Welcome to part 2 of our write-up regarding the top 10 best sleep trackers. We covered five (5) portable trackers (smartwatches and smartbands) in Part 1 which you can find here. The next 5 which we will analyse here are actually more dedicated sleep trackers. You’ll usually find these by your bedside monitoring your sleep using some specialised apparatus.Some of them even have additional features such as smart alarms (that wake you when you’re in light sleep), movement detection and the like. Lots of technology and innovation go into making these, so it only makes sense to have an understanding of how they can benefit you as a consumer.?If you’re a follower of the Quantified Self movement, this post is also definitely for you!
Withings Aura Smart Sleep System
The Withings Aura Sleep System is an all-in-one solution for sleep tracking, smart alarms and white noise generation.?It can also double as a?bedside lamp!?While it’s not the most attractive device to have in your bedroom, it does make up for its odd funnel?shape with a plenitude of functions. Released in 2014, this sleep tracker includes WiFi/Bluetooth connectivity and a range of sensors inclusive of those for measuring temperature and light. Upon unboxing, you’ll find?two?components: the core bedside unit and a strap that’s placed under the mattress (look out for your partner rolling on this though…it could distort your results). The strap enables the Withings Aura to collect information about your heart/breathing rates, time awake vs time asleep, movement and number of nightly arousals, and time spent in light, deep or REM sleep. It can also detect when you’re in bed and have fallen asleep, thus starting your recording automatically. All the data?collected goes back to a HealthMate app which you can put on your smartphone and review later on in the day.
The Withings Aura is unique in that it integrates the use of light and sound fairly heavily into its strategy for helping you get better sleep. It offers a set of sleep programs that you can select from once you’re about to hit the hay. Depending on your settings the core unit will emit a fading reddish glow set on a timer. Withings claims that this reddish glow actually helps stimulate the production of melatonin, hence helping you to fall asleep faster. When its time to wake up, the unit will begin to emit blue light which should assist in inhibiting melatonin, thus bringing you to wakefulness. If you decide to set a smart alarm, you’ll also be alerted based on when you’re in the lightest part of your sleep cycle. This helps beat the grogginess associated with waking up from deep sleep, which has been known to influence alertness in some cases for up to an hour! That said, some users have indicated that the sound is a bit jarring so they end up being frightened out of sleep rather than being gently awakened. I, for one, really dislike that–but hey, that’s just me.
While the Withing Aura has its good points, it has been said that the way it presents the metrics collected could do with some work. Sleep coaching today is very important so persons are not simply looking for data, but also advice on how to improve their sleep efficiency. It’s also pretty expensive as compared to the other trackers in this list. Nonetheless it is still a very complete and impressive product, which takes into account novel approaches to helping you fall asleep faster and to wake up more alert.
Sleepace is a company known for producing professional-grade sleep solutions. The Sleepace RestOn is a patented innovation packaged as?a single dedicated sleep monitor that can help owners get insight into their sleep patterns. This device leverages a long, thin strap which goes under the fitted sheet. The strap contains the sensor array and is wrapped in soft felt to maximise comfort. The monitoring component hangs off the side of the bed and uses a magnetised coupling, so you remove the head and place it on the other side of the sheet. It’ll reattach because of the magnets in the base, and then you’re good to go. The device captures a lot of detail, from restlessness, ambient light, arousals, deep vs light sleep, all the way to breathing rate and even apneas! All metrics are sent back to the Sleepace app (which has been hailed for its user friendliness) via Bluetooth. Obviously though, it falls prey to the usual issues surrounding trackers that use straps–if you’re prone to rolling about or have a partner you may end up with some distorted results on a few nights.
