Sleep Cycle alarm clock is the only App I’ve ever used that I can genuinely say is life-changing. By monitoring your sleep patterns and waking you up according to them, Sleep Cycle makes the hardest part of everyone’s daily routine – waking up – a hell of a lot easier.
First, however, some wikipedia facts about sleep for you. As we sleep, we fluctuate throughout the night between the states of deep and light sleep. Being a moody bastard in the morning can be attributed not only to hangovers or not getting enough sleep that night, but being awoken from a state of deep sleep. Wake up during a light sleep state, and you’ll find getting out of bed becomes a whole lot easier.
Sleep Cycle, by monitoring your movement patterns as you sleep, can tell how deep in dreamland you are and wakes you up when you’re in a state of relatively light sleep. Simply place your iPhone under the sheet near your head, and Sleep Cycle does the rest. Setting your alarm time creates a ‘wake-up phase’ within which Sleep Cycle will wake you up during a light sleep state. So if you set your alarm for 8am and have a 30-minute wake-up phase, you will be awoken during your lightest sleep state between 7:30am and 8am (the wake-up phase can be changed to anywhere between 10 and 90 minutes). Most importantly however, this is not a gimmick. It actually works!
While I’ve only used Sleep Cycle for a few days, I already feel like it’s improved getting out of bed from a painful slog to a sombre – but clear-minded – acceptance that my day has begun. A normal alarm clock cares little for how deeply you’re traversing the recesses of your mind at the time of awakening, usually jolting you from a comatose-like state of deep sleep and leaving you fumbling blindly for the ever-precious Snooze button. Sleep Cycle, by waking you up when your mind nearly at that point anyway, makes it feel like a smooth and natural process; like gently floating back into reality on a sea of subconscious, rather than being shocked back into it with a cattle prod.
If you decide that you’re not yet ready to face the world when Sleep Cycle thinks you should, simply tapping your iPhone will let you snooze. By default this is set to ‘intelligent’ mode, which will time subsequent snooze-alarms in a way that wakes you most gently. To assist you in the sensitive waking-up process, Sleep Cycle also contains some appropriately mellow and campily named alarm sounds such as ‘Forest glade’, ‘Morning mist’ and ‘Distant Memories’ as well as the option to use your own songs.
After each night, Sleep Cycle presents you with a neat graph showing how you fluctuated between states of light and deep sleep throughout the night, how long you slept, and your average sleeping time since you started using the App. Geek that I am, I find the graph and its accompanying statistics genuinely fascinating to look at, although not to the point that I’d utilise the option to share my data on Facebook.
Sleep Cycle is one of the cleverest and most useful Apps you can get for the iPhone. My solitary criticism is that you can’t put your iPhone on standby as you use it and need to have it charging to ensure you don’t run out of battery while using the App. Minor niggle aside, I can’t think of anyone who would fail to benefit from Sleep Cycle, so I have no choice but to recommend it to absolutely everyone.