Sometimes, goes the old joke, I wake up grumpy…at other times, I let him sleep.
Grumpy need never wake up anything less than refreshed, thanks to a futuristic alarm clock that monitors sleep patterns and waits for the sleeper to be in the best possible phase before rousing him.

The gadget, SleepSmart, exploits the discovery that sleep patterns are repeated approximately every 90 minutes, with a cycle of light sleep, deep sleep and rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep, during which we dream most fully, New Scientist says.

The point in that cycle in which you wake can affect how you feel when you wake up — and being roused during the light sleep phase means you are likelier to wake up perky.

Using a headband equipped with electrodes and a microprocessor, SleepSmart records the distinct pattern of brainwaves produced during each phase of sleep and transmits the data to a clock unit near the bed.

The user programmes the clock with the latest time at which he wants to be wakened. The alarm then goes off during the last light-sleep phase before the deadline.

The idea for SleepSmart came from a group of students at Brown University, Rhode Island, who have formed a company to promote their invention.

“They have almost finished a protype and plan to market the product by next year,” the British weekly science magazine reports in next Saturday’s issue.

More here.