Sleep is such a fragile thing. Sometimes it can be difficult to fall asleep despite being tired, and even harder to wake up despite the urgent need. But if we are not talking about serious sleep disorders, but about common disorders associated with the hustle and bustle of life and stress, then you can deal with them with the help of improvised means. Almost everyone owns a smartphone these days – and there are plenty of mobile apps designed for people with sleep problems. MedAboutMe shares the results of the analysis of the “sleepy kingdom” of modern digital technologies.
Sleep problems worldwide
According to experts from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three adults suffers from insomnia.
In Russia, this figure is even higher: doctors talk about 45% of the adult population who regularly encounter sleep disorders. Moreover, 20% of citizens experience sleep problems regularly and are unable to cope with them by any means. Scientists point out that the increase in “sleepless” people in our country has occurred over the past 25 years. And 70% of people surveyed suffering from insomnia point to the main reason for this — stress.
Women experience sleep problems 1.3 times more often than men. Older people over 65 fall asleep 1.5 times harder than young people, and the quality of night sleep in older people is 3–4 times worse. And even against the background of these frightening figures, some doctors believe that we should talk about the underdiagnosis of sleep problems, since many people do not consider it important to consult doctors, unless we are talking about chronic and deadly lack of sleep for the psyche and body.
Often, such patients try to solve the problem on their own, buying insomnia remedies at the pharmacy literally at random. The inept use of drugs without a doctor’s recommendation can cause the development of addiction and, as a result, the manifestation of various negative side effects. These include: daytime sleepiness, deterioration of cognitive processes (memory, thinking, ability to concentrate, etc.), the “recoil effect” after drug withdrawal, affecting the REM sleep phase.
But the problem of insomnia associated with stress and excessive fatigue of the body can be solved even with the help of improvised means. For example, using a smartphone, a gadget that the majority of the population has today.
Smartphones, sleep and health
Modern gadgets allow you to use all possible ways to influence the human nervous system, improving his sleep. These are visual and audio effects, and control over circadian rhythms — everything that will allow you to set up your body for a sweet, strong and productive sleep.
Music and sleep sounds
Such applications are collections of relaxing music, under which sleep will come by itself. Relaxation music is often combined with the sounds of nature. One of the most effective sound complexes for sleep is the so-called “white noise”.
White noise is a constant noise effect across the entire spectrum of sound frequencies, as if a person is listening to all sounds at the same time. This category also includes such everyday sounds familiar to us as the noise of rain, a hair dryer, a washing machine, a busy highway, and even the hiss of a radio when turning the tuning knob between stations. White noise levels out any external sounds, dissolves them in itself, thereby not allowing the brain to “catch on” to the sound that falls out of the general noise background. White noise is often used to rock babies — studies have shown that they fall asleep 3 times faster.
A life hack for young mothers: if a child falls asleep and needs to be transported, for example, from home to the street, you can put a mobile phone in a portable cradle that plays a recording of white noise. This will protect the hearing of a sleeping baby from the sound contrast between a quiet apartment and a noisy street.
One of the most popular mobile applications with relaxation music. Contains a variety of collections of melodies, sounds and noises designed to relax the brain and relieve nervous tension. The program also allows you to create your own soporific combinations from your favorite “sleepy” melodies and soothing sounds included in the application’s selection.
This application allows you to use any melody or noise composition that best lulls a person to fall asleep. And so that the gadget does not turn it all night, you can install an application that turns it off after a certain specified time.
What color is the night: light applications
It is best to sleep in complete darkness, so that no light sources interfere. But about falling asleep, everything is not so simple. The most harmful light for people suffering from insomnia is blue. It suppresses the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. That is why it is recommended to turn off all the “blue screens” in the room for the coming sleep: tablets, TVs and even electronic devices with blue LEDs.
But the red light, on the contrary, soothes and induces sleep. It has been proven to reduce anxiety, relieve stress, and even, according to some studies, reduce headaches and clear a stuffy nose. It affects the production of melatonin — and thus is extremely useful for a person who wants to fall asleep quickly. Where do you get the red light from? You can just buy an infrared light bulb. Or you can use the mobile app.
This program, after sunset, filters out the blue spectrum radiation on the smartphone and exposes a red filter instead. As the sun rises, the picture returns to its usual colors. The time of sunset and sunrise is determined automatically via the Internet, based on the area where the smartphone is located.
An application for those who do not like black nights. It can play the role of a night light and allows you to choose the desired light. The program combines both the sound component and the visual one. That is, in addition to the gentle illumination of the selected shade (and we remember the benefits of red light!), It can also play the selected sleepy music and sounds of nature.
Sleep Cycle Management
For good sleep, it is important not only to fall asleep quickly and easily, but also to wake up on time. During the night, a person “wakes up” several sleep cycles, each of which lasts an average of 1.5 hours. It is believed that we should get at least 4–5 sleep cycles per night.
Each cycle consists of two main phases:
- Slow-wave sleep, which occupies 75–80% of the total sleep duration. At this time, the body accumulates energy for the next day, and also stores the so-called conscious “declarative” memories in memory.
- REM sleep, which immediately follows a slow one and lasts only 10–15 minutes. It is believed that at this time there is an exchange of data between the subconscious and consciousness of a person and the processing of the information received during the day. Numerous bodily functions are activated during REM sleep. Vivid dreams are observed at this time.
It is important to understand: it is better to wake up between cycles or during REM sleep. It is better to get up earlier than to sleep an extra half an hour, and then painfully shake yourself out of bed in the middle of the phase of non-REM sleep. It is believed that in this case, in order to fully recover, you need to spend at least an hour. So the extra, breaking the cycle, half an hour will only increase the feeling of lack of sleep.
To learn how to control your sleep, you must first enter individual data into the application. For this, for example, a built-in microphone can be used, with the help of which the program monitors sounds and determines in which phase of sleep a person is. To control the movements of the sleeper, an accelerometer is used, also built into the phone — the method of analyzing sleep and wakefulness is called actigraphy. But fitness bracelets work best, allowing you to track sleep cycles by changing your heart rate.
This application analyzes a person’s sleep using a mobile phone microphone and determines sleep cycles based on the results. You can set a 30-minute interval — and the program will determine at what point in the specified time it is best to wake up its user, with minimal damage to his rest. Recording data allows you to keep sleep statistics and, as a result, choose the most optimal schedule for falling asleep and waking up. By the way, the program at the same time monitors and measures the level of snoring.
This is exactly the kind of application that analyzes night activity using actigraphy. It is enough to put the smartphone under the pillow so that it controls the movements of a person and calculates sleep cycles based on them. For awakening, the most suitable interval is also indicated, during which the return from dreams to reality will be minimally uncomfortable. The program allows you to make sleep schedules to find out the optimal daily routine. It also responds to snoring — and even gives a “spy” ability to record everything that the user talks about in a dream.
And in this application, all the sensors of the smartphone are involved: the program monitors both sounds and movements. In addition, it is integrated with the Apple Health app, which means it uses the following data: blood pressure, weight, heart rate, calorie intake, and even the effects of alcohol and caffeine. As a result, you can get a visualization of the influence of all these factors on the sleep of a particular person.