Sleep time

Smart alarms

Many of you that know me also know that it has been forever a problem of mine to get to sleep properly. Not to sleep early. Not to wake up early. It’s about the quality of sleep. I’ve tried many things to address this problem, raging from hormones to witchcraft, but something seems to be making a difference: smart alarms.

So, first of all, I’m not a doctor and you should not take my advice as more than it is: my own experience and my own anecdotal evidence. (Doesn’t that make it sound important?) What works for me may not work for you. But if you haven’t tried this yet, maybe you should.

I’ve known for a while that we sleep in cycles. And it’s usually better to wake up in certain cycles so that will allow your body to come full circle in what it needed to do when sleeping, making your waking up experience a lot less painful. If you ever woke up to feeling slightly hangover even when you didn’t take anything, you probably woke up in the wrong cycle.

And this is not a secret, it has been known for a while, and it’s the exact reason why the snooze button in alarm clocks where invented: if you get awakened by the alarm in the middle of a cycle, you can snooze your alarm for 10 minutes so that you then wake up in the correct one. However, people ended up using it as a procrastination method where they’ll just snooze it if they want to sleep more, which actually has more chances of defeating the original purpose completely.

And now I’ve tried a smart alarm. However, it is not one of the true smart alarms. The ones that works correctly should be strapped onto me with electric sensors to monitor my brain activity, should be calibrated to my particular brain and then it’d say “yup, now is the correct time to wake up”. But I didn’t want to go that far, so I got one of the free ones available in the Apple store. I got the Azumio’s Sleep Time, and it did make a difference in my life.

Now, I’m not magically refreshed or suddenly everything’s fine. I sometimes still wake up with a not-so-good night of sleeping, and this is no substitute for sleeping the right amount of hours you should sleep. However, the number of times I’ve woken up with that groggy feeling had been significantly reduced.

The way that this works is way far from perfect, but it’s better than nothing: you need to leave your phone on next to you while you sleep, and it’ll detect in which phase of sleep you are depending on your movements. In iOS, since the motion sensors cannot be activated while the phone is off, you need to leave it on, and this means the battery will be drained, for which you need to leave your phone charging, and lying face down (probably because the light would blind you otherwise).

It is supposed to work on big and small beds, with more than one person sleeping in it and I guess in different types of beds too. I haven’t tried all combinations, but so far it has more or less worked for me.

If you’re a data freak, the pro version has more metrics and you can even buy accessories that will track your vitals and you can review them online. Not my thing, though.

All in all, sleeping is something we do almost a third of our lifes, so we better enjoy it.