What’s pretty neat about the Sleepace RestOn?is the way in which it presents your sleep data. We are all prone to information overload when looking at a lot of metrics all at once, especially if we can’t detect any useful correlations. Sleepace?definitely took that into account, and as such, after a night of sleep you will be presented with a sleep analysis which shows sleep latency (how long you took to fall asleep), your heart and breathing rates and also any apneas you may have encountered. It won’t be able to say if you experienced an obstructive vs a central apnea episode, but this should be greatly helpful for apnea sufferers. The fact that it measures heart pauses is also quite a novel addition, since sustained rhthmic irregularities can be an early warning sign of heart disease. You will also be given a Sleep Score?which gives you an overall measure of your sleep efficiency. This is great because the user doesn’t have to guess how well they slept, it’s right there waiting for them along with helpful tips for improvement. They can then drill down to observe their actual metrics and vitals over the course of the night, and thus pursue steps to optimise their environment and/or their sleep hygiene.
The main challenge cited for the Sleepace?is related to convenience. This device does not offer automatic sleep detection?and must be explicitly told to start and stop monitoring. It’s also fairly unforgiving–if you happen to unpair it before stopping your recording, there’s a good chance you may end up scrapping you last night’s data. And then there’s the whole bit about it being liable to slip out of the bed at night, especially if you’re a restless sleeper. All-in-all however, this device and its accompanying app are?impressively user friendly, and comes highly recommended if you’re detail-oriented and sleep alone!
S+ by ResMed
The S+ by ResMed is one of the most innovative dedicated sleep trackers on the market, hands-down. Being comprised of a simple, brushed metal frame and a plastic sensor housing, it really appears to be unassuming. But being made by ResMed, one of the market leaders in the area of sleep therapy, it’s no joke to say that big things come in small packages. The S+ by ResMed basically sits at the bedside and uses nothing but high-frequency radio waves to monitor your sleep.?It is, in all actuality, the only non-contact sleep monitor available to consumers today!?Along with sleep and motion sensors, it can also pick up light, temperature and noise levels so as to help you better understand what in your sleep environment may require closer inspection and/or action.
As said before, the S+ by ResMed is a no-contact method for monitoring your sleep. As it turns out, that’s the reason why it requires a separate frame housing. The housing helps you to adjust the height of the ResMed’s sensor array because positioning is very important for the device to function as expected. Once it’s in the proper position,?you should receive optimal readouts.?Radiation is also not a concern; the simple Bluetooth signals that your phone emits carry around 10x the amount of energy as compared to those emitted by the S+. But how could radio waves actually be so information rich? That comes down to the patented way in which the S+ analyses the information. Each time the unit sends out a radio pulse, it listens for an echo. Based on the quality of the echo it can then work out whether or not you’ve moved, and what your breathing and heart rate may be.?Combined with the environmental data, it can then give you an overall Sleep Score that’s a measure of how well you recharged the night before. All of this is captured in the companion app on your smartphone along with your S+ account online. It’s sleep coaching function is also quite nifty — all recommendations are tailored to you based on your sleep performance over time!
Despite all the fancy features, the S+ by ResMed does not have automatic sleep detection. Thus you will need to tell it when you’re going to bed (and when you wake up) since it will not be able to detect that on its own. Additionally, since much of the data processing happens in the smartphone app, this can be pretty taxing on your battery. Thankfully, the S+ by ResMed has a USB port to facilitate this challenge. Even with these minor drawbacks, this tracker is clearly top of its class in terms of pure functionality. ResMed really outdid themselves here!
Hello Sense with Sleep Pill
The Hello Sense is another very innovative and dedicated bedside tracker. Being priced slightly higher than the Beddit, but just below the Within Aura, it foregoes the use of a strap altogether in collecting its information. Its design is a bit eccentric, but personally I find it very attractive in a futuristic kind of way?(possibly due to the fact that I’m a bit of a Trekkie). It is remarkably small (about the size of an orange), ergonomically designed with some interesting surface patterns, and can fit just about anywhere on your bedside table. The Sense unit itself houses a many environmental sensors, enabling it to tell you about humidity, ambient light and noise levels in your bedroom. A microphone allows it to be able to track snoring as well. It has a built-in proximity sensor which allows it to respond to a wave gesture, at which point it will glow and let you know whether or not your immediate surroundings are ideal for sleep (red for bad, orange for improvements required, and green for good!). The Pill itself is a small, battery-operated disc that can track your movement during sleep.
