Can an iPhone help you sleep?

Sleep cycle app

Today’s question is “Can my iPhone help me sleep”.  My iPhone is great at keeping me amused on train journeys, helping me to find my way to a restaurant, catching up on my email and a thousand other things, but wouldnt it be great if it could help me to sleep too!

Well, I have been using one ap for a while now – sleep cycle. This is not really for helping you to sleep, but it will give you some great feedback on how well you are sleeping.  If you have ever woken in the morning and thought what a terrible night’s sleep, then Sleep Cycle will let you know how well you were sleeping and for how long.

After starting the application, you put the iphone under the corner of the mattress (plugged into the charger to keep it going all night) and then just leave it there.  While you sleep, the application uses the sensitivity of the iphone to tell how much and when you are moving about, and is able to plot how you have been sleeping through the night.

And it really does work. On looking at the results in the morning, I can often remember at what point I rolled over, when I was really only dozing and when I had to get up to see to the kids.  Ok, so strictly speaking, it doesnt help me get to sleep, or even to stay asleep, but it does let me see how well I have slept when I wake in the morning, and it does let me bring a glimmer of scientific rigour at least to the pillow reviews I write!

The next example is simply called “Sleep”. This will simply play you a range of “natural” sounds – you know the kind of thing – waves on the beach, rain on a rainforest, whales playing bingo….

I have to admit that I was less impressed with this one.   I find most of the noises simply mildly irritating and rather than sending me off to sleep, I find them positively distracting me from sleeping.  Some of the reviews on iTunes are positive and praise it for the range and quality and their effectiveness on helping users to drift off to sleep so it must work for some.  Just not for me I am afraid.

And so to the final example I have tested, Pure Sleep.

Now, this takes a far more scientific approach to the question of sleep. Its full title is “Pure Sleep: Binaural and Isochronic Ambient Sleep Utility”. Sends me off to sleep just thinking it.

Now, Pure Sleep uses ambient music rather than natural sounds as a background to help you drop off.  Alongside what could potentially be described as inoffensive music, the science on the website informs me that the application then uses:

” a safe, audio process of stimulating your brain to certain frequencies. Once you choose a particular frequency, such as the ‘sleep’ frequency, this state is then more quickly achieved than normal. This is done by a mixing of tones sent to each ear – the difference between the two tones, that your brain creates, is called binaural entrainment. We also include isochronic entrainment, which is a different form, using a single pulsating tone in each ear – people who don’t respond to binaurals, often respond to isochronics. ”

What it doesnt say however, is why!

Well, despite my natural scepticism, when I tried this, I really did feel like I was falling asleep faster than I would normally expect.  So, my suggestion would be for only 59p, then it is worth giving it a try and seeing what you think yourself.

Do let me know how you get on!