Chart your REM with Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock iPhone app

Nov 18, 2010

If someone told you that waking up 20 minutes earlier than normal would have you feeling more refreshed than usual, would you believe them? More importantly, would you download their app?

The Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock suggests exactly that. Suffice to say that my day job when I’m not reviewing apps isn’t “sleep scientist,” so without getting into the nitty gritty of it, the idea behind the Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock app is that your body’s normal sleep patterns cycle through light to deep sleep. The key to waking up refreshed, then, is to wake up during a period of your lightest sleep.

By using the iPhone’s accelerometer to determine your movement, this app attempts to determine your sleep phases, and then wake you up within 30 minutes of your set alarm time during that window. If nothing else, that’s an extremely cool concept.

Of course, that 30-minute window could mean that you end up waking up a half hour earlier than normal because the app decided your sleep pattern was just right at that moment. Whether that actually makes you feel well-rested in the long run is debatable.

As to whether the app actually works, I’d say yes. As mentioned, I’m not an expert in sleep cycles, but in the week I’ve used the app, it has, more often than not, woken me up at a period where I’ve felt at least slightly more refreshed in the morning.

As to whether the app actually works, I'd say yes.

What’s interesting about the Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock is that it doesn’t just wake you up at some earlier point, but also packs charts to show you your sleep cycle for the evening. You can also go back and see previous evenings’ sleep cycles, which, if nothing else, gives you a good idea of why the app is waking you up when it is.

Frustratingly, the alarm the app uses is probably quieter than it should be. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it probably wouldn’t hurt to have a backup alarm set, just in case something happens with the app.

Similarly, the only way Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock actually works is if it stays next to you on your bed. And even if it manages to stay next to you, and not on the floor, all night, it can vary on whether it picks up your movements. It’s hard to fault a $1 iPhone app for that sort of imperfection, but it should be noted that this is hardly an infallible program in its current state.

Perfect or not, it’s probably worth the price alone to check out the interesting sleep charts, and a nice bonus if you can get it waking you up more refreshed than usual.

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Dan Kricke

Dan Kricke has been playing with electronics and writing about them for years. He loved his Sega Dreamcast and now the PlayStation 3. On the iPhone, he's a fan of sports apps and anything that offers new music.


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