Last week we introduced you to a smartphone app that claims to track your sleeping pattern.
The Sleep Cycle alarm clock monitors your movement and tells you what stage of sleep you're in and when you hit certain sleep phases during the night. It also wakes you up during your lightest sleep phase.
With four kids and two of them in diapers, Joe and Megan Kissner's house is full of energy, but that makes finding time for sleep difficult.
"Lately Maura doesn't want to go to sleep until one," Joe said.
To find out just how much sleep Joe gets, we armed him with an app that tracks his sleeping pattern. It also points out when he's awake, in light sleep and in deep sleep.
"The amount of deep sleep I actually get. I was surprised by that," Joe said.
The app showed that during Joe's roughly six hours of sleep, half of that time is spent in deep sleep. Dr. Fady Jamous says Joe's snoozes are right on track.
"It's a 90 to 120 minute cycle where we start with stage one and quickly go to stage two and then stage three and then REM, and then the cycles keep occurring through the night," Jamous said.
Jamous says five to ten percent of your sleep time should be in stage one; 45 to 50 percent in stage two; and the other half split between stage three and REM sleep.
"We think REM is important for memory consolidation,” Jamous said. “What happened during the day, trying to make sense out of it, so you could be ready for the next day.”
But Jamous says there are several things this app can't do, including detect sleep apnea.
"It's very crude. It would be difficult to imagine how it could tell me if you're in state one, two or three or in REM sleep just based on the movement," Jamous said.
Jamous points out that at Avera's Sleep Lab, they look at 16 different factors. Home-based studies examine six or seven different aspects of your sleep.
"What the app will not tell us is whether your oxygen drops down. It will not tell us whether you quit breathing. It will not tell us if you're snoring," Jamous said.
For Joe, one important aspect is that the app doesn't show whether he has sleep apnea.
"Every once in a while there will be that hesitation where it appears he'll stop breathing and I have to hit him or nudge him and get him to come around a little," Joe’s wife Megan said.
Jamous says the app should not replace a sleep study, but the alarm clock function could be helpful in waking you up during light sleep, rather than deep sleep.