Sleep Cycle

To use Sleep Cycle, you place an iPhone on your mattress while you sleep. This $0.99 app is able to monitor your body movements with the iPhone’s built-in accelerometer, thereby tracking your sleep cycles. It charts how much deep sleep you are receiving, when you are going in and out of R.E.M. sleep, and a true average of the sleep you’re achieving. By monitoring your cycle, this clever app can attempt to wake you up at your most natural wake state within 30 minutes of your alarm time.

When I first heard of Sleep Cycle, I got excited and immediately downloaded it before realizing that the app probably wouldn’t work in the bed I share with my wife. Wouldn’t it pick up her movements, rendering all collected data unusable? The app sat on my iPhone, never used, until I finally decided to try it this week. Sleep Cycle calibrates itself the first two nights, adjusting for the variables in your bed, mattress, and pillow. So far the results are good. After placing the iPhone on my side of the bed, the app seems to accurately track my specific cycles. If you have a king-sized bed or a tempurpedic mattress, Sleep Cycle’s results should be nearly perfect. Worried about overnight cellphone signals close to your head? Simply put your iPhone in airplane mode. Sleep Cycle’s biggest inconvenience is that because the app runs all night, you’ll have to plug your iPhone into the wall. If you can convince your wife to put up with a power cord coming out of your pillow, you can start enjoying a good night’s sleep.

Eating Healthy

A friend of mine recently told me that for the first time in his life he really wanted to lose weight. We talked about eating healthy for a while and it dawned on me that eating well is a very simple philosophy. The trick is the follow through. Below is my personal philosophy I have pieced together over the years:

#1 Know what you’re eating. You have to start paying attention to what you’re eating so you can see what needs to change. Write down everything you eat for two weeks. After a couple days you will be amazed at the junk and unhealthy meals you’re eating. Writing all this down may be trying, but I put is as #1 because I believe if you only do this step alone, you’ll instinctively start eating better.

#2 Eat real food. There is a difference between things you can eat, a.k.a. edible, and things that are nutritious. Don’t eat fast food and don’t eat at a lot of chains like Chili’s, etc. Don’t eat out of the frozen food section. Avoid foods made up of nothing but chemicals or a bunch of things ending in -zine.

#3 Eat the right amount. Portion control is important. In fact, Weight Watchers is largely based on portion control. But the basics can be stated simply. Don’t eat just to be eating or because you’re bored. Only order as much food as you feel like eating. Don’t order the super combo just because it’s a good deal. Don’t feel like you have to finish your whole plate just because you paid for it. Eat only what you are hungry for and no more. At the same time, don’t skip meals because doing so leads you to make bad choices later. Always eat breakfast.

#4 Eat balanced meals. Remember to mix in the fruits and veggies. Meat is not a meal by itself. Be careful not to overdo the carbs. When planning a meal at home, swap out the carb side with a second vegetable side. You’ll get your carbs without really trying. Avoid a ton of soft drinks and beer because they are huge sources of hidden calories. Advanced: learn about foods with omega-3 and the other essential oils and try to incorporate these in your diet.

#5 Exercise. Do some cardio twice a week: running, jogging, riding a bike. This can be outdoors or at the gym, but it should be something that gets your heart rate up, above 100 bpm. Add in a workout if you have time, but the point is to get into the habit of doing something a couple times a week.

Do I do all these things all the time? Hell no, but this is the plan. If you are over-weight but consider yourself to have a good amount of self-control, you may just need an updated eating philosophy.