Using technology to track your sleep - Are you achieving all 5 stages each night?

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As students, our lives are jammed packed, back-to-back things going on every single day that sleep is sometime compromised to finish was needs to be done. When we finally do call it a day, we "crash". It is hard to believe that while we are sleeping our brains are busy at work.
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It was not until 1951, when Nathaniel Kleitman changed how we think about sleep and dreaming. Prior, it was believed that our brains had a switch that turned on when we were awake and off while we snoozed. Today, we know there are five stages of sleep. The following chart describes each phase.
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With information at our fingertips today, I looked into how one could track their own sleep. Not surprising, there is an App for that. iTunes sells and app called Sleep Cycle alarm clock. It retails for $0.99. It is an alarm clock that analyzes your sleep patterns and wakes you in the lightest sleep phase - a natural way to wake up where you feel rested and relaxed.
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I tried this application for the past week. I must say I liked it. I felt it was accurate. All I did was put it on the side of my bed and it sensed movement and from that determined what stage of sleep I was in. It sounded too good to be true. In reading the reviews, other users of this application felt the same way. So, last night I left it on the table in another room. My phone must be a great mind reader, because it read similar to previous nights and I was nowhere near it. Clearly the technology is out there to measure the stages of sleep, but this application was not the best option in doing so.
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10 Comments

Love the Homer picture... I am a huge Simpsons fan and that is what honestly caught my eye. I have a tattoo of Bart on my back so i couldn't resist clicking onto this post.

I agree, Homer caught my eye, but the information in your blog is what kept me reading. I have never heard or even thought of this app before. I guess it is true what they say, "There is an app for everything." Right now I am currently downloading a similar app called Sleep as Android. This is such an interesting concept, so I figured I would give it a try as well. Although, I predict that this app will not be much different from the one you used.

Ha! I guess I shouldn't be surprised that there's an app for that. Even though the results are likely inaccurate, I would be interested to see my results! You said the app wakes you up in the lightest sleep phase - does that mean it wakes you up regardless of what time you set your alarm for?

There is an app for everything these days! I think it's cool that you took the time to try the app and reveal the faults of the system! I'm curious of how long you had to sleep for it to wake up during the "light stages" of sleep.. Was it a similar amount of sleep each night, or did it vary on how active/busy you were that day? Kind of interesting, I'm tempted to try it on my own as well!

The app is an interesting idea and I think it's definitely a start to promising research that can really benefit human beings, especially those that live such fast-paced lifestyles and compromise sleep. After learning about the different stages of sleep and thinking about how I always feel like I'm going a hundred miles an an hour trying to balance school, work, volunteering, sports, friends, etc..., I think that many college students don't get to the REM stage of sleep every night. Our bodies need to time to wind down and enter that deep sleep and many college students don't give themselves enough hours of sleep to allow their minds to do that. That would explain why so many of us feel so tired after just one morning lecture or crash after lunch without a second or third cup of coffee. Basically, many students rarely feel well rested (except for weekends) because we rarely achieve REM sleep

Very good pictures and very interesting blog. The app is a very cool idea and if I had a smart phone I would totally try it! It would be very interesting to see what type of technology a phone can contain to detect which state of sleep someone is it.

You really drew me in with all the pictures. This was one of the more interesting blogs I have read just because of that iphone app. That is brilliant for whoever made that app. I might have to download it and use it myself. I just hope they have it for the droid...

Wow, that is really interesting. I think it is crazy how advanced technology has gotten over the years and the fact that there is an iphone app that can determine what cycle of sleep you are in and wake you at the best time really amazes me. This is definitely something that I will have to try in the next couple days and see how I feel after using it.

The app works? Could a placebo effect be occurring here? I agree with a comment above in that I typically don't get enough sleep to worry about getting through the stages. It is much harder to fathom our brain going through several complex activities being more effective than going into hibernation for a few hours.

Something tells me you didn't get the brain-scan software mailed to you - which most people who downloaded the app received (and LOVED!)

Obviously kidding. But I don't think the technology is too far off - in terms of scientific research at the palm of your hand.

Back when Zach Morris had a cell phone, I'm sure he never could dream up a 22-minute scheme to brainwash the rest of Bayside High's student body via his mobile (?) device...let alone find out his exact location at the Max through looking at his "Maps" app.

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This page contains a single entry by klob0009 published on February 29, 2012 2:14 PM.

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