Sleep Cycle of Coach Michele from CrossFit Invictus in San Diego

Start Your Own Sleep Lab
Written by Michele Vieux

Those who know me also know that I take my sleep very seriously. I strive to get eight to ten hours of sleep each night and have set up my bedroom to make sure it is as quality as it can be (i.e. blackout curtains, no electronics an hour before bed, a fan to block the noise in the alley, etc.). But I had no scientific way of knowing how restful my sleep actually was.

Until now.

I started using the Sleep Cycle App (available for both iPhone and Android). Now, instead of just guessing as to the quality of my sleep, I have a record and cool graph to show my sleep cycles throughout the night. You can see that on Wednesday night, I hit deep sleep in five different cycles!

When you set the alarm at night, the app prompts you to enter sleep notes from the standard list and your custom notes. I encourage you to create your own custom fields and keep track of things that both hinder and improve your sleep quality, such as eating out, drinking alcohol, drinking caffeine in the afternoon, eating a late meal, napping during the day, meditating, exercise intensity, etc.

What’s really cool about this app is that you can use the alarm clock feature to wake you up in your lightest state of sleep so that you don’t feel groggy. For instance, on the day pictured above, I set the alarm for 7:00 a.m. with a one-hour range, which means that the app would wake me up at my lightest stage of sleep between 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. As you can see, my alarm went off at 6:54 a.m., which is when I was peaking in light (REM) sleep.

Upon waking, you are prompted by the app to rate your mood with a choice of three faces – happy, neutral or unhappy – and to also take your pulse. All of this data is captured in your nightly report and saved in the app for further review. You also have the ability to share the graph and information via email, Facebook, Dropbox and Air Drop and it communicates with other health-related apps on your phone.

So how can you get started with your own sleep lab? Simply download the app for $1.99 or the bundle – which contains the Sleep Cycle App, Heart Rate App, and the newest of the family and one I can’t wait to try, Power Nap – for $3.99. Then just follow the simple instructions on how to place it and you’re set for tonight!