Friday Challenge – Step Chart for an Excel Time Series

I was recently asked for assistance with this request:

Hi Steve,

I am trying to make a hypnogram with data that we collected over the course of a day. I want the y-axis to denote wake (W), other (O), and sleep (s) with just three tick marks. The y-axis should represent the time spent in these states. 

A hypnogram plots sleep patterns over time and is used to asses a person’s wake/sleep behavior at night (or during the day). It is used for diagnostic and treatment purposes for individuals with sleep disorders.

Some sample data: 

W 8:20:49AM 8:21:04
O 8:21:05AM 8:21:24
W 8:21:25AM 8:21:54
S 8:21:55AM 8:23:43
W 8:23:44AM 8:23:57
O 8:23:58AM 8:24:44
W 8:24:45AM 8:28:11
S 8:28:12AM 8:29:34
W 8:29:35AM 8:30:31
S 8:30:32AM 8:35:26

The second set of numbers is when the state ended.

Thank you,



You can learn more about our Excel step chart solutions here:



Even though you can use the tutorials above to help with this Excel challenge, there is a trick to working with a Time Series in Excel.  So it might not be a easy as it may first appear.

Give it a shot and let me know if you were able to solve this challenge.  I was able to solve Anna’s request and she was able to automate it with the formulas you see in the tutorials above.  I might even get a mention in her publication if it is accepted 🙂 Way cool!