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Review – Sleep Cycle iPhone App

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Over the years smartphones are more sophisticated and so too are the apps that you can purchase for them. Having had a pretty tough time lately, sleep was one of the things that was affected in a big way. Having barely slept in January and struggling to get back into a pattern of having several hours sleep in one go, waking up groggy and disinterested in life as a result. In the beginning of March I decided to buy an iPhone app to monitor my sleep (or lack of), something that I would say I was quite pessimistic about to start with but would the app have any effect?

I Love Sleep Image

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Having searched the Mac App Store I came across Sleep Cycle Alarm (also available on Android) from Northcube and decided to give it a whirl so I took the plunge and downloaded the Sleep Cycle Bundle which also came with Heart Rate and Power Nap for £2.49.

Now like I say I was slightly skeptical at first. My pattern of sleep before my life changing moment was pretty good despite the odd bout insomnia and frequent anaemia. I often went to bed at the same time each night and rudely awoken by my alarm at the same time each morning. I would often wake up groggy after hitting snooze several times and would usually take me a couple of hours to wake up fully.

Quick Rundown of Sleep Cycle

Sleep Cycle monitors movement during sleep using the accelerometer in your iPhone when positioned on your mattress in a way that it is not blocked by pillows etc.

On setting the alarm Sleep Cycle find the optimal time to wake you up during a 30 minute window. So if you set your alarm to get up at 7.30 at the latest, it monitors at which is your lightest phase of sleep and gently awakens you.

Main Features

  • Detailed sleep statistics and sleep graphs for every night.
  • 15 carefully selected, high quality, alarm melodies.
  • Use iPod music as wake up sound.
  • Snooze by shaking or tapping the phone lightly.
  • Customizable wake up window. From instant (regular alarm clock) up to 90 minutes.
  • Background mode – set your alarm and exit Sleep Cycle – sleep analysis will continue in the background
  • Sleep aid – helps you fall asleep. The intelligent mode detects when you fall asleep and automatically fades the sleep aid sound.
  • Support for the M7 and M8 co-processor – measure your daily physical activity and calculate how it affects your Sleep quality
  • Health app – fully integrated with the Health app introduced in iOS8. Submits sleep analysis and heart rate. Downloads other data such as fitness information to be considered in your nightly Sleep Quality
  • Adaptive design – ready for all screen sizes
  • Heart rate monitor – measure you’re resting heart rate (RHR) every morning using the camera and flash in your device
  • Philips HUE light bulb support – simulate a natural sunrise to give you an even softer wake-up
  • Sleep notes – see how events such as drinking coffee, eating too much or having a stressful day affect your sleep quality
  • Long term graphs – track sleep quality over time, see which days of the week you sleep best and much more
  • Export sleep data to Excel for detailed analysis

So far I have found the sleep cycle app to be really helpful in waking me up in the morning without the groggy feeling.  Over the past few weeks I’ve had anaemia, which have hindered my progress but prior to this I have often woke up even before my alarm was due to go off and when I’ve checked my statistics and the higher the sleep quality the better I feel.

Rating: 9/10

Pros

  • Good value
  • Plenty of statistics and graphs, if you like that sort of thing
  • Can help you establish a good pattern of sleep
  • Works in conjunction with the iOS 8 built-in health app to accurately work out how activity can affect your sleep pattern
  • Weekend mode, so no need to set your alarm to monitor your sleep

Cons/Suggestions

  • Requires the charger – although you are more than likely going to have the phone on charge in any case
  • Would be good to enhance weekend mode to days you specify for people who may not need to get up during the week.

Summary

This is not a cure for sleep disorders but if you wake up feeling like you haven’t slept, even though you have or you are like me and have previously been woken at a time where you are in a deep sleep, resulting in constant snooze bashing, then this app may be of some use. Having some prior use of the Phillips Wake-Up light alarm clock, that my beloved bought me, sleep cycle beats it hands down and at a fraction of the price.