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Taskworld’s Top Sleep Aid and Data Tracking Apps

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Ever hit two or three o’clock in the afternoon and suddenly struggle to keep your eyes open? You’ve been cruising all day and now you can’t focus, your mind’s rereading the same document over and over again, you’re trying to solve problems to no avail—in the worst of times you’ll actually nod off for brief moments. I think it’s safe to say nothing is worse than being caught snoozing at your desk. The discovery by your coworkers or boss can sink the perception of your professionalism, or even worse, cause them to lose faith in you as a member of the team.  Fortunately app stores are telling us it doesn’t have to be this way! Take a gander through the iTunes App Store or Google Play and you’ll quickly find sleep apps—both trackers and aids, litter the market.

It’s neither a surprise nor mystery why sleep apps have become so popular, but do they really work? Below I’ve compiled some of the supposed game-changers in the sleep app market, highlighting their features and what sets them apart.

General Sleep Aids

White Noise (iOS only—Paid)
Background noise isn’t for everyone, but it’s quite common for people to need some kind of faint sound to fall asleep at night—whether it’s the fan running at a low speed; a light-yet-peaceful downpour outside; or having the air conditioner going. White Noise offers over 40 looped choices of ambiance with additional free sounds on their website. You can also mix multiple soundscapes together for your perfect sleep-inducing concoction.

 Sleep Genius (Free, iOS and Android, In-App Purchases)
Developed by experts in neuroscience, music, sound and sleep, Sleep Genius’ algorithms prep the user for sleep, steer them through each rest cycle and calmly wake you at your body’s optimum moment. Sleep Genius proclaims it’s “better” than White Noise. Sleep Genius is free to download, but users will quickly realize the buzz is around the in-app sleeping mode purchases, such as ‘Tranquility’, ‘Dreamscapes’ and the ultra-popular ‘Power Nap’ feature.

 Dormio (Free with In-App Options, iOS)
Dormio, for starters, boasts one of the more creative names among sleep apps, standing apart from virtually every other app which incorporates ‘sleep’ into the name. However, Dormio is not a gimmick, rather, another soothing sleep aid through natural soundscapes. There are also a bevy of in-app purchases offering everything from ‘Lucid Dreaming Hypnosis’ to ‘See the Universe’. There is also a 90-minute timer so your phone battery isn’t drained in the morning.

Twilight (Free, Android Only)
Similar to F.lux for desktops, Twilight fights back against the blue screen horridness that has ruined society’s ability to go to sleep at an appropriate hour. It’s quite common for people to read on their phone or tablet before going to sleep at night, even more common in bed. Twilight adapts your screen to the time of day, filtering out the blue tint after sunset and keeping melatonin production in balance.

Sleepytime Bedtime Calculator (Free, Android Only—Paid, Android & iOS)
For those of us who are fortunate enough to not need sleep aids, enter Sleepytime. It’s a wonderful calculator that gives you several options of waking up—all you need to do is input the time you’re going to bed (it accounts 14 minutes for the user to fall asleep). You can also do the reverse and select when you want to wake up and a list of times to go to bed (again accounting for that 14 minutes) will pop up. The same idea is at work here as with the other sleep alarm clocks; waking up in-between sleep cycles will make the user feel rested whereas waking up during one, even with an adequate amount of sleep, will cause the user to feel drowsy and sluggish.

Sleep Trackers

Sleep Cycle alarm clock (Paid, iOS)
The Sleep Cycle alarm clock collects nightly data on your sleep patterns and puts them into graph form. Like any reputable alarm clock app, Sleep Cycle claims to wake its user up in a lighter sleep phase while also incorporating an intelligent snooze option if the user decides they’d still like to sleep more. Place the phone face-down under your sheets for ideal performance. Probably the coolest feature of the Sleep Cycle alarm clock is the sleep notes, where users can see how their sleep quality fared after eating fast food, or drinking coffee, or getting yelled at all day by a tyrant of a boss.

Sleep Talk (Paid, iOS—Free with In-App Purchases, Android)
Sleep talkers rejoice! Sleep Talk can be a bit creepy in that it records everything that goes on throughout your night of rest. You may hear ghosts whispering faintly, bodily movements, your own haunting sleep conversations or…you may find out you have horrible sleep apnea. If you’ve always slept alone, how would you know about that? Now, you can find out exactly what is plaguing your sleep cycle. And don’t worry; there won’t be an eight-hour recording to listen to after each night of sleep. Sleep Talk filters any sound and records them instantly. There’s also a fun little feature which allows users to post their middle-of-the-night-rants or disturbing snoring to Facebook and Twitter.

