Need Help Sleeping Better? There’s An App For That

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Are you a morning person or more of a night owl? I guarantee you 100% that I’m not a night owl. I’ve never understood those kinds of people that go out to dinner or dates starting at 8 pm. Gah, I’m winding down with a book or magazine at that point, most likely in my jammies. I’m much more of a morning person… with one rule. I like to slowly get going.

I wake up well before the rooster crows but I tend to stay in bed and laze a bit before facing the world. I get up and make a quick cup of coffee but then it’s right back under the covers while I watch the news, read, or just sip in the dark silence. On work days I even set my alarm a half hour before I need to get up just so that I can lay around and wake up in my own time. The mornings go much smoother now that I don’t just get up at the sound of the alarm.

sleep-cycle-overviewI posted what I do on Facebook and Twitter a few weeks ago and one of my friends suggested that I try out a sleep cycle app. I’d never heard of one so I set about doing my research. There are quite a few free and paid sleep cycle apps out there to choose from. I picked one of the free ones for my iPhone called Smart Alarm Clock. The concept is pretty interesting. You pick an approximate time that you want to wake up and you turn on the app when you go to bed.

The app explains where to lay your phone in relation to where you sleep and it monitors your movements throughout the night. It somehow knows when you are in light sleep, REM sleep and deep sleep. It tracks everything and wakes you in a light sleep phase around the time that you set to wake up. That way you aren’t roused by an alarm during a deep sleep and you end up feeling more refreshed when it does wake you. The app I chose lets me pick basic sounds to fall asleep to and also alarm tones to wake me.

sleep-cycle-graphI can set the size of the time window around alarm time that I want to use. Since your sleep cycles vary, it uses a starting window of 15 minutes on either side of the time you set and it picks the “best” time based on your cycle. Mine has a setting to just track my sleep patterns and also one to wake me at the exact time I set if I’d prefer. It’s actually quite interesting to look over the graphs of how I sleep and when I wake up throughout the night. Each night for me is almost identical.

I go to sleep around 10 pm and fall asleep pretty quickly, then like clockwork I wake up around 1 am. I’m now starting to wonder if it’s more habit to wake briefly at that time. The downside is that I was sleeping pretty well a couple mornings and the dog jumped in bed. The app can’t tell the difference between Thing Two moving and me moving so the alarm sounded. I think I need to train my doggie better. 😉

There are a few more features like snooze and other standards you’d expect from an alarm. I loved my app so much that I recently upgraded to the paid version (for a mere 99 cents). With this version I got the option to use my own music to fall asleep or get up to and a bunch more nature sounds and soothing alarms. It also has a record setting that it uses in conjunction with the sleep phase graph.

It records sounds through the night so you can see if there is any correlation between sounds and waking. The good news is that I don’t snore but I already knew that. A few nights there was some traffic noise that apparently woke me up. It’s fun to listen to the noises that you didn’t hear while sleeping. Well worth paying less than a dollar to me.

I didn’t realize how much use I’d get out of this simple app. It’s pretty cool! Have you ever used a sleep cycle app? Are you a morning person?


  1. I used an app called that was pretty good.

    • Adrianne says

      I’m glad that I found out about these kind of apps. I actually thought I was sleeping more but now I see that’s not always the case. I’ve tried to get better at it now that I know.

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