Synchronise your sleep pattern to get up and glow
Sleep Cycle alarm clock
99 US cents
How did I sleep last night? As it turns out, checking my sleep pattern for the previous night is so fascinating that it gets me up in the morning like nothing else.
But this is not the advertised purpose of the app. Sleep Cycle is designed to provide a gentle wake-up by triggering the alarm at what Sleep Cycle - using the iPhone's accelerometer to track your movements during the night - calculates to be a light sleep phase falling within a wake-up window set by you. The app recommends a half-hour wake-up window, so if you must rise at 6.30am, your window will be 6am to 6.30am.
You might resist the idea of waking a minute sooner than you need to, but the app write-up explains that you will feel better being awakened during a lighter sleep phase, albeit earlier, than being dragged from a deep sleep by your alarm set at a later time.
To use the app, first use the test function to check that it can monitor your movements in bed. Then, when night comes, set the alarm wake-up window and place your iPhone face down near your pillow.
During the first night of testing, I woke up about an hour earlier, and tossed and turned waiting for the alarm to go off, which it eventually did, at the end of my wake-up window. I wasn't sure it had worked. However, over the next few nights, when I was in a deep sleep, the alarm 'waited' and only woke me at the end of my sleep window, but would trigger earlier on mornings when, according to the movement charts, I was emerging from sleep sooner.
At first I did not feel significantly more refreshed. But then, by looking at the sleep charts, I realised that I simply wasn't getting enough sleep. Typically, I would be in a deeper sleep phase at waking-up time.
The usual sleep pattern is made up of 90-minute cycles, and as the night progresses, each cycle comprises a larger proportion of light, dreaming sleep and a reduced portion of deep sleep. By tracking my sleep pattern and by going to bed a little earlier, I was able to wake up refreshed at a light sleep phase. Highly recommended.