What is the Sleep On Cue Smartphone App?
Sleep On Cue is a scientifically-based sleep-training app for smartphone, developed by Licensed Sleep Technologist and Certified Clinical Sleep Educator Michael Schwartz.
The Sleep On Cue app is used to overcome chronic insomnia by following a procedure called Intensive Sleep Retraining (ISR). The app is not a sleep tracker that tells you what you probably already know – that you are struggling with your sleep. Sleep On Cue is a highly effective sleep trainer, providing an active way to improve your sleep. The app does not require any extra in-app purchases – it is the complete app.
Who should use the app?
People with ongoing trouble falling or getting back to sleep, those who have lost confidence their sleep, those who feel they “never sleep”, and those who are trying to reduce or eliminate their dependency on sleeping medication. (Always ask your doctor about your sleep and your sleeping medications)
How do I use the app?
Around bedtime, select the Sleep Training module in the app. Lie down in bed, gently holding your smartphone in your hand. When you hear a faint tone, simply give your phone just a slight shake to let the app know you are still awake. You can use earbud headphones, but this is not required. After a little while, your smartphone will vibrate to get you up. The app will ask if you think you fell asleep or not, then immediately show you the correct answer. Leave the bed for a couple minutes, then return for another sleep trial. Repeat this process for about 10-15 sleep trials before putting the phone down and sleeping for the night.
When do I use the app?
Because it is essential to be sleepy when you do sleep training, around bedtime the night after any poor night of sleep is the most effective protocol.
Why does the app vibrate after a little while?
The app follows the Intensive Sleep Retraining protocol – it gives you repeated, short opportunities to fall asleep with immediate feedback about whether or not you actually did fall asleep each sleep trial. Over time, sleep training leads to better ability to fall asleep/back to sleep by means of improving your awareness of falling asleep. In a sense the app lets you “practice” falling asleep.
How does the Sleep On Cue app know if I fall asleep during a sleep trial?
Sleep researchers have known for decades that human response to auditory input (sounds) decreases dramatically when we enter a phase of stable (“stage 2”) sleep. The patent-pending design of the app uses a call and response method to determine if you are asleep. A slight shake of the phone after each faint tone informs the app that you are still awake. When you stop responding to tones, you have fallen asleep.
Does the app show summary results after each sleep-training session?
Yes. After each sleep-training session, a bar graph is presented which shows two things: ability to fall asleep and awareness of sleep. Because the app is designed to give the user a variable amount of time to fall asleep each sleep trial (more time for no sleep, less time for sleep), ability is reflected in the height of each bar on the graph. A downward-trending graph means you got better at falling asleep. Awareness of falling asleep is measured by the user guessing whether he/she thought that sleep occurred after each sleep trial. On the summary graph, red bars represent incorrect guesses and blue bars represent correct guesses. A red-blue trend on the graph means your awareness of falling asleep got better.
Below is an example of a summary graph following a sleep training session of 25 sleep trials. Notice how the user got better at falling asleep (downward trend of the bars) and also developed a better awareness of falling asleep (red-to-blue trend of the bars):
What is the most common mistake users of the app make?
The most common mistake is for a user to have the volume of the tones set too loudly. The tone volume must be VERY faint. The tones should sound like a distant foghorn. The app has a practice module in the beginning where you can test out the tones. Simply use the volume controls on the side of your phone, and you may find that using earbud headphones work well too.
I see a lot of smartphone apps that monitor sleep. How is the Sleep On Cue app different?
Unlike sleep tracking apps, Sleep On Cue is the first and only scientifically-based sleep training app that actually detects the start of sleep precisely. The app lets you practice falling asleep sleep, repeatedly, around bedtime, after any poor night of sleep. In fact, if your sleep tracking app or device is informing you that you are not sleeping well, the Sleep On Cue sleep-training app is what you need.
I see that the app has a custom nap module. What is that?
Because the Sleep On Cue app can precisely detect the start of sleep, the nap module lets you enter the time you have available for a nap and your desired length of your nap. The tones begin just like with sleep training, but when you stop responding to the tones, the app does not wake you up, but rather lets you sleep until your desired length of nap is done.
Will the app work on my tablet or iPod as well as on my smartphone?
Yes and no. The app uses vibration to wake the user after each trial, and your iPod may not have a vibration feature. Also, sleep training with the app requires the user to gently shake the device as the response to tones, and this requires the accelerometer in your smartphone. The app will work on a tablet, but it may not be as effective because most tablets are physically larger and heavier than smartphones.
How effective is Intensive Sleep Retraining (ISR)?
In formal studies, lab-based ISR was shown to be as effective as the most supported and effective counseling/behavioral technique for insomnia, called “stimulus control”, but ISR showed a much faster response time and an equally long lasting effect. Stimulus control attempts to reverse the negative conditioning associated with going to bed that’s seen in people with chronic insomnia. This is also how that app works, just much faster. In fact, because stimulus control can take weeks to have a positive effect, many insomniacs give up stimulus control and turn to the fast-acting effects of sleeping medications, or worse, alcohol. The Sleep On Cue offers a safe, convenient, long-lasting alternative.
Do I have to do sleep training all night and all the next day like in the original ISR studies?
No. For most people, occasional training for an hour or two around bedtime, the night after any poor night of sleep, is the most practical/convenient. However, many users of the app do an occasional 24 hour sleep training session, all night and all the next day, as was done in the original ISR studies. Please ask your doctor about your sleep, sleeping medications, and sleep training. And never do anything that requires attention and vigilance during the day if you are overly tired or sleepy – excessive daytime sleepiness is very dangerous.
Why isn’t ISR available through my doctor?
ISR research methods require a sleep laboratory with trained staff and specialized recording equipment, so it is cost prohibitive. Someday the medical community may offer laboratory-based ISR, but it is not available at this time. Answering the call by two prestigious insomnia researchers for a home method of ISR, the Sleep On Cue app for smartphone was developed.
Does the Sleep On Cue app track my location or access my email or Facebook contacts?
I’m interested in sleep training, but I’m also interested in other sleep-health opportunities. Do you offer any other activities?
Yes! Michael, the creator of the Sleep On Cue app, is available on Skype or cell call for personal 1-on-1 sleep coaching. Sleep coaching sessions are an effective, convenient and affordable way to learn to Sleep on Cue! Michael also is scheduling small-group sleep wellness workshops in southern Oregon.