A survey by the National Sleep Foundation tells us that 63 percent of us don't get enough hours of sleep and that 38 percent wake up feeling “un-refreshed” — sluggish and still tired.
These statistics were part of a presentation I heard Dr. R. Murali Krishna, president and COO of Integris Mental Health and the James L. Hall Jr. Center for Mind, Body and Spirit, give a couple of weeks ago about being “Sleepless in America.”
In addition to hindering our ability to function well during the day, a lack of sleep also affects our health, Krishna said, indicating that not getting enough of it can lead to obesity, lower our immune response, increase our risk for cancer and impair our glucose tolerance, which indicates a pre-diabetic condition.
As I listened to Krishna talk about ways to improve sleeping habits and why they matter, I remembered learning about a sleep-related mobile application that claims to analyze users' fluctuating sleep patterns and then use that information to wake them up naturally.
Using the 99-cent iPhone app, Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock from Maciek Drejak Labs, sleepers are gently awakened during their lightest sleep the phone detects in a preselected 30-minute period.
The app works by using the iPhone's built-in accelerometer to determine movements during sleep. To use it, place the phone in a certain spot next to you on the bed as detailed by the instructions, select the time frame for waking up, plug it in to charge all night and start the app.
Oklahoma State University senior Adam Kemp, who writes for The Oklahoman, first alerted me to this app, saying he has especially liked how the alarm works after using the app for a few weeks.
“I feel more refreshed,” he said. “It's easier to wake up.”
I agree. I have enjoyed waking up in a more peaceful way even after going to bed too late the night before. It is better than being jarred awake by an alarm set for an exact time.
Krishna noted that we all follow a circadian sleep wave cycle, with five stages of sleep alternating between heavy and light periods.
The app tracks those stages and offers a graph each morning to show them to you. The graphs are interesting, and I can see when my sleep was the deepest. The app also tracks how long you've slept.
Although I'm not sure how I can use the details about my widely varying sleep patterns, it shows how little sleep I am getting. I already knew that, but using the app, I hope to start working with my body's clock instead of against it.