August 13, 2018
Issue 9 2018
Lit Fam or Shit Scam?

Sleep and Meditation Apps

I thought it was going to be pleasant. I was really hoping that amidst the pandemonium I could have one nice and simple issue where I wouldn’t have to subject myself to chilli peppers, hair removal, or other detrimental escapades that will forever mark a timeline of my stupidity.

Just this once, I was going to try something easy. How bad could sleep and meditation apps be?

Sleep and uni go together like Disney and James Gunn’s Twitter. It’s an interesting concept if you think about it. How about I just press my body against padded springs and hallucinate vividly for hours until I hear a deathly ringing tone?

Yet as weird as that may be, we all know what happens when we don’t stick to it. Crawling home at 4.24am after a night out on the town isn’t so bad, you can live through that despite the eventual union strike your organs will have when you’re older. But it’s the stacking night after night, the wasting away in front of your screen until you collapse, that is what gets the sleep deprivation train chugging. Don’t worry, I’m not here to tell you off, I’m guilty of bad sleep hygiene myself and I certainly don’t give a whisper of a fuck about your routine. If you want to binge Rupaul’s Drag Race until you hear birds chirping, then good luck and don’t fuck it up.

The first app to add misery to my life was a standard ‘Sleep Sounds’ app, which usually contains ASMR tracks intended to help your mind relax. They might remind you of calming environments like a train ride, or in this case, a haunted cabin in the woods. Like most people I enjoy nodding off to the relaxing sounds of creaking wood, ghostly wind, and dying embers. I thought it was a joke at first, but other sounds included a dripping cave, a barren desert, and the United States Bill of Rights narrated by Alex Jones.

In terms of missing the point, ‘Sleep Sounds’ could have been an Olympic gold medallist, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t going to commit to it. So, for the next week I attempted sleeping with these tracks playing, and now not only am I grumpier than ever, I’ve also started having weird dreams about homosexual frogs with guns.

The second app was ‘Sleep Cycle,’ which attempts to measure your pattern of sleep and determine the best time to wake you up in the morning. Unfortunately, ‘never’ isn’t an available option.

Your pattern of sleep consists of five stages, ranging from light sleep at stage one to deep sleep at stage four, to REM (Rapid Eye Movement Sleep) at stage five. Transitioning through all five stages takes about 90-120 minutes, which you cycle through about four times a night. Waking during light stage sleep is good, you feel more rested, and less likely to murder the first face that isn’t offering you coffee. Waking during deep sleep is bad, you feel groggy, disoriented, and unprepared for-  I swear to god if he brags about his gains at the gym this morning one more time, I’m going to yeet that muppet out the fucking window!

‘Sleep Cycle’ listens to your breathing, measures these cycles, and attempts to wake you in the highest peak of your light sleep before a predetermined time. Oh goodie, you think. I can start my day like a normal person with self-control. Sorry for the wake-up call sunshine, but ‘Sleep Cycle’ doesn’t quite live up to its claims.

Firstly, it measures all incoming sound, so flatmates having showers at 1am will convince it that you’re wide awake, when really, you’re having a nice dream about affordable housing. Secondly, it doesn’t seem to care about how long you’ve been asleep and will joyfully wake you earlier than any noble person should have to endure. Thirdly, it has the attitude to inform you of the quality level of your sleep, because apparently, I can’t deduce on my own that it was a rough night without a fat 23 per cent sign on the screen.

They say there’s an app for everything, well if you wanted one that wakes you up during deep sleep stages, wakes you up at 4am, and insults your intelligence, then look no farther than ‘Sleep Cycle.’

Our third app is ‘Headspace,’ a relatively well-known app for managing stress. ‘Headspace’ encourages you with cute little animations to spend a few minutes of your day meditating, using their step by step program. I’m not doubting that some people probably find this really helpful at managing their mental health, but I had an incident.

It began after a night or so, in which I was serenely meditating to the sound of a voice belonging to Andy, the app’s ‘personality’. Andy seems like a chill guy, bit boring, but someone you could count on to give you a lift when the bus doesn’t show up due to unforeseen circumstances. As Andy instructed me to let my mind wander away from the busy highway of my thoughts, the lack of sleep I had built up from the previous two apps caught up with me, and I started to fall asleep.

Being woken by a male voice right next to your ear telling you not to run into the oncoming traffic is not exactly relaxing, and being half asleep, I immediately rolled to my left to avoid vehicular doom, only to tumble out of bed and smack my head against the bedside table. Of course, it was just Andy droning on about how we shouldn’t rush out into the highway of our thoughts. However metaphorical you are Andy, you’re still a piece of shit.

Remarkably, I did have a spacey head afterwards, so perhaps ‘Headspace’ did its job after all.

I give all three apps a collective score of 1/5 Nefarious Alarm Clocks, therefore they’re all Shit Scams.

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