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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

Women on Top in Tech – Tara Velis, Growth Hacker and Digital Innovation Strategist

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(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)

I am talking to Tara Velis, Growth Hacker and freelance Digital Innovation Strategist. Tara was selected and recognized by TheNextWeb.com as one of the 500 most talented young people in the Dutch digital scene during the 2017 TNW edition. Tara is known for her creative, entrepreneurial spirit, which she is using to her advantage in leading the change in SMEs and corporates around the globe.

What makes you do what you do?

I tend to see life as a big, complex puzzle. Because of my curious nature, I am in constant development, looking for new angles and new approaches to business problems. Innovation through technology is exploring ideas and pushing boundaries. The most radical technological advances have not come from linear improvements within one area of expertise. Instead, they arise from the combination of seemingly disparate inventions. This is, in fact, the core of innovation. I love going beyond conventional thinking practices. Mashing up different thoughts and components, connecting the dots, and transforming that into something useful to businesses.

How did you rise in the industry you are in?

I consistently chose to follow my curiosity, which has led me to where I am today. If you want to succeed in the digital industry, you need to have a growth mindset. Seen the fact that the industry is evolving in an astoundingly quick rate, it’s crucial to stay current with the trends and forces in order to spot business opportunities. I believe taking responsibility for your own learning and development is key to success.

Why did you take on the role of Digital Innovation Strategist?

The reason for this is twofold. On the one hand, I got frustrated with businesses operating in the exact same way they did a couple of decades ago. Right now we are in the midst of a technology revolution, and the latest possibilities and limitations of cutting-edge technologies are evolving every single day. This means that companies need to stay current and act lean if they want to survive. On a more personal level, I noticed that I felt the need to use my creativity and problem-solving skills to their maximum capacity. In transforming businesses at scale, I change the rules of the game. I love breaking out of traditional, old-fashioned patterns by nurturing innovative ideas. This involves design thinking, extensive collaboration and feedback, the implementation of various strategies and tactics, validated learning, and so on. I get a lot of energy from my work because it is aligned with my personal interests.

Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries?

Yes, I look up to Drew Boyd. He is a global leader in creativity and innovation. He taught me how to evaluate ideas in order to select the best ones to proceed with. This is crucial because otherwise,you run the risk of ideas creating the criteria for you because of various biases and unrelated factors. He also taught me a great deal on facilitation of creativity workshops.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I tend to have the characteristics of a transformational leader. People have told me that my enthusiasm and positive energy is motivating and even inspiring to them. Even though I take these comments as a huge compliment, I am not sure how I feel about referring to myself as a leader. To me, it still has a somewhat negative connotation. I guess I associate the concept with being a boss who’s throwing around commands. But if a leader means listening to others and igniting intrinsic motivation in people, then yes, I guess I’m a charismatic leader.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?

Yes, one hundred percent. I believe that creativity and innovation flourish when a highly diverse group of people bounces ideas off each other. Diversity in terms of function, gender,and culture is extremely valuable, especially in the ideation phase of a project, as it can help to see more possibilities and come up with better ideas.

Do you have any advice for others?

Yes, I have some pieces of advice I’d like to share.
First of all: Develop self-awareness. You can do so by actively seeking feedback from the people around you. This will help you understand how others see you, align your intentions with your actions, and eventually enhance your communication- and leadership skills.

Surround yourself with knowledgeable and inspiring people. They might be able to support you in reaching your goals, and help you grow both personally and professionally.

Ask “why?” a couple of times. This simple and powerful method is useful for getting to the core of a problem or challenge. Make sure to often remind yourself and your team of the outcome of this exercise to have a clear sense of direction and focus.

Data is your friend. Whether it’s extensive quantitative market research or a sufficient amount of in-depth consumer interviews (or both!), your data levels all arguments. However, always be aware of biases and limitations of research.

Say “Yes, and…” instead of “No”. Don’t be an idea killer. Forget about the feasibility and budget, at least in the ideation phase. Instead, encourage your team to generate ideas without restrictions. You can compromise certain aspects later.

Prioritization is key. There is just no way you can execute all your ideas, and, quite frankly, there is no point in trying to do so. Identify the high potential ideas and start executing those first.

Encourage rapid prototyping. Don’t wait too long to experiment, launch, and iterate your product or service. Fail fast and fail often. Adopt an Agile mindset.

If you’d like to get in touch with Tara Velis, please feel free to reach out to her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/taravelis/

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Callum Connects

Marek Danyluk, CEO of Space Ventures

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Marek Danyluk has a talent for assessing the competencies of management teams for other businesses and pulling together exceptional teams for his own businesses!

What’s your story?
I am the CEO of a venture capital business, Space Ventures, which invests in seed and pre-series A businesses. I also own and run Space Executive, a recruitment business focused on senior to executive hires across sales, marketing, finance, legal and change.

My career started as a trainee underwriter in the Lloyds market but quickly moved into recruitment where I set-up my first business in 2002. The business grew to around 100 people. I moved to Asia in 2009 as a board member of a multinational recruitment business with the mandate to help them scale their Asian entities, which helped contribute to their sale this year, in 2017.

My main talent is assessing the competencies of management teams as well as building high performing recruitment boutiques and putting together exceptional management teams for my own businesses.

What excites you most about your industry?
Building the business is very much about attracting the best talent and being able to build a culture which people find invigorating and unique. It’s an exciting proposition to be able to define a culture in that regard and salespeople are a fun bunch, so when you get it right it’s tremendous.

From a VC point of view there is just so much happening. South East Asia is a melting pot of innovation so the ideas and quality of people you have exposure to, is truly phenomenal. The exposure in the VC has taken me away from a career in recruitment. Doing something completely different has given me a new level of focus.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Whilst I came here with work, both my boys were born in Singapore and to them this very much is home. That said, my father in law spent many years in the East so coming and settling here was met with a good degree of support and familiarity.


Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Possibly Hong Kong. It’s the closest I’ve been to working in London. Whilst there are massive Asian influences people will work with you on the basis you are good at what you do and work hard. I find that approach very honest and straightforward.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Always treat people well on the way up!”

Who inspires you?
I like reading about people who have excelled in business such as Jack Ma, James Kahn, Phil Knight, Sir Richard Branson, Elon Musk, all have great stories to tell and they are all inspirational. No-one has inspired me more than my parents and they are well aware as to why…

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Pretty much any technology innovation blows me away.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Whilst it is important not to have regrets I do continually wake up thinking I’m still doing my A’ Levels. So, I’d have probably tried a little harder in 6th form.

How do you unwind?
I like the odd glass of red wine and watching sport

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Japan skiing. I love skiing and Japanese food and it’s a time when I can really enjoy time with the wife and kids. I recently tried the Margaret River which was divine, although not technically Asia.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Barbarians at the Gate

Shameless plug for your business:
Space Executive is the fastest growing recruitment business in Singapore focused on the mid to senior market across legal, compliance, finance, sales and marketing and change and transformation. Multi-award winning with exceptional growth plans into Hong Kong and London this year, and the US, Japan and Europe by the end of 2022. We are building a truly global brand.

Space Ventures is interested in any businesses that require capital or management and financial guidance or any or all of the above. We have, to date, invested in on-line training, food and beverages, peer to peer lending platforms, credit scoring as well as other tech and fintech start-ups. We are always interested in hearing about potential deals.

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]

Twitter handle?
@Spaceexecutive

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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