I've been trying a new app on my phone, called Sleep Cycle. The idea is that you program in the time you want to wake up, and then leave the phone on your bed overnight. The phone tracks your movements and figures out when you're in deep sleep, when you're dreaming and when you're awake (or nearly so). In the morning, starting 1/2 hour before your awake time, the phone looks for a time when you're close to being awake and then sounds the alarm. It wakes you when you're ready to get up, so you feel more rested than if you had slept 15 minutes more and then had to wake up from a dream.
It looks like a pretty accurate representation of my sleep that night. Deep sleep at first, then dreaming on and off. I remember getting up to use the bathroom around 5:30 which caused the tall spike in the graph. Then at about 6:40 I woke up, pulled out my earplugs and the alarm went off. (I had told it to wake me by 7.) It worked as advertised and I found it easier to get up than usual, even 20 minutes early.
The second and third nights weren't as accurate -- there were times when I remembered waking up and sitting partly up to look at the clock, which the phone indicated as dreaming. The problem, I think, is that it's not truly measuring your level of sleep. It can't because it's not measuring brain waves, and I'm not quite ready to give my phone that kind of access to me. It's just measuring how much you move. I've trained myself over the years to move as little as possible when I wake up during the night, so as not to disturb Georg. And so the phone can't generally tell when I'm awake unless I get out of bed.
The other problem is that it can't make you sleep better, and the trick of waking you when you're ready to wake up won't work if you're just plain still tired in the morning. For instance, here's last night:
As you can see I woke up around 4:30 and had a really hard time falling back asleep. And when I finally did fall asleep, the clock ran out on my wake-up time so the alarm went off when I was still tired. I think it was wrong about me being in deep sleep, but it was pretty hard to get up. I don't know why I set the alarm on a weekend anyway. I should have just slept in!
So far the first morning was great, the second morning the dog woke me before the alarm could, and the third was a bust. I'm going to keep trying and see if it improves. One out of three isn't great, but then again that first morning really was wonderful. It felt so refreshing to get up and not feel tired or groggy. I sat in bed and web surfed until it was time to get up, and felt like I'd had extra time that morning, for free.