October 22, 2010

435 words 3 mins read

App Review: Sleep Cycle alarm clock

For a long while now, I’ve been fascinated with the idea of having an alarm clock that is somehow tied to one’s sleep cycle. On a conceptual level it sounds cool, and on a practical level it would be very nice to have. I’ve had days (as I’m sure most have) where I’ve woken up after a full night’s sleep and been barely able to get out of bed, or fallen right back to sleep. Other mornings, I’ll wake up slightly before my alarm and bounce out of bed like I’m on a caffeine drip. This, of course, is all based on where I was in my sleep cycle. Last night, I saw an article about an iPhone app called “Sleep Cycle alarm clock". Since I love the idea and the app was only $0.99, I gave it a shot. After the first morning, I’m quite pleased.

The application is very simple and gives you all the directions you need. Basically you plug in your phone, launch the application, hit go and them leave the phone face down on your bed. It spends the first two nights “calibrating”, from what I’ve read. Even though this was my first night using it, it worked just fine. The one amusing part of the app is your choice of wake up tones. Your wake up sound choices include “Warm breeze”, “Forest glade”, and “Morning mist” to name a few. All of these are gentle musical pieces, very unlike the jarring BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP of my normal alarm. I didn’t think they’d be annoying enough or loud enough to wake me up, but it worked.

The first image (left, top) is my screen cap from the statistics page this morning. For being uncalibrated, it worked well. I think the sensor was a little overly sensitive to thinking I was awake, in the fact that it shows me awake between 5 and 6 AM (which I was not), but otherwise looks cool. Of course, not having anything else to back up this data, the charts could be a complete fabrication. I will tell you this though, when I woke up this morning, I felt really good. I didn’t wake up groggy, I didn’t lay in bed for a long time… heck I didn’t even feel like I needed caffeine. For only getting about 6 hours of sleep (1am to 3am and 4 am 8am), I felt surprisingly awake. So my unscientific test of one night says that it works. For a dollar, that is totally worth it.

I look forward to “testing” this alarm more over the next few weeks.