The Sleeping Beauty app

REM, or Rapid Eye Movement sleep, is a beautiful state in which we wander the surreal realms of the mind in the quest for organizing and sorting information we accumulate throughout the day. Unfortunately for us college kids, we can never seem to get enough of it. Like many, I suffer from sleep deprivation. Countless nights, I’ve stayed up to write seemingly endless papers, complete homework assignments, or cram furiously for tests. This sleepiness or grogginess is due to the lack of, or interruptions in, the REM sleep cycle.

Every night, the average person gets between 90-120 minutes of the all-important REM sleep. When we are woken up in this sleep stage, we face possible grogginess, and, in my case, “the grumpies.” Luckily, there’s an app that ensures that we do not wake up during this critical period.

SmartAlarm (free, or 99 cents for the pro version on iOS/Android) is a fantastic app that helps people wake up at the appropriate times without ruining REM sleep. Once activated, the app uses the phone’s accelerometer to track slight movements while you sleep. You simply place the phone next to yourself (or under your pillow) while you sleep, and the app does the rest. By monitoring the patterns of movement, the app can predict when your REM sleep stage is over.
There’s even an option where you can see a graph of your sleep cycles! The app isn’t perfect and can cause you to wake up slightly past the time you set. It can also drain your phone’s battery quickly, so keep it charging.

An alternative to SmartAlarm is SleepTime (99 cents for iOS and Android). SleepTime has similar functions to SmartAlarm but also has some added features. When you set an alarm for 8 a.m., the app will wake you up anytime between 7:30 and 8 depending on where you are in your sleep cycle. It offers the ability to lull you to sleep with the sounds of nature, and can wake you up with a standard alarm or sounds from your iTunes library.

Both of these apps are available on the iTunes store or Android marketplace.

ALLEN GUAN can be reached at science@theaggie.org.

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