SleepBot (Free, iOS and Android)
Perhaps the jack-of-all-trades app in that it offers sleep tracking, a smart alarm as well as records movements and sounds occurring through the night. SleepBot may not stand out in terms of quirky features, but it perhaps touches on all areas like no other app, while still offering 10 customized alarm soundtracks, graphed sleep data, movement tracking, effortless sound recording playback and a simple interface—SleepBot may very well be the most complete sleep app available, and it’s free!

For Insomniacs

Deep Sleep with Andrew Johnson (Paid, iOS and Android)
Championed for its ability to help long-time sufferers of insomnia, Deep Sleep with Andrew Johnson brings the soothing sounds of self-hypnosis to its users. The voice of Andrew Johnson has been described by some as an adult lullaby while empowering the deprived to control their feelings on rest.

pzizz sleep (Paid, iOS only)
Another possible solution for pleading insomniacs—pzizz sleep is unique in that it doesn’t have the same list of tracks to choose from nightly. Instead, every time a user hits start a new set of sounds is generated (well there is a limit to new sounds, but 100 billion may as well be unlimited). This feature alone makes pzizz able to be tolerated for much longer than apps offering an increasingly stale list of audio choices. More so, pzizz allows the user to choose how long the sounds continue for—starting at 10 minutes and lasting up to 10 hours, 45 minutes. Pzizz is a bit costlier than most sleep apps out there, but promises to be a long-term solution and not just something to experiment with over a month-long periods.

Yoga for Insomnia (Paid, iOS & Android—also PC and Mac)
Yoga for Insomnia will turn away a lot of users with its $4.99 price tag; however ones willing to give it a go anyway are likelier to stick with the app versus an easily-downloadable free option. Yoga for Insomnia provides rich images of various yoga poses with the purpose of creating better breathing patterns and thus, better sleep. Settings range from beginner to more advanced levels for longer sessions. Each picture instructs the user on proper breathing methods. This app is part of a larger suite of apps called useful health tools, which can be purchased at a ‘pay-what-you-want’ price.

Well, that’s great, but do these really work?

Great question, and to be honest, who really knows? Most of the sleep apps on the market today have little backing from stringent scientific support. But, I’ll argue, so what? If these apps have a strong Placebo Effect, then so be it, a lot of people still feel more rested and ready to tackle their day. More importantly, the littering of sleep apps has cleaned the window for which we analyze our own sleeping patterns. This shift toward caring about our sleep cycles and amount of sleep we get is extremely important for a world that produces sluggishly each day. With constant stress, pressure, deadlines—plus family and friend obligations, sleep is often the necessary priority getting shoved to the bottom of the list.

If we can slowly start a world-wide (technological world, at least) movement to care more about what time we lay our head and what time we rise, we can open our bodies and minds up to a wealth of health benefits, probably more than we even realize.

This article first appeared on Taskworld

Entrepreneurship

Is There A Coworking Space Bubble?

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An annual growth rate of nearly 100%, almost five years in a row? More than 60 coworking spaces in a city like Berlin? Are these the characteristics of a bubble? Nope, these are characteristics of a lasting change in our world of work, which has been further catalyzed by the recent economic crises in many countries. But what makes this change different to a bubble? We’ve summarized some arguments of why the coworking movement is based on a sustainable change. However, that doesn’t mean it’s an easy job to open a good working coworking space.

Five reasons why the growth of coworking spaces is based on organic and sustainable growth: 

1. Coworking spaces invest their own money and create real wealth

Already, there is a convincing argument supporting why coworking spaces are not developing in a bubble: the fact that they create real wealth.

Whether referring to the dotcom bubble a decade ago or the real estate crisis in Spain or the United States, the crisis originated in a glut of cheap money, in an environment in which the sender and the recipient were unacquainted. From funds and banks, money flowed in steady streams to investments which offered little resistance and the most promising returns – which only a little while later turned into delusions and ruined investments.

