Sleep apps and their usefulness.

I was using a sleep app to track and monitor my sleep pattern for over 6 months when iOS 7 launched with health kit. The first few days or rather a few weeks were fun and interesting. I got insights into how my body had rested and I was able understand how my body would react to a stress or a workout(cycling, running, etc) the following day. All that data was interesting to analyse and understand. Sometimes there were odd days, where one would notice that the day goes really well, despite the fact that sleep was hardly 4 hours or so. As weeks and months passed, the initial enthusiasm died and I wasn’t analysing the data anymore. I still tracked my sleep, but didn’t just look into the data in the morning. I did this for over two months, one fine day I realised that the sleep tracking didn’t change anything about how I lived my life for the past two months. That got me thinking and I came up with some questions. Some questions I should have asked before I set out to start tracking my sleep. The questions were

  • What is the point of this tracking?

  • How accurate is this sleep tracking?

  • If I could spend $2 to know everything about my sleep, then what are those expensive equipments in an actual sleep lab?

  • Is this sleep tracking really worth the effort?

I started digging around articles and forums on the internet. Its no surprise that the apps are some what beneficial (yes they track the time you spent in bed 😀, the movements yes, but sleep not really 😡) but they aren’t completely reliable and they aren’t accurate at all. Here is what I learned.

Any sleep tracking app does two things well, they tell the duration of the time spent in the bed, and they can record the movements in the bed. Both these aspects deal with the quantitative aspect of sleep. If only these quantitative aspects can give us insights into how our brain works and recovers, we all can be geniuses soon.

Sleep quality defines how the body works and not the time you spent in your bed rolling around, and these apps/motion trackers can hardly measure that.I would say it is just marketing speech for these apps and devices.

Here is an excerpt from a researched, guardian article

“Anything that allows you to wake up feeling refreshed in the morning is what you should be aiming for, which is generally between six and nine hours,” explained Dr Irshaad Ebrahim from the London Sleep Centre. “But it’s not all about time, it’s about the quality of the sleep, whether you complete sleep cycles.”

As to using motion trackers to measure sleep, he said: “They’re not measuring sleep, simply motion – not muscle tone, brain waves, heart rate or eye movement. You cannot infer quality of sleep from motion and tell what is crucial REM [rapid eye movement] sleep and what is not. People can become obsessed about their sleep through these gadgets doing them a disservice, worrying about it and in turn getting less decent sleep and having a negative impact.”

Here is more from a Ph.d candidate in neuroscience. Don’t forget to read the full article.

About every 90 minutes, we slip into REM, which is characterized by EEG waves that resemble wake, whole-body muscle paralysis, and—yes—rapid movement of the eyes. In the end, a pretty little roadmap of one’s night’s sleep, called a hypnogram, can be generated. It looks a little something like the image
…which is exactly what apps like Sleep Cycle and Sleep Time attempt to create for you.

Except that, without precise electrophysiological measures, the apps’ premise is fundamentally flawed.

So I stopped my sleep tracking. What a blissful feeling to not take your phone to your bed every night and not worry about iCloud backups in the morning. Yeah, iCloud doesn’t back up data when the sleep tracking app is running at night and you have to manually start the iCloud backup every morning if you care about iCloud backup like me.

We all had good life even before the onset of activity trackers and sleep apps. Lets not forget that. Humans are predictable and are a creature of habits. Just create a routine of an hour of workout and a regular habit of getting into bed at the same time everyday. In just a couple of weeks you will start feeling the improvements of a good sleep and your body and mind will thank you for the good habits 😀.

Analytics 3d

After reading my review of Analytics Pro, Richard from Codefrontiers sent me a promo code for trying their new app called Analytics3D. Below is a brief opinion of mine after using the app for the past week.

A very interesting app approach to view Google analytics data on you iphone or ipad. I must say the app is good. It adds a bit of spice to the monotonous apps that can just show Google Analytics data on your iDevice of choice. What I like about the app is that it has a gestures to navigate within categories. The location of visitors is my favorite feature. The bars on location view in a 3D is really cool. If you already are using an app for Google Analytics and you are interested to try something cool and a different app, this is the app for you.

As much as the app is cool, some functions/gestures aren’t obvious making it a bit confusing initially. Once you figure out it feels obvious. In all Analytics3D is a cool app, worth a try. Ideal for individuals who have blogs or personal sites and are not digging deep into their stats data, but just trying to get an overview of how their site is faring Its on the store for $2.99 and u can download from here

Apps I love on my iphone

I have close to 60 apps installed on the phone and have tried more than 100 odd apps on the app store, though that doesn’t make me an expert to review the apps store or how the apps work, I definitely would like to share a list of the few favorite apps that make my life easy and wouldnt want to have an iPhone without these apps.

All these apps are elegant and simple while easily setting the standards in their categories respectively.

  1. Instapaper:- have loved and had this on my home screen for over 2 years now, very simple and elegant app that helps you manage and read articles at a later time.
  2. Reeder :- The most popular and my favorite feed reader app that syncs with Google reader . For my detailed review see here.
  3. Camera+:- easily among the best camera App replacement I have tried. The post editing that u can do with the pictures taken is just awesome, fell in love the first time and fits my needs perfectly.
  4. OmniFocus :- The best GTD app available for the iPhone and iPad. I am a newbie to GTD learning things at my own pace. The App suits everybody, be a guru at GTD or a beginner, the app has a ton of features, but u can decide to use what you want to use for yourself.
  5. Instacast:-The only other podcast app i tried besides Apple’s own Podcasts app. I didn’t have a lot of feature needs, I just wanted a simple and easily manageable podcast client and this just fits my needs perfectly.The original Podcasts app by Apple is very pleasing to look and feels great us, but still doesn’t cut the deal on managing the podcasts and files quite the way I want it.
  6. Fast Analytics:- Ever since the blog has been self hosted, I have been using this App for tracking analytics. If you are a number junkie, this shows every important number u might want to look up in your Google Analytics account.Sadly it doesn’t do any graphs and that’s why I use Analytics. But i guess you cant get everything perfect in a free app can you.
  7. Analytics :- The App gives a simple representations of your Google Analytics data in graphs and numbers. I only wish somebody had a mix of both Fast Analytics and Analytics in one app that can do the deal for me.
  8. Byword:- My goto markdown/text editor on the iPhone/iPad. For a detailed review on why I like it please read here.
  9. TweetBot:- My favorite Twitter client on the iPhone and is easily the best twitter app ever made and the most loved twitter app by the Nerds 🙂
  10. Daily Tracker:- my default tracking app mostly used for Expenses tracking, health tracking, and sometimes sleep tracking. The App is very flexible and u can track almost anything u want to track and use it as a daily journal as well and is integrated with iCloud.

These are some of my favorite apps which are frequently used on my iPhone and iPad apart from the few essential apps like DropBox, Facebook, Skype,Instagram and Strava without which my phone feels incomplete.

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