Finals week is upon us, and sleep is minimal at best. Every morning, I have come to dread the high-pitched ringing sound of my iPhone alarm clock, regardless of what time I finally found myself going to bed. It seems like it does not matter how much sleep I get; I sleep the recommended six to eight hours and I feel worse than when I slept only four or six the night before. I never really understood what could be done about this dilemma until I came upon this week’s recommended app, the Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock.
This app is incredibly unique and has a lot to offer its users. Basically, the Sleep Cycle app uses the accelerometer in an iPhone to monitor any movement made during the night to analyze the user’s sleeping patterns. During the night, humans enter three basic sleeping phases—light sleep, deep sleep, and REM sleep, which is dreaming.
A traditional alarm clock goes off at a specific set time, regardless of what phase the person is in, but this alarm clock is different. It is called a “bio-alarm.” A user sets a 30-minute time frame to be woken up, and the app determines when the user is in the lightest sleep phase and should wake them.
This sounds kind of complicated, I know, but it really works wonders for the user. Let me try to put it in perspective: Say you have a class at 7:45 a.m. and like to wake up an hour earlier to get ready. You would set the Sleep Cycle alarm for the time period of 6:15-6:45 AM and place the phone on your bed while you sleep. The alarm would go off at the point during that 30-minute period that is best for you to wake up. You will wake up feeling infinitely better because you will not have been jolted out of deep or REM sleep, making the transition much gentler.
The app provides a graph of exactly what times you were in each sleeping phase overnight and can tell you almost every piece of information you might want to know.
This data is not just for fun, though. If a person wakes up during their lightest sleep phase, they will feel revitalized and much happier throughout the day. The information gathered over time can help the user determine the average amount of sleep they get per each night, what activities help or harm their sleep, as well as the overall quality of the sleep they are getting.
A user can input activities like drinking coffee, exercising, and stress that may impact their sleep that night. When we all have so much going on at the end of this semester, good, quality sleep could not be more important. Having this app and finally getting proper sleep could be the boost you need to achieve that “A” you worked so hard for.
The app includes features like vibrating alarms, multiple alarm tones that can be set universally or to random, data export to Excel, warning against unintentional PM time setting (because let’s face it, we have all done that), headphone settings, multiple languages, and social media connections to share the information you have learned. It covers all the basic functions of an alarm clock, without becoming your enemy.
This idea of a bio-alarm is not new, but programmer Maciek Drejak is the first to put it into practical, everyday use without a $200 price tag. This app only costs $0.99 and is available in the App Store and on Google Play.