Web Dreams: My Nocturnal Mission

I’m crazy when I sleep. And I’m looking for answers as to what happens during the night. Frequently, I get woken up by things moving in my room. Other times my wife wakes to see me hovering uncomfortably close (and diabolically, if you listen to her) over her face.

All I remember from these episodes is that I’m trying to figure out who she is and it is so dark I have to get really close to see her. I have to admit – waking up with someone in my face unexpectedly wouldn’t give me a warm and fuzzy.

Many times, I don’t even recognize her and the question is, why don’t I know who I’m sleeping next to? What is really going on? It’s not like I’m a rock star sharing a bed with different partners every night…

Well, the first step to getting some answers was provided by a friend suggesting a new app called “Sleep Cycle” created by Maciek Drejak Labs.

This app runs on the latest iTouch, iPhone and iPads and claims to analyze your sleep patterns and wake you in the lightest sleep phase, which results in feeling rested and relaxed upon waking. It does this by using the extremely sensitive accelerometers in the gadgets to convert data about how much you are moving into sleep stages, i.e. the less you move, the more likely you are in deep sleep. And you keep it right by your head where it can gracefully awaken you in the morning with your choice of tune or sound effect – and gently saturate your brain with Wifi and/or cellular signals all night long. So remember to put it in Airplane Mode!

I’m always ready for a new app and this one sounded very intriguing; plus, I love graphics, stats and analysis. But before I invested my hard-earned 99 cents, I read some of the most recent comments in the App Store and became a bit skeptical. Although the vast majority of the thousands of comments were very positive, there were a handful of very negative ones. Some cynical wise guys had run a placebo-like test by setting their iPhone on a dresser at night rather than on their bed. Interestingly, their dresser turned in some very nice sleep patterns the next morning. So either the system is bogus, or the wood in our furniture is more alive than we think – or as I would find, the system works and the competition was probably seeding the product reviews with negative comments to hurt sales. Either way, I needed to find out for myself. (I will try the dresser test eventually though.)

Here are my graphs for the 4 nights I have tried to date (keep in mind, no alcohol or drugs were involved. I’ve seen some commentary and graphs in which sleeping pills were taken and it does change the shape of the graphs):

April 7 – April 8 – the first night yielded surprisingly realistic looking data: 1-2 hour cycles, lots of deep sleep and the thing woke me as I was in a  waking state. Nice!

April 8 – April 9 – this night I noticed that I didn’t get into deep sleep too often. I woke up feeling tired and pissed off because for some reason the thing decided to wake me right in the middle of Sleep Valley – that’s what it’s NOT supposed to do

April 9 – April 10 – again, it woke me in a valley. WTF!! Interesting though on this night, my periods of deep sleep were getting deeper with each cycle like I was sinking into a coma. Maybe it was a good thing it woke me up…

April 10 – April 11 – Felt good this morning. Lots of deep sleep and it woke me as I was aproaching wakefulness. I do remember waking up at 1:51AM and this correlates.

I definitely felt a correlation between the graphs and reality. More interestingly, at 1:51AM last night I distinctly remember looking at my wife and saying to myself, “who the hell is that laying in bed next to me.” Apparently it wasn’t that traumatic as I fell right back into a very deep sleep. Or maybe she knocked me out for an hour with a blow from the wonder stick…

What I was worried I would see was long periods of being awake that I just didn’t remember. So far, not the case….although, my kids ran a test of the Sleep Cycle last night and according to the chart in the morning they were up from 12 to just before 2 last night having a little kiddie party on the bunk bed.

Maybe that’s what woke me up at 1:51…?

Nah, couldn’t be.

The biggest turn off to the app is that it eats a lot of power. It will kill an iTouch battery in a few hours and it will eat up 50% of a fully charged iPad. So it needs to be plugged in during use. Plus, the other downside I already mentioned is you’ve got to remember to put it in Airplane Mode or your brain will be torched by a wireless stew all night long.

Although the grand mystery of my nocturnal adventures and curiosities has yet to be solved, I do have a tool now. And I will use it.

So should you. Happy Sleep Cycling!



About Yorick von Fortinbras

YvF is a writer, musician that stays sane by being creative while navigating the demands of life, looking for those holes where a spark can get through.
This entry was posted in advice, brain, Creativity, lucid dreams, mind, Observations, sleep, statistics, Technology, tests, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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