I am become App, the Destroyer of Sleep

Around 10:30 morning I received a text from an unknown number, indicating I was 9 minutes late for a video chat with my friend Laura.  As I did not have a video chat scheduled with Laura, and the text had come from a number in South Dakota (a state known for Laura not being there), I texted her directly to find out if she had sent me an invite to some weird new social media platform.

She indicated that she had not, and that “these are the first text messages I’ve sent today and I haven’t been on any social media.”

I was surprised by her response.  You see, Laura is a Millennial.  As I understand it, Millennials exist on a sort of virtual Island, and if you don’t press the ‘Send’ button every 108 minutes, the Internet (represented by Oceanic flight 815, above) will crash.

When I asked how it was possible for her to still be unconnected at 10:30AM, she replied that she had slept in.

While I applaud her for catching up on much needed Zzz’s, I found myself wondering if there was some way to stay in touch with the digital world without the need to remain conscious.  (Disclaimer: Other than Twitter).

To meet this “need”, I envision the creation of two new apps.

The first is an app which will allow Millennials who talk in their sleep to stream their unintelligible mumbling directly to their friends.  I call this app Napchat.  (Disclaimer: The name Napster was taken.)

The other app allows Millennials to post pictures of themselves not having gotten out of bed yet, so they don’t have to respond to texts.  I call this app Slumblr.

As I write this, I feel a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of sleepless Millennials suddenly reached for their iPhones, and went to bed.

Author’s Note: I have already inadvertently caused my phone’s auto-complete function to begin suggesting the words Napchat and Slumblr.  We are doomed.

Dreaming of the future

I have never been a sound sleeper.  I normally wake up at least once or twice a night.  It wasn’t until I was in college and had a roommate that I realized that it was unusual to wake up multiple times during the night.  I went to a sleep doctor and they gave me some good techniques for what they call “sleep hygiene”.  (Disclaimer: Sleep hygiene has nothing to do with hygiene.  It’s all about darkness and TVs and air flow and stuff.)

In order to see if any of this stuff helped, I got myself a sleep monitor.  It consists of a headband with sensors and a Bluetooth connection to an app on my cellphone.  The sensors in the headband use muscle contractions or electrical impulses or possibly alchemy to detect and record how long and how deeply you sleep.  It then produces a bar graph showing how long it took you to fall asleep, how many times you woke up, and how long you spent in each level of sleep (light sleep, deep sleep, REM sleep), and uses this to generate a sleep quality number between 0 and 100.

I have been using this gizmo for about a year and a half.  It doesn’t really help me sleep better, but it does take my night’s sleep and turn it into a number.  I find this very comforting.  (No, that is not a typo.  I find that I am much happier when I can translate analog human experiences like sleep and exercise and happiness into numbers.  It makes me feel 78 or more.)

But this morning, after waking up from a 52 night’s sleep (9 minutes to fall asleep, but only 5 hours before I woke up), I noticed something I hadn’t before.  Each entry in the sleep log is dated from the time you put the headband on, so you can go back and review old data.

Or, sometimes, future data.  Continue reading