Oscillating Sleep Technology


Shaylah Wood , Managing Editor

Looking at a graph of someone’s sleep cycle reveals an oscillation between deep sleep and REM (rapid eye movement). Likewise, the role of technology in modern sleep oscillates between helpful and dangerous.

One specific application called Sleep Cycle tracks sleep cycles during the night through sensors that detect movement when the user is in REM. The app allows people to set a time span in which to wake up, and then the app wakes the user at the top of his or her cycle. This way, the user feels less groggy.

Senior Kelsey Pool, who has used Sleep Cycle for several years, said, “I am a lot more conscious of my sleep cycles, and therefore I do a lot more to make those better.”

Pool said that while the actual app does not affect her quality of sleep, it helps provide her valuable information in making healthy sleep choices.

The Sleep Cycle app allows users to track how different variables from the day affect that night’s sleep, allowing one to adjust routine as necessary.

On the other hand, technology can adversely affect sleep.

According to The Huffington Post a study done by Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA, and published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, revealed the negative side effects of technology before bed.

Test subjects who read on iPads before sleeping took longer to fall asleep, felt less sleepy at night and had shorter REM cycles. The book-readers in the tests slept much better and felt less tired after the same amount of sleep.

A lack of sleep has also been linked to obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and in extreme cases, cancer.

Many people worry about getting cancer by keeping their phones close to their heads at night.

“I am actually pretty worried about cancer. I think having my phone near my head is probably a pretty bad call in the long run,” said Pool.

Fortunately, though, cancer has not yet been linked to radio-frequency emitted by phones, according to the National Cancer Institute. More research is needed to make a sound conclusion, but no threats have been detected so far.

In the end, some people deem the risk posed by technology too much to reach for the potential benefits of technology and applications like Sleep Cycle.

“I think those apps are pretty sketchy. I don’t think they necessarily work as they claim, and are definitely not worth having a potentially dangerous piece of equipment by your head all night,” said Sr. Reiley Waldo.