For centuries, the study of sleep has fascinated scientists, researchers, and philosophers. In the past, those who sought to understand their sleep patterns faced practical hurdles. As recently as the early 2000s, sleep technology was complicated, expensive and awkward, often involving complex methods and research from sleep labs, not from your own bedroom. The idea to develop accessible, easy-to-use technology and putting it straight into the hands of the user was how Sleep Cycle was born. 

The beginning  

The original Sleep Cycle app was developed in close collaboration with sleep experts using the accelerometer present in the very first iPhone. Unlike electronic sensors in other phones, the “new” iPhone’s accelerometer was extremely sensitive, able to pick up on the smallest of movements. In order to wake people up in their lightest sleep stage, we used this motion-sensing technology to build a device that identifies which sleep stage someone is in simply based on their movements.   

In 2009, the Sleep Cycle app officially launched, helping people worldwide wake up feeling energized and well-rested. Users embraced it immediately, showering the app with praise and 5-star reviews. We knew we were onto something big. In the years that followed, we focused on building out and improving our technology in order to create a powerful and insightful user experience.  

The evolution  

In its 12-year history, the Sleep Cycle app has grown to be so much more than a smart alarm clock. We moved beyond the original accelerometer technology, and developed patented state-of-the-art sound analysis technology that continues to evolve and improve through machine learning. The app still wakes you up in your lightest sleep stage, but with richer content and tailored insights added to the sleep tracking.  

In 2011, we began to gather sleep data that provided users with statistics on their sleep behavior. Over time, the statistics and data collection methods became more advanced and detailed. Sleep Cycle users now have access to features designed specifically with their sleep in mind, features that can help them understand their sleep and take steps to improve it.  

As our user base expanded by hundreds of thousands annually, our growing team found new ways to help them:  

  • In 2015, we launched the world’s first audio-based sleep tracking platform, driven by AI. 
  • We implemented daily sleep graphs that use both audio and accelerometer-based data to show users how they slept the night before. The graphs map the number of times the user sleeptalks, snores or moves throughout the night. 
  • We introduced statistics that allow users to see how sleep quality is affected by weather, location, moon phase, and daily activities.  
  • In 2017, we launched our platform on wearable devices, further increasing accessibility and ease of use.  

Using these features and insights, Sleep Cycle users can see the full picture of their sleep patterns, empowering them to positively change habits that affect their sleep. 

Clearly, good data does not always translate into good sleep. There are many distractions and stress factors that keep us up at night. Calming down before bed seems to be getting increasingly difficult. In 2019, we launched Sleep Aid, a vast library of relaxing sounds, soothing stories, ASMR, meditations and ambient music created to help people fall asleep with ease. Based on feedback from users, it seems to be working.    

The impact  

Sleep Cycle’s mission is to improve global health by empowering people to sleep better. Every step we take is with this purpose in mind. 72 percent of Sleep Cycle users said that they sleep better when using our app, which is encouraging; when people get a good night’s sleep, they are taking an essential step towards improving their overall health.   

We have grown to be one of the most commonly used sleep solutions, a responsibility we take seriously. We aim to make a difference in the lives of each individual user, customizing insights based on their unique sleep journey. In 2020 our users received more than 71 million notifications with personal advice and insights, setting them on a path to better sleep. People have used these insights to make significant lifestyle changes.  

As personal as each user’s insights are, the breadth of our impact is global. We have analyzed over a billion nights of sleep in more than 150 countries. As one of the world’s most comprehensive sources for sleep statistics, we proudly contribute to enlightening sleep research and reporting worldwide.   

The future   

We are working towards a world in which sleep is a priority for everyone and understanding and improving sleep can begin with tapping into Sleep Cycle’s vast set of tools at your fingertips. 

In 2020, over two million people used our app more than four times a week. As we grow, we will keep exploring ways to help people sleep better. We will expand our strategic partnerships, we will enhance our technology, we will broaden our sleep coaching offerings, we will track world sleep trends.   

Sleep Cycle is now a holistic sleep service, and our story is just getting started.