Sleep 2.0: The promise of productivity

Doing the work you love can be energizing, but technology is often blamed for keeping us awake long past our bedtimes. Without feeling rested our ability to stay focused, meet a deadline or be alert to issues, can seriously suffer. But help may be on the way. A raft of recently-released sleep apps suggest that technology can perhaps also help us get the sleep we need to be more productive during waking hours. Can the promise of Sleep 2.0 deliver?

Mashable reviewed 10 iPhone apps ranging from 99 cents to $9.99.  They include those that offer guided meditation, nature sounds, and a breath gauge that encourages deep breathing to calm your mind. The most complex sleep app, according to BetaKit is LARK.  It’s certainly the most expensive at $159 for the version that includes the services of a sleep coach for a year.

BetaKit describes LARK as “an entire sleep system, including a wireless Bluetooth wristband, a charging dock, and an app. “ While you sleep, the wristband is supposed to monitor the quality of your ZZZs and when it’s time to get up, gently rouse you without disturbing the person lying next to you.

National Public Radio also recently listed a selection of sleep apps in a story about how some of these new devices can measure how well and how long we slumber.

Some apps even promise to create your perfect dream. The makers of Dream:ON say you can order up your dream via iPhone before placing it next to you in bed.  “When Dream:ON senses that you are dreaming, it plays a ‘soundscape’ that has been carefully designed to help create your desired dream,” according to the promo material.

For a first-person review of three different sleep apps, check out Rich Jaroslovsky’s column for Bloomberg, which advises that romantic plans may not be compatible with wearing the monitoring gadgets.

But in an attempt to inject a little scientific rigor into the question of sleep apps’ effectiveness, University of Western Australia software expert David Glance concludes that some apps do actually provide accurate assessments of your sleep phases despite the many health issues associated with poor sleep found to exist. Glance cautions that while the data the app collects is unlikely to help you diagnose your sleep issue, it can tell you if you have a problem.

“But your sleep data will increase self-awareness about how long you are sleeping and how many times you are waking up,” he writes. “With that awareness comes an appreciation of how dramatically factors such as coffee, alcohol, exercise and TV and computer use affect how you sleep.”

Sweet dreams.

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