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Sleep Cycle iOS app icon

Sleep Cycle

Here is the snooze

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iOS App of the Week Perhaps it’s a sign of the troubled times we live in but I’ve noticed a recent rash of gadgets and apps, such as the Jawbone Up, that are designed to monitor – and hopefully improve – your sleep patterns.

I’m a somewhat erratic sleeper myself, so I decided to look at a few of these apps over Christmas. The one that stands out the most is Sleep Cycle from Maciek Drejak Labs.

Sleep Cycle iOS app screenshot Sleep Cycle iOS app screenshot

Place your phone on your mattress and your head on the pillow...

Rather than relying on expensive specialist hardware – as the Jawbone Up does – Sleep Cycle uses the accelerometer built into the iPhone to monitor your movement as you kip. This allows it to determine when you’re moving from deep sleep to lighter sleep, so that it can wake you during a light snooze phase – rather than shocking you awake during deep sleep and leaving you feeling like a zombie.

You need to place the iPhone on your mattress when you go to bed – the app includes a test mode to help you figure out the best position – and then set the alarm on the app for your normal wake-up time. The app monitors your movements during the night to get an idea of your personal sleep pattern, and then initiates its ‘wake-up phase’ as the time for your alarm approaches.

Sleep Cycle iOS app screenshot Sleep Cycle iOS app screenshot

Pick your preferences and set your alarm

The default wake-up phase starts 30 minutes before your alarm is due to go off, although you can change that if you want to. The app then monitors your sleep state during the wake-up phase and wakes you as you start to move into a lighter sleep.

There are a couple of minor problems with the app, the main one being that it doesn’t work with Tempur foam mattresses, as the foam absorbs the vibration from your movements. And if you sleep for a full seven or eight hours you may need to keep the handset plugged in.

Sleep Cycle iOS app screenshot Sleep Cycle iOS app screenshot

Select when you'd like the app to start nudging you awake - and what sound to play when it does

There have also been some quite heated debates on the net about how effective apps like these are, and it certainly hasn't yet helped with my intermittent bouts of insomnia. But when I manage to sleep through the night I do find that Sleep Cycle helps to reduce the living-dead syndrome when I wake up in the morning and gives me a better start to the day. ®

We make our selection of the best iPhone, iPod and iPad downloads every Thursday. It you think there's an app we should be considering, please let us know.

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Sleep Cycle iOS app icon

Sleep Cycle

The true effectiveness of the app may be open to question, but it certainly makes ingenious use of the iPhone’s built-in accelerometer.
Price: £0.69 RRP

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