A Magazine for the George Mason University Community

A Better Night’s Sleep? Yes, There’s an App for That

March 22, 2011

By Tara Laskowski

Daniel Gartenberg

Rough night? A new smartphone application developed by Mason student Daniel Gartenberg might be able to help with that. Gartenberg’s app, the Proactive Sleep Alarm Clock, helps you track the ZZZs you get and develop a healthier and more productive sleep pattern.

The alarm clock features a settable sleep goal and a sleep diary, which you can use to track the hours you’ve slept or the dreams you’ve had. It also allows you to record personal factors—such as mood, alcohol and medication intake, exercise habits, diet, and productivity.

“The behaviors we’ve chosen to include in this application are those most commonly recommended by sleep professionals as the ones you should monitor for healthy and restful sleep,” says Gartenberg, who is working on a PhD in human factors and applied cognition. “We’ve already had numerous sleep clinics and sleep professionals express an interest in the application.”

There is also a simple game, inspired by sleep research, called the Vigilance Task, which allows you to test how groggy you are on waking.

“If you play the game as soon as you wake up, you get more points than if it takes you awhile to wake up. Also, the faster you do the task, the faster the target moves on the screen. This makes your score more sensitive, so you can see how getting a poor night of sleep may affect your performance,” says Gartenberg.

The Proactive Sleep Alarm Clock can be downloaded for a small fee to the iPhone and Google Android.

The application has been featured on the CBS Early Show and Discoveries and Breakthroughs inside Science, and by the National Sleep Foundation, among others. It won the 2009 Schoofs Prize for Creativity, an annual competition at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that rewards innovative and marketable ideas.

Gartenberg believes that developing tools such as these for new technologies is the way to go.

“As smartphone technology becomes increasingly ingrained in our everyday lives, we can use these devices as tools for science.”

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