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How Does Sleep Cycle Work

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Sleep – What is Sleep – Benefits Of Deep Sleep – How Sleep Works – Sleep Cycles – Lack Of Sleep

Everyone sleeps, but sleep trackers arent for everyone. Personal sleep tracking is a new sciencethe app makers havent nailed accurate readings yet, and the apps are often not great at telling a typical user what to do with the results. In fact, as W. Chris Winter, MD, author of The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep Is Broken and How to Fix It, said, quoting a pessimistic colleague, The best thing that trackers have allowed us to do is admire our problems.

We wouldnt say we like admiring our problems, but we do like to know where we standand, considering the popularity of health trackers, plenty of other people feel the same way. As a result, sleep-tracking apps work best for people who are only casually looking for clues as to how they might sleep better at night and emerge the next day feeling energized.

If youre an elite athlete, a marine officer, or an airline pilot for whom sleep analysis could make or break your career, these apps are not for you. If you think you might have sleep apnea and are hoping that your phone will save you from a night in a sleep clinic, these apps are also not for you.

Everyone sleeps, but sleep trackers arent for everyone.

Deviating From Normal Sleep Cycle Patterns

If you dont experience the various sleep cycles like you should, you may feel fatigued and find it difficult to concentrate. Your performance at work or school can suffer. You might even be at higher risk for being involved in a traffic accident. Spending time in each phase is important, so is sleep cycle length.

So, how do you fix that? Is it possible to learn how to reset your sleep cycle? As it turns out, theres a sleep cycle / light therapy alarm clocks for iPhone or Android that claims to do just that.

How Does Sleep Cycle Work

Waking up easy is all about timing. Sleep Cycle alarm clock tracks your sleep patterns and wakes you up during light sleep. Waking up during light sleep feels like waking up naturally rested without an alarm clock.

Sleep CyclesWhile you sleep, you go through a cycle of sleep phases. The first phase is light sleep, followed by deep sleep and a dream state referred to as REM-sleep. A full sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes and is normally repeated several times each night.

Sleep Cycle alarm clockYour movements vary with each sleep phase. Sleep Cycle uses sound analysis to identify sleep phases by tracking movements in bed. Sleep Cycle then wakes you up during your lightest sleep phase, using a predefined 30-minute alarm window.

Read Also: How To Win Sleep Apnea Va Claim

How Can You Have A Healthier Sleep Cycle

While you dont have full control of your sleep cycle, you can take steps to improve your chances of having a healthy progression through each sleep stage.

A key step is to focus on improving your sleep hygiene, which refers to your sleep environment and sleep-related habits. Achieving a more consistent sleep schedule, getting natural daylight exposure, avoiding alcohol before bedtime, and eliminating noise and light disruptions can help you get uninterrupted sleep and promote proper alignment of your circadian rhythm.

If you find that you have excessive daytime sleepiness or otherwise suspect that you might have a sleep disorder like sleep apnea, its important to talk with a doctor who can most appropriately guide your care. Addressing underlying issues may pave the way for more complete and restorative sleep cycles.

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What Happens When Sleep Cycles Are Irregular

Everything You Need to Know About a Sleep Cycle Calculator ...

Some people may have irregular sleep cycles due to certain circumstances like traveling or working the night shift. When traveling to a different time zone, its common to experience whats known as jet lag, when your internal body clock is disrupted because you enter a different time zone.

Night shift workers also have irregular sleep cycles due to working during the night hours and sleeping during the day. Irregular sleep cycles can be harmful to your overall health and well-being and can lead to more serious complications like chronic sleep deprivation and shift work sleep disorder.

A recent study in Scientific Reports suggests that going to bed and waking up at different times each day may increase the risk of cardiovascular and metabolic illnesses, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The study found that people with irregular sleep patterns tended to have higher blood sugar, higher blood pressure, and a higher projected risk of heart attack or stroke within the next decade compared to those with more regular sleep-wake cycles. Participants with irregular sleep cycles were also more likely to report stress and depression.

