App Review: Wake Up Refreshed Using Science on Your iPhone with Sleep Cycle

When you use a regular alarm clock, it’s a total lottery whether it will strike when you’re at the end of a sleep cycle or in the middle of one.

When you’re in the middle of a sleep cycle, you’ll find that you’ll wake up groggy and with that feeling of an anvil pressing you down, refusing to let you get out of bed.

However, when you wake up at the end of a sleep cycle, in ‘light sleep’ you’ll find yourself waking up ready to go about your day with little hesitation.

Sounds like a miracle to those who aren’t morning people, and you know what, it feels like one. “Bio-alarm clocks” have actually been around for some time, analysing movements in your sleep to determine what stage of sleep you are in. When you’re entering light sleep, then the alarm sounds. Products like Sleep Tracker and aXbo Sleep Phase will punch a USD150-200 hole in your pocket to get a wristband device that uses an accelerometer to measure your movements and determine which level of sleep you’re in.

Where have we been hearing buzzword “accelerometer” for the last few years? iPhones. Yep, Sleep Cycle is an iPhone app that uses the sensitive accelerometer in the iPhone to measure your movements at night. You simply place it on the corner of your bed and leave it hooked up to the power and throughout the night it’ll measure your sleep patterns.

When you wake up to the delightful in-built tunes, (or to your choice from your iPod) rising gracefully from your light sleep stage, you can then view a little graph of your sleep patterns throughout the night. Here’s an example of a graph where I accidentally set the alarm for 6.30pm and so didn’t end up actually have an alarm go off:

I show you this because I remember waking up at around 6ish and thinking, “Oh yeah, I’ll just wait for the alarm.” Incredibly, the graph shows this spike when I woke up at 6 and shows how I dropped back down off to sleep immediately after. (I was late for work).

I’ve been using it for a few days now and I have to say, it’s pretty freaking awesome. It only costs 99 cents which is a freaking bargain if you ask me. I first saw it and thought, “Yeah right.” I looked at reviews and thought, “Hey, lots of people are saying it’s awesome, I should give it a go. Only 99 cents – that won’t hurt too much even if it does suck.”

Now I want to join the chorus and say that this app is going to change my life.

What’s pretty cool is that even if you happen to be attached and share a bed with someone, Sleep Cycle is meant to still work. According to the FAQ section, they have tested it with two people in a bed and it worked quite well. I unfortunately can’t say I have first-hand experience with that though.

Get Sleep Cycle from the app store here.