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An Alarm Clock Designed to Wake the Sleeper at a Point in His/Her Sleep Cycle When He/She Will Feel the Most Refreshed and Alert

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000131861D
Publication Date: 2005-Nov-21
Document File: 5 page(s) / 63K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

A normal night's sleep consists of several cycles of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and Non-REM sleep phases. During REM sleep, which lasts approximately 20 minutes, the brain is active and the sleeper is often dreaming vividly. Throughout Non-REM sleep, which lasts approximately 70 minutes, the brain is in progressively deeper sleep and the sleeper is resting. Each cycle lasts approximately 90 minutes, then repeats itself several times throughout the night. When a sleeper wakes in the middle of a REM sleep phase, they can feel scared and disoriented. When a sleeper wakes in the middle of a non-REM sleep phase, particularly in its later stages, they can feel exhausted, as though they did not sleep much. In the absence of external stimuli, the sleeper will normally wake up after the end of a REM sleep phase, before entering a new non-REM sleep phase. When this natural waking process occurs, the sleeper feels more refreshed and alert, even if the overall duration of sleep is shorter. Traditional alarm clocks are designed to wake the sleeper at a specific time. It is only by chance if this time coincides with the end of a REM sleep phase. Most of the time, sleep is interrupted at an inopportune time. As a result, the use of a traditional alarm clock is often associated with poor quality sleep, when the problem is actually the point in the sleep cycle when the sleeper is awakened, and not the quality or overall duration of the sleep itself. The user often compensates by exercising, taking a jarringly cold shower, or using stimulants such as caffeine (found in coffee and tea). Some alarm clocks include a "snooze" function. The user presses a button to turn off the alarm and have it sound again in 5 to 20 minutes. During repeated use of the snooze function, sleep is continually interrupted and may not contribute to a feeling of refreshment, even when the sleeper eventually wakes up. The proposed solution is a Sleep-Cycle-Optimized Alarm Clock (SCOAC) monitors the sleeper to determine when REM sleep has ended, and wakes the user at that time. This is accomplished through the use of a sensor that measures brain waves, heart rate, muscle twitching, eye movement, skin temperature, and/or some other indicator of sleep stage. The sensor uses Bluetooth wireless technology to transmit this information to a Bluetooth-enabled mobile device. A software application on the device analyzes the data to determine the current stage of sleep. Once it determines that the user has reached the optimal waking time (the point where REM sleep has ended and non-REM sleep is about to begin), it sounds an alarm to wake the user. Prior to going to sleep, the user enters the latest time at which they would like to be awakened, e.g. 7:30 am. The SCOAC uses historical data to determine the duration of one sleep cycle, and automatically computes the earliest time that the user can be waken. For example, if the user's sleep cycle is 84 minutes long and the latest waking time is set to 7:30 am, the SCOAC will determine that the earliest possible waking time will be 6:04 am. (The actual, optimal waking time may occur at 6:54 am one day, and at 6:17 am another day.) If the optimal waking time has not been reached by 7:30 am, the SCOAC will sound an alarm anyway, to prevent the user from oversleeping. By determining the point at which REM sleep has ended, rather than an arbitrary point in time, the SCOAC can wake the user at the instant when they will feel the most refreshed and alert. There are currently similar concepts to the SCOAC idea. These include: 1. http://www.halfbakery.com/idea/Sleep_20Cycle_20Alarm_20Clock 2. http://www.whynot.net/view_idea.php?id=452 3. http://www.mein.nagoya-u.ac.jp/www_groups/system04/wakuda/ 4. http://www.pages.drexel.edu/~hs65/ Freshman%20Design%20Presentation.ppt My solution is different from the Halfbakery idea in that my solution proposes specific implementation methods. For example, the Halfbakery idea does not include a wireless component between the sensor and the processor, leaving one to imagine a tangle of wires in the user's bed or a heavy apparatus attached to their body. My solution is lightweight and ergonomically superior. The Halfbakery web site is an online discussion forum in which users exchange ideas and comments on products that they wish would someday exist, like in a science fiction story. The Halfbakery idea requires two variables: the latest time and a time boundary. My idea requires only the latest waking time to be specified, and computes the earliest waking time automatically, making it more convenient for the user to use. My solution is different from the Why Not idea in that my solution proposes specific implementation methods. The Why Not idea is vague and does not propose any specific method of monitoring the user's sleep (except to point out that such monitoring would be needed). Like the Halfbakery web site, the Why Not web site is an online discussion forum in which users exchange ideas and comments on products that they wish would someday exist. My solution proposes something that can actually be built and work as intended. The Why Not idea specifies two times (earliest and latest). My idea requires only the latest waking time to be specified, and computes the earliest waking time automatically, making the solution more user-friendly. My solution is different from the Nagoya idea in that the latter does not identify the optimal waking time, a user interface, or any other description of how the solution or the user would determine an optimal waking time. My solution provides the user with a means of setting an appropriate latest waking time, making it more suitable for use by users who are on a schedule and need to wake up no later than a specific time. My solution is different from the Drexel idea in that my solution uses a powerful BackBerry wireless device and high-speed Bluetooth wireless technology, resulting in a more accurate predictor of optimal waking time. The Drexel solution suggests using a 6 MHz Zilog Z80 processor and a 4800 baud transceiver, which provides far less processing power and bandwidth, making it more difficult to make an accurate determination of the ideal wake time. My solution provides more accuracy and more options for future upgrades. The Drexel solution is also vague and non-specific when it comes to describing sleep cycles; it is a university freshman design project that was intended as an exercise in making design proposals rather than actually building a functioning device, as evidenced for example by the use of several pictures of generic alarms clock obtained from the web. The software application portion of my solution is based on Java, making it portable to a variety of devices, such as cellular phones and personal digital assistants, whereas the Zilog Z80 processor suggested by the Drexel solution is not as widely used in consumer electronic items. As a result, my solution provides the customer with more choice. The Drexel solution requires the user to set an earliest waking time as well as a latest waking time. My solution only requires the user to set a latest waking time, and computes the earliest waking time automatically, making it easier to use.

