Ahhh sweet sleep. Some mornings when I wake up and remember that I have a long, possibly tiring day ahead I find myself already thinking blissful thoughts of what it feel like to crawl back in to bed.
We’ve all heard how important sleep is to our overall health and wellbeing; but many of us (myself included) may not always make quality sleep (length and restfulness) a priority all of the time like we should. Since I have been in the more traditional working world for the last 2 years and in a quite regimented “8-to-5” position for the last year my schedule and when I wake and sleep each day tends to stay very consistent.
When I was in college (and DEFINITELY not on a normal sleep schedule) I started using an app called SleepCycle to track my sleep and its quality/length each night. I really enjoyed using the app at the time and it gave me good insights in to how well I was actually resting each night. I’m not sure why but somewhere along the way I stopped consistently using it and then stopped using it all together. A few weeks ago while I was reading an article online about sleep quality and it’s importance for your health I remembered this app and immediately downloaded it so I could begin using it again.
The scope and purpose of this app is quite simple. Each night when you are getting ready to go to sleep you go in to the app and select your desired wake time. For me, on work days, I like to wake up at 6:45 AM. When I select this in the app it automatically corrects to a range of time and says “Wake me up between 6:15 AM and 6:45 AM”. What the app does is monitors your sleep cycle and the alarm will begin to go off anywhere within that half hour period when you are in your lightest stage of sleep.
Some of you may be wondering “Why does that matter?” The creators of the app and many others have found that when we are woken up in our lightest stage of sleep we tend to have a better start to our day because we were woken more naturally and during a time when we were already in a light sleep state. When we set a traditional alarm to go off at a very specific time it will go off exactly then but it’s possible that we will be in the middle of a heavier state of sleep. When this happens and we wake up to the alarm we tend to feel more groggy and probably crankier, too!
Since starting to the use the app again these last few weeks I have noticed that I feel better rested when I wake up each morning and not as cranky because I am given the opportunity to wake up more slowly and the app is waking me up at a time that is naturally good for me! Some mornings it has been waking me between 6:15-6:20 and even though that is 25-30 minutes before my “usual” alarm I have felt better and more prepared for the day.
What may be my favorite part of this app is the “sleep graph” that you can look at from each night of sleep. The app uses your microphone from your phone to monitor and decipher what “stage” of sleep you are in throughout the night. The less sound you are producing the deeper sleep you are in (dream state, deep sleep, REM sleep). As you move around or make more sound you are coming out of a cycle and closer to the “waking” stage. The graphs show you the peaks and valleys of each night’s sleep and also give you a total time in bed and a quality (in percentage rating) of sleep. It also averages out your number of hours of sleep for the week.
Here is an example of my highest and lowest quality rated nights of sleep from this past week:
You can see on the left in my lowest quality night of sleep for the week how even thought I went very quickly into deep sleep at 2 and 4 in the morning I was awake for brier periods of time before falling into sleep and deep sleep again. On the right is my highest quality night from last week. Here I went in to deep sleep fairly quickly also and then continued to stay in either regular or deep sleep until about 4 AM.
As you can see there is a “snore” tracker as well and I am thankful to see that I spend zero minutes snoring each night!!! If you are someone who might snore or snores depending on your quality of sleep this would be a way to know that since the microphone would pick that up for you.
All in all I am hoping to use this app consistently in order to keep track of my quality of sleep and what might affect that. You can also add “sleep notes” after each night of sleep if you would like to. I have added things like type of exercise I completed that day, how many steps I had, whether I ate well or made not as good of choices. That way when I look back I will be able to see if there are correlations between my lower quality nights of sleep and the behaviors/choices I made the day prior.
If you are interested in learning more about the app you can follow this link or download it in your app store to give it a try tonight 🙂 The app is free and you can choose to upgrade to a premium version for additional features. Thanks so much for reading and I hope you all have a great week filled with great nights of sleep!!