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Sleep Phase Alarm Clocks

Let your brain complete it's task.

Kahu Wide Awake.

Part 2 - Continuation from - Why do I feel tired all the time

As small business owners, we deprive ourselves of sleep more often than not. When you only run on a few hours sleep a night, you need to make sure that those few hours are quality sleep hours to ensure you are functioning well.

When I was first diagnosed with sleep apnea, one of the first things I researched was sleep cycles and the phases we go through while sleeping to get a better understanding as to what sleep apnea was. During this time I came across the notion of sleep phase alarm clocks. But let me explain a bit about sleep cycles first.

Sleep Cycles

I will keep it brief just in case you fall a sleep reading this. 🙂

When we go to sleep our brain and body go into maintenance mode. The sleep cycle is this mode.

American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) defines the cycles as "Rapid Eye Movement" (REM, not to be confused with the 90's band although they get their name from this) and "Non Rapid Eye Movement". (NREM) With NREM breaking down into 3 other subcategories, NREM1, NREM2 & NREM3. (Not very creative)

NREM - Non Rapid Eye Movement.  

This is broken down into 3 sub stages. Stage 1, Stage 2 & Stage 3. During each stage the brain descends down a level of consciousness until it reaches REM state.

REM Rapid Eye Movement.

Although not fully understood, it is theorized that this is the deepest part of the sleep cycle and during this time the brain is "filing", processing and clearing information it has gathered during the day but that it has not processed at that time. A main characteristic of someone who is in REM, is the eyes moving rapidly. aka. Rapid eye movement. The brain needs to do this to make room for the upcoming waking period and the information it needs to process then. The brain's electrical activity increases as does the increased low wave generation which is doing all the processing.

Sleep Cycles

Now what is interesting is that it has been identified that the body goes through multiple sleep cycles during a sleeping period. It has also been identified how long each cycle lasts and ways of being able to break into the cycles to ensure maximum efficiency.

Sleep Cycles

Breaking a sleep cycle mid flight, i.e. at stage 2, can cause a disruption and you wake feeling tired as your brain hasn't completed it's work yet. Breaking the sleeping cycle in between a cycle will allow you to wake feeling refreshed and more alert because the brain has completed the work it has assigned it's self. I know, interesting eh. The human brain is an amazing thing. A really smart computer.

Now these cycles have been identified as being 90 minutes long and typically we go through 4-6 cycles in a good nights sleep. Breaking at the end of any of these cycles will allow you to feel refreshed.

So how do I work out the cycles.

I'm glad you asked that. The formula is

    - Count back from when you want to wake up

    - Work out the number of 90 minute blocks per cycle you want to sleep

    - Allow 14 minutes to fall asleep. The average time it takes a person to fall a sleep.

     This gives you the time you need to go to sleep.

i.e. I want to wake at 6am.

    - Cycle 1 - 04:30 - 06:00

    - Cycle 2 - 03:00 - 04:30

    - Cycle 3 - 01:30 - 03:00

    - Cycle 4 - 00:00 - 01:30

    - Cycle 5 - 22:30 - 00:00

    - Cycle 6 - 21:00 - 22:30

    - 14 mins to get to sleep

    - Time to go to sleep - 9pm - gives you 9 hours sleep.

Here's a great video that summarizes all that in 60 seconds.

But hang on, I only sleep 5 hours most nights.

That means you are waking in the middle of a sleep cycle and the cycle you are in is not getting completed. Ideally in this situation, you want to be waking either 4 hrs 44 mins or 6 hrs 14 mins after going to sleep so that you fall between REM cycles. Doing this even just for one REM cycle is beneficial as the brain has completed it's assigned batch of work.

Cool eh.

You can calculate your own sleep patterns based on the above and set your alarm clock accordingly. This will give you a much better nights sleep. Not to good at maths. I found this little beauty that does all the calculations for you on a blinds website.

There is also apps available for both iphone and android that will do the calculations and set off an alarm when it is time to wake up. Pretty cool alright.

But my partner snores and keeps me awake.

Sorry this won't help you there. 🙁  Maybe they have sleep apnea as well.

9 Comments on Sleep Phase Alarm Clocks

  1. Wow, this is some very informative stuff you got on your site!I had to take notes on the section about sleep cycles.

    Very good website btw 🙂

    • Hey David. who would have though that you could actually get up earlier and feel fresher. Thanks for your comment.

  2. dang! Love all of the great content within this site! I am really interested in different sleep cycles and how they work! This is over my head but a few more reads should do the trick!

  3. Hello Steve,

    What a great one on ‘sleep’. Very informative for those of us that work past our bed time. Love it!

    • Thanks Nnamdi. Yes, I have been trying it out now fro a while. Takes a bit to get in sync but it does seem to work.

  4. Hang on but I snore and keep my partner awake

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    Daily updates will rank your website in google higher, content is king nowadays.

    If you are to lazy to write unique posts everyday you should search in google for:
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