Before we began our lectures regarding Sleep and Dreams I downloaded an app from the iTunes store called Sleep101. The app remained opened throughout the night and tracked my movement as I slept throughout the night while it rested on my bed. It even had a very cool feature called a “smart alarm” where you set a time that you wanted to wake up and the alarm went off at the most “optimal time” of your sleep cycle. I thought this was an interesting concept because the app never kept track of my brain waves and eye movement while I slept; it just kept track of my tossing and turning. I decided to give the app a try and see what it was like.
I hated it. I found myself concentrating so much on the app and the movement I was making that I could not even fall asleep. I tossed and turned all night anxiously awaiting to see the results of my sleep movement. I got less sleep when using the app than I would on a normal night. It also had limitations – you could not put your phone/iPod under your pillow because that would interfere with the accuracy of the recording, and the app did not work if you had a memory foam mattress or mattress pad. I typically put my phone under my pillow so it is close by and I can hit snooze easily, and I have a memory foam mattress pad. After going through all of the trouble to make the app work, I was extremely disappointed when the recordings showed I moved only three times. Finally, when I did fall asleep, the smart alarm woke me up an hour after I wanted to be awake.
In theory, the app seems extremely smart and is a great new, innovative idea. However, its accuracy and measurement of movement is flawed. Though sleep is a total body experience, we learned in class that the type of sleep you get and how the body reacts to that sleep is directly determined by the brain. No iPhone app (as far as I know) can measure the brainwaves of any individual and if there were such an app, I doubt that it would be accurate. Sleep and dreams are some of the most interesting topics in psychology in my opinion. However, I do believe that there is a long way to go in terms of what we know about how our brain operates during sleep and how we dream.