Thanks to an app called ‘Sleep Cycle’ i’ve been able to monitor my own sleeping patterns every night. The app is left running overnight on my iphone which is placed beside me on my mattress. The app uses the iphones sensors to detect movement and graphs movement whilst also working out the best time to wake you up, based on your movement…
Of course this stuff is seen by many as all hocus pocus stuff. Sleep is something we’ll never fully understand because everyone is different. We all have different dreams because we all have different minds, shaped by our unique lives.
Interestingly enough, i never have dreams. Or if i do, i can’t remember them. Not recently at least. I have a theory that when i’m supercharged mentally, i just burn myself out and my brain gets so tired it doesn’t have the energy to dream, it just shuts down for the night.
Over the past year or so i’ve remembered maybe 2/3 dreams. It doesn’t matter what i do before i go to sleep. Eat cheese, watch horror movies at 3am, study, work online… it seems to have no effect. One thing i can say is that i NEVER have a problem getting to sleep. Unless i’m sick or it’s particularly hot in the room.
Anyway, for the past week i’ve been using this app which also doubles as an alarm clock. You set an alarm time and the app won’t necessarily wake you up at that time, it’ll wake you up in the half hour window before you alarm is set to go off. So if i set my alarm for 7am, it could go off at 6.30am, only if it thinks i’ll be less tired at that time. Very clever and at least in theory, it makes sense.
So here’s how i slept over the past week;
As you can see, i only got an average of 5 hours 30 minutes sleep every night. In reality it’s probably around the 5 hour mark (i can’t sleep as soon as i set my alarm!). It’s a long way off the recommended 7/8 hours sleep. However i do tend to make up for it at the weekends. I’ll typically get 10 hours + at the weekends.
What’s interesting about those screenshots is Thursday’s graph. I was particularly tired on Thursday morning, to the extent i slept in a bit. The novelty of the new alarm on my iphone woke me up the first few mornings feeling refreshed but that quickly wore off 😉 By wednesday i was aware of it /expecting it.
If you look at the graph on Thursday, you’ll see i was apparently in ‘deep sleep’ when my alarm went off. I hadn’t moved in about 4 hours up until that point. Coincidence that i was extra tired that morning? Possibly, i’d be as skeptical as anyone although it’s also worth noting i got more sleep on Thursday morning than any other day…
My alarm did go off on Thursday morning, but i fell back to sleep for a few minutes afterwards. Obviously i didn’t have the energy to check the graph before i went back to sleep so at that stage i wasn’t aware i had just been woken from ‘deep sleep ‘ mode (believe me, the last thing you want to see in a dark room when you’re just awake is a large, bright, LCD screen – so i just feel around for the button on the iphone to turn the alarm off – i never look at the screen).
You’ll see at times on the graphs i was almost in an ‘awake’ state. Up until i got this app i was never aware of being semi-conscious at all sorts of mad hours but i am now more conscious of it. I’ll vaguely remember being half – awake at 5am or hearing something, moving around etc.. so this app has made me more aware of all that.
Whether this app does actually wake you up ‘better’ than a regular alarm clock is debatable. Some people will look at this post and think i’m crazy for analyzing my sleep in so much detail. In many ways i have no control over how i sleep so perhaps i can’t mold myself to sleep in certain ways or time my sleep to perfection and wake up with ease (which is the ultimate goal).
Whether the app works or not doesn’t really bother me, it’s just ‘interesting’. It makes you more aware of the complexity of sleep and can perhaps explain go some way to explaining we feel extra tired some mornings and completely refreshed on others.