In our day and age, sleep is a commodity that is hard to come by. Many of us are far too familiar with short nights and long days, which inexplicably lead to rough, tiresome mornings. The process of waking up is nothing short of unpleasant for most, and it often forces us to compensate by hitting the snooze button a few times at the very least.
I’ve been using the Sleep Cycle iPhone app since the new year started, and it’s made getting up easier, to say the least. Sleep Cycle serves as an alarm clock and a sleep tracker. Each night as you put your phone beside your pillow, the app collects data on your movements throughout the night, and will plot them (reasonably accurately) on a graph that you’ll be able to see when you wake up.
Sleep Cycle works by using the accelerometer (the part that tells if your phone is turned sideways or not) or microphone of your phone to detect motion as you sleep. Before going to sleep, you can set a “wake-up time” between 10-90 minutes in which the Sleep Cycle app will use the data it collects to wake you up at an optimal time. It’s intended to avoid the sense of being “jerked awake” by your alarm clock.
For example, if you set your alarm to 6:30 and Sleep Cycle detects a significant movement at 6:23, it will start waking you up then. It doesn’t seem like a huge difference, but after using it for a few weeks, I can say that it’s made a pretty big impact on how I wake up.
Simply put, it’s a lot more pleasant to wake up gradually around 20 minutes before my usual time rather than being jarringly awakened by the traditional shriek of alarm clocks.
One downside to this, however, is the need to set a “wake-up time” for the app to wake you up at the best time. Sometimes you’ll find yourself waking up 30 minutes earlier than you’re scheduled to. But don’t question it – just trust the app. That being said, it might not work as well if say, you had your cat walk over you while you slept (I don’t own any). The cat would mess up the accelerometer’s calibration and it would make the app less suitable to people who sleep with pets.
My experience has been a good one. I’ve found myself benefiting from more than just the advertised benefits of the Sleep Cycle app. Over the past few months, I’ve found myself to be more aware of how little and how poorly I actually sleep, and it’s motivated me to try to change that. On some days where I might think I’ve slept a quality seven hours, Sleep Cycle might tell me I’ve gotten six hours of relatively poor sleep, and it’s acted as a sort of reality check and a way to keep myself accountable.
When using an app like this, it’s always important to know what it’s built for. If you get only two hours of sleep, you’ll still feel like you’ve slept two hours; Sleep Cycle won’t magically add hours to your sleep, or make you sleep better. It’s just designed to help you wake up that much easier.
Thumbnail Image Courtesy of Push Interactions.