If you heard about an iPhone app that could make you sharper, more alert, happier, and live longer, would you be interested in learning more about it?
A good night’s sleep (and I’m not talking about eight hours) determines the health and happiness of your whole life.
Getting optimal sleep makes you smarter, can cure depression, improve academic and physical performance, and add decades to your life.
That’s because proper sleep – stage four, which can only be reached if you aren’t getting interrupted while you sleep – is when growth hormone (HGH) secretion occurs. That’s the same stuff that slows the aging process and repairs the body and brain from the wear and tear of the day.
But here’s the problem:
Most people are in denial about their sleep.
“No, I don’t snore.”
“Oh, I get 8 hours every night, I’m a great sleeper.”
I used to think this way too. I used to pride myself on being a light sleeper who could be awake with the tiniest noise in the house — like a daughter coming home past curfew.
But the reality is that, none of us are good judges of our sleep quality. How sure can you be that you’re getting deep, stage four sleep when you’re unconscious for it all?
It’s actually quite easy.
Step 1 to Optimal Health: Find Out If Your Sleep Is Being Interrupted
I laughed when a sleep specialist neurologist first told me about this app at a conference for sleep medicine dentists.
“There’s an app for everything,” I told him.
But as a dentist who treats sleep apnea and with many patients who I know need to have sleep studies just by looking at their teeth and airway, I started asking patients to download it and use it.
People started coming into the office to play for me the interruptions that the app had recorded. We heard recordings of sleep talking, tossing and turning, snoring, and even gasping for air.
In one of my patient’s words: “I can’t believe I am spending every night snoring all night long.”
Without a baseline of your sleep ability, you’ll never know what you could be missing out on – energy, willpower, and happiness are things that can result from the repairing, stage four sleep that many people never reach because of slight disturbances at night.
How to Analyze Your Sleep
Download the app. It’s $1.99. (I have zero relationship or financial incentive in promoting this app. I mention it because I’ve used it myself and I know it works.)
The app will only record noises that occur over a certain number of decibels. Use the auto-detect threshold. The app works best in a quiet room without heaters or fans that might come on in the middle of the night.
The recording will take just minutes minutes to review because the app only picks up and records noises above a threshold. Even just looking at the number of interruptions is good information – but you’ll be curious to know what’s going bump in the night.
Sleep with your dog, child, or significant other? Sleep alone to get clean data.
Alternatively, use the app to understand what external factors might be disturbing your sleep. Maybe you discover a noisy heater or fan comes on in the middle of the night. Many people decide to take their pet’s collar off every night before bed, after finding out how much noise it makes when the pet shakes or moves throughout the night.
Some primary care physicians can be resistant to referring you to get a sleep study. Bring this recording with you to the appointment.
The interface of the app takes a while to get used to, but it’s worth it.
The app does not replace a polysomnography or a sleep study, but it’s a good place to start for only two bucks!
How you sleep is how you’ll spend your waking hours, so it’s worth analyzing. Let this app do it for you.
Mark Burhenne DDS
Comment below and let me know what you find out!
Edit: The app seems to have complications when it get sets on delay, so I recommend not putting it on a delay. This is even handier because it will give you some information as to your sleep latency – the time it takes to go from full wakefulness to sleep. If it takes you less than ten minutes to fall asleep, that could be indicative of a sleep problem.