to our problem space of data at night for sleep disorders; below are main takeaways from each interview.

Interview 1: Good Sleep, No Technology

We spoke with woman about her sleep and the sleep of her family, which includes her husband, her two daughters, and their dog. She told us about her daily routine, from wake to sleep, as well as any disruptors. Everyone in the family is a morning person, typically waking up on their own before any alarms. The use of alarms are more as precaution than a waking tool. The mother is a light sleeper, disruptors in sleep include the dog, the bathroom nightlight (she sleeps with the door open), some outside noise (windows open in the summer), and if a child is sick and coughing. She said that the children were very healthy, apart from the occasional seasonal allergies or flu.

Some of our key findings surprised us. In general the family sleeps very well, and so we took a look at what they were doing in their daily routine and how that may have an influence on their quality of sleep. The parents do not allow technology in the children’s bedroom, phones are only allowed for the precautionary alarm and must be placed on the desk across the room. They encourage, by example, reading before bed. Either the parents read to the children, the children read to each other, or they are now at the age where they can read to themselves. The parents also encourage tangible play, instead of tablets and computer, the children play with Legos. After dinner they will often play outside as well. They also try not to overload their children with activities so that they can have family dinners as well as give the children time to wind down from the day.

“Early on, when we wanted them to pick up those habits, we would model it for them. After dinner, we would sit and pick up a book and read ourselves. They would naturally end up following that behavior, which was nice because then we didn’t have to tell them to do it.”
“We don’t allow any digital stuff in their rooms…. Any kind of digital stuff they want to do have to do in a common space, which is our dining room or living room.”

Interview 2: Time Sensitivity

Poor communication between parents can lead to chaos in everyday household activities, which can impact the bedtime routines.

Time just before bedtime is crucial for parent-children interaction. This time has to be managed efficiently, since most parents use this time to do household chores.

Directing kids (nagging) towards a routine could become chronic.

Training kids to be punctual about time and routine is one of the key focus of every parent towards their upbringing.

“There’s a sense of urgency at night: you want them to get into bed. Partly because they need their sleep, and partly because as adults we need some time to ourselves.”
“[One factor is] finding the balance between rituals and routines that are nice to maintain and others that are just time-consuming, where I think we’re just doing it because it’s a ritual or a routine.”

Kids can sometimes have irregular sleep cycles, where they need to be trained how to utilize that time window.

Unexpected sickness could be a major sleep disrupter for the family.

Interview 3: Undiscovered & Undiagnosed Sleep Disorders, Adjusting to Children

Sensors and health trackers can help people uncover possible undiagnosed or latent sleep disorders. At the very least, trackers can sometimes inform users of health patterns they did not expect. In this case, the interviewee realized he consistently woke up several times in the middle of the night and began exploring the possibility of having sleep apnea with his doctor.

“I’ve always thought of myself as someone who sleeps through the whole night. But when I started wearing the device I was shocked to see that according to it, I had woken up about 3–4 times each night, which I had no memory of. I was a little traumatized by it. Then later on I learned about sleep apnea and I thought — the loud snoring and the device — made me think that maybe I could have sleep apnea.”
“People that I know that do have that [CPAP] machine tell me they wake up well rested. That’s not how I wake up. I feel tired until I have a cup of coffee. I’m hopeful there’s something they can do for me.”

Cases of insomnia can become normal and remain untreated for years. The interviewee’s wife sleeps poorly and has so for some time, but it doesn’t seem like the family has taken any action to address that.

“What can my wife do about [insomnia]? There must be something that can make her sleep better.”

Parents sleep poorly when they have children — no matter how well behaved the child. Finding time to work in peace and concentrate becomes a priority.

Parents adjust their sleeping schedules to adjust to their childrens’ routines.

Going to sleep is sometimes a hassle for children who want to stay awake or have been activated by watching TV.

Interview 4: Young Family

We interviewed a young mom about her family’s experiences regarding sleep. She lives with her husband and two sons, a three-year-old and a three-month-old. Since her kids are both very young, she was able to give us insights on the impact of both newborns and toddlers on sleep, and how sleep affects each of them during the day.

Bedtime and wakeup routines are a priority in this household because she can see ripple effects in her family of not getting good sleep and being rushed all the time.

“Super critical. Number one priority. Because if we don’t go to bed early, then we’re tired. And if we’re tired, we have a miserable day. And then we don’t listen, and then we’re bad. And when we’re bad, you get in trouble, and then I’m mad, and then you’re mad, and it’s just *sigh*. So this is my number one priority. Tired kids? Nope. Not good. Terrible. God-awful.”

She and her husband found out that their son was having trouble breathing from a quick peek in his room during a nap. After rushing him to the doctor’s office and then the hospital, where they had to stay for a couple days, they discovered he had croup. However, even with monitors and sensors, the parents still like to be able to check in on their children in real life just to be with them for reassurance and peace of mind.

“I just like to peek in sometimes to see what he’s doing. I know he’s sleeping, but I just want to see him.”

She seems embarrassed to talk about some of her worries because they’re “cliche” or “unrealistic” but they seem to be pretty common worries among parents.

“I tend to worry about unrealistic things like all moms probably do. What if he gets hurt, or what if he gets a really bad illness? What if people bully him at school?”
“There’s worse things that can happen to your kids, but this was the first thing that was bad that happened to me. It was traumatic for me, even though I know people have way worse things.”

Interview 5: On-Call Doctor; Son with Respiratory Problems

Doctors are constantly awoken for nighttime calls for which they have to give medical directions to nurses or patients. It is normal for the patient/nurse to share images and videos of lesions, burns, epileptic episodes, etc. to aid the doctor’s diagnosis.

Kids with respiratory and coughing problems (broncoespasmos) sometimes feature two different types of coughs (nasal, throatlike) that can indicate whether they should be nebulized.

Older patients usually have medical devices at home that can aid in the diagnoses of their ailments.

This family uses no technology for monitoring sleep and health.

A mother with three young children sleeps very little. For a variety of reasons, either one child or another will wake up in the middle of the night. What would it mean for this mother to get a good night’s sleep?

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