Previously we explored the importance of sleep for mental wellbeing. If you’re not sure where you’re at with your sleep, thankfully there’s a market on the Play Store for apps that will help you for just that.
I trialled a couple of sleep apps, one of which I’ll explore in a later post. The free version of Sleep Cycle has much to offer.
The app comes with an alarm; you can customise the sound from a choice of four things — ‘warm breeze’, ‘forest glade’, ‘morning mist’, and ‘sunrise’. There are three settings for the alarm:
- Set a wake-up window, e.g. let the app gently wake you up from 7am to 7.30am. This is supposed to be more beneficial for the brain than being suddenly awoken at 7.30am
- The aforementioned sudden awakening at a certain time, again with an alarm tone of choice
- No alarm. This is the setting I used most frequently as I prefer waking up when my body tells me it’s had enough sleep
Sleep Cycle keeps a journal for you (pictured above) so you can track how well you have been sleeping. The app has two methods for tracking sleep quality — you can either use the microphone, so the app will measure your sleep quality based on the sounds that are made during sleep, or by using the accelerometer in your smartphone, so the app will report movement in bed. I used the accelerometer as I found it gave me a more accurate reflection of my sleep quality, whereas the microphone just made the occasional recording of when I would move the duvet.
The app shows your overall sleep score (from 0-100) for each night in month view calendar, and also presents you with tips for improving your sleep etc upon waking. The free version gives you a graph to show you how you slept the night before, and the app uses an algorithm to calculate when you had deep sleep, light sleep, and when you were awake.
I would definitely recommend this app, it’s probably the best sleep app on the market specifically because of the accelerometer feature, although the app recommends using the microphone instead. It seems quite accurate — so when the app indicates high quality sleep, I do normally feel less tired that day, and when I sleep badly, this is reflected in the app.
This can be really helpful for people who struggle with sleep or who want to understand sleep better and how it may impact their wellbeing. As the app will tell you, if you have had a rough night’s sleep, you may feel low during the day — be kind to yourself on those days!