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Is the Apple Watch a good gadget to monitor our sleep? We tested it!

per Dalvan Cunha (@dalvancunha)

It is becoming increasingly common to use gadgets to monitor the most diverse aspects of our health. An example of this is the Sade app (Health) of iOS. There are more and more areas of information and they can come from the various apps and gadgets connected to it. The most common devices are step counters, which generally also monitor sleep, and this last aspect we will focus on in this article.

I have seen more and more people worrying about this function to monitor how their nights are going. Currently, this can be monitored even with the iPhone itself, without the use of a specific gadget (through apps like Sleep Better). But of course, with a dedicated device, things are easier because you get other functions together. That was my idea when I purchased Misfit Flash, a relatively affordable bracelet ($ 30 off) that, in addition to monitoring steps, includes a sleep monitor.

I recently had the opportunity to purchase the Apple Watch and I already knew of its limitations in relation to sleep monitoring. Version 1.0 of watchOS did not allow access to the watch sensors. Even so, in a search I found an app called Sleep Pulse, which calls itself ?the first sleep monitor for the Apple Watch?. As I had to keep using my Misfit every night just to monitor sleep (since the steps and exercises I started to monitor with Watch), I was very interested to know if I could get rid of the need to use Misfit and, with a bonus, include heartbeat in sleep monitoring, making it even more accurate.


Sleep Tracker - Sleep Pulse 3 app icon

Because the invited me to try the app and that's what I did in the last few weeks! Without further ado, let's get to what matters: the evaluation of the app.

Configuring permissions

After installing the app on the iPhone and Apple Watch, you must first open it on the iPhone in order to give the necessary permissions for its operation. He will request permission to record "Sleep Analysis" and read data from "Steps" and "Pulse". In addition, the app needs access to ?Movement and Physical Preparation? data and ?Localization? services.

Getting to know the iPhone app

Sleep Pulse app review for Apple Watch

This is the home screen of the app. In it we have basic information of the monitoring such as date, time of your sleep, graph of movements and average of your heartbeat. Here, too, we can see a point that the app has to improve: the interface.

In my opinion, the information should be better positioned so that nothing is overlapping and the graphics should take up less space, allowing you to view more days without having to scroll the screen so much.

When you touch a monitor, you have access to the three screens above.

On the movement screen (first) we have a graph that represents your night movement (the same graph as the main screen). Below it we find some information about how your night went. They are:

  • Total sleep time ("You Slept");
  • Percent achieved of your sleep goal ("Sleep Goal");
  • Time you took to sleep ("Fell Asleep");
  • Time you spent in bed ("In Bed");
  • Light sleep time ("Light Sleep");
  • Deep sleep time ("Deep Sleep");
  • Time you stayed awake at night and how many times you woke up ("Awake");
  • Night step count ("Night Steps") and mean heart rate ("Mean BPM").

On the sleep analysis screen (second) we have the same data as the movement screen, but with a graph representing your night's sleep. In it we have the data of light sleep, deep sleep and moments when you woke up during the night. Generally on a sleep monitor this graph is the most important, so at the very least it is not the main graph in place of the motion graph.

On the other screen (third) we have the heart rate data. In it, in addition to some data from the others, we also have those related to heartbeat, as minima and maximums.

Back on the home screen, let's get to know the other areas of the app, starting with the icon in the upper right corner. By touching it we have access to two trend windows:

The weekly trend screen, as the name implies, shows its statistics for the past week; in the other, we have statistical data for the entire time the app is in use.

Again we go back to the home screen, where we can see at the bottom of the app that, in addition to the option "Sleep" (Sleep) that we have seen, there is still "Charts" (Graphics) and "More" (More).

Sleep Pulse app review for Apple Watch

Playing at the option "Charts" we have access to graphs for the last 7 nights, the last 30 days or the accumulated data ("Cumulative"). We also have the following graphs available:

  • "You Slept" = total sleep time;
  • "Fell Asleep" = time you took to sleep;
  • "Mean Heart Rate" = average heart rate.

Sleep Pulse app review for Apple Watch

Playing at the option More, we have access to adjustments and a help session.

As seen on the motion screen, the app allows you to set a sleep goal per night and, based on that, will inform you of the percentage that you have achieved from this goal in the item "Sleep Goal". The goal set by touching Set Sleep Goal.

Getting to know the Apple Watch app

In the images above we see the home screens in the app running on Watch. here where we start and conclude the monitoring, as we will see later. Note that when you drag your finger from right to left on the first screen (left), you have access to two more (right).

Because in the middle screen we choose the sensitivity of the monitoring, selecting from 1 to 3 with 1 being the most sensitive (if you have a heavier sleep) and 3 less sensitive (if you have a lighter sleep). a new function that came out in the last version of the app and is very interesting because each person sleeps differently.

