If you ever had any recurring problems with falling asleep, calmly sleeping throughout the whole night and waking up brimming with energy on the next day, you’re not alone. I’m sure many people around you have problems with at least one of the things mentioned above. We can blame the productivity race and constant stress. Some even blame technology and the overuse of smartphones, especially in bed right before you plan to fall asleep.
Luckily, the same smartphone can help you quietly and gently fall asleep, help you stay asleep during the night and let you wake up. Some time ago, we mentioned a mobile app called Nightly. Today I’d like to share some of my experiences with this app.
Substantive solution to sleep disorders
There are three main things that the Nightly development team list as the reason to use their mobile app. Firstly, to help the user fall asleep fast and calm. Some of us, me included, have problems with falling asleep. Even though you’re tired, even though you know you need to be up early next day you can’t sleep. Either it’s some difficult case you just have to think of or you’re just left with last episodes of your favorite series and can’t stop thinking about what will happen. Then you just grab your phone while in the bed and lie to yourself that you’ll fall asleep in “just 10 minutes”. Well, it doesn’t work like that. I know it. You know it. She knows it).
Another thing that Nightly claims to have solution for, are bad dreams — the ones that raise your anxiety levels during the night. Thus, the theoretical “battery charging” time turns into tiresome experience. I cannot say anything about this use case. I very rarely remember my dreams and when I do, they’re are usually quite nice. However, Magdalena Tuła wrote a piece on fighting nightmares with Nightly mobile app and it seems to be quite effective.
Last thing is reducing unwanted wake-ups, whether they are caused by nightmares, job-related stress, racing thoughts or sleeping disorders.
In love with the data
When it comes to more down-to-earth, technical aspect of Nightly mobile app, it performs really well. The application works fast and all transitions between screens are smooth. The design seems to be focused on user experience, user interface and data showcase.
Your “main screen” will be most likely the simple vertical axis calendar with current date as a central point. Each day before the today in which you used Nightly app will be tagged with a simple color scheme: red for low sleep performance, yellow for fair and green for optimal. When tapped on each day will display all of the collected data in a number of sections and if you like your data stored you’ll love Nightly.
The first and probably most important is the score for you sleep. The elements taken into consideration here are sleep length, time awake, sleep consistency, fall asleep duration and wake up duration. From these five categories and overall “sleep efficiency” score is calculated.
When it comes to other data collected, Nightly app shows you exactly when you went to bed and how long you did sleep. Nightly also creates a visual representation of the estimated sleep architecture which pictures when you were asleep, when you had a REM phase or light/deep sleep.
Closely related to the sleep architecture is the so-called sleep stimulation. This feature is probably one of the most important elements of this entire app. According to what the developers say (through a cleverly placed information prompt) sleep stimulation happens when the app detect you moving too much (with the phone’s built-in accelerometer” which can signal an oncoming wake-up or bad dream, it plays a soothing sound pattern “designed by audio-visual scientists to decrease unwanted interruption and letting you sleep peacefully”.
Now, I don’t really know if this works. Well, I suppose so. During the testing period I don’t remember waking up during the night. On the other hand, I have no recollection of any audio files soothing me to sleep. After all, I was asleep, right? On the more serious note though, I guess it works and I am sure Nightly dev team works on the data collected to make it even better.
Outstanding UX and user onboarding
In my opinion one of the most outstanding elements of Nightly mobile app is the design and execution of user experience. Nightly takes you by hand and guide you through its functionalities displaying only the minimum of the necessary information. However, if you want to know the whole story behind, let’s say, “sleep stimulation” function, you just need to tap on the info icon.
Let’s remember that UX is also user onboarding. On the first startup Nightly asks you with what parts of sleeping you have problems with and go straight to the walkthrough part which seamlessly ends with your first night with Nightly.
Falling asleep is also worth mentioning. Each time you start your sleep cycle, Nightly puts you through short routine with setting you approximate (Nightly uses the smart wake-up function!) time of wake-up and some other options. Then, it shows you one of the short, soothing video of nature with the accompaniment of ambient sounds, my favorite being “Forest”. And then you sleep.
Trying won’t hurt at all
It is still too early for a final verdict, but I feel that Nightly is a very well made app, based on concrete data and scientific methods. Design-wise its concise, presents a amazing UX and is good in collecting/displaying data. Throughout the testing period of two weeks, I found myself waking up faster and with more energy.