When you go to sleep, your brain and body do much more than simply enter ‘shutdown’ mode. Instead, there are five different stages of sleep that you go through during the average 7 to 9 hours of sleep that most of us need. You’ll experience some of these stages multiple times during a single night. At least that’s what should happen. The problem comes when you don’t experience every sleep cycle, or you don’t spend an adequate amount of time in each one.
A Brief Sleep Cycle Definition
The first stage of sleep is light stage sleep. This occurs right after you doze off and only lasts for a few minutes. The second stage is also a relatively light stage of sleep. To give some perspective, a power nap could be used to describe a sleep session that only involved the first two stages. It’s during the next two stages that move into a deep sleep. Finally comes REM sleep. This is where you dream and get your most restful sleep. During an ideal sleep cycle, you will experience this five or six times.
Deviating From Normal Sleep Cycle Patterns
If you don’t experience the various sleep cycles like you should, you may feel fatigued and find it difficult to concentrate. Your performance at work or school can suffer. You might even be at higher risk for being involved in a traffic accident. Spending time in each phase is important, so is sleep cycle length.
So, how do you fix that? Is it possible to learn how to reset your sleep cycle? As it turns out, there’s a sleep cycle / light therapy alarm clocks for iPhone or Android that claims to do just that.
How Does The Sleep Cycle App Work?
Your smartphone contains an accelerometer. This is the device that detects movement and rotation. The app tracks your movements to determine where you are in the sleep process. Then, it wakes you when it determines you are in the optimal place in your ‘wake up’ stage. Depending on your personal needs, you can set that stage to be anywhere from 10 to 90 minutes.
There’s another way to use the app. This involves placing it on your nightstand. If you use this option, the app will use the microphone for motion detection rather than the accelerometer.
Imagine that you set your alarm for 7:00 AM. With a standard alarm, you would simply begin to hear your alarm at that time. With the REM sleep cycle alarm, it’s a bit a different. Let’s say you set the wake up stage for twenty minutes. The app would monitor your sleep pattern, and wake you anytime between 6:50 and 7:10. While it may not seem pleasant being woken ten minutes early, in reality you’ll actually feel better being woken during light sleep at 6:50 than during a heavy cycle at 7:00.
There’s more to it than that, but this pretty clearly explains how the alarm works. We’ll cover the other features below.
Sleep Cycle App Review
In addition to being an alarm clock, the Sleep Cycle app also monitors your sleep, collects data, and then presents that information to you. The idea is to give you some insights into how you slept overnight.
How Data Collection Works During The Average Sleep Cycle
Keep in mind that this is not a medical monitoring device. You won’t get the same accuracy from this as you would a sleep study conducted by a professional. Still, it does give you some information worth knowing.
When you go sleep, you place your phone next to your pillow. As you sleep, it detects movements. These are then included in a graph that will give you a pretty good idea of your sleep patterns. You’ll know when you were asleep, in a deep sleep, or awake during each sleep period. The app then assigns an overall percentage rating the quality of your sleep. You’ll also learn the specific amount of time that you spent in bed.
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How to Use Sleep Cycle Chart Data
You can use the data you get from the app for multiple purposes. The first is simply for your own education. As you use the app over time, you’ll begin to be able to answer questions such as, ‘how long are sleep cycles, when I wake up feeling rested?’
As you learn what a normal sleep cycle graph looks like to you, it becomes easier to identify issues. You can then look at different lifestyle factors to see if there is any sort of pattern that’s causing sleep disruptions. For example, you might find that poor sleep coincides with intense workouts very close to bedtime. Once you know, you can make adjustments.
This app can also be your first line of defense in helping you to identify more serious issues with your sleep. Imagine that your sleep cycle graph shows that you wake dozens or more time each night. This could be indicative of a serious sleep disorder like obstructive sleep apnea. To be clear, this is no diagnostic tool, and no substitute for medical care. However, it can give you some useful information to take to your healthcare provider.
Over time, you’ll begin to establish a baseline. Everyone’s sleep patterns are slightly different, so it’s good to know what your normal is. It’s not enough to answer how long is a sleep cycle in general terms. Instead, you can use the app to figure out your own norms.
Ease of Use
This app is exceptionally easy to use. The developers provide pretty clear instructions. Even without these, it’s intuitive enough to figure this out.
One thing that we did note during our research was that a few users had some complaints about the apps accuracy. There were a few claims that the app seemed to record movement when there was none, such as when the phone was left in an empty room.
While we have no way to refute these claims, we can say that we tested for this condition specifically. Our findings were that this did not happen to us. While probably not perfect, this app does seem to be fairly accurate.
Who Needs a Sleep Cycle Alarm
If you consistently sleep through your alarm, or wake feeling out of sorts, this app could be very beneficial to you. Because it finds the ideal time to wake you up, you’re likely going to have a much easier time. You won’t be jolted awake unpleasantly, and you won’t feel disoriented. If you know you’ve been having sleep issues, this app could be your first line of defense in getting to the bottom of it.
New Snore Detection Feature
The developers of the Sleep Cycle alarm have recently added a snore detection feature. As you may already know, snoring can disrupt your sleep as well as the sleep of those living with you. It can also be a sign of a much more serious issue. The app will now tell you if you’ve been snoring. You can decide whether or not you want to pursue the issue further with helpful snoring treatments.
We think this app is well worth a trial run. The alarm clock works significantly better than standard alarms. When you add in the data and insights, this becomes a pretty useful tool.