Redistributed risks create illusions. Those people who distributed the money rarely wore the risk of investment decisions. The risk was mainly taken by small shareholders or people who bought parts of those investments. This was because either both parties’ (better) judgement was drowned out by the noise of the market, or because shareholders were unaware of the risk, and were at the mercy of banks and funds for reliable information.

Another fundamental condition for the creation of bubbles are the sheer amounts of money that flow from various locations globally and are concentrated, by comparison, in much fewer places.

Most coworking spaces, however, receive their funding from local or nearby sources and do not operate within this financial system. In fact, the founders mainly inject the bulk of the required investment, and turn to friends or relatives for additional support. They wear the full brunt of the risks that are involved in small-time investment.

They have access to much more information, because it is their own project, rather than a foreign one thousands of miles away. This also includes failures and mistakes that are encountered along the way, but the risk is less redistributed, thereby decreasing the probability of failures.

2. Labor market changes demand on certain office types lastingly

Most users of coworking spaces are self-employed. The proportion of employees is also on the rise, in many cases simply because they work for small companies that increasingly opt to conduct their business in coworking spaces rather than in traditional offices. The industry of almost all coworkers fall within the Internet-based creative industries.

With flexibilisation of work markets, new mobile technologies that are changing work patterns, and the increase of external services purchasing from large and medium-sized enterprises (outsourcing), the labor market has changed radically in many parts of the world.

The long-term financial and emotional security of becoming an employee no longer exists, especially for younger generations of workers. Bigger companies are quicker to fire than hire, and precarious short-term contracts are on the rise. Promising options on the labor market are more often recuded to freelancer careers and starting your own company.

And that’s possible with less money to invest. All you need is a laptop, a brain and a good network. For years, the number of independent workers and small businesses has been growing worldwide – particularly in internet-based creative industries. Anyone who has sufficient specialized skills and the willingness to take risks may adapt more quickly to market conditions if they own a small business or are self employed; more so than if they were to work in a dependent position in an equally volatile market.

Coworking spaces provide an environment in which to do this. Once they have joined a (suitable) coworking space, these factors become apparent to coworkers, who will remain in their space for years to come.

Furthermore, independent workers rarely fire themselves in crises, and even small companies are less likely to give their employees the boot – compared to their large counterparts. This combination enables more sustainable business models – and less business models à la Groupon.

3. Coworking spaces don’t live on crises

Global economic growth is waning while the number of coworking spaces is continually growing. Do coworking spaces thus benefit from this crisis?

The current crises accelerate the formation and growth of coworking spaces, because they offer solutions and space for the resulting problems. Coworking spaces are therefore not a result of a crisis, but the product of change that pre-dates their existence. A crisis is simply the most visible expression of change.

The first coworking spaces emerged in the late 1990s; the movement’s strong growth started six years ago – before the onset of economic downturns in many countries.

4. Coworking spaces depend on the needs of their members

Most coworking spaces are rarely full. Does this mean they are unsuccessful? On average, only half of all desks are occupied. But the average occupancy rate of 50% refers only to a specific date.

In fact, coworking spaces generally serve more members than they can seat at any given time, since members do not use the spaces simultaneously. Coworking spaces are places for independents who want to work on flexible terms. Smaller spaces rely more on permanent members. Larger spaces can respond more flexibilty to the working hours of its members, and, can rent desks several times over.

If a coworking space is always overcrowded or totally empty, the purpose of said space would be defeated. Firstly, it is rather impossible to work in an overcrowded room. Second, it’s impossible to cowork in an empty room. Given the nature of flexible memberships, a coworking space only can survive if they fit the needs of their members. Members would otherwise be quick to leave, and membership would be much more transient.

5. The coworking market is far from saturation

Less than 2% of all self-employed – and even fewer employees – currently work in coworking spaces. Reporting on coworking may increase, but inflated reporting on the coworking movement in the mainstream media is still far away.

Coverage of coworking space are most likely to be found in the career or local sections in larger publications – front cover coverage remains the dream of many space operators. This is because the whole coworking movement can’t be photographed in one picture. What appears to be a disadvantage, however, is actually a beneficial truth: niche coverage allows the industry to grow organically, and avoid over inflation.

Conclusion

Coworking spaces don’t operate in parallel universes – like the financial market. Demand and supply are almost exclusively organic and operate in the real world economy.

