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Apps and Web tools in effect: Sleep Cycle

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Apps and Web tools in effect: Sleep Cycle

AKRON (June 16, 2015) — With a lot of people using their smartphones to track food intake and physical activity, there is another important health aspect that sometimes gets over looked: Sleep!

Whether you spent the day running a marathon or just lounging around and relaxing, sleep is always an important aspect of your overall health. Too often we don’t get enough of it or get poor quality sleep and suffer the consequences of being tired and unfocused. Luckily, just like tracking your diet and counting your steps to lose or maintain your weight, your smartphone can track sleeping patterns and use this data to help give you a good night of sleep, leaving you feeling alert and well-rested.

This brings me to Sleep Cycle, available for iOS and Android. The instructions for Sleep Cycle are simple: Open the app, set a time frame for when you need to wake up and then you lay your phone face down in the corner of your mattress. When you first use the app it will explain this with a helpful photo and a tab on the bottom for instructions if you ever need to refer to them, as well as a test button to check how effective your placement is. Since it uses an accelerometer to track your movement, it requests that you keep your phone plugged in to avoid draining the battery. The final step is to lay your phone face down, which turns the screen off so as to not over exert the phone while the app remains open and in use.

What may be the best part of Sleep Cycle is the wake-up phase functionality. Adjustable via the app’s settings tab, this feature allows users to set a wake-up time frame ranging from 10 to 90 minutes. With this setting active, your alarm will wake you up in that window, with the latest being the time you set your alarm for. With the app turned on and the phone in place, the app analyzes how you are sleeping by using the accelerometer to sense the motion you make and determine which part of the sleeping cycle you are in. According to Sleep Cycle’s website, the app aims to wake you during light sleep so you awake more refreshed and alert. The sleep cycle last about 90 minutes, so it is good to at least use a wake-up phase of 30 minutes.

The app also features an intelligent snooze mode that adjusts the snooze to your wake up phase. From personal experience, the wake-up phase is a powerful tool for those late nights when you have to be up early and be as rested as possible with less than a normal amount of sleep.

In the settings, you can adjust the alarm sounds, volume, vibration, snooze and wake-up phase. It also includes options to use a sleep aid sound when you go to bed, add notes to your sleep data (such as how much coffee you had that day) and ask you what mood you are in when you awake. In addition, it can check your heart rate and save all your data to SleepSecure, which can backup and sync your sleep data between devices and offer advanced analysis on the Web.

Sleep Cycle statistics and graph

This app is full of great tracking analytics. Every night it produces a graph showing when you were awake, sleeping and in deep sleep. It keeps track of these and keeps averages of how long you sleep, in addition to superlatives such as shortest, longest, best and worst night of sleep. You can also compare how well you slept over time. You may even find some trends, especially if you keep sleep notes in the app. Maybe that third cup of coffee does affect how well you sleep?

Since all aspects of your health can be monitored by smart phones and devices, never forget how important sleep is. I chose this app because it has been around a while, at least in the Apple app store, and every update has brought about more improvements. Through all these updates it has stayed true to its goal – to help wake you up naturally well-rested.

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