Sleep tracking has been something of an afterthought for fitness devices but there are one or, quite specifically, two companies out there looking to make this part of the connect self something of a speciality.
We reviewed the Beddit a few months ago and have managed to get hold of the Indiegogo-funded RestOn by Sleepace to see how it stacks up to the worthy sleep tracker.
Available for $149, these perhaps aren't devices that one would use forever but, stick with them for a month or so and you'll start learning things about your nightly patterns that you'd never even dream of.
RestOn: Features and design
Out of the box and it's very clear that RestOn has the edge over its nearest competitor in terms of build and design. Gone is the sticky flat computer cable of the Beddit, which you just know is going to break or, at the best, lose its stick sooner or later, and out pops something altogether more substantial.
Segmented, solid, covered in felt and nice and easy to wrap up and put away, it's reassuringly medical in appearance; something akin to a blood pressure band. The brains sits in the flat grey pebble of a unit at one end of the band with a single LED indicator to show whether it's on, off or in need of a charge. Instead of a switch to power the RestOn on and off, the top section is magnetically attached to the bottom. Lift it up, turn it around, put it back down; and you get the green light to start sleep tracking. It really is effortlessly smooth.
RestOn: Set up
Still, that lack of an adhesive side to the sensor band turned out to be a bit of a worry and, to some extent, a justified worry at that. Beddit sticks to your mattress and can go underneath both your sheet and your mattress protector too. With RestOn, you have to hope that its added mass – with yours on top of it – will be enough to stop it from slipping around in the night.
In truth, it's not quite. It did tend to move a little bit with any particularly large tosses and turns. That means that you should really reposition it before you go to sleep each night. That's a pain and, although it was certainly not uncomfortable, we were able to notice the RestOn beneath us through the night.
So, against instructions, we decided to put the added thickness of the mattress protector on top of the sensor band as well as the bed sheet. Rebel, rebel. This time it didn't slip, we couldn't feel it and it still did a decent job of recording our slumber as faithfully as it did before.
Once the device is set and in position, all you need to do is switch it on and pair it with the RestOn app on your smartphone over Bluetooth. Unlike Beddit, there's no need to have it plugged into the mains at all times. It has a very decent internal battery and it won't eat up the power on your mobile either because it only needs to communicate with your device at the start and end of the sleep session.
RestOn: Sleepace app
The Sleepace app for your phone is where all the information on your slumber gets gathered up and presented to you. The good news is that it's one of the prettiest, sleekest and most modern looking bits of wearable mobile software we've used. It's so carefully designed that it looks like Apple itself put it together. If anything, it's slightly overkill with the different ways it has to present the same material but that's nit-picking stuff really and the choice is there.
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The software and single RestOn device can manage multiple profiles and that's an excellent idea given that these sleep trackers are not something you're likely to use forever. A week or two and you'll quickly figure out if your sleep patterns are ok and then you might pop the thing into a drawer until another member of the household should need it.
As for the analysis itself, the app will tell you how much deep, mid and light sleep you got as well as the amount of awake time. But that's not all. You get a measure of your average heart rate, average breathing rate, the time it took you to fall asleep, how many times you got up in the night and how many times you turned over. The slightly scary part is that it also monitors in case your heart stops beating momentarily which is apparently an early warning of heart disease; not something you want to turn up in your morning report.
Plus, RestOn looks out for sleep apnoea as well. That would be well worth monitoring if that's the reason why you're still shattered after what on the surface was a good night's kip.
So, Sleepace tells you about all of that as a general bulletin. There's then the Tips tab which tells you what you got right or wrong and gives you a few lines of sleep coaching on what you could do better with plenty of detail for you to drill down into.
There's even a section where you can add your own comments on what happened that day which might lead you into finding out a pattern of what might be causing you trouble. The very obvious example that most people very quickly figure out is that if you have more than a single alcoholic drink in an evening, your sleep score plummets.
In short, there's really nothing more we could want in the app. So, presuming that the device works well, then we're onto a winner here. Right?
There's a very big problem with the RestOn and it's a pitfall which Beddit has been clever enough to avoid. Beddit can tell automatically when you've fallen asleep or woken up. By the combination of your movements, your breathing patterns and your heart rate, it just knows.
RestOn, on the other hand, while it can record exactly the same metrics, fails to interpret the signs. In fact, if you don't tell it to stop recording in the morning, it just assumes that you're in some kind of very long lasting light phase of sleep. That's not the way it's supposed to work. It's supposed to do what Beddit does and occasionally it actually manages to but it's way too haphazard.
That's a big shame and presumably something that will eventually get sorted out by some smarter software algorithms. Sadly, from that point in, we rather lost trust in RestOn's abilities. We wouldn't like to say if the problem is in the sensors or the software but, for the time being, it's not working as it should, it will completely warp your results in the app and that makes it impossible to recommend.
RestOn: Battery life
For what it's worth at this stage, the battery is insanely good on this thing. We used it for weeks and never, ever had to recharge it such is the clever way that it doesn't need to have Bluetooth blasting in order to work. We love that it doesn't need to be wired into the mains while you sleep on it too.
- Wonderful battery life
- Great sleep coaching software
- Lots of interesting sleep measurements
- Can slip a bit in bed
- Too easy to feel underneath you