As I have gotten older, I have had more issues with my sleep. Perhaps it stems from the fact that I am a night owl where my wife and son are both early risers, but it seems like wake up more frequently during the night. There is also this odd issue where both my wife and I wake up around 4am nearly every night. We have never been able to find an exact reason for it and it seems to occur regardless of what time we got to bed in the evening.
I have been looking at various sleep tracking technologies lately, including the FitBit, but they seemed a little pricey to casually purchase them. Recently, though, I have been introduced to a series of iPhone apps by Azumio that track variety of health related information relatively inexpensively. I first tried out their Heart Rate app, and more recently their Stress Check app, both which were recently available for free due to a promotion. Both of these apps use the iPhone camera and flash to register your pulse and other info. When I was using these apps recently, I saw that they also have an app called Sleep Time ($0.99). Since I had had good experience with the others apps, I thought this might be interesting to try out this app for monitoring my sleep habits.
My iPhone sits next to my bed at night already, since I often use it as my alarm clock, so that presented no inconvenience. Using Sleep Time, though, requires that the phone be lying face down on the bed. In my case, I found a good spot for the phone on the corner of my bed where I could plug it into power and still have it far enough away from my pillow that I wouldn't bump into it during the night.
The Sleep Time app uses the iPhone accelerometers to monitor movement during the night and then correlates that movement into 3 modes -- awake, light sleep and deep/REM sleep. It logs how long you are in each mode and even graphs it nicely.
I used the app for the first time last night and you can see the results in the screen shot. It was very interesting that my typical 4am wakeup is graphed although I don't really remember waking up. I guess this means I wasn't as "awake" as I sometimes feel when that occurs. It also shows something else I assumed -- I have a little difficultly falling to sleep sometimes -- nearly 30 mins -- according to the graph.
I'll continue to use the app and see what other info it gathers over the coming weeks. Of course, since this is just an iPhone and not a high-end medical device, who knows how accurate the data truly is and how deep the science behind it. As an inveterate data logger and archive about my own life, it is yet another piece of information that is cool to know, even if it isn't terribly medically useful. Still, seeing my typical 4am wakeup captured seems to be a sign that the app is recording some useful data.
The app also includes an alarm clock that seeks to wake you up at the best time during your sleep cycle. You set the time you need to awake and the app will use a 30 minute window previous to that time -- hopefully when you are already moving into light sleep or awake time -- to ring your alarm. I know that I HATE being shaken awake by an alarm clock when I am deep in REM sleep -- to the point of feeling quite lousy when I awake -- some an alarm clock tied more closely to my natural sleep cycles would certainly be a benefit.
I will update you on my further experiences with Sleep Time. It looks pretty interesting right now.
All Azumio apps are downloadable from the iPhone App store or iTunes.