Withings Sleep Analyzer (€130)
Whether we admit it or not, sleep is important. There are plenty of people who see a lack of sleep almost as a badge of honour, and the baseline for every person is different, but if you don’t give your body adequate time to rest, eventually something will give.
The Withing Sleep Analyzer is possibly one of the least intrusive sleep trackers I’ve seen. You don’t wear anything, or even have to remember to charge it. The slim pad fits between your mattress and the bed base and uses wifi to transfer all the data it gathers to the Withings Health Mate app. It can even be used if you share a bed with someone and still work accurately.
It tracks movement, monitors for noise and can help monitor for sleep apnoea. If you’ve never heard of the condition, it is where the walls of the throat relax and narrow as you sleep, interrupting breathing. It can manifest as excessive snoring, or as episodes where sufferers stop breathing temporarily, drawing you out of deep sleep or even jolting you awake briefly as your body gasps for air. If you suffer from it, it can lead to interrupted sleep on a regular basis. Not only can that cause fatigue, but sleep apnoea can also lead to conditions such as high blood pressure, arrhythmia or worse. And it can impact those who live with you too.
But many people aren’t even aware they have it. Usually, testing for sleep apnoea requires a sleep study, either in a medical setting or with special equipment at home over a few nights, and that data is interpreted by doctors. This analyser has been clinically validated against the data gathered by what is considered the gold standard of sleep monitoring.
The best thing? You don’t have to do a thing once it’s set up. No charging, no calibrating, you don’t even have to remember to transfer the data; the Withings analyser is of the “set it and forget it” variety. As long as you leave it plugged in, this device will look after everything else. Connecting it to the app is done in a matter of minutes, and once the initial short calibration is done, you can get to sleep.
A few things to note. Positioning is important, with the device working best when positioned at chest level in your bed so it can measure heart rate. It also needs decent contact with the mattress, so make sure your base is firm, although it works fine with slatted bases.
The Withings device needs power, but it comes with a very long cable, so that shouldn’t present a problem. It’s a standard USB connection too, so even if you lose the plug, it is easily replaced.
I used a wrist-worn tracker to compare accuracy on heart rate and sleep scores; the Withings device tracked accurately, even though I wasn’t sleeping alone. I forgot it was there after a week or two, with the data just being incorporated into my health statistics.
I learned a few things. First, that my resting heart rate is healthy enough. Second, I’m not a regular snorer. And third, I have about seven to 10 sleep disturbances an hour, which falls in the realm of normal to mild sleep apnoea, and – considering at least half of those would be child-related on an average night – nothing to worry about.
As far as sleep trackers go, the Withings sleep analyser is my favourite, because it’s so hands-off.
There is no real inconvenience with this device; plug it in, set it up and you are good to go. You don’t have to remember to wear it, charge it or tell it to monitor anything. It works with most types of mattresses, including thick ones, memory foam, even water or air beds, and ditto for slatted or solid bed bases. Each day, the data is sent to your Healthmate app on your phone and presented in an easy to understand, colour-coded format, with some advice on what it all means.
The not so good:
It must be carefully positioned to capture all the data accurately, so if you are a bit of a sleep roamer, it may not work as well for you. It’s also another device that you have to invest in, when devices such as a smartwatch will give you most of the data already – sleep apnoea diagnosis aside.
It comes with a long enough cable that should reach a power outlet somewhere your room. The device calibrates itself regularly, with a subtle whirring, but the first time you hear it can be a little alarming.
The Withings Sleep Analyzer is a fuss-free tool for those who want more detailed data on their sleep, especially if they suspect sleep apnoea may be a factor.