Long, dreary days of work and school can build up an appetite for sleep. As we dwell in our subliminal slumber for hours at a time, we then begin to ease into the different stages of sleep. Suddenly, we are awakened by time. Alarming sounds forcefully wake us from our sleep, making us reach for the nearest “snooze” or “stop” button. Unknowingly, we have constricted the blood vessels in our bodies and have increased our heart rates, leaving us vulnerable to retaining high blood pressure and risk of heart attacks in the future.

In 2004, the National Institute of Industrial Health in Japan conducted a series of tests that included seven subjects, all of which were between the ages of 65 and 80. The study titled, “Self-Awakening Prevents Acute Rise in Blood Pressure and Heart Rate at the Time of Awakening in Elderly People” provided attempts to self-awaken and forcefully awaken subjects from their sleep.

Doctors Kosuke Kaida, Keiko Ogawa, Mitsuo Hayashi and Tadao Hori conducted the experiments and had to consider the many factorable conditions such as room temperature, illumination and overall health conditions of the subjects.

“Self-awakening, waking up at a designated time decided before sleeping, could prevent failure in the blood circulation vessel system such as heart attack, acute increases in heart rate or blood pressure upon waking," according to the researchers. "Previous research showed that anticipatory changes occurred in heart rate prior to awakening from a short nap by means of self-awakening for young participants.”

During the study, all subjects were placed in rooms for a 45-minute nap and were instructed to wake themselves from their sleep. The following week, the same protocols had taken place, except this time, subjects were forcefully awakened through the doctor's projected voice over a microphone.

The study proved that “from the present experiments and analysis, self-awakening can prevent the acute increases in blood pressure and heart rate in the elderly. It may also reduce the risk of coronary heart attack that might occur after sudden awakening from an afternoon nap”.

To reduce the harmful effects of forceful awakening through traditional alarm systems, technology such as the new IOS 10 update offers an innovative way to control the amount of sleep desired through its Bedtime app. By controlling the amount of hours of sleep on the desired days of the week, customers can easily manage their sleep in a more efficient way. The alarm system is quite different as music is gradually played to awaken the individual without being too alarming compared to traditional alarm systems.

Other apps, such as the Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock, are also available to smart phone users. By analyzing sleep patterns, the app works to design the perfect amount of sleep needed and wakes you during your lightest sleep phase.

Technology for healthy sleep has been designed to assist in maintaining good sleep patterns and to reduce the risk of attaining irregularity in heart configuration and high blood pressure. As students, we should be just as concerned for our health as we are about getting through our day.