More fun with sleeping!

Duvet rolled into caterpillar shape makes for good sleeping! Definitely more so than mobile phones. Believe me: Unlike Kana-chan here, I have tried both.

Rather than meditate for hours, how about using the amazing power of the smartphone to improve sleep quality with less quantity? That is the idea behind applications like the successful SleepCycle app for iPhone. You put it somewhere in the same bed as yourself, and it maps your movements through the night and uploads them to the Internet… no, wait, it uses them to calculate your sleep cycles.

All humans have sleep cycles, evidently. They are not bikes, but structures of our sleep. They last from 90 minutes up to 110 minutes, most commonly the first from what literature tells me. In each such cycle we descend toward deep, slow-wave sleep, and gradually back up toward REM sleep, which is similar to being awake but with intense emotions. At the end of this dreaming, we may wake up for just a moment (but will generally not remember it later) and then sink toward the next deep sleep. If we don’t fall asleep at that point, for instance because we have already slept for 9 hours, we will generally feel pretty good and ready to take on the day. The SleepCycle app tries to wake you up at just such a point, but a cycle or two earlier than you would have woken up naturally. It should still be better than trying to claw your way up from deep sleep.

This is most important to young people, who continue to sink down into delta sleep, the deep silence of the brain, almost every sleep cycle of the night. As we grow older, we tend to only have that deep sleep in the first half of the night.  Now that I am past 50, that seems to be the case with me. (Although if you skip sleep a couple days, you will try to regain that particular type of sleep.) The elderly may have only minutes of deep sleep, some nights none at all. But enough about that.

I don’t have an iPhone, but I do have an Android smartphone. So I downloaded a very similar app, “Sleep as an Droid”. I even tested the sensor, that it was able to register the movements when I tossed or turned on my bed. But even though I tried to use it tonight, the alarm only went off at the last moment, and there were no statistics. I must have somehow gotten the setup wrong, I guess. It is a bit more complex than a common alarm. So I may try again.

On the bright side, it did not catch fire. It is generally a bad idea to cover your smartphone with highly insulating textiles for many hours on end. I tried to place it so that it was not covered, and did succeed, but still I guess it made me a little nervous: I woke up twice during the first few hours of the night. This may have turned to my advantage: I used the opportunity to restart the 2Hz delta brainwave entrainment track on my computer, getting extra doses of deep slow-wave sleep. I certainly was less sleepy than usual at work today, but it was hardly intentional on the part of the sleep app, so to speak.

Also, the phone was not warm at all in the morning, so perhaps I should give it another chance. I’m not putting it under my pillow though!