Alarm app helps students wake up refreshed

Bobby Blanchard

Students with hectic schedules may find solace with the Sleep Cycle alarm clock mobile app, which could potentially help students wake up feeling more refreshed.

This app, which is currently the most frequently bought iPhone app in the iPhone health and fitness category on iTunes, is one of many apps students can use in order to help with their lifestyles. The Sleep Cycle app claims it helps users wake up in a better mood by waking them up in one of their lighter sleep phases.

Associate nursing professor Patricia Carter, who taught an Undergraduate Studies class on sleep in past semesters, said people go through four sleep phases. Each phase lasts 90-120 minutes and varies in lightness and heaviness. Carter said the best time to wake up was during phases one and two. When people wake up in phases three and four, it can take them up to an additional 30 minutes to really wake up, Carter said.

“You feel like you’re drunk, you feel like it’s all foggy,” Carter said. “We actually call it sleep drunkenness.”

Biology freshman Jewel Benn said it takes her time to adjust when she wakes up from deep sleep.

“Usually I want to go back to sleep or I reach for the snooze button,” Benn said. “I think about how many extra minutes I can get away with.”

This is where Sleep Cycle comes in — the app’s website claims it uses motion sensors on the phone to track a person’s movements throughout the night. Carter said because people become paralyzed in their heavier sleep phases, the app can predict when a person is in their lighter sleep phases. Then, using a 30 minute window set by the user, an alarm goes off at the time when the user is in their lightest sleep phase.

“That is the time you want to wake up, because you’re closest to being awake already anyway,” Carter said.

Carter said the app should work for users as long as they place their phone beneath their sheets and not their mattress or pillow. Carter also said other problems can come to those who are restless sleepers or anyone who feels anxiety from using the app.

“Anything that increases your anxiety around sleep is going to make it harder for you to sleep,” she said.

Carter said it is important for users to realize they need to be getting enough sleep to begin with in order to wake up feeling refreshed.

“You need a minimum of six hours of sleep per night in order to have your body not feel like it’s starving for sleep,” Carter said. “Chances are if you’re only getting four hours of sleep it’s going to be really hard for it to find a time when you’re not in deep sleep.”

Business sophomore Victor Rodriguez said he used the app for about two weeks before it helped him set a more permanent sleep schedule.

“I would wake up feeling great,” Victor said. “I would recommend it to any student.”

Printed on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 as: iPhone app promotes good night's sleep