Thursday, March 22, 2012

Using the iPhone to battle insomnia

Insomnia is an old friend of mine. As a child, I would get out of bed in the middle of the night and knock my parents' bedroom door to let them know that I couldn't sleep. (And typically my mom would tell me: "Just close your eyes and sleep!"). So I usually ended up in bed, with my eyes closed and then thinking to myself: "OK, here we are, what am I missing now?".
Months pass by in which sleeping is not a problem at all, and then suddenly the old friend is back and prevents me from falling asleep, or makes me wake up at night wondering if it is daytime yet.

In recent stressful weeks, I have experienced it all over again. As compared to my childhood days, it now has an extra component: I now know that I "have to" sleep, because my hours are limited (the alarm clock will ring soon), and if I am too tired I can't get much work done - and if I don't get the work done that I need to do, I will start thinking about that the next evening, instead of just falling asleep.

Now that I got an iPhone, I've tried using it to help me sleep better. Here's a quick overview of what I've used so far:

1. Sleep Cycle

I've only used this app for the last 2 nights, and I haven't used it as an alarm clock yet - I've only been using it to track the quality of my sleep. Usually, when I wake up in the morning I have a vague idea that I woke up 2 or 3 times during the night. Now, I  can use this app to actually study which part of the night I am in deep sleep, when I am dreaming, and how many times I wake up. I'll try to use these stats to see if there is a pattern: do I wake up around the same time every night, and can I find an indication of the necessary conditions to get a better quality of sleep (less times I wake up and more deep sleep)?

2. eSleepLite

With this app, you can combine some relaxing sounds, plug in the earphones, and fall asleep. I've used it last week, and it indeed has helped me to fall asleep faster. Usually, I keep listening to the sounds in my apartment building, but this app simply blocks out all the noise and replaces it with relaxing sounds. You can put a sleep timer, so I used it for 2 hours or 3 hours to help me fall asleep and sleep through the first hours in which people keep walking around in the building (typically, the building gets really calm around 2am, so I used the app until roughly that time of the night.
Disadvantage of this app: it can't run in the background, so I can't combine it with Sleep Cycle.

 3. Naturespace

Similar to eSleepLite, this gives calming sounds. The quality of the sounds is richer, but the amount of options is much more limited. However, this program can run in the background, so I can actually combine it with Sleep Cycle.

4. Silva Relax

So far, I've only once used this app, but it managed to kill a migraine which would have otherwise either sent me to bed or to heavy medication. After a stressful day, I think 20 minutes of relaxation exercise are better spent than 20 minutes of mindn umbing internet surfing.

7 comments:

  1. HAve you ever tried to sleep with earphones or earbuds? Not advisable!

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  2. I was using earbuds for a few nights, and enjoyed it very much - until my cat grew jealous of me listening to something instead of his purring, and he bit the cable of the earbuds. I'm now back to just relax before sleeping, and then sleep without anything in my ears.

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  3. hey, als ik je zie 7 april en je hebt er nog steeds last van, kan ik je wel een paar tips geven. dan zullen we het er wel eens over hebben :)

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  4. Ja graag!
    Het is ondertussen weer een stuk beter (het helpt wel om te denken dat het uiteindelijk allemaal niet zo belangrijk is), maar nu heeft Pasha lentekriebels dus die wil om 5 uur 's ochtends opstaan (miauwen in mijn oor, krabben aan de deur, tekeer gaan in de kattenbak, proberen de gordijnen open te trekken, op mijn rug springen...)

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  5. Ha Eva,

    Zelf slaap ik zo nu en dan met oordoppen in om het geluid van buiten en de gang te blokkeren. (studentenhuis/omgeving..) Ik vind het niet ideaal maar ik heb geaccepteerd dat het soms nodig is. Oja, niet alle oordoppen zitten even lekker/dempen even goed, als je wilt zoek ik het merk van mijn favoriet wel even op.

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  6. Ja graag! Ik slaap heel af en toe met oordoppen (vliegtuig, festivals), maar dan heb ik vaak ofwel het probleem dat ze te zacht zijn (en uit mijn oor springen) of te hard zijn (en dan doet het achteraf pijn). De standaard oordoppen die ik altijd meezeul (vroeger om te studeren en tijdens examens), hebben een hard stukje in het midden zitten, waardoor ze om te slapen nogal pijnlijk zijn.

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  7. Hoi Eva,

    De oordoppen die ik gebruik worden verkocht onder het merk 'Otalgan' (grotendeels witte verpakking met een gekleurd rond plastic doosje er in) en zijn o.a. te vinden bij de drogisterij op de Choorstraat. Eerder gebruikte ik het merk 'Quies' maar die kan ik nergens meer vinden helaas.

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