For the same reason, there is no guarantee that opening a coworking spaces will be automaticly successful. Anyone who fails to learn how to deal with potential customers in their market, or is unfamiliar with how coworking communities function, will have a difficult time of making one work. In the same way that business people in other industries will fail if they do not understand their market.

Those who simply tack on the word ‘coworking’ to their space’s facade will need to work harder. The structure of most coworking spaces is based on real work, calculated risk, and real-world supply and demand.

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About the Author

This article was produced by Deskmag. Deskmag is the magazine about the new type of work and their places, how they look, how they function, how they could be improved and how we work in them. They especially focus on coworking spaces which are home to the new breed of independent workers and small companies. see more.

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Callum Connects

Dextre Teh, Founder of Rebirth Academy

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Dextre Teh is a consultant and marketing guru, helping F&B businesses to tighten their operations and grow their businesses.

What’s your story?
I help frustrated F&B business owners stuck in day to day operation transform from a glorified operator into a real business owner. I’m a 27 year old Singaporean second generation restaurant owner and a F&B business consultant. Entering the industry at 13 years old, I have always been obsessed with operations and systemisation. At the age of 25, I joined the insurance industry and earned a six figure yearly income. However, I left the high pay behind because it was not my passion and returned to the F&B industry. Now I help other F&B companies to tighten operations and grow their businesses with my consulting and marketing services.

What excites you most about your industry?
The food. I’m a big lover of food and even have a YouTube show on food in development. But that aside, it is really about impacting people through food. Creating moments and memories for people, be it a dating couple or families or friends. Providing that refuge from the daily grind of life. So in educating my consulting clients and training their staff to provide a better experience for their customers, I aim to shift the industry in the direction of creating memories instead of just selling food.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and bred in Singapore. I love the culture, the food and travelling in Asia.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore hands down. The environment here is built for businesses to thrive. The government is pro business and the infrastructure is built around supporting business growth. Not to mention the numerous amount of grants available in helping people start and even grow business. If I’m not mistaken, the Singaporean government is the only government in the world that offers grants to home grown businesses for overseas expansion.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Learning to do things you do not intend to master is a BIG mistake in business. Focus on what you are good at and pay others to do the rest.

Many business owners including myself are so overwhelmed by the 10,000 things that they feel they need to do everyday. We try to do everything ourselves because we think it saves us money. The only thing that, that does for us is overload our schedules and give us mediocre results. Instead we should focus on what we do best and bring in support for the rest.

Who inspires you?
Christopher M Duncan.

At 29, Chris has built multiple 7 figure businesses. He opened me to the possibility of building a business on the thing that I loved and gave me a blueprint of how to do it. He also showed me that being young doesn’t mean you cannot do great things.

Imran Mohammad and Fazil Musa
They are my mentors and inspire me every single day to pursue my dreams, to focus on celebrating life and enjoying the process of getting to where I want to be.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Time is always more expensive than money. Money, you can earn over and over again but time, once you spend it, will never come back.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I am a firm believer that your experiences shape who you are. I am grateful for every single moment of my life be it the highs or the lows, the successes and the failures because all these experiences have led me to become the person I am and brought me to the place that I’m at so I will probably do things the same way as everything was perfect in its time.

How do you unwind?
Chilling out in a live music bar with a drink in hand, listening to my favourite live band, 53A. Other than that I’m big on retail therapy, buying cool and geeky stuff.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bangkok. It feels like a home away from home where the cost of living is relatively low, the food is good and the people are friendly.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Everything you know about business is wrong by Alastair Dryburgh. It is a book that challenges commonly accepted business “truths” and inspires you to go against the grain, think different, take risks and stand your ground in the face of the challenges that will come your way as a business owner.

Shameless plug for your business:
I’m the creator of the world’s first Chilli Crab Challenge. It gained viral celebrity earlier this year with 3 major newspaper features and more than a dozen blog and online publications featuring it in the span of two weeks. In the span of the two weeks, the campaign reached well over a million people in exposure without a single cent spent in ads.

Now I help F&B companies to tighten operations, increase profits and grow their businesses with my consulting and marketing services. Chilli Crab Challenge (https://www.chillicrab.com/nationalday)

How can people connect with you?
You can connect with me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/djtehkh) or visit www.rebirthacademy.sg for more information or book a 10 minute call with me @ www.tinyurl.com/dexclar

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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