I recently learned that when we sleep, we sleep in cyclical patterns of light sleep and deep sleep, often going back and forth several times in a given night. This is fairly typical. If we set our alarm to wake us up at 6:30a and we happen to be in a light sleep cycle, we often feel refreshed. When the alarm goes off in the middle of a deep sleep cycle, however, we feel groggy and not well rested.
We know about these sleep cycles. Wouldn't it be nice if our alarm clock knew about these sleep cycles, and woke us up at just the right time... in the middle of a light sleep cycle? If that's what you're looking for, I have just the app for you!
Let me introduce you to "Sleep Cycle", the app that wakes you at just the right time, every time. I've been using Sleep Cycle for a couple weeks now, and have noticed a big difference in the way that I wake up. Here's how it works.
When you go to bed at night, you set the alarm for, say, 6:30a. Right away, you will see that Sleep Cycle will wake you up anywhere between 6:00a and 6:30a (that default 30-minute window is adjustable anywhere from 10 minutes to 90 minutes, depending on your preference). More on that window in a second.
Now that your alarm is set, you want to make sure that your iPhone is plugged in to power and placed into the correct position on your bed, which is underneath your fitted sheet at the corner of the mattress, as shown in their instructions:
Next, it's time to turn the light off and get some shut-eye! Between the time you go to bed and the time you wake up, Sleep Cycle is monitoring your sleep. It does this by using the built-in accelerometer (for movement) and microphone (for audible variations). Each time it detects movement, it records that as a "step". The more steps you have, the lighter your sleep cycle. After a complete night's rest, there will be enough information gathered to create a short showing you what your sleep looks like. This is a graph showing my sleep from a few nights ago:
As the app gathers your stats while you sleep, it can predict when you will be in a light sleep, and choose to wake you at just the right time. With a normal alarm clock, it doesn't take into account how light or deep I may be sleeping, so how I feel when I wake up is always a gamble. Sure, you won't always wake up at the same time every day, but would you rather wake up at the same time each day not knowing how you will feel, or at a slightly random time (never to exceed your actual alarm time), but feeling much better than you normally would?
You can also see from this screenshot that it gathers much more than just your sleep pattern. It gives you all kinds of useful stats about that night individually, as well as your sleeping routines in general. If you turn your phone into landscape mode, a whole new set of charts are available to view such as how much time you spend in bed by day of the week, what time you general go to bed, sleep quality over time, and even how well you sleep depending on weather conditions! Apparently, I sleep better when it's sunny. Here's a chart showing me what time I usually go to bed:
Is this app worth it? I think so! Especially considering the price tag of $0.99! It really has made a difference in the way I wake up. Give it a try yourself.
You can download Sleep Cycle here.