sleep-track pillow for data visualisation

20160619_103100In our project we would like to tell the story about our sleeping behaviour. The focus will be on the stressful time at university.

This means: Does our sleeping behaviour vary with stress at university?

For the dataset we documented our sleeping behaviour since the first Data Visualising workshop. For the documentation we used the apps sleeptime and sleep for android.

The variables, which are important for us, are: duration, efficiency, duration of deep sleep, whether it was a stressful day, and the date.

For visualizing the dataset we sewed to separate pillows showing much and how well we slept, and of course whether it was a stressful day. This means, that one entry will be visualized by one pillow. The colour and the size of the pillows will depend on the sleeping duration, the efficiency, the duration of deep sleep and the stress.

The two pillows are a perfect way to demonstrate the distinct sleeping behaviour during stressful times.

Here you can read our final data.

How to read the data on the pillow

After collecting all relevant data we decided to make different groups for it to make it easier for us to show it.

We chose two different colours of fabric to visualize if the day was a stressfull one or not. The lighter colour represents a non-stressful day and the darker blue fabric a stressful one.


Afterwards, we decided to mark the weekends because it is very interesting how sleeping behaviour depends on whether we go out or stay at home at night.


The size of each circle shows how much sleep we got each day.

We split the sleeping hours in four different groups:


Afterwards, we also chose four different fillings to represent how well we slept during each night. The kind of filling goes from wadding for very good sleep to straw, which represents the next group. After that we decided to fill in bark and stones for sleeping not so well.


Of course there was a night when we slept the best, for showing this data we decided to sew a pillow with a light golden coloured fabric and filled it with lavender. Lavender is known for improving sleep so we thought that would suit perfectly.

How it should be experienced

The visualization uses the following three senses:

Sight + touch: The bigger the pillow, the longer the sleeping duration. The filling makes the sense touch more interesting because the fluffier the filling the better was the sleep. Without touching the single pillows it is often hard to know which filling the pillow has – so it is getting interesting. (For the presentation we additionally added the kind of filling on the pillows.)

Smell: For the best sleep we also used the sense smell. Therefore the filling includes wadding and lavender.

In addition to these facts it is possible to compare the two pillows (Katharina’s and Irene’s pillow). Who of us was sleeping better in total, or which pillow is heavier (so that person slept worse than the other) and so on.

Furthermore it is possible to look at the weekends –did we go out a lot and slept fewer hours? The timeline could also be interesting – are there any patterns (e.g. is it very stressful on weekends or is it stressful from Monday to Friday?).

So to experience the visualization in detail it needs always both – sight and touch.

How we made the pillows

First of all we had to buy fabric, which was the only thing we had to buy because fortunately we had all other important components for our pillows at home.

We started with the pillows in the workshop. The first step was cutting out the different pillows. For getting the perfect round shape we used templates with four various sizes.


After having collected all parts needed we started sewing the little pillows together.


For showing which part is a weekend we decided to use iron-on cotton inkjet sheets. . On one side is paper, and on the other is the image that will be ironed on and transferred in reverse. After placing the transfer paper on the fabric and ironing the back of the paper the image is transferred by heat to the fabric.

We also applied a dotted line from pillow to pillow to show which day follows the other.


After that we started to fill the pillows with the four (or five because of the lavender) different fillings.


The last step was sewing the pillows together to get two big pillows to represent our sleeping behavior. For showing the different fillings online we printed a little piece of filling at each pillow.


 Now we just had to apply the labeling and our sleep-track-pillows were ready.

Here the final results:





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