We spoke with the studys lead author, Assistant Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University Jessica Lunsford-Avery, Ph.D., to learn more about the implications of this research.

Who Else Is At Risk?

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Why You Should Trust Us

As a senior staff writer at Wirecutter, Joanne Chen has covered a range of sleep topics shes the author of our Five Days to Better Sleep challenge, our guide to sunrise alarm clocks, and our advice on how to choose the right mattress. For this guide, Joanne interviewed product specialists and brand executives in the sleep-tracking field and sleep doctors who have done their own sleep-tracking experiments either formally or informally, as well as a computer scientist who specializes in behavior tracking. Last, but perhaps not least, Joanne is personally familiar with professional-grade sleep tracking. She spent a restless night in a sleep clinic with her then-toddler son when she suspected he had sleep apnea. A few years before that, Joanne had shooed her husband off to the same clinic to have his snoring checked out.

Justin Redman is an associate staff writer on the sleep beat and has contributed to Wirecutters coverage of mattresses and other sleep products. As a below-average-to-poor sleeper for most of his life, hes always looked for tools to help him sleep better, from blackout curtains to nasal strips.

What Is The Sleep Cycle

Sleep is not uniform. Instead, over the course of the night, your total sleep is made up of several rounds of the sleep cycle, which is composed of four individual stages. In a typical night, a person goes through four to six sleep cycles. Not all sleep cycles are the same length, but on average they last about 90 minutes each.

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Use Of Electronic Devices

Electronic devices like cell phones and tablets are ubiquitous among teens, and research, such as the 2014 Sleep in America Poll, finds that 89% or more of teens keep at least one device in their bedroom at night.

Screen time late into the evening can contribute to sleeping problems. Using these devices can keep teens brains wired, and incoming notifications can cause disrupted and fragmented sleep. Evidence also points to suppressed melatonin production from exposure to the light from cell phones.

How Does The Sleep Cycle App Work

How Does Sleep Work?

Your smartphone contains an accelerometer. This is the device that detects movement and rotation. The app tracks your movements to determine where you are in the sleep process. Then, it wakes you when it determines you are in the optimal place in your wake up stage. Depending on your personal needs, you can set that stage to be anywhere from 10 to 90 minutes.

Theres another way to use the app. This involves placing it on your nightstand. If you use this option, the app will use the microphone for motion detection rather than the accelerometer.

Imagine that you set your alarm for 7:00 AM. With a standard alarm, you would simply begin to hear your alarm at that time. With the REM sleep cycle alarm, its a bit a different. Lets say you set the wake up stage for twenty minutes. The app would monitor your sleep pattern, and wake you anytime between 6:50 and 7:10. While it may not seem pleasant being woken ten minutes early, in reality youll actually feel better being woken during light sleep at 6:50 than during a heavy cycle at 7:00.

Theres more to it than that, but this pretty clearly explains how the alarm works. Well cover the other features below.

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Are Teens In America Getting Enough Sleep

By almost all accounts, many teenagers in America are not getting the recommended 8-10 hours of sleep per night. In the 2006 Sleep in America Poll by the National Sleep Foundation, 45% of adolescents reported getting less than eight hours per night.

The problem may be getting worse. Data from four national surveys conducted from 2007-2013 found that nearly 69% of high school students got seven or fewer hours of sleep per night. Estimates place the rate of insomnia in adolescents as high as 23.8%.

Insufficient sleep among teens has been found to be higher among women than men. Older teens report getting less sleep than people in early adolescence. Surveys have also found that teens who identify as Black, Asian, and multiracial have the highest rates of sleeping less than eight hours per night.

How Long Is A Rem Cycle

The REM stage of sleep is unique because its when you have your most vivid dreams. During your first cycle of sleep, it starts about 90 minutes after you fall asleep and last only 10 minutes. Each cycle after that, your REM sleep gets longer and longer. In the final cycle is may last up to an hour.

