Introducing Sandglass, a personal and ambient nap assistant.

Jacintha Yap
Apr 3, 2018 · 4 min read

There are always reasons for sleeplessness. If you search “sleeplessness” on WebMD, there are endless explanations and cures. It is easy to have reasons. I attributed my sleeplessness to logical reasons, like, how Singapore is not in her natural time zone¹ and as such, my body clock is at odds. But, beyond logic, there was something else.

I can’t fall asleep as easily as I can nap. Most of the time, I’m filled with anxious energy before I go to bed at night. I spent more time dreaming of sleep than actually sleeping. In contrast to sleep, naps were flexible and lighter, they gave me less cause for anxiety. We all have our bedtimes, but there’s no such thing as a fixed nap time. Nap time happens in between moments in life. I relied on naps for my daily measure of peace, a short dive into the dream world that helped me recollect myself.

For many like me, naps have become somewhat like a coping mechanism. You take a nap and you feel ready to type away at an assignment, to solve a previously unsolvable problem or to launch yourself back into meetings. Sometimes, we reward ourselves with naps. When you nap, there’s a sense of entering a judgment-free zone. It has a way of recharging, reformatting and refreshing you, gently preparing you for the reality that awaits.

But there were days when I wake from too long a nap and feel like I let daylight slip past my grip. I awake from naps like these even more anxious than before, feeling like I have gone out of sync with reality. Naps for me were marked by their brevity and I needed something that ensured my naps did not lengthen into sleep

Sandglass was inspired from the comfort that napping gave me and my own relationship with sleep. Like the “hourglass” which its named after, the app measures time. Watching sand trickle down made the passage of time felt peaceful and that was how I wanted the experience of the app to be. Instead of the anxious movement of the clock hands, I was seeking for a way that one second leading to the other and to the next minute could feel mediative.

In the anime, Mushishi, there was a saying that went, “The word ‘pillow’ means ‘the storeroom of your soul.’ For one third of you life, your pillow cradles your head. Perhaps, that’s how the idea came about that the pillow is where the soul resets. The pathway connecting dreams and reality.” Sandglass, working its magic in the background while you doze off, seeks to be that bridge between the sleep-verse and reality. A bridge, because of its means of connecting one point to another and because that journey into dreams is two-way.

Like a bridge that connects two points together, the process of working on Sandglass has also been collaborative and I’ve worked alongside my partner, Ricky and our developer, Dmitry, whom we got acquainted with on Upwork.

Sandglass works simply and has a quiet and minimal UI design. Its primarily dark and monochromatic colour palette ensures that it isn’t too blinding to the eyes. It provides users with what they require for a nap and guides them to rest. Our app works to make sure your experience of it is never disruptive and in your short journey to dreams, you still wake to reality on time.

Some features include:

  1. Alarm Profiles — Users are able to choose if they want a vibrate setting, a different alarm tone or if they wish to set multiple alarms. With alarm profiles, you can set 2 profiles — one for home and work, one for weekdays and weekends, one for a quick power nap or a deeper rest or anything in between.
  2. Snooze Limit — Snoozing is such a common gesture in our relationship with timing devices. Incorporating the snooze function here was important as it enabled users to refine their nap experience in the moment.
  3. Icon Gallery — Icons help to personalise your experience of Sandglass. To start off, you have a selection of default icons to choose for your alarm profiles. If you are interested in unlocking the app, you get access to the full icon gallery, custom alarms and more features.
  4. Notes — We’ve got a hold of The Sandman and he’s a willing messenger. He will deliver your reminders when you wake. Sometimes, we forget in our dreams and we hope that this feature would help you recollect some of your thoughts before napping.

Sandglass is available in the Google Play store for all nappers, insomniac friends, everyone. You can download it and experience it.

If you’d like to find out more, you can hop over to the website, or follow Sandglass on Instagram and Facebook.

Thank you Samantha Yap for editing this piece and everyone else who supported me in my many states of mind, you know who you are.



Sandglass is a personal and ambient nap assistant that carefully measures moments of silvery shuteye so that you wake punctually. Available in the Google Play store.

Jacintha Yap

Written by

In between sleep and wake.



Sandglass is a personal and ambient nap assistant that carefully measures moments of silvery shuteye so that you wake punctually. Available in the Google Play store.

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