The Science of Sleep Presents: A Better Alarm Clock

Although I can’t quite find a reference right now, take it from me that it’s well documented that we have much more trouble waking up from deep sleep (a.k.a. slow wave sleep) than from light sleep or from REM sleep. You’ve probably experienced this often enough: sometimes you’ve had plenty of sleep, but you still feel hopelessly groggy when the alarm wakes you up, and other times you’ve only had three hours but you feel amazingly alert! And you’re like, whuuu?

Well, at least some of the time, the reason is that you woke up between sleep cycles rather than during slow wave sleep. So, in 2002, I had the idea of an alarm clock that would monitor your sleep cycle, and would only wake you between cycles, never during slow wave. Since cycles are regular and last about 90 minutes, if you absolutely needed to be up at a particular time, the alarm would calculate whether there is enough time left for another full cycle, and if there wasn’t, it would wake you early.

It was, of course, a brilliant idea. But, as they say, you snooze, you lose. By the time started to begin to think about maybe talking to someone about developing a product, it was 2005, maybe even 2006. A quick Google search turned up Axon Labs, a startup created in 2003 solely to develop just the kind of system I had envisioned.

Missed opportunity? Maybe. But I was more excited than disappointed, because it meant that the dream (I’m just on fire today!) of better waking was closer to reality than I could have imagined. I signed up for their newsletter to be kept up to date.

All this to say, finally, earlier this week I got an email from them, saying that they are going to come out with a limited release by the end of this year! Woot! The email just made my day, and it should make yours too. Head on over to the Axon Labs website to sign up for their updates. Alternatively, do subscribe to this blog (or bookmark it, if you live in that era)—you’ll certainly be reading a review from me the moment I can get my hands on one.

(Well, ok: the next day.)

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