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sleepPhaseAlarm helps you get the right Zzzzs

When not spending my time writing on this site, my real job is that of a medical sleep technologist (yes, an odd but fun career), so lets just say I have an unhealthy interest in the science of slumber.

Napping, while essential for healthy cognitive performance, can be done rightly or wrongly. In short, we have about 90-minute sleep cycles (varying with age), consisting of numerous stages of sleep N1, N2, N3 and REM. Waking up between the sleep cycles leaves you feeling alert and awake, while waking someone up in REM or N3 can be jarring--hence why it's avoided during sleep studies. In real life though, it's hard to know what stage of sleep you're in since no one is monitoring your EEGs (brain waves). A quick rule of thumb though is nap for 90-minute increments, plus add on X-minutes to fall asleep. While not perfect, it'll put you in the ballpark of a healthy, refreshing nap.

sleepPhaseAlarm is a Mango/7.5 app that basically calculates this for you and sets an alarm. With a simple interface, you tell it you want to go to sleep now (and then pick what time-frame works for you) or you set the time you need to get up (and it tells you what time to go to bed). The app is well designed and since it's Mangofied, the alarm is set and runs in the background (a true "set it and forget it" app). We gave it a quick spin and have to recommend it for those frequently needing catnaps during the day or a healthy night of full sleep.

There are two version: a free, fully functional trial (no settings) and $0.99, which allows you to set amount of time it takes you to fall asleep and choose from five-different alarms. You can pick it up here in the Marketplace (Zune) or the Web Marketplace here.

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Reader comments

sleepPhaseAlarm helps you get the right Zzzzs

17 Comments

Yeah, I found out about the sleep cycles a while back and it really helps, especially being a college student.

These are generally pretty good actually. We wake up patients when we detect movement (via EMGs)because we know that their brain is technically out of a sleep state.So assuming you are move around within say a 20 min window of your desired wake up time, having the alarm go off during that moment could be beneficial.But yeah, unless its Mango ready I don't want to look at it. Not sure though if devs can have it work in the background like that for accelerometer apps...

Are there any alarm clocks that can run in the background with a Zune playlist?Also, I have a trial for G-Alarm, what is the purpose of the fade-in function? I expected it to start the song quietly and gently increase in volume, but I can't figure out what it actually does as this is clearly not the case. Could it be a function only available in the real version? Every other setting works fine.

That's a good question about the Zune playlist. My guess is no, but I'm not sure. G-Alarm is disappointing, even with the Mango update because it won't run in the background--my bet is because it uses Zune as opposed to this apps's "Alarm" function.Fade is just a preference--some people don't want to be startled awake ;-)

Sad that it doesn't use Zune library or doesn't have ability to add own alarms through Dropbox for example. But the main question is - does it drain battery or not (as it's running in background)?I figured long time ago, that it's a good idea to have alarm sound that doesn't start loud and generally isn't too loud, and more importantly - isn't annoying. actually some ambient tunes with faint rhythms are good choice, that way you can avoid waking up while in deep sleep, and if you happen to be in-between sleep cycles, then you should easily wake up.

Drain battery? No, not in a noticeable sense.I agree about the alarms and fading in, but this is okay for napping. Not too bad.

Great post. This alarm system will make us to take proper sleep without any problem. Generally, after setting an alarm also people are not sure that they will wake up in time. This application will solve this problem. Thanks.
Medical Alert Systems

A quick rule of thumb though is nap for increments plus add on X-minutes to fall asleep. While not perfect, it will put you in the ballpark of a healthy, refreshing nap.
Access Control

 
This component uses energy supplied from the fire alarm system or other stored energy source, to inform the proximate persons of the need to take action, usually to evacuate. 
 

Fire Alarms