sleep-cycle-aware alarm clock

The clock that wakes you when you are ready:

The clock, called SleepSmart, measures your sleep cycle, and waits for you to be in your lightest phase of sleep before rousing you. Its makers say that should ensure you wake up feeling refreshed every morning.

As you sleep you pass through a sequence of sleep states - light sleep, deep sleep and REM sleep - that repeats approximately every 90 minutes. The point in that cycle at which you wake can affect how you feel later, and may even have a greater impact than how long or little you have slept. Being roused during a light phase means you are more likely to wake up perky.

SleepSmart records the distinct pattern of brain waves produced during each phase of sleep, via a headband equipped with electrodes and a microprocessor. This measures electrical activity of the wearer's brain, in much the same way as EEG machines used for medical and research purposes, and communicates wirelessly with a clock unit near the bed. You program the clock with the latest time at which you want to be wakened, and it then duly wakes you during the last light sleep phase before that.

There's also a wristwatch version.

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21 Responses:

  1. brad says:

    You buy one first and tell me if it works.

    • jwz says:

      I don't use an alarm clock, dude. I'm a man of leisure.

      • I HATE YOU.

        also, i WANT ONE of those damned clocks. i'm probably the billionth person to say that. but i do. i am making big watery doe-eyes at santa.

        now, if only it could do the *reverse*...

  2. funjon says:

    My girlfriend uses the Sleeptracker, says it works pretty well.

    I actually bought it for myself, but I can't hear the alarm over my nasal CPAP machine. Which sucks.

    I'm waiting for v2.0 which uses voltage.

    • usufructer says:

      I'm waiting for v2.0 which uses voltage.

      ... to wake you up?

      • funjon says:

        I'm afraid of what else you'd use external voltage for.

        • xed_geek says:

          Somehow I doubt being electrocuted until I wake up will make me very 'Perky'. In fact I think it will defeat the purpose of this device in general. Also, that can't be good for you. What if you happen to be sleeping with your significant other at the time, will it zap both of you if you happen to be touching?

    • belgand says:

      Since I'm also apnic I think I can entirely understand. Then again, I'm not lucky enough to just get the nasal CPAP due to the fact that I can barely breathe through my nose (even better, the last ENT I saw couldn't determine exactly why). The whole face mask version is uninmaginably unpleasant and makes sleep more or less impossible. I know the night I did my study I slept worse than ever before.

    • How does the watch work? I mean, what is it sensing? An EEG I understand, but you don't have brainwaves in your wrist (okay, I don't). Does your GSR or temperature or something vary by sleep phase?

      • I had to dig for it, but apparently it works by sensing movement. When you're in deep sleep you basically never move, but you move slightly when in light sleep, which the watch detects.

  3. azul_ros says:

    This sounds great, unless the closest light sleep cycle happens to occur 90 minutes before I need to wake up!!!
    I have one of those natural sound clocks, which helps. It keeps me from being jarred awake, usually. My cat has been known to wake me up too abruptly. :(

  4. xed_geek says:

    I could see someone attempting to explain this to their boss.
    "But it wasn't time for me to wake up yet!"
    That should go over well.

  5. greatbiggary says:

    This post got me searching the internets for homebrew EEG, and old daydream of mine, and I ran into OpenEEG. There are links to guides on the necessary equipment and some photos of the electrode creation process, which is far simpler than I expected. The open source ABI BCI is about the best offering for what I'd want to do with it - controlling devices, people, economies, etc.

  6. sashamalchik says:

    In my sleep-deprived MIT years I actually started a log on times of the day (especially morning/lecture time :)) when I was falling asleep, to know exactly when to wake up in the morning, assuming the 90-minute cycle continues throughout the day/night. Records were too erratic to ever actually follow up on them, but even based on those the ~90 minutes seemed pretty unwaveringly true.

  7. strspn says:

    I sleep face-down. Do you suppose I could wear it around my neck?

  8. fieldsnyc says:

    I tried a sleeptracker, and found that it didn't work for me. The alarm wasn't loud enough. A future version should include a vibration alarm, which may work better. All in all, I think it's an interesting idea in theory, but practical applications have some issues to work out.

  9. bigbaldguy says:

    ... is that they didn't even ship the prototype -- only a press release. From the end of the article:

    "As sleep-deprived people ourselves, we started thinking of what to do about it," says Eric Shashoua, a recent college graduate and now chief executive officer of Axon Sleep Research Laboratories, a company created by the students to develop their idea. With help from entrepreneurial grants and alumni investors, they have almost finished a prototype and plan to market the product by next year.

    How hard could this be? I think I could put one together in a month or two, with parts acquired from Radio Shack down the street. Do they have a patent?