The Hello Sense wins out by virtue of its simplicity for use. You pretty much plug it in, pair it with your smart phone, clip the Pill to your pillow case and…well…leave it alone! When you’re going to bed, you can do a quick check to see if there’s anything you need to fine tune that may interfere with your sleep. Once you’ve been in bed for more than 20 minutes, the Sense will pretty much be able to detect whether or not you’re asleep. Having trouble sleeping? No problem! Select a sleep program that involves either white noise or soothing soundscapes accompanied by soft glowing colours and you’ll be snoozing in no time. It will continue to collect data throughout the course of the night and present you with a report via the Sense app installed on your smart phone. The?sleep score provided using the Sense app will help you understand how well you slept the night before, highlighting possible issues regarding disturbances etc.?You can also drill down into the historical information for greater insight. Lastly, like some of the other trackers presented here, the Hello Sense??would not be complete without a smart alarm. It normally tries to gently wake you up around 30 minutes of your regular wake time based on when it detects you’re in the lightest phase of your sleep cycle.
Though the Hello sense does attempt to provide sleep coaching services, some say it comes up a bit short in that regard. Yes, you do get a lot of data, but not much actionable advice that can really enable you to take the next step–which makes your results somewhat open-ended. On the flip side however, you do get comparisons to the statistics of other users, so then you can get a rough idea of how your sleep efficiency measures up. The other challenge cited is that the noise level monitor isn’t highly specific about how it reports disturbances, so it may be sometimes difficult to be sure of what the device may be detecting.??Nonetheless with all its features and controls (including voice commands) the Hello Sense is a great option particularly for sensitive sleepers or those who are seeking to improve their bedroom environments!
The Emfit QS is one of several under-mattress monitors produced by the Finnish company EMFIT. While it does indeed track sleep, it is pitched more towards athletes who are interested in rest and recovery as a means of maintaining or improving performance. Like the Beddit and Withings Aura, it utilises ballistocardiography (the study of bodily motion based on cardiac cycles) in order to ascertain what’s happening at night. Unlike the Beddit however, the Emfit QS is an under-mattress solution, which makes it virtually 100% contactless and remarkably unobtrusive. It’s pretty unique in that it not only measures heart rate, breathing and sleep cycles, but also heart rate variability and stress which are important biological indicators of health.
The Emfit QS excels at the flexibility it offers to users. It may not have smart alarms or funky colours but it does exceptionally well at data collection and dissemination. For one thing it doesn’t even have to be paired via Bluetooth, simply connect it to your WiFi and all the information is then accessible via browser anywhere you go. It collects and derives many metrics inclusive of 3-stage sleep (REM, deep and light). You also don’t need to tell it when you’re in bed–the Emfit will automatically detect that and start or stop recording on its own. All of the data is collated in near real-time. The dashboard is awash with all sorts of helpful current and historical data with highlighted trends, all of which contribute to a daily wellness report and overall sleep score . Due to the incredibly sensitive sensor, you can get near accurate results for just about anything, and make great decisions about what alterations may be needed to your daily training regime. The information collected can be shared with your ‘team’ if you so desire or exported to CSV.
Where the Emfit falls short is in its presentation of actionable insight. Yes, you’re presented with volumes of data, but you may not know what to do with all of it unless you have some prior context and really know what you’re looking for. Another thing to consider is that the Emfit isn’t equipped for monitoring external conditions such as noise, humidity and ambient light–so it you’re looking to optimise your bedroom, this is not the device for you. That said, it’s great for athletes and if you’re looking to up your game, then the Emfit represents an extremely promising solution.
That concludes our look at the top 10 best sleep trackers. I hope you found this informative and I’d like to thank you for reading. If you have had an experience with any of these or would like to get some questions answered, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!