The selected sensitivity will be used during the analysis, not during the night monitoring. That is, if you find that the data synced to the iPhone is inaccurate, select another sensitivity, go back to the app's home screen on Watch and tap Sync Again (Sync Again). With this, the app recalculates your data based on the new sensitivity. This is also useful for those who have another sleep monitor and want to combine the results.

On the last screen, the app presents us with some statistics.

Using the app

Using the app quite simple. When you go to bed you go to your Apple Watch, open the Sleep Pulse app and press the screen firmly (Force Touch) to activate the menu. After that just touch ?Tap to Sleep. The app will then start to mark your night.

Upon waking up, open the app on your Apple Watch and press firmly on the screen until the option appears Tap to Wake. Touch it to stop the monitoring. This will show the summary of your night in a chart of movement and another of heartbeats on your Watch screen.

In addition, the app sends the monitoring to the iPhone along with a notification on your screen. At this point, you take the iPhone and open the app to receive the Watch data. If not, close the iPhone app, open it again and on Watch tap Sync Again (sync again; on the app's home screen). This will send the data from the last monitoring to the iPhone again.

Compatibility with the Sade iPhone app

All said above, how is the data in the Sade app?

Sleep Pulse creates at least two launches per night, one of the In Bed type and the other of the Sleeping type. These are the only types of data accepted by Health. Thus, for any other type of information (such as light sleep or deep sleep) we will depend on the functions implemented directly in the app.

The launch of the Na Cama type represents the period you spent in bed and is calculated by the time between the activation and deactivation of monitoring on the Watch. The Sleeping type release represents the time you actually slept in this case, the app calculates through your movements.

"Sleep

During the evaluation period I also used my Misfit Flash to compare the data from Sleep Pulse with it and in the first figure above we see the releases of one night of the two on the Sade app. As Misfit works automatically, it has no way of knowing exactly when to lie down and for that reason it does not launch data such as ?In Bed?. In ?Dormindo? releases, we see a small difference between the two apps, which I consider to be normal.

If it detects that you woke up at night and fell asleep again, Sleep Pulse can make more than one Sleep type release for the same night, as shown in the second image. A note should be made here: the app presents a bug when the sleep time equals the time spent in bed. In this case, he only launches at Sade, of the Na Cama type. It is up to the user to go there and manually launch the Sleeping type (the third image shows how the launch is within the Sade app).

Comparison with Misfit

To determine the accuracy of the monitoring with Sleep Pulse, I made a comparison below of a monitoring that occurred on November 20 between the Apple Watch and Misfit Flash.

Above we have a comparison between the three types of sensitivity offered by Sleep Pulse. See that the differences are quite considerable, varying almost 4 hours of complete sleep. This shows how important it is to find the sensitivity that best suits you.

Sleep Pulse app review for Apple Watch

Here we have the monitoring on the same date made by Misfit, which I consider more accurate because it is hardware dedicated to this type of use.

Total sleepLight sleepDeep sleepAwake time
Sleep Pulse (sensitivity 1) 3h49min 1h44min 2h05min 3h21min
Sleep Pulse (sensitivity 2) 5h17min 2h35min 2h41min 1h54min
Sleep Pulse (sensitivity 3) 7h11min 3h12min 3h58min 0min
Misfit Flash 6h52min 3h32min 3h20min 14min

We have compiled a table to facilitate the comparison between the various sensibilities of Sleep Pulse and Misfit. Note that, in this specific case, the closest monitoring of the Sensitivity Misfit 3, but in some others that I did the closest to was Sensitivity 2. Thus, I chose Sensitivity 2 as my standard.

The problem that ends up being complicated for the user to define what sensitivity to use without a comparison with another source. Therefore, the way to synchronize more than once and evaluate which one best fits the night's sleep, until you find a pattern.

Recommendations

Apple announced the Watch as a watch for an entire day of use. In fact, in a larger use in which you do some physical activity (use more battery), for example, it will be necessary to charge the watch during the night. "But then, how am I going to monitor my sleep if the watch has to be loaded?"

Simple, change the loading schedule. In my case, for example, I have two strategies:

  1. As I work most of the time inside the office, I carry the watch sometime during my working hours;
  2. When I can't do it the previous way or forget, I leave the clock charging half an hour before bed.

In my tests, the watch consumed an average of 10% of the battery in nighttime use with monitoring, so even if you can?t charge it during some time of the day, you can use strategy number 2 that will get more than enough energy for the your monitoring.

Worth it?

Is it worth replacing a dedicated device with the pair Apple Watch and Sleep Pulse?

Something that can leave the user in doubt is accurate, especially in relation to the selection of the correct sensitivity that affects the division of light / deep sleep. The developer has to look for some way to make the process easier for the user. The good news is that he's been very active, so I think those improvements will come soon.

So, if your goal is to do sleep monitoring together with cardiac monitoring on a single device and have graphs of all this information, the answer to the previous question is worth it. I'm even going to stop using my Misfit alis, I already have. ?