Sunday, January 30, 2011

Getting some Zzzzzz's

I haven't felt like I've gotten quality sleep lately. It's not that I'm staying up reading Stieg Larsson - that at least it a plausible excuse for sleeplessness - I'm just waking up tired, even if I've been in bed close to 8 hours. So the question is, am I imagining the poor sleep, or is it really happening?

Browsing the apps available on Android (I got a swish new smartphone because my little cell phone just wasn't working anymore), I found something intriguing : Sleep as an Droid. I decided I'd use its two-week trial period to see if I could uncover something about my sleeping habits.

The app tracks your sleep patterns, keeps track of your sleep deficit, enables sharing (though why I'd post daily updates to facebook I don't know) and the paid version adds nature sounds to the alarm options. Plus, it has a cute logo - don't you think?

The principle is this : use the sensors in your smartphone (in my case, a Samsung Galaxy S) to determine how much you move around during the night, thus guessing what type of sleep you are in and for how long. The trick of course is that you have to put the phone on the mattress when you go to sleep, so this won't work for "burrowers" or "flailers" who may knock the phone to the floor as they doze.

The official webpage does a much better job at explaining the aim of the app:

So far, my first night's sleep looks similar to the sample graph, and I slept well last night - likely because I didn't eat too late, and we had the air conditioner on and a blanket so I felt like it was time for sleep. Napping on the couch without blankets? No problems. In fact I managed to fall asleep midway through a TV movie a few nights ago, gunshots and explosions notwithstanding.

Oh - and this isn't a single incident. See this blog for two more sleep aid apps.

On top of mapping my sleep patterns, Sleep as an Droid has a few features I'll be trying out :
  • Gentle wake - begins to wake you with a pre-alarm, from 30 minutes to an hour before your set alarm, but only if it senses you are not in deep sleep
  • Lullaby mode - quiets text and message alerts
  • Music volume turns down as you fall asleep

I'll let you know if this is bunk or it actually works... Even if it doesn't, it might be worth it for the gentle alarm, according to other reviewers.


Nathan Pralle said...

They have one of these for iPhone as well, but I have yet to try it out and see if it works. My sleep's always so truncated (4.5 hours last night, for instance -- which is typical to be between that and 6.5) that it seems I wouldn't be giving the app a fair shake, but...who knows. Maybe it'd help. I'll be interested to see your results!

Julia G said...

I've had it on for the past 3 nights and so far (according to the app, and also my wakefulness the next morning) the first night's sleep was the best I've had. I'll keep you posted!


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