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This article was published on January 8, 2011

App Store Classics: Sweeter dreams with Sleep Cycle.

App Store Classics: Sweeter dreams with Sleep Cycle.
Ian Chattam
Story by

Ian Chattam

Ian Chattam is a sound designer of some fifteen years for TV and film, a musician, dad and all round Mac monkey based in the UK. He gets ver Ian Chattam is a sound designer of some fifteen years for TV and film, a musician, dad and all round Mac monkey based in the UK. He gets very excited about new technology especially if it’s audio related. He spends most of his free time fiddling with his iPhone, looking for new and exciting ways to spend money in the app store. You can find him on Twitter via @SackofSoul.

I am not a morning person. Getting up at a predefined time is a constant source of anguish to me so I’ll take any help I can get to make it feel a bit more humane. Thus it was that I downloaded an iPhone app called Sleep Cycle (iTunes link) from Maciek Drejak Labs, in the hope that I could wake up smiling instead of swearing.

The app uses the iPhone’s accelerometer to measure your movement during the night and wakes you up during a light sleep phase rather than a deep phase, since waking from a deep sleep is quite unpleasant for most people (well – me anyway). When you’re fast asleep you don’t move so much and this enables Sleep Cycle to figure out a good time to get you up.

When you first use the app, it asks you to place your iPhone face down under the sheet at the head end of your bed and lie down. You then need to turn over a couple of times to calibrate the app. Once you’ve done this, you’re ready to go – set your alarm time and type and pop your phone face down under the sheets. Just make sure your iPhone is plugged in otherwise you might get an unexpected lie in.

The difference with this app compared to a regular alarm is that you won’t necessarily get woken up at the exact time you set – the app will wake you sometime within a half hour window which ends at that time. So for example, if you’d like sleep timer to wake you at eight thirty, it will wake you any time between eight o’ clock and eight thirty, depending on how deeply asleep you are.

Once you have grabbed your iPhone in the morning to turn the alarm off, you can review your night’s sleep in the form of a graph which shows your sleep patterns throughout the night. This is a really cool feature but it can make you feel even worse after a bad night’s sleep. It’s one thing to feel as though you’ve had a bad night, and another to see the proof!

After using Sleep Cycle for a while I can say that it works very well, and although I don’t exactly leap out of bed grinning from ear to ear, I do seem to wake up in less of a strop which can only be a good thing. I quite often wake up naturally five minutes before Sleep Cycle’s alarm goes off – I think this is a result of me looking at the alarm’s ‘window’ right before going to sleep which again is no bad thing.

I still find it weird slipping a phone under my sheets whilst it’s plugged in to the wall though. Perhaps the iPhone 5 will have enough juice to do away with this necessity. Ah, a man can dream eh?