This year I decided to fix my horrible sleeping problems I've had for the past decade or so. A month ago I had an operation to take out my tonsils and fix my deviated septum to help alleviate my sleep apnea (a whole other long post, which I probably will never write as I don't actually want to think about the experience again). It was pretty extreme, but it seems to have helped a bit (no operation is a 100% cure). I've also done things like video tape myself sleeping to find an optimal pillow arrangement for breathing, bought one of those teeth molds to help hold my jaw in place, and lost some weight. Anything to avoid using a CPAP machine, which I also have but don't want to use as it sucks. It all seems to be helping as I'm now sleeping at night and not using a machine to do it.
So now that I can sleep a little better, I wanted to start tracking my sleep patterns and improve my sleep even more. I did a search online, thinking about some of the neat new gadgets I've read about - FitBit, for example - but came across an 99 cent iPhone app called Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock. It looked very cool, and after reading a couple reviews, I thought it was totally worth a buck to try it out and see what happens.
The way it works is by using the accelerometer in the iPhone to measure when you move around at night on your bed. You place it on the corner of your mattress, and then any time you roll over, or really move at all in any significant way, it assumes you're not in a deep sleep. It's meant to be an alarm clock, as it will try to find a time in the morning within a 30 minute window in which to wake you up which best matches your sleep patterns, but I was more interested in the graph of sleep. Am I actually getting deep sleep like I should? The graph won't be as accurate as something measuring your actual body fluctuations, but it's pretty cool.
Last night I tried it out, and you can see for yourself in the image above that it definitely gives a great indication of your sleep patterns. All those dips are times when I didn't move. I can also see a weird pattern during the deepest sleep when I wake up for a bit and then go back to sleep. I'd bet money that I changed into a bad position, started having trouble breathing because of that position and how deep sleep I was in and had to adjust. That's the sort of thing I want to start to track more.
I'll probably invest in a FitBit as well, but I thought this app was definitely worth writing about as it's pretty ingenious, cheap and works well. Also I also wanted to document my ongoing battle with getting a good night's sleep, which is far from over. To be continued, as the say...