eXtensions - Wednesday 24 May 2017
eXtensions: Wednesday File (6) - To Sleep, to Sleep, Perchance to Dream
By Graham K. Rogers
First some UpdatesMy heart goes out to those in the UK, and especially Manchester, after the terrorist attack this week. There is no reason to target young people and children.
My sympathies also to the family of Nicky Hayden, former MotoGP World Champion who died this week in Italy after suffering injuries in a bicycling accident.
I commented a couple of weeks back that sooner, rather than later, I expect the print edition to cease and the Post to be only available online, although with the way it has been handling its presence as a web source, I do not expect that to go well. Several other publications saw the writing on the wall early and have moved to web only editions, using different means to monetize their content.
On Monday morning, a long-time reader of my output sent me a press clipping from the China Post (Alan Fong) which ended its own print edition last week. With words expressing sorrow and a determination to grasp whatever the future brings, I have more expectation that this news organ has a chance. I do not have that hope for all.
Makes a young man healthy, wealthy and wise
The Problem with SleepAlong with old wisdom like "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" the rhyme about the values of sleep (apart from its sexist phrasing) holds true, although when my grandmother told me, I took little notice. It is now recognised that a good level of sleep will indeed improve the health. And from these one expects that wisdom and success will follow naturally.
I look at my students in my morning classes and can see which of them has been playing interneg games until the small hours. If they are having troubles with an English Communication class, however will they deal with Thermodynamics?
One of the things this has allowed me to do is to monitor my heart rate. I can either do this physically, by pressing an icon in the Dock, using the automatic recording (every 5 minutes), or with a 3rd party app, such as Argus on the iPhone. I recently added Cardiogram as the Apple Watch data this app makes use of has been found to be highly accurate in predicting certain heart problems.
While setting up Cardiogram, I was asked to turn on the Bedtime feature in the iPhone Clock app. That also added a Sleep Analysis section to the Health app. While Cardiogram monitors the heart rate during the night, Bedtime records the amount of sleep I have, although it is easy to lie: if I set it up for 8 hours sleep, that is what it shows. Only of I go to bed at the time I have it set for, and turn off the Bedtime function when I wake up, is the time shown accurate.
Bedtime in the clock app (left) and Sleep in Health
When the App Store first arrived here I did try a couple of apps that help with sleep rhythms and these are still available. I mentioned Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock and Dream:ON in the Wednesday File last week. I am looking deeper this week at these and other apps that may help with sleep.
Although Dream:ON works right now, it will not function after the next iOS update as it is a 32-bit app and only 64-bit apps will work then. As it was last updated in 2012, the chances of this happening are slim. This is a shame as the idea is good. The phone is placed on the bed (a corner) and movement is monitored.
At optimum times sounds that match the user's selected "dreamscape" are played. Settings are accessed using a brain-image: Settings, Start Dreaming, Dream Store Dream Diary and Information. When I did try this in 2012, I had no recollection of any sounds during the night although the graphs that were recorded had some value in indicating depth of sleep. While it was possible to make in-app purchases initially, these now seem to have gone. The app is probably not worth downloading now, but does show what can be done.
Unlike Dream:ON, Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock has been updated and its most recent version (5.4) was released near the end of April. The interface has changed since my look in 2012, but this has not affected the value of this app. I stopped using it for while, but now that it works with the Health App (Sleep), I will keep this running.
Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock app
The data in Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock gives a different, but no less valuable readout of sleep cycles in graph form. I can do some matching with Cardiogram and see where I am having the deepest sleep, so perhaps figure out some fixes. Better sleep, better health.
Another app I have downloaded but also have yet to try properly is Sleep Orbit, which also seems to be music-oriented and may not suit me for the moment. If I want gentle music that wafts me to sleep, I like Air, an app developed originally in 2009 based on concepts from Brian Eno. There is also White Noise, which I also downloaded a few years ago. This has just been upgraded and now costs 35 baht, but there is also an app for the Apple Watch and for AppleTV.
White Noise - Examples of Sounds
But what I really want is a good night's sleep.
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. After 3 years writing a column in the Life supplement, he is now no longer associated with the Bangkok Post. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)
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