Sleep, Dream and a Recap at Daybreak

Article excerpt

If you're a bad sleeper, there are apps that can help -- and even monitor how it all went during the night.

I'm terrible at sleeping. Over the years, I have tried various remedies and tricks, and they haven't helped. I figured there wasn't much I could do about my problem until I discovered sleep-aid smartphone apps.

My favorite is Sleep Cycle, a $2 iOS app. Although this app doesn't help get you to sleep, it does help you learn about your sleep habits. It's also designed to wake you at just the right point in your sleep cycle, when you're sleeping lightly, so you won't feel that familiar sinking sensation after your alarm clock jerks you awake.

The app is meant to work with your phone set on your mattress. It uses the iPhone's sensors to monitor movements, recording when you were in different phases of sleep -- from light to deep. In the morning, you get a time graph showing how well you managed to stay in deep sleep.

There's a notes section for each night's data, so you can track if drinking a cup of tea upsets your sleep or if your sleep patterns are related to stress. If you're really interested in detailed analysis of your sleep habits you can export the data to an Excel spreadsheet.

The app's instructions are easy to follow, and the interface is easy to use. I've found it usually wakes me when I'm feeling well rested. It does take a while to get used to this, because it means you're awakened in a window around your chosen alarm time instead of, say, at 7:30 a.m. sharp. Perhaps my only criticism is the app's array of soothing alarm sounds can get tiresome, but you can also set it to use your downloaded music.

A very similar free app on Android is Sleepbot. It also uses your device's motion sensors to track your sleep patterns, and can wake you gently when you're in light sleep. Its interface isn't quite as polished nor as easy to use as Sleep Cycle's, but this app is more powerful.

You can set target sleep times and see over several days if you have a sleep deficit, and you can set a reminder to go to bed. …