A while back, a watch came to the market that could measure your sleep cycles. This watch tracked your pulse while you were asleep. Rather than setting a time to be woken up at, such as 0600, you would set a time range to be woken up in, such as 0530-0600. The watch would use your heart rate and sleep cycles to wake you up in your lightest sleep within your set range. The idea is that it was supposed to emulate a natural wake up process. This is because when you awake out of deep sleep, you feel worse, so this watch would help you wake up fresh each morning. This watch currently retails at $150. I have always thought this would be a cool thing to have, but I never really found any sense in spending all that money for a watch that I wouldn’t use all that much.
I was in the apple store not too long ago with my friend and he was showing me this “cool app” he just got, a mutual friend had told him about it. Turns out, like everything, there is an app for that! It is called the Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock. This app is $0.99 at the app store. $0.99 is hardly anything these days, but as someone who has never paid for an app, I thought I would do a little research. Turns out, the app is endorsed by CNN, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times. Being pretty notable and respectable sources, I decided to read more about how this app actually works. Monitoring the heart rate seems like a reasonable way to measure sleep cycles, since your heart rate is different during the different cycles. However, I knew that the iPhone did not have those capabilities. It turns out, this enhanced alarm clock uses the iPhone’s accelerometer to analyze sleep patterns. According to sleep therapists, when you are coming out of deep sleep, you begin to adjust your position, and this app detects this movement.
This app not only works to wake you when in your lightest sleep, but it also measures how well you slept. Calmer and longer sleeps give a higher score. You can set the time interval for the alarm, or you may choose to use no alarm at all so you wake naturally. You can add daily notes to see how different things such as alcohol, exercise, and caffeine affect your sleep.