Week 4: Using Technology to Improve your Sleep
6 Apps To Improve Your Sleep
Conversations around sleep often rotate around the same topics, you know the ones; long weekend lie ins, going to bed early, the partied a little too hard this weekend chat and the shouldn’t have started that season on Netflix last night comment. People take pride in their sleep, they do so because it’s something they do on their own. No assistance, no help, no review, just one person one sleep. Well not anymore. With the help of your trusted smart phone you can start maximising both the quality and quantity of sleep you really need. This week we look at some of sleeps most celebrated technologies. We've taken a look at the most popular paid and free apps on both android and iOS that could seriously help the way you snooze. Everything from soothing ambient sounds to deviant alarm clocks, these apps can help you take real control of your sleep.
Sleep with Andrew Johnson
With a soothing Scottish accent Andrew Johnson helps put your mind at rest. He uses clever and simple techniques that ease you into a deep state of relaxation. Developed by Seattle based company “HiveBrain” this app is one of the top paid sleep apps available. The app primarily focuses on relaxing its user through controlled breathing and does so with great effect. With a background in clinical hypnosis Andrew Johnson guides you through a series of easy to follow steps, which by the time they are over, removes chatter and other bothersome things that may be keeping you awake.
There is a similar free app which is called Relax & Sleep by Glenn Harrold. As standard it comes with a 27 minute Hypnotherapy session. The app covers a much broader range of topics and in order to access specific sleep seminars users must pay a nominal fee. If you are new to self-help apps this is a useful way to test their effectiveness.
Tired of feeling exhausted in the morning? Ever wondered what your sleep pattern is actually like? Maybe it’s time you try a sleep tracker. Sleep trackers apps are useful in two ways. The first purpose is to record hard data. SleepBot will track the amount of hours you have slept and the quality of those hours. SleepBot can even record sounds, so if you've ever been accused of snoring this is a sure fire way to deny it (…or admit to it).
The second purpose of sleepbot is an intelligent alarm. By monitoring your movement Sleepbot calculates the best time to wake up. The aim is to wake you during the lightest part of your sleep. You set the alarm time and sleep bot will track your movements and sound the alarm within a half hour radius.
Sleep bot is a cool app and great if you are a light sleeper. With a clean interface and the ability to set goals it’s a great tool to help regulate your sleep pattern and get to know what type of sleeper you really are.
Sleepmaker – Rain
Sleepmaker are a series of audio apps that can be used to remove dead silence from your room and replace them with relaxing sounds of rain, storm, waves and wildlife. The most popular version has been Rain but any of the above has a similar effect.
What separates Sleepmaker from other audio apps is that the tracks provided are recordings of actual activity. The rain app is a full uninterrupted recording of rain falling; the storm is an actual storm and so on. This gives the app a great authenticity and removes any hallow computer generated sound effects.
The interface is also supremely simple and consists of just a simple pause and play button. You do also have the option of setting a timer that will slowly stop the sound as it comes near to the end.
This is an all in one self-help app designed to help treat anyone who has difficulties getting to sleep or staying asleep. The app reviews focus on how it can help those who have shift work or are frequently jet lagged, but it is useful for anyone with sleep difficulties. The apps author is world renowned hypnotherapist Max Kirsten. Voted one of the best sleep apps in 2013 the app comes with 3 hours of audio content, 40 pages of self-help tips and a series of ambient deep sleep tracks. There are also other features such as sleep fact cards and an introduction to hypnosis but the main feature is the audio content and literature. The app has a clean interface and usability is very straight forward, great if you need help getting to sleep but don’t have the time to see a specialist.
Recharge – Sleep Well, Be Well
Recharge – Sleep Well, Be Well is the app that motivates you to regulate your sleep time by regulating your exercise. Sleep regulation is one of the most important contributing factors to getting a quality night’s sleep. Recharge aims to let your body know what to expect over a 6 week period.
Recharge has 3 key elements to help your overall sleep and wellbeing. It aims to increase your exposure to sunlight, encourage physical activity within two hours of waking up and sets an alarm with fun activities designed to get you out of bed. Although this all may sound like the last thing you do in the morning, it is done with the view to establishing a regulated sleep/wake cycle that can really help the quality of those precious zzz’s.
For our final app we are going to take a look at something a little bit different. If you have trouble waking up in the morning the carrot alarm clock may be just the thing you need…its diabolical, evil and fantastically funny. Carrot wakes you up by setting a series of tasks such as throwing the virgin into a volcano (otherwise known as flipping your phone), torturing scientists (otherwise known as shaking your phone), giving sentience to a toaster (otherwise known as pinching your screen) and many more. The more tasks you complete the more your reward bar will increase. Once you reach a certain point you get rewarded with new songs (used to wake you up in the morning), app upgrades and even bedtime stories. If you fall back asleep carrot has the tendency to go a little off the handle often shouting “Murder, Death, Kill” (from the movie demolition man) at a very loud volume.
All in all carrot is a lot of fun and people claim to have woken up before there alarm as they were excited about what carrot would conjure up that morning.
Technology has become a part of everyday life and virtually everybody now possesses some sort of smart phone. In this always on culture that we now live in sleep apps offer a great way to turn off. There are hundreds of apps dedicated to sleep and some cope with more specified problems. They offer a great first step into dealing with what could be a much greater problem. If over time you find that you are still having difficulties it may be worth considering seeing a specialist.
Next week is the last mail of this sleep series. We'll be putting together a sleep infographic that will have all the information that we’ve learned to date along with some other cool treats.