App Review: SleepBot Claim: This free App claims to let you see your sleep like never before. It even includes a revolutionary sleep cycle alarm that gently wakes you during your lightest phase of sleep.
After doing some research on the background of this app, it turns out that it started out as a joke. Developer Jane Zhu decided to make an Android app to show how little sleep she got in college, and although it started out as a side project it turned into a very useful app.
Basically, SleepBot is a sleep cycle tracker that records your movement and sounds throughout the night, but also acts as a smart alarm. The app is laid out nicely and is very easy to use. The setup is pretty straightforward. When the app is launched you can set an appropriate time for an alarm, and choose to activate any of the three options: Smart Alarm, Track Motion and Record Sound. I usually choose all three, plug the phone into the charger, and keep it near my pillow as I fall asleep.
Smart Alarm: The theory that this option relies on is that during REM sleep, the sleep cycle where you get the most rest, a majority of your muscles are paralyzed. Therefore you toss and turn the most in lighter, Non-REM (NREM) sleep phases. Waking up during NREM cycles makes you feel less tired, and that’s precisely what this app tried to do. If you choose to set the smart alarm, the alarm will go off within a range of time (anywhere up to 30 minutes before the time you set) to try and wake you up during NREM sleep.
Track Motion: The app tracks the motion of the iPhone during your sleep, which relates to your sleep phases. You can adjust the sensitivity in the setting of the app if you feel that it’s not very accurate. After you wake up in the morning you can rate the sleep, and get a nice summary of what it tracked. After using the app over a period of time, you can see the long-term trends in how long you were actually asleep, and the patterns for sleep quality. You can even export the graphs and statistics as images if you wanted to.
Record Sound: This option uses the microphone to record the sound during your sleep. I found this the least valuable mode to pick (but I suppose you could use it to discover if you snore). Most of the sounds it recorded for me were just blankets being moved around, and sometimes, the fan in my room. After you wake up there is a second graph for sound, and clicking on portions of the sound graph allows you to hear what it recorded at the time.
Verdict: My only problem it this app, is that in the current version there is no vibration alarm. Although you can choose from a library of sounds, or even your own music to wake you up, you can’t choose to have the phone vibrate to wake you up. This addition would’ve been useful, since the phone needs to be near your pillow anyway. That being said, after using this app for about a month, I believe it lives up to its claim. It is very good at waking you up at the right time, and on average I have felt less tired waking up because of using this app. While the app is quite simple and very easy to use, it is perfect for tracking the amount of sleep you are getting. I found that the graphs showing my sleep times have given me an understanding on how a lack of sleep can make a negative impact on my ability to get work done and to be more active. I would recommend this app for anyone needing a way to feel more awake in the morning or just wanting to monitor how much sleep they are getting. Overall, for being a free app, I give it a 9/10.