Relief From Time Change Trauma: Sleep Cycle App

Place the phone, plugged in, face down on the mattress for best results.

We’re coming up on the weekend when most of the United States will return to standard time, and therefor much of the population will feel confused and groggy for several days, wondering what time exactly it is. It’s like having jet lag without the airport security pat downs. Is there anything that can help that disoriented feeling that hangs around when our bodies and our alarm clocks are out of sync? Happily, there is.

Because adequate sleep is such an important factor in maintaining productivity, I was delighted to learn about the Sleep Cycle app for iPhones.

The Sleep Cycle app makes use of several pieces of information. One is the understanding that we move differently during different phases of sleep, less during deep sleep and more when sleep is shallow or we’re waking. The app uses the iPhone’s accelerometer, which detects movement, to determine our sleep cycle. When wakened from a shallow sleep state, we are much more comfortable than when we’re roused from a deep sleep, so the Sleep Cycle app detects when we are at a shallow place in our sleep cycle and wakes us then.

I’ve been using the Sleep Cycle app for several weeks now, and I love it. It’s incredibly accurate at waking me at my most “wake-able” moment.

If I need to wake by 4:30 am to catch at 6:30 am flight, the Sleep Cycle app may wake me at 4:30 or 4:12 or anytime as early as 4 am in order to catch me in the most shallow phase of the sleep cycle. Do you think you would rather have the extra 15 minutes of sleep? In reality, you probably wouldn’t. While the musical “marimba” alarm on my phone had become the sound of pain and misery for me, the gentle nudge of the Sleep Cycle alarm, followed if needed by an increasingly insistent vibration, is a gentle invitation to get up and get on with the day.

When you have used Sleep Cycle for several days, you can begin to mine your sleep patterns for the accumulated data. I always thought that I slept an average of over eight hours per night. But according to my Sleep Cycle data, my average is much closer to seven. I thought that drinking tea at night had little or no effect on my sleep, but Sleep Cycle notes that nights when I drink black tea are among my worst for sleep quality.

The Sleep Cycle app does a great job. If you just use it to help you wake with a minimum of misery on early mornings, it is entirely worth the 99-cent price.

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