Waking Up Is Hard To Do, And This App Didn't Help That Much

Even though I love sleeping, it’s obvious that I’m doing it wrong. Normal people don’t feel like puking every morning, and I’m pretty sure I’m the only one I know who actually cries when presented with a wake up time that is before sunrise.
Publish date:
May 30, 2013
apps, technology, being a grownup, sleeping, Sleep Cycle App, Martha Stewart Living

I know you guys think that all I do is eat deep fried Oreos and drink pickletinis. And while those activities occupy a substantial amount of my time, know that I have other interests. I ride my bike (to the bar) when it’s not too hot out (so like three times a year). I like to draw comics in which my coworkers and I are reimagined as pieces of scientific glassware (I’m a burette). I really like sleeping.

That's me in the back.

I have never been a morning person. If I have no reason to wake up, I will sleep soundly until 11:00. As a baby, I slept through the night, waking only when my mom set me in the sink to run water over my feet. I guess this was the only way she could wake me up. I must have been an alarming child to host at a slumber party, staying in my sleeping bag with my arm over my eyes and rejecting any and all offers of breakfast.

“Do you feel okay?” worried mothers would ask. I’m fiiiiiiine lady, is this a “slumber party” or a “disturb-my-slumber party”?

I never want to get out of bed. I just never feel like my work there is done. I always feel at least slightly nauseated in the morning, which usually results in me gagging on my toothbrush, but this is my life and I’m used to it. I can’t eat for at least an hour after waking; breakfast is usually iced coffee. Today, breakfast was bacon and a cupcake, but it was also at noon so I guess we’ll just call it “disgusting.”

Even though I love sleeping, it’s obvious that I’m doing it wrong. Normal people don’t feel like puking every morning, and I’m pretty sure I’m the only one I know who actually cries when presented with a wake up time that is before sunrise.

So when I was browsing through the most recent Martha Stewart Living (looking for The Answers) and saw this Sleep Cycle app, I was hopeful that I had found a Martha-approved solution for my sleep problems. With this app, not only would I wake up feeling refreshed and ready to conquer the day, I would now wake up with enough time to blow dry my hair and eat an egg and just be a better grown up in general.

So I downloaded it and now I’m a perfect grown woman who reads the paper before going into work instead of surreptitiously reading gossip blogs when I should be filling out spreadsheets or something.


Let’s do this one step at a time. The first thing you do is set a thirty minute window during which you would like to wake up. The app uses the iPhone's accelerometer to monitor how much you’re moving, which translates into how deeply you’re sleeping (which is science, I guess?). Herein lies the first problem: If you do not sleep alone (you dog, you), your bed-mate's movement is also recorded. Sean worked late every night this week, so I'm sure his coming to bed affected the data, but I don't know how much it matters.

When you are ready to go to bed, you pick a sound (such as Gymnopédie or the much edgier Urban Call) or a song (I picked Pale Blue Eyes by the Velvet Underground because I like to wake up depressed) to rouse you and put your iPhone face down under your sheet. The problem with the whole sheet placement thing is this:

That is not a fitted sheet. Do people sleep on top of a flat sheet? Where are these heathens? Doesn’t it slide around? Won’t you end up accidentally hanging yourself?

I did not put mine under my sheet. Putting my iPhone in a fitted sheet would make it entirely too hard to get to in morning and I’m pretty sure I would end up smashing my phone through the sheet out of frustration, because fitted sheets can be difficult. Have you ever tried to fold one of those things?

Anyway. I put mine inside my pillow case, under my pillow, and it seemed to work fine.

The first morning I got up before Lou Reed even began singing (the opening instrumental part was actually quite pleasant to wake up to). The app asked me to rate “how I woke up” by picking one of these three faces.

I picked the “meh” one, because while I was not happy, I didn’t feel full of rage so I guess that’s positive. It then gave me a neat little graph that showed me when I was sleeping "most deeply" and when I "was thrashing around like a monster."

The second night/morning did not go as well. I think it was because I was hyper-aware of the app, but I woke up every time I moved, because I knew that the app was monitoring my movement, or something. I gave that night a red frowny face, so I guess I really showed them.

What’s confusing about this is that, according to the app, I actually slept better the second night than the first night, only by 2%, but still.

The rest of the week continued like this, and I eventually got used to the idea of the app being there, but I also started sleeping through the alarms and subsequent snoozes. I don’t think I woke up any happier than I did with a regular alarm clock.

Another feature of the app is “sleep notes,” which allows you to monitor certain behaviors (such as drinking caffeine or working out) and see how they affect your quality of sleep. You can even make your own. I created “drank alcohol” and “wrote post.”

Something I have noticed is that, as I age, alcohol disturbs my sleep more and more. If I get properly drunk, I wake up every half hour, never getting the rest I desperately need. This was the case last night. I wish I had remembered to turn the app on so I had the graph to prove it, but Drunk Claire can't be bothered with such things. All I know is that I drank and I did not sleep well and it is because I drank.

But, according to the app, alcohol helps with my quality of sleep.

It also claims that “writing posts” harms my sleep while “eating late” helps. I give all this the side eye. It could be because I didn't give the app enough time to gather data, but the instructions said a week is enough.

So, while the graphs and charts are interesting (and I did enjoy waking up to The Velvet Underground), I don’t think that this app actually helped me sleep more soundly or wake up more refreshed. I guess I’ll just continue living life this way.

Unless one of you has a suggestion?

Send your tips on how to sleep and be a better grown up to @clairelizzie