Sleeptracker Pro Review
Innovative Sleep Solutions LLC a month ago. The device is a watch, aimed to
find best waking moments, so that waking up has never been easier.
Sleeptracker monitors your movements while you sleep and wakes you up at a time, when you are in an almost-awake state, so that you wake up easily and feeling refreshed. Moreover, Sleeptracker Pro allows to upload your sleep data to a computer for analysis that helps you to improve your sleep habits.
I considered the watch as a good investment despite the price, because I am really awful at waking up. Does the product come up to the expectations aroused by the manufacturer’s promises? My experience shows that, although Sleeptracker Pro have a few shortcomings, the watch does what it claims.
How it works
Sleep cycle is what makes Sleeptracker possible. Sleeping is not a steady state, but a series of cycles that occurs throughout the night. Here is a sketchy graph of a typical adult sleep pattern (from the product manual):
Each cycle comprises different stages with different conditions of body and mind. That is why some waking up moments are better than others. So, if the alarm goes off while you are in an “almost-awake” state, you will wake up on the right side of the bed.
Despite the vague claim, that Sleeptracker “monitors signals from your body that indicate whether you are asleep or awake”, the only thing measured by the watch is movements of your arm. Sleeptracker uses a built-in accelerometer as a sensor to determine speed and direction of your motions. It is a potential drawback of the device, because accelerometer may be insufficient to reliable detect sleep phases, although it may be enough to merely register awake moments (usually, sleep stages and other characteristics of sleep measured by polysomnography, that includes simultaneous monitoring of brain waves, eye movements, hearth rhythm and muscle activity).
The watch comes in an unpretentious box, the package contains:
- the device,
- a fancy connector,
- printed manual,
- CD with PC software.
The watch is big and heavy, with small monochrome display on a moderately large face:
The device has two buttons on each side:
On the back of the watch there are: battery cover, communication contacts and labels (one of which promises water resistance to a depth of 10 meters):
The display includes current time, day, date, and alarm settings:
The watch has a back-lit:
The way the device connects to a computer is rather unusual:
Although you can wear Sleeptracker anytime, it only needs to be worn at night to be effective. The face of the watch must be on top of your wrist, and the band must be tight enough to suppress movements of the wrist inside the band.
There are four buttons to configure Sleeptracker and any of them can be used together with the backlit to interact with the watch in the dark.
Unlike ordinary alarm clocks, Sleeptracker uses two parameters to specify the wake-up time:
- ALARM TIME – the latest moment to wake you up.
- ALARM WINDOW – a period (before the alarm time), Sleeptracker uses to detect the optimal moments at which to trigger the alarm (default window is 20 minutes).
Besides, if you want Sleeptracker to record your sleep data, you should properly set TO BED TIME. After that time, the watch starts recording your sleep patterns. The device supports “button shortcut” to easily adjust this parameter at 30 minutes after the current time.
You can choose alarm type from the following:
- ringing alarm;
- vibrating alarm;
- ringing-and-vibrating alarm.
The alarm is activated at your first almost-awake moment within the ALARM WINDOW. If no almost-awake moments found, the alarm is finally triggered right at the ALARM TIME (as an ordinary alarm clock does).
You have two ways to deal with the ringing/vibrating alarm, you can:
- turn it off;
- snooze it until the default ALARM TIME.
After waking up you may review your sleep data. The watch shows all recorded almost-awake moments for the recent night. You can see when those moments occurred in chronological order as DATA 1, DATA 2, etc.
The average time between the almost-awake moments is called DATA-A, and aimed to determine how soundly you have slept (the greater DATA-A indicates the better sleep).
Sleeptracker Pro supports uploading the sleep data to the computer, so that you can track your sleep history and identify factors that may be affecting your sleep. Provided software supports only Microsoft Windows operating systems. A cable with the clip is a USB-to-COM adapter, that requires a special driver (packaged with the software).
To transfer the sleep data of a recent night, you need to do the following:
- Attach the included cable to your PC.
- Set the watch to the DATA screen.
- Connect the watch to the cable by inserting the clip into the holes on the back of the watch.
- Open Sleeptracker Pro software and add a new sleep event.
The software also allows you to manually enter your sleep data without connecting the watch to the computer.
The main window of the program contains the following:
- Date column – shows the date of each night.
- Sleep chart – the horizontal lines show the time you went to bed, when you woke up, and how long you slept; vertical ticks mark almost-awake moments.
- Mood column – indicates the mood you were in when you woke up.
- Data-A column – shows the average time between almost-awake moments.
- Factors column – lists circumstances that may have affected your sleep.
- Averages chart – shows your sleep averages based on all nights you have added.
You may customize the display of your sleep data by changing the period of view or by hiding certain categories of data.
I have already been using Sleeptracker Pro for more than a month, and I have mixed feelings about the device.
The idea behind the product is great, but it is not a silver bullet. Although Sleeptracker performs better than an ordinary alarm clock, waking up is still waking up (at least for me). Many times I successfully slept through the alarm because I didn’t feel much aspiration to leave a bed.
The design of the watch is hardly practical. While most people don’t want their alarm clock to be waterproof, Sleeptracker Pro is waterproof, and that is why it looks a bit clumpy (heavy sealed case with a lot of metal, tight buttons and a small display). It’s not very comfortable to wear such a device at night, also, I doubt that someone consider using Sleeptracker Pro as a day-to-day watch (particularly, because of bright orange strips on the wristband).
Still, the main drawback of Sleeptracker Pro is oversimplification:
- The device only stores one night’s data, and if you forget to acquire the data on a day, you lose it.
- The watch doesn’t detect the moment when you actually fall asleep, so if you want to record the sleep data, you have to predict and set that time by yourself (often I update that setting several times in one night).
- Included software is rather old-fashioned, and has limited analytical capability.
Nevertheless, the watch works as promised and I definitely feel the difference. Most times I was waking up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.
The ability to record sleep history proved to be valuable, but I avoid using the bundled software for synchronization and prefer to type night’s recordings into an OpenOffice.org spreadsheet (later I am going to develop my own program to store and analyze the data).
Vibrating alarm is an awesome bonus: waking up is definitely more pleasant without audible alarm. Moreover, for the first time I have a truly personal alarm that doesn’t awake the whole house (except me).
The idea behind the product is great, while the implementation leaves much to be desired. However, the device does what it is marketed for, and Sleeptracker Pro can actually improve the quality of your life.
Update: Take a look at SleepArchiver — a cross-platform data manager for Sleeptracker-series watches.