Before anyone comments on my terrible grammar, I should inform you that “Sleep As Android” is the correct name for a popular Android mobile application. Rather than wasting any time trying to explain the unusual title for this app (please forward all complaints to the developer), I will instead be explaining how awesome it is.
Monitoring Your Sleep
'Sleep As Android' uses the accelerometer in your Android phone to measure your movements during the night while you sleep. It logs this information in the forms of graphs and statistics that can be viewed on waking. These results can then be shared via social networks or email – there is even a setting to do this automatically.
The Smart-wake feature is my favourite tool in this apps arsenal, and it works incredibly well. Using the phone’s accelerometer it detects when you are at the most optimal time in your sleep cycle to be woken up. Before I explain exactly how this feature works, please make yourself comfortable for a quick lesson in sleep science:
Contrary to what a lot of people think, we do not go through one sleep cycle per night:
EG - Light Sleep > Deep Sleep > Light Sleep > Awake
Instead, the human sleep cycle rotates every 90 to 110 minutes through four stages of varying depth. Waking up whilst the cycle is in one of the deeper stages will leave you feeling sluggish and unrefreshed. Obviously the length of sleep is important, but waking during the lightest part of the sleep cycle can really make a difference to your day. Science lesson over.
The most accurate way of measuring a person’s sleep cycle would be to wire them up to an EEG machine and monitor their brain waves. As modern smartphones are currently lacking this feature, the phone’s internal accelerometer is the next best thing.
So back to the smart-wake feature, there is a setting in the app to create a window of time to be awoken (from 5 minutes to 2 hours). For example, if my usual wake time is at 8am and I set the window for 30 minutes (default setting), the alarm will sound anytime between 7.30 – 8am. By monitoring the size and frequency of your sleep movements the application can get a vague idea of where you are in your sleep cycle. When the phone detects increasing movement during the allotted wake-up window, a gentle alarm (I use the birdsong one provided) ascends in volume gradually bringing you back to consciousness.
On a side note; I am also an owner of a Dawn Simulation Alarm Clock, and I have to say combined with this sleep app they work incredibly well together. For the best results, the Sunrise Alarm Clock should be set to the earliest part of the wake-up window on the sleep app. Also, the audio alarm on the Sunrise Clock should be turned off to avoid any conflict with the mobile alarm.
The application also has a feature to record noises while you sleep, especially entertaining for those who are prone to talking when dreaming. I have not tested this feature, so any feedback on this would be appreciated.
For those of you who are worried about the battery life and safety of your phone during the night, I have some advice. It is recommended that your phone be plugged into the mains overnight as the app does prevent the phone from going into standby mode. There are settings to dim the phone screen and automatically activate flight mode within the application to avoid light and radio pollution.
As for placement of the phone, I found it best to put it under an elasticated bed sheet near the pillow at the top end of your bed. This will prevent the phone from thrashing around and falling off the bed, it will also fix the phone closer to the mattress allowing for a more sensitive reading of movement. Unfortunately due to the movement sensing nature of this app, it is not effective for those who share a bed with another (both humans and animals included).
Overall, I cannot recommend this app highly enough. Sleep As Android has really educated me about my sleep habits. It has also increased my energy levels and alertness in the mornings. I urge you to give it a try.
Scan the QR Code below with your android phone for a direct link to Sleep As Android on the Android Market: