Beddit Sleep Monitor review

The wearable that you don't need to wear in the land of nod
Beddit Sleep Monitor

Almost exactly one year since its over-achieving crowd-funding campaign, the Beddit sleep monitor is available to buy. A wearable you don’t wear it at all, it drew just over half a million dollars of support on Indiegogo with the promise of measuring your heart rate, your breathing rate and, ultimately, the quality of your unconscious downtime.

We wanted to tell you what we made of this $149 device but we thought we'd sleep on it first.

Beddit: Design

There's really very little to it straight out of the box. The largest portion by far is the 65cm-long, 3cm-wide, flexible, adhesive sensor strip from which you peel the paper on the back and stick across your bed. It comes off a bit like big, flat PCI computer cables that you’d find inside a PC and ours wasn't all that willing to play ball when we attempted to remove the crinkles from where it had been bundled in the box, as per the instructions. Nonetheless, that didn't seem to upset its functions at all.

Counting sheep: The best sleep trackers and monitors

It's up to you whether you want to place it directly under your bed sheet or beneath a mattress protector. We tried it both ways. It was still able to do most of the job when there was an extra few millimetres of linen but it did mean that Beddit wasn't so good at detecting the times that we woke up in the night. Either way, it was never uncomfortable to sleep on nor really detectable at all, despite the fact that it cuts across the mattress at chest level.

The sensor can be moved but there is a warning in the instructions that it will eventually lose its stick. Apparently that's okay though, because you can always replace the adhesive strip with a piece of double-sided sticky tape. We're not that impressed with the idea of having to get all Blue Peter on its ass but, fortunately, we moved it around three or four times in our tests and didn't notice any degradation.

Beddit: Set up

At the end of the sensing strip, and designed to hang down along the edge of the mattress, is the computational gubbins of the device. It felt a little odd setting this thing up to pop out like that but you'll only need a tiny bit of duvet to spare for it to be hidden beyond sight. Out of the unit comes a wire with a USB plug on the end that jams into an adapter and into the mains.

Now, we're not exactly sure how we feel about sleeping on something that's plugged into our electricity supply. Yes, it's convenient and it means no battery issues but what if – and, yeah, we're going to say it – what if you accidentally wee the bed?

“Like any electrical device, there is an electrocution hazard if you get Beddit wet while it is plugged in,” reads the manual. Not the most comforting of words.

Now, it's been a very long time since that kind of accident happened in our lives but why live on the edge like those crazy electric blanket people? There's also the possibility of getting one's bedside glass of water spilled over oneself and said wired up Beddit device.

Are these events likely to occur? Well, not really, no, but why roll the dice in the first place? You get the picture.

Beddit: How it works

If we knew exactly how the Beddit sensor managed to get readings of your heart rate and your respiration on a flexi-strip through your bedsheets, then we'd probably be millionaires too. The fact is that we don't and it doesn't really matter. The point is that it just works and works really very well.

Essential reading: How much better can sleep trackers make us feel?

All you need to do as the user is download the Beddit app to either an Android or iOS device, pair it with the sensor over Bluetooth and then hit the button on your phone to start recording. Now, this doesn't mean that Beddit will assume that you're asleep from that moment. Between readings of your breathing and your pulse, it figures out when you've dropped off.

When you wake up in the morning, it's then a case of heading back to your phone to turn off the recording session and you'll be presented with a summary of how your night went including periods of deeper and lighter sleep, times when you woke up, occasions when you got out of bed and how your breathing and heart rate changed throughout the session.

Your other option is to use Beddit's Smart Alarm system. The idea behind it is to rise in the morning feeling as refreshed as possible. You set the time that you need to wake up by and Beddit will give you a shout at the moment it deems most suitable in the 30 minutes preceding. And that's when you're naturally sleeping at your lightest.

Did we feel more refreshed waking up at 6.45 instead of 7am? Not really. Personally, we'd rather sleep as long as we can no matter what and that's what the professionals advise as well.

Beddit: Accuracy

Beddit doesn't claim to be medical standard in terms of accuracy and we don't think it is. It felt like it got things right most nights but it's hard to say precisely because of obvious reasons. The general picture seems close enough to make comparisons from one evening to another, though, and so judge good and bad sleeping patterns.

It takes a night or two to get over the awareness that something's watching you while you sleep, and that can cause a bit of anxiety – not the best emotion when you're supposed to be at your most relaxed. Generally, though, we're fairly convinced by what Beddit is able to do.

Rest longer and feel better: Sleep monitors explained

What it can't manage is to differentiate dream sleep from non-dream sleep, nor can it give you a break down of exactly which of the five stages of sleep you're in at any moment but it's certainly clear enough to tell the times when our slumber was deeper than others.

If you think you have a sleep problem it seems like a decent, if slightly expensive way of getting some kind of realistic measure of the facts.

It's expensive because you're still going to have to see a specialist and get hold of some medical grade equipment should the problem persist. It's also expensive because there are other sleep trackers – okay, far less impressive ones – that you could use instead, but they have all the activity and fitness functions too. Beddit is for sleep and sleep only.

Beddit: App and dashboard

The Beddit app is something of a frustration. On the one hand, it's a work of graphical user-interface beauty; right out of the top draw. You get very neat bar charts, line graphs and chronological displays of how long you slept for, your heart rate, how many breaths per second and some kind of hypnogram of your sleep cycles through the night.

The trouble is that you can't drill down into any of it. Instead, it's put together as a sleep score based upon how many hours kip you've said you'd like to get each night, and that's rather typical of Beddit. It's all slightly headless. We're not the experts. You tell us how much sleep we should be getting or whether we need to cut down on caffeine, go to bed earlier or whatever it is that we're supposed to be doing to feel better.

