Getting enough sleep is essential for a person's health, safety and wellbeing. Sleep helps your brain work properly and sleep deficiency can alter activity in some parts of the brain responsible for making decisions, solving problems, controlling your emotions and behavior, and coping with change. Besides keeping your brain in shape, a good night's sleep also improves learning and problem-solving skills.
Sleep plays an important role in protecting your physical health, particularly your immune system and metabolism. Sleep heals and repairs your heart and blood vessels, and helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones in your body.
Yet millions of people do not get enough sleep. Lack of sleep, also known as sleep deprivation or deficiency, does not only impair brain and cognitive functions. It can also lead to higher risk of chronic health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
But how can you know if you've had enough sleep? We've been usually told that the ideal amount of sleep is 8 hours every night. But, the truth is that everyone is different, and while some people work just fine on as little as 4 hours of sleep, other may require more than 8 hours to properly functioning.
More important question than how much sleep do we get is a question about its quality. We can sleep 8 hours, but if our sleep is being disturbed, or we wake couple of times at night, we might feel not well rested in the morning.
The quality of our sleep depends on many factors and can be affected by many causes, including underlying physical or mental conditions, such as sleep apnea or depression. But, when we're asleep we can't see what may bother us and cause us to feel bad in the morning.
The only thing that connects sleep with mornings is our alarm clock. But, what if that alarm clock can help us track and monitor how we sleep?
Advent of mobile technologies could actually make that possible. We can already connect numerous gadgets to our phones, including health trackers and monitors. Some of them can be even used in a form of mobile apps, and sleep trackers are no exception.
Pillow app made by Neybox for iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch is more than simple alarm clock app. This app turns your iPhone into a sleep tracker that monitors your sleeping patterns, including the duration and sleep quality.
The way Pillow app works is fairly simple and straightforward. Upon opening the app (usually before you go to bed) you need to set a time you'd like to wake up, and hit the start button. The app will allow you to add notes about your daily activities, including your reading habits or late snack cravings. After you've set all up, just place your phone next to you on the bed, and hit the sack like you usually do.
As the night goes by, Pillow app uses the sensors in the iPhone to track the different stages of your sleep throughout the night, from being fully awake through light sleep, deep sleep and REM phase. It would then translate all data into a handy colorful charts you can check when you wake up, which show the meaning behind your tossing and turning.
In addition to quantitative metrics, e.g. how much you slept, Pillow app also uses the information to calculate a sleep quality metric that tells you how well you slept.
Pillow app integrates with Apple's Health app, so besides your sleep cycle data, you would also have other health metrics such as Steps, Heart Rate, Weight, etc.
By rotating your phone in landscape mode, you can view detailed statistics all the way back to your first sleep session, with a comparison between all the previous sessions, as well as comparison between your sleep quality vs. other health metrics, which can give you an insight into how well you sleep after certain activities or what could possibly affect the quality of your sleep (for example workout, medications, caffeine, food, etc).
In order to see this statistics, as well as additional information about your sleep habits, you need to purchase the app's premium version, which cost $4.99. It will also allow you to play back all the sounds that Pillow app recorded during the night, or access to Snooze Lab, which gives you access to personalized recommendations, sleep facts and experiments, based on the data gathered from your sleep sessions.
While the Pillow app also works on iPad, it may be a little cumbersome having it as a sleep tracker resting next to you in the bed. But it can be used for better viewing these beautiful charts and graphs, because Pillow app uses iCloud sync, so your data is available across all your devices when you need it.
My only objection with this app is that it's not available for Android.
Overall, Pillow app is a great tool that helps you to track and monitor your sleep habits in detail, allowing you to see not only how much you slept, but also how well you slept.
Benefit: People who want to track their sleeping habits may find this app useful