Getting a good night’s sleep can make the world of difference to our health. Here at Fresh Design we’ve previously focused on the importance of having a good mattress to ensure we can sleep comfortably, but could technology help us too?
That’s the challenge that the folks at ResMed set us! They’ve developed a nifty gadget that can help you monitor your sleep and assess how well you’re actually sleeping, then use the results to improve your sleep where needed. Our intrepid sleeper put the S+ monitor to a thorough test.
The gamification of sleep
Getting the chance to try S+ has shown me how well I sleep. And by giving me a ‘sleep score’ each morning, it’s given me an incentive to adopt better sleep habits.
The S+ device is a cube that you insert into a frame which holds it above mattress-level. The manual describes this cube, or pod, as ‘the engine which captures your sleep and bedroom environment data. It uses highly accurate, patented sensor technology to monitor your breathing and body movement.’ You pair it with your smartphone via Bluetooth.
From app to Zzzz
Data is collected and presented back to you the next morning via the S+ by ResMed app. You’ll need to download this from the iTunes store if you use an Apple device, or Google Play if your device runs on Android.
To use S+ by ResMed, you need to create an account, which lets you use any compatible phone with your pod. As it’s a quasi-medical device, you must agree to quite wide-ranging terms and conditions. There’s also a questionnaire to complete after you login for the first time.
Setting up the unit each night is a bit of a palaver, but worth it. As often as not, you’ll need to begin by pairing your pod and phone via Bluetooth. The home menu displays your previous sleep score and lets you view its ‘Sleep Mentor’, a set of brief articles that advise how to sleep better; your Sleep History; and Mind Clear, which lets you record a memo for the morning about tasks or issues on your mind:
Clicking on the big Sleep button loads a Pre-Sleep questionnaire about how stressed you’ve been during the day, how much exercise you’ve taken, and how much coffee and alcohol you’ve drunk. It’s a useful moment of reflection, data from which can also build up a longer term picture for you of your habits:
This is also, I daresay, a useful base of crowd-sourced data for ResMed.
The Sleep screen also tells you about your heartbeat rate, ambient light levels and room temperature. After hitting the Sleep button, you plug your phone in to charge overnight – the ResMed AC mains adapter includes a phone socket – and settle down for the night.
In the morning, it’s time to reach for your phone once more, open the app and stop sleep data recording. After a few seconds, the unit will tot up your score and show you a graph for the night, above those for previous nights, so you can see whether you’ve slept better or worse:
Tapping on the graph shows on a detail screen how well you slept. Different colours show periods, respectively, of deep sleep, when your body gets its best chance to repair itself; rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, when you dream; light sleep; disturbances; and the time it took you to get to sleep:
Tapping on ‘How is your sleep score calculated?’ opens a pie chart that compares your sleep quality against the ideal in each of the tangents measured by ResMed. Last night, as it was a Friday night and I didn’t set my alarm, I slept for nearly eight hours but got only 80% of the deep sleep I needed and 90% of REM sleep:
Although sleep is the one thing over which you have no conscious control, getting data like this is a good motivator to create the right conditions and habits that will enable you to sleep better.
You can also log into your account on the mysplus.com website. This displays all the information available in the app and, in addition, shows you your scores over the course of each month in chart form:
On a few nights, it has failed to track data throughout the night, leading to an abnormally low score.
On other occasions, there have been early mornings when I’ve been awake and S+ has recorded this as sleep. In general, though, it seems pretty accurate.
My only other niggle is that the app could be better designed. You keep having to use the Back button to get back to the main screen. Adding a ‘hamburger’ menu icon would easily fix this.
The Fresh Design verdict
Overall, S+ by ResMed is a very useful sleep tracking device. It has reassured me that I actually sleep better than I think. Nevertheless, it’s only a device and can only give you data and general advice. So if poor sleep is seriously worrying you, please see your GP or physician.
Where to buy the S+
For more details, visit www.splus.resmed.com and follow @FixMySleep on Twitter.
(Disclaimer: We were sent a device to review, but all views and opinions are our own)