Time is divided into cycles that are exist beyond us, the spinning of the earth the path of the moon and the planet's path around the sun. But there are are also personal cycles. A birthday is a personal marker of the passage of a yearly cycle, we have individual sleep, work and activity cycles. Technology has helped us track a number of cycles and that is the topic of this blog.
I will start with one my favorite phone apps called Sleep Cycles by Maciek Drejak Labs. For 99 cents you can learn a good deal about what goes on when you are alseep.
My interests in sleep cycles stems from my college years where one way to earn money was sleeping in the Dream Lab. My head covered with electrodes and wires, I would sleep while complex machines tracking my patterns. It was this experience where I learned that we sleep in cycles, normatively of about an hour and half. We move from awake to light sleep moving gradually to a deep sleep with very little movement where when the body repairs and regenerates tissues, builds bone and muscle, and overall strengthen the bodies ability to deal with challenges. Following deep sleep, there is more restless cycle of Rapid Eye Movement or REM sleep where the person experiences dreaming. And then we start over again with light sleep on the way to another cycle of deep sleeping. If you are waken during a REM period you will remember your dream. If you wake up during the light phases that begin and end a cycle, you will be rested. However if you wake during a deep sleep, you will feel miserablely sleep-deprived all day. If you have regular hours in the same time zone, your body is pretty good at figuring how to adjust your sleep cycles to the hours of sleep you have. But if your time comittments vary, now your smart phone can help you.
Sleep cycles is a smart alarm that will track your sleep cycles and help wake you when you are in a light sleep. You give the program a time range (30 minutes before you need to be up works well) and you will be waken in the lightest period of sleep during this period. This is vital when you change time zones. But aside from the alarm function, I look forward to seeing a picture of how I slept each night. At night my phone sits off the edge of the bed tracking my movement. In the morning I judge my sense of my quality of sleep and then see what the phone app thinks of my night of rest. You can also keep sleep notes to help connect activities and eating patterns to sleep cyles. I am begining to understand more about my particular sleep cycles-- which vary widely each night.
Tracking Cycles of Daily Activity
Another tech toy for tracking cycles of activity is the FitBIT-- which by the way is going to be my birthday present. Here you wear a small device that tracks your activity day and night. And like the sleep cycles will send data to your computer to track your progress. But more than just track your cycles of activity and nonactivity it will share this infomation with your friends so you can compete to climb the most stairs or take the more steps. I have been trying to complete with my daugher with problem soving games that rely on speed of processing. Try as I might, my older mind is not as nimble as hers and no amount of hours seem to erase the effect of age. However, I might be able to more active than her-- or at least I can try.
Larger cycles of life..the stages of one's life might be tracked on a time line software and there are number of programs for creating timelines. Microsoft word has a time line template for the PC, but I could not find one for the Mac. I made a quick timeline called A Century Cycle on xtimeline --a free text based timeline program. I am planning on a 100 years of life and my DNA says I have a better than average shot at long life.
Then for comparison, I put the same information in Tiki Toki and made this timeline.
The point was really to mark a personal transition for me. I am transitioning from parenting & working to retiring& parent care. (And, hopefully I will be adding the role of grandparenting soonl.
I have been supporting new action researchers through cycles of research at Pepperdine University for over a decade. It is my hope that the students I have taught will continue to learn through these cycles of personal, professional and scholarly innovations. But I will be ending my formal role in supporting these efforts when I retire in July 2013. I do however plan to continue to be active in writing and supporing Learning Circles and in developing organizations that support action research (Center for Collaborative Action Research, Action Research Network of the Americas, and American Education Reseach Association Action Reserach Special Interest Group. These are structure that support personal cycles of change.