The app does have tips and suggestions but they don't seem tailored to the user in any way. Some kind of online dashboard and a way of integrating this data with the rest of our quantified selves is what's needed but presumably that will come. The other option is a deeper sleep analysis that can indicate exactly what each of us might need to change.

In the States, Misfit seems to have taken Beddit under its wing, so expect some link up with Shine and Flash activity data. Our concern would still be that there's little in the way of sleep coaching, though, and only really the measuring of our shut-eye instead.


Beddit Sleep Monitor
By Misfit
It's really quite impressive what Beddit can measure given how simple the device appears. It's no hassle to set up and it's perfectly easy to forget about it once you have. It's also streets ahead of what you'll find inside most smartwatches and fitness bands that also happen to monitor sleep. You don't need to wear it, you don't need to charge it and you don't need to tell it when you've gone to sleep or woken up either. Better still, it seems to have an accurate enough grasp of how much deep versus light sleep you're getting. Sadly, though, it's not quite the complete package. The biggest concern is that, after you've woken up each morning and seen your sleep score, there's a bit of a full stop. At the time of writing, there's no integration with other health and wellness dashboards and the actual sleep coaching is far too minimal. Ultimately, the technology of the hardware is right where it needs to be but the interpretation of all that cleverly captured data isn't.

Hit
  • Simple to set up, easy to use
  • No battery worries
  • Generally accurate
Miss
  • No real interpretation of the data
  • No integration with other services
  • Accuracy good but not perfect

2 Comments

  • 4theConnector says:

    As a Beddit early adoptee, I received your Android specific feedback outreach via our Beddit Google circles. Which drove me to your page here. I am not trying to be pithy, yet this would be my response to the content of your review.

    Dan....you are VERY taken with yourself, and it demonstrably comes through in your cheeky writing style. Sadly in this case, that obfuscates the technical and potential sleep-health interpretations Wearable readers should and typically want to see when a product is reviewed.

    <> You never indicated over how many nights/weeks you tested the device - so that you and we the reader could honestly palpate night-2-night changes or what you learned

    <> Never stated that you Xreferenced your personal sleep data tracking over that amount of time w/1-3 other staffers, or even friends - hence, the reader has only 1, diminished, linear perspective

    <> Never tried to reach out to longer term users (Beddit would volunteer them or you could have 'asked' in the Beddit Google Circles postings)...to source satisfaction levels for contrast, against your (it would appear) much shorter summary usage.

    <> Your early on summary - "The point is that it just works and works really very well." - is then forgotten when the remaining body of the article poses confusing scenarios Vs reframing with actual 'we got this data, did not know how best to interpret, had ?'s and the company addressed them' So its clear to readers you are impressed when you describe all the cool feature readouts/graphs a user receives in the AM....but then you couch the results with: "The trouble is that you can't drill down into any of it...It's all slightly headless....all these tips/sleep suggestions don't seem tailored to the user in any way....our concern would still be that there's little in the way of sleep coaching

    <> WTF did you want or expect from a $149, 1/2 micron thick, 2' strip under your sheet or your mattress cover, placed ONLY under your chest, that is blue-toothing signal readouts to a cell phone in "sleep mode," ....Vs multi-million dollar sleep labs, with sleep patients brain and body wired to VERY specialized computers, and actual human scientists up & monitoring all night to calculate the momen-to-moment results.....to actually tell you ? ? ?

    <> you have a typo under the App & Dashboard pic..."based upon how many hours kip you've said you'd like to...." Sleep deprived when you submitted this, eh...?

    Before Beddit and now a host of other sleep measuring devices, humans had absolutely NO WAY to palpate, document or partially gauge HOW they were sleeping. At their Dr's office for a health issue or just for an annual physical, the ?'s most asked of the human: "How are you sleeping? Do you fall asleep easily, do you drink alcohol before bed, do you eat late, do you smoke in bed, do you fall asleep watching TV in bed, do you exercise B4 bed, do you know or get woken up by your own snoring (another critical Beddit tracked feature you forgot to mention...) --- received a fairly 'Yeah, maybe, I dunno, I think so', my wife slaps me, so'.....answer.

    Now for the FIRST TIME, using a Samsung Galxy 4 Beddit app, we can actually articulate intelligently to Dr's (or just me) - with tracked statistics - and real-time-relevant sleep data about my sleep patterns and snoring hazards. Plus, if I have HBP, heart palpitations, spiking pulse or other sleeping issues....I can provide correlated data with my nightly resting heart rate avg's, and if I snore every night, on just some nights and for how long.

    The same way in which a FitBit does NOT TELL YOU individual-to-your-body-type the negative implications of your heart rate going up too fast, or going too low, too soon after a run, Beddit had to start somewhere - use < than 4k paying global alpha product testers ongoing feedback - fine tune the soft and the firmware reactions to multiple sleeping styles - make improvements, all from aX the pond - gain primarily NON-retail, NON-advertising follow-on adoption - and now has the runway to become an even better mini-sleep-data lab....w/out a direct to brain wired hookup - lab technicians watching. That alone is friggin amazing!!!

    I have found that once aware of all these data points, I know when I have eaten late, had alcohol too late, had too much in sugary food too late, did not stretch / meditate before bed - because my sleep data goes way off the core averages. This and the above, are the essence of what you missed bringing forward Dan.

    From a reporting perspective via the Wearable.complatform....it's not mostly about you....its about the greater us, and what after a full product vetting, might be possible for us to receive from the purchase of this reviewed wearable.

  • jonio says:

    This product has everything going for it. Ease of use, you don't even know it's there. After using it for a week or so I believe it has helped my sleep and I love finding out every morning how I slept and then I can understand what I need to get a good nights sleep.

What do you think?

Connect with Facebook, Twitter, or just enter your email to sign in and comment.