Summer is nearly upon us, which for our faithful readers cramming for finals or licensing exams, means sleep is at a premium. It’s even more important, then, that in between reviewing organic compounds or summarizing 21 U.S. Code § 360c, your quality of sleep is at its very best.
Sleep trackers are a common feature of wearable fitness bands these days. They all work by correlating a good night of sleep with a limited amount of unconscious movement. However, there are drawbacks of monitoring sleep from your wrist, especially if you constantly have dreams of being Floyd Mayweather. Sleepace, a company based out of Shenzhen, China, invited us to stop by their booth at the Consumer Electronics Show back in January and bring back their new RestOn sleep monitor to review. Unlike wearable sleep trackers, RestOn is a thin, flexible strip that you spread across your mattress underneath your bedsheet. RestOn is so sensitive that it can sense your chest movements and provide information on heart rate and respiration.
It’s similar to the Beddit sleep tracker that we wrote about a couple years ago, but unlike Beddit, RestOn has a rechargeable battery, making it completely wireless.
Now that we’ve had a good number of sleeps to try out RestOn, including a few too many restless ones, we present our thoughts on whether RestOn can improve your sleep and your overall health.
Design and Hardware
RestOn consists of a thin, gray, flexible sensor strip nearly three feet in length that is spread across your mattress. On one end is a hard plastic base in your choice of white or black that houses the battery, on/off plate, and circuitry.
The base hangs off the top edge of your mattress and is secured to your bedsheet by a magnetic plate that sandwiches it. The magnet plate is an ingenious design as it also acts as the power switch of the device; simply rotate the plate 180° to turn RestOn on or off. There’s a green LED ring on the face of the base that shines through a small translucent window on the plate to help you know when the device is on. We found, however, that the LED was barely visible through our navy-colored sheets and so we went a few nights with RestOn inadvertently turned off.
Clocking in around the thickness of 18 sheets of paper, the sensor band was flexible and unobtrusive. We found it to be a little too narrow, however. As it’s important that the sensor be at chest level for accurate sensing, we felt it limited how far up and down on the bed we could lay. And, if you sleep alone on anything larger than a twin-size mattress, you’re further limited to sleeping on one side of the bed. Anyone developing sleep tracking sheets?
We love the fact that RestOn contains a 1500 mAh battery which Sleepace claims to last up to 30 days on a charge and recharges with a standard USB cable. However, charging RestOn may require you to remove it completely from your bed. We think that a better design choice would have been to integrate the battery in the magnetic plate so that it can simply be removed for charging, and the sensor band can remain on the bed.
Using RestOn is a two-step process. First, you need to power on the device by rotating the magnetic plate so the green LED light is visible. Next, you’ll fire up the Sleepace app (available for both iOS and Andorid) and hit the Start Sleep button to connect to the RestOn device. Finally, you lay back, relax, and hope that RestOn tracks a good night’s sleep.
Our experience went smoothly like this for most nights. RestOn was able to tell when we were in or out of bed, when we actually fell asleep, and when we started to wake up [NOTE: Since we first wrote this review, Sleepace released a firmware update for the RestOn which seems to always make it think we are not laying on top of it. We’re looking forward to a fix]. Our biggest complaint is that the battery did not last close to the promised 30 days. Our RestOn unit lasted only about a week before it needed to be recharged. We were also disappointed that one of the nights in which we had a pleasantly long and productive sleep, the RestOn ran out of battery and did not save any data. Implementing some sort of buffer would have been nice so we could at least view some of our sleep data from the previous night before the RestOn went dead.
RestOn connects to your iOS or Android device using Bluetooth 4.0.. Aside from a couple of interesting word and grammar choices that we sometimes see on apps developed in China, the Sleepace app is well-designed. The twilight color theme is attractive and strangely calming. We like the layout of the Sleep Analysis screen; your sleep duration is displayed in corresponding sections of a round clock with four colors denoting deep, mid, and light sleep and awake periods. A calculated sleep score is displayed in the middle of the clock with sleep duration and a sleep quality percentage breakdown at the bottom.
A second “Tips” tab lets you know about certain important highlights of that particular night, such as if sