Improve your Sleep while On-Call

On Call Sleep Monitoring

By David Mytton,
CEO & Founder of Server Density.

Published on the 5th July, 2016.

We need to talk about sleep.

Sleep is not the black hole of productivity. It’s not this pesky hurdle we have to mitigate, minimise, or hack. It’s not a sign of weakness, laziness, or stupor. Skimping on sleep will not make us any more successful or rich.

Money Never Sleeps
Money Never Sleeps

Quite the opposite: Sleep is the pinnacle of productivity.

During those eight to ten hours our brain continues to spin along, sifting through tasks, reordering thoughts, opening pathways and forging new connections.

It’s no surprise that quality of sleep correlates with health, productivity and overall wellbeing; while sleep deprivation is associated with stress, irritability, and cognitive impairment.

As such, sleep is a personal as much as a business affair. A well rested human responds better to personal and business challenges alike.

The sheer impact sleep has on the quality of our work, team morale and decision making, should give us pause. We should be asking ourselves: How do we minimise stress and fatigue? We should be asking ourselves: How do we safeguard downtime and renewal? We should, but we don’t. We don’t because we have no data, no ammunition to prove what each of us intuitively knows.

We cannot mitigate the human cost of on-call work without some sort of objective and relevant sleep metric we can measure.

So that’s what we set out to do.

Introducing Opzzz

Finding an objective sleep metric was not hard. There are plenty of decent sleep trackers out there. But we also wanted them to be relevant. In particular, we wanted to quantify the impact on-call work has on our sleep. In other words, we wanted to marry two disparate worlds: the personal insights of sleep quality and the business insights of alerts and incidents.

That’s what our latest app, Opzzz is about.

Opzzz Dashboard

Fitbit collects sleep information, while PagerDuty and Server Density store information about our incidents. What Opzzz does is connect the dots between sleep efficiency and incidents. By correlating sleep data with on call incidents, we can then illustrate the human cost of on-call work.

Harry and his developer team built the backend using Python on Google App Engine, while for the front end we used Javascript and Cycle.js. We collect sleep data using the Fitbit API and we also have an incident endpoint to the Server Density API (or PagerDuty API).

cycle-component

Summary

HumanOps is a collection of questions, principles and ideas aimed at improving the life of sysadmins. It starts from a basic conviction, namely that technology affects the wellbeing of humans just as humans affect the reliable operation of technology.

At Server Density we’ve observed a strong correlation between human and system metrics. Reduced stress leads to fewer errors and escalations. Reduction in incidents and alerts leads to better sleep and reduced stress. Better sleep leads to better time-to-resolution metrics.

Unfortunately, the effects of on-call work on sleep quality are often ignored. They’re ignored because sleep happens out-of-hours and away from the office. But, most crucially, they are ignored because they’re not measured.

That’s why we built Opzzz.

Opzzz correlates sleep efficiency with incidents in a direct and measurable way. As a SaaS company with a global infrastructure, on call is a core constituent of what we do. So we appreciate and feel its effects on sleep quality, on wellbeing and productivity.

Opzzz is the clearest expression of our vision for HumanOps. And we’re only getting started. So, go ahead, create a free Opzzz account account, start graphing incidents with sleep data, and let us know what you think.

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