During your REM sleep cycle, your eyes are darting around and seeing different things. Your brain is also converting experiences into memories. Furthermore, it enhances your ability for creative problem-solving. These are all important reasons to make sure your alarm doesnt wake you up during this crucial stage of sleep.

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Can Sleep Trackers Tell People What Sleep Stage Theyre In

Many people use smart watches or sleep apps to track their sleep. These can be helpful for figuring out how much sleep one gets each night, but researchers stress that at-home monitoring is not accurate enough to diagnose sleep issues, and probably cant reliably distinguish between the different stages of sleep. This can only be done through monitoring ones brainwaves, while at-home sleep trackers rely on heart rate and movement.

Heart rate is not the same as brain waves. And brain waves tell us what stage of sleep were in, Dr. Lisa Meltzer, a sleep researcher at National Jewish Health hospital in Denver, told LiveScience.

If people are concerned that they have a sleep disorder, they should speak to their doctor to see if they recommend an overnight sleep study, during which professionals will use an EEG to monitor their brain waves. But if someone just wants to know generally how much sleep they are getting each night, a smartwatch or app should be able to give them some basic information.

What Is A Sleep Debt

Why Do We Dream?

If you havent slept well or long enough for a few days, you might create a sleep debt. Once your debt builds up, you may feel physically and mentally exhausted. Try to make sure you get enough sleep every night to avoid creating this debt. You cant necessarily make up your debt by sleeping a lot on the weekends. Its best to get enough sleep all week long.

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Why Do Narcoleptics Have Insomnia

Narcolepsy may have several causes. Nearly all people with narcolepsy who have cataplexy have extremely low levels of the naturally occurring chemical hypocretin, which promotes wakefulness and regulates REM sleep. Hypocretin levels are usually normal in people who have narcolepsy without cataplexy.

What Are Good Sleep Habits

Good sleep habits, also called good sleep hygiene, are practices to help you get enough quality sleep.

  • Have a sleep schedule: Go to sleep and wake up around the same time every day, even on weekends and vacations.
  • Clear your mind before bed: Make a to-do list early in the evening, so you wont stay awake in bed and worry about the next day.
  • Create a good sleep environment: Make sure your bed and pillows are comfortable. Turn down the lights and avoid loud sounds. Keep the room at a comfortable temperature.
  • Exercise every day: Stay active but try to avoid exercising during the few hours right before bed.
  • Relax: Before bed, take a warm bath, read or do another relaxing activity.
  • See your healthcare provider: If youve been having trouble sleeping or feel extra drowsy during the day, talk to your provider. There are many treatments available for sleep disorders.


A note from Cleveland Clinic

Far from being a state of doing nothing, sleep is an essential part of our lives. It helps our body rest, recharge and repair. There are four sleep stages three in the non-REM phase plus REM sleep. Many factors can affect sleep quality, including the food and drink you consume before bed and room temperature. Many people experience trouble sleeping now and then. But if you think you may have a sleep disorder, talk to your healthcare provider. Common sleep disorders include insomnia and sleep apnea . Your provider can help you get the diagnosis and treatment you need.


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Best Versatile App: Sleep Cycle

Sleep Cycle

Why We Chose It: We chose Sleep Cycle as the best versatile app as it is available on iOS, Android, and Huawei.

  • Overlay of audio recordings on the sleep cycle graph for better interpretation

  • Able to identify a variety of different sounds, including coughing, talking, snoring, and a baby fussing

  • Lack of in-depth analysis of sleep compared to other apps

  • Need to manually start and stop sleep tracking

  • Poor descriptions of different tracking metrics

Sleep Cycle by Sleep Cycle AB gives you a simplified look at sleep patterns by analyzing audio recordings of snoring, talking, coughing, and other sounds. This app tracks your sleep cycle graphically and overlays audio recordings to help identify what is going on during different periods of sleep.

It has an average rating of 4.7 stars on the App Store and 4.5 stars on Google Play, as of September 2021. Sleep Cycle offers sleep statistics and can identify both short- and long-term trends. No equipment or fitness wearables are needed all you need to do is have your phone beside your bed. The app must be turned on before going to bed, and since it uses sound analysis to identify sleep states, there is the potential for error if you sleep with others in the room. You do need to start and stop the sleep timer manually, which can be problematic if you forget to do this regularly.

Concept Of Polyphasic Sleep

Does using the Sleep Cycle App to get better sleep in Medical School work?

In the United States and most industrialized countries, we have a pretty singular idea of what a sleep schedule should be. We are taught that you should fall asleep in 10 to 20 minutes, sleep anywhere from seven to nine hours based on age and physical status, barely recall awakenings at night, and wake up feeling refreshed. Anything less places you at risk of sleep deprivation and physical and emotional harm.

But, there are those who argue that these patterns are not fixed in all societies and that some require variations to perform optimally. Certainly, from a historical perspective, the sleep needs of a hunter-gatherer society vary enormously from those of an industrialized society in which daylight work schedules largely dictate sleep routines.

The modern concept of a polyphasic sleep schedule is borne of the conceit that we do not inherently need one sustained period of nighttime sleep in order to function normally.

Moreover, it contends that circadian rhythmthe natural, internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle which repats on each rotation of the Earthcan be adjusted so that a polyphasic pattern is considered normal, routine, and even beneficial.

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What About Using A Fitbit Apple Watch Or Other Wrist Wearable

If you already use a wearable with sleep-tracking capabilities, you may be perfectly happy sticking with what you have rather than buying a separate app to use on your phone. Wearables track your sleep automaticallyno setup before bed. In 2018, we tested the sleep-tracking features on a Fitbit tracker, a Garmin tracker, and an Apple Watch against four apps. At the time, the wearables were frequently off compared with the apps, usually over-reporting sleep, though they did give an accurate picture of sleep trends over time. This is something youll see as long as you consistently use the same device over the long term.

The biggest advantage of sleep-tracking phone apps over wearables lies in the extra features, such as smart alarms and sounds that help you fall asleep. Wearables can buzz you awake, which is a plus if you sleep with a partner who has a different schedule, and they can nudge you to get ready for bed just as they nudge you to get up and move during the day. Theyre great for people who prefer not to bring a phone into the bedroom, and they can be helpful in determining how hard you should work out the next day based on your sleep.

Are Sleep Apps Junk Science Here’s What Doctors Think

We tested five apps for months. Here’s what doctors said.

Every night before going to bed, I brush my teeth, crawl under my blankets, and turn on five different sleep apps.

My alarmâs set to 8:30 a.m., with each smart app promising to wake me up at the lightest sleep stage. But in the morning, five alarms go off at different times. The earliest one rings at 8 a.m., and Iâll groggily shut it down for waking me up half an hour too early. A few minutes later, another alarm will chime, leading up to the final, old-school, dumb alarm, at 8:30 a.m.

For the first time, this past Januaryâs CES convention in Las Vegas featured an exhibit just for sleep technology, with products from trackers to smart beds. Rumor has it that the Apple Watch will come with sleep tracking this year, taking after the Fitbit. When you search through an app store, all types of sleep tracking and relaxation apps appear, some of them free, some not.

Thereâs clearly a demand for tracking and improving sleep, and people will pay for them. Earlier this year, a report in The Guardian, noted that the global sleep market will be worth $80 billion by 2020.

A study from Harvard Medical School shows that sleep apnea costs the economy $65 billion to over $165 billion a year, as it can lead to car and work accidents. And thatâs probably a low estimate, says Dr. Jordan Stern, founder and CEO of BlueSleep, which researches and tests medical and consumer sleep technologies.

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