Sleep can be a rare commodity for college students. Studies show that college students aren't getting nearly enough sleep. Late nights of finishing papers and studying for midterms can lead to prolonged harmful sleeping habits. It’s a vicious cycle, and sometimes people end up going to bed at two or three in the morning because that’s just what feels natural to them.
There are ways to change your sleeping patterns, but sometimes it’s difficult to gauge what “getting better sleep” truly means. Sleep Cycle, a new application exclusively for iOS devices, aims to educate you on your sleeping habits while also helping you improve them.
How does this app get so intimate with your sleep cycle? You start by adding a new chore to your nightly routine: placing your iPhone facedown on your bed and plugging it in before you go to sleep. From there, the app collects data from your device’s accelerometer, tracking your movement in bed throughout the night based on the vibrations of the mattress.
The amount of data Sleep Cycle collects during the night is pretty extensive. You wake up to a line graph detailing your sleep movements, including the times you were experiencing the deepest sleep and when you woke up during the night. The app also gives you a nightly Sleep Quality rating on a 100-point scale. What this score means exactly is a bit up in the air, but the manner in which it’s determined is pretty simple according to the app’s developer, Sleep Cycle: "The more you sleep and the less you move, the higher Sleep Quality.
There are external issues that affect the quality of data the app gathers. If you have a memory foam mattress or are not sleeping alone, you are probably not going to get an accurate representation of your sleep.
The hallmark feature of the app is its intelligent alarm feature that promises to wake you up feeling more refreshed than you would with an average alarm clock. The app does this through tracking your movements in bed for a preset amount of time (the default is 30 minutes) before you have to wake up. If the app establishes from your movement that you are in a lighter stage of sleep, placid tones like “Warm Breeze” will begin playing to gently lift you from your slumber.
The downside of using this intelligent alarm feature is that in order for it to be most effective, you have to be willing to make some sacrifices. That means that if you give it 30 minutes to track your movements before you need to wake up, you could end up losing that half-hour of sleep, assuming you decide to wake up at all.
Many apps have an initial wow-factor shortly after purchase, but generally the excitement quickly wears off. In contrast, Sleep Cycle becomes much more interesting as you give it more data to observe. You can have separate groupings of data for when you are doing certain activities like drinking coffee or working out before you go to bed. Features like these help users to fully grasp what is negatively affecting sleep.
Ultimately, Sleep Cycle is a well thought-out app that can actually help you get better sleep. Its features are widespread and well executed, and even after limited use of this app, you will be impressed with how much more in tune you are with your sleep.
Sleep Cycle is $0.99 and is available in the App Store.