You’re up at sunrise. You go to work, come home, go online and visit with loved ones. Somewhere in between, you find time to eat, buy groceries and watch reruns of Seinfeld. Sounds good, right?
You forgot one thing: sleeping.
Ah, sleep. The fickle mistress. It eludes you for so long and then, the moment you absolutely need it to be brief, you oversleep your job interview by six and a half hours. Heads up: You’re doing it wrong.
Sleep Cycle alarm clock, from Maciek Drejak Labs, is your solution.
The Sleep Tracking Trend
While most activity trackers on the market are known for measuring movement, a lesser known feature of some is that they measure sleep movement, as well — and can tell you if you’re doing it right. The Jawbone UP tracks sleep and also offers a smart alarm for your power nap. The activity tracker from iHealth measures sleep time and efficiency. The Airo tracks your sleep cycles and can wake you up at the optimal time. Three out of the four activity trackers from Fitbit will track sleep.
But most of these devices cost around $100 and offer many other features that may not be relevant to you, such as measuring heart rate or exercise. An accelerometer, the hardware that enables each of these wearable devices to measure sleep quality, is also inside your phone — so perhaps a separate device isn’t necessary at all.
How Sleep Cycle Works
To get started, open this app on your charging iPhone before you go to bed. Using your phone’s accelerometer, the app monitors your movement and determines what phase of sleep you’re in.
The Sleep Cycle app then wakes you up at the optimal time during your lightest sleep cycle — ensuring that you get the most out of whatever sleep you can get. In the morning, the app gives you a graph of your nightly movements and a “Sleep Quality” percentage, which helps you understand your personal habits. Sleep Cycle calculates this metric by taking into account the total amount of time you spend sleeping and your overnight movement patterns. The app’s website explains, “The more you sleep and the less you move, the higher Sleep Quality.”
You can also mark notes to keep track of your sleeping patterns, such as “exercise” or “drank coffee,” helping you easily identify what might be inhibiting your good night’s rest. The app will spend the first few nights getting to know your habits, and become increasingly accurate and customized over time.
The app is supported on all generations of iPad and all but the first two generations of the iPod Touch.
If you sleep next to a partner, fear not — the app will still function properly.
Know Before You Buy
The Sleep Cycle app is very minimal, which makes it easy to use. It’s essentially an alarm clock with a little extra punch. You can add various enhancements, such as turning on nature sounds to fall asleep to that come in the app, but that’s not necessary.
We did notice that running the app sucks a lot out of an iPhone’s battery. The app recommends keeping your phone plugged in all night — because of course, if your phone’s battery was depleted, your alarm might not go off at all. If you prefer to only charge your phone when needed rather than leaving it plugged in all night, this app may not be ideal.