There's nothing like a good night's sleep -- until that awful alarm jars you out of bed. The result? You wake up groggy and grumpy.
Can a phone app actually fix all of that? We put the Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock app to the test by heading to Tampa General Hospital's Sleep Disorders Center.
"We're going to have about 30 sensors on you," explained the lab technician.
It took a good half-hour to wire me up with sensors and mark me up with a red marker before I could get into bed. It's all to monitor how I sleep.
The sleep lab cameras showed that I had a little trouble falling asleep. Outside the room, someone was actually watching those cameras and monitoring the sleep graphs as I finally did get some shuteye. The next morning, the alarm went off and I was ready to see if the sleep graph from the app matched the sleep study.
"They do actually match pretty well, I was impressed," said Dr. Robert Geck, who reviewed the results. "You had some trouble falling asleep, you dropped down into a deep sleep, rose up into a REM period, again here, you kinda started to drop down."
The important part? The app lived up to its promise by not waking me up right in the middle of my deep sleep cycle. This means if you set your alarm for 6 a.m., it may wake you up at 5:45 a.m. instead to avoid you going back into another deep sleep cycle.
This helps avoid sleep inertia, which is the medical term for that groggy feeling you get when you get up.
"You had gone through a significant portion of the REM cycle when the app woke you up," he explained.
However, to my surprise, the lab tests revealed something that the app doesn't.
"This would qualify as mild sleep apnea," Dr. Geck said as he showed me the graph.
The diagnosis of mild sleep apnea came from the breathing tubes up my nose.
"I would recommend actually seeing someone about this," the doctor continued.
Sleep apnea is something the Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock app can't diagnose.
"I would recommend the app to patients," added Dr. Geck. "What I would caution you is to how you use it and to what degree you interpret it."
The bottom line -- the app can help you monitor your sleep patterns and wake up less groggy, but if you have chronic sleep problems, it may be best to get wired up and visit a sleep lab like I did.
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