I used to be a snoozer. I almost always stayed in bed for a long time after my alarm clock rang. But with an app called Sleep Cycle I was able to change this habit and use my mornings more effectively.
Several years ago, I had a very important exam. It was the first test at the university that I had to take, and I prepared for it for a long time. In the morning of the test I snoozed the alarm and overslept. My parents weren’t at home that morning so there was no one to wake me up. When I did get out of bed it was so late that I literally had to run to the university to arrive on time.
During that period of my life, I used to stay in bed for a long time, sometimes for half an hour after the clock rang, and I hit the snooze button. But then I discovered an app called Sleep Cycle. With it, I was able to reduce this time to five minutes and wake up feeling fresh most of the time.
Instead of an exact time, Sleep Cycle wakes you up during a 30-minute period, which ends with your desired alarm time.
While you are sleeping, you go through repeating cycles of sleep states. There are three of them: light sleep, slow-wave or deep sleep, and the dream phase, also known as the REM period.
Interrupting your sleep during the deep or the REM stage may lead to grogginess upon awakening. In order to avoid this, the app wakes you up in your lightest sleep phase, which it determines with the accelerometer and the microphone of your smartphone.
I’ve been using Sleep Cycle for more than seven years, and I believe it is something that you should absolutely try out if you have similar problems with oversleeping to the one I’ve just described.
I don’t know how accurate the measurements of the app are, but one thing is certain: it has worked for me. With this app, I was able to get rid of a bad habit, wake more naturally, and make the most of my days — right from the start.
Data from 1,637 nights
Besides defining the right time to wake up, the app also measures the length of sleep and allows its users to access statistics about their sleeping habits.
I woke up with Sleep Cycle on 1,637 mornings. Here are a few interesting statistics about the previous nights:
– On average I spend eight hours and 21 minutes in bed. Usually, it takes me around 25 to 35 minutes to fall asleep.
– My sleep quality decreases with four to five percent if I drink alcohol. Surprisingly, it also decreases if I work out.
– My sleep quality increases in foggy weather by 9 percent, and it is the best after full moon.
It’s still not entirely clear how I could take advantage of these statistics, but it seems drinking even less alcohol and going to bed early on foggy nights could be a good idea.
You can connect Sleep Cycle with several apps and devices.
What I strongly advise you to try out is using the app with a set of Philips Hue smart light bulbs.
The dark winter mornings have a very negative effect on my productivity. But by connecting the app to the Hue bulbs and instructing them to create a Mediterranean sunrise when Sleep Cycle wakes me up, I was able to make these mornings a bit more bearable.
I also sync the data from Sleep Cycle with Apple Health. This is the place where I store health-related data from the various gadgets and applications that I use. Besides the sleep patterns, it gives me an overview of my daily movement, sports activities, and weight changes.
Currently to reach this level of transparency about your health and well-being requires you to use and connect several apps and tools, like My Fitness Pal, Jawbone, the Apple Watch, and some kind of smart weight scale. But it’s something that I advise you to do, as the information you can collect this way can help you become more conscious about your health and change your habits.
Of course, in itself, no application can make you a great sleeper or a healthy person, you also have to work for these things, and, for example, try to go to sleep and get out of bed around the same time every day. But finding great apps like Sleep Cycle can make it much easier for you to achieve results and make the most of your days.
To anyone who is wondering about the end of my story, the university ultimately let me in, and I passed that important test. Looking back, I am quite relieved that something like this is never going to happen again! Thanks, Sleep Cycle!