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SLEEP-CYCLE-OPTIMIZED ALARM CLOCK

An Alarm Clock Designed to Wake the Sleeper at a Point in His/Her Sleep Cycle When He/She Will Feel the Most Refreshed and Alert

Disclosed Anonymously

A normal night's sleep consists of several cycles of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and Non-REM sleep phases. During REM sleep, which lasts approximately 20 minutes, the brain is active and the sleeper is often dreaming vividly. Throughout Non-REM sleep, which lasts approximately 70 minutes, the brain is in progressively deeper sleep and the sleeper is resting. Each cycle lasts approximately 90 minutes, then repeats itself several times throughout the night.

When a sleeper wakes in the middle of a REM sleep phase, they can feel scared and disoriented. When a sleeper wakes in the middle of a non-REM sleep phase, particularly in its later stages, they can feel exhausted, as though they did not sleep much.

In the absence of external stimuli, the sleeper will normally wake up after the end of a REM sleep phase, before entering a new non-REM sleep phase. When this natural waking process occurs, the sleeper feels more refreshed and alert, even if the overall duration of sleep is shorter.

Traditional alarm clocks are designed to wake the sleeper at a specific time. It is only by chance if this time coincides with the end of a REM sleep phase. Most of the time, sleep is interrupted at an inopportune time. As a result, the use of a traditional alarm clock is often associated with poor quality sleep, when the problem is actually the point in the sleep cycle when the sleeper is awakened, and not the quality or overall duration of the sleep itself. The user often compensates by exercising, taking a jarringly cold shower, or using stimulants such as caffeine (found in coffee and tea).

Some alarm clocks include a "snooze" function. The user presses a button to turn off the alarm and have it sound again in 5 to 20 minutes. During repeated use of the snooze function, sleep is continually interrupted and may not contribute to a feeling of refreshment, even when the sleeper eventually wakes up.

The proposed solution is a Sleep-Cycle-Optimized Alarm Clock (SCOAC) monitors the sleeper to determine when REM sleep has ended, and wakes the user at that time. This is accomplished through the use of a sensor that measures brain waves, heart rate, muscle twitching, eye movement, skin temperature, and/or some other indicator of sleep stage. The sensor uses Bluetooth wireless technology to transmit this information to a Bluetooth-enabled mobile device.

A software application on the device analyzes the data to determine the current stage of sleep. Once it determines that the user has reached the optimal waking time (the point where REM sleep has ended and non-REM sleep is about to begin), it sounds an alarm to wake the user.

Prior to going to sleep, the user enters the latest time at which they would like to be awakened, e.g. 7:30 am. The SCOAC uses historical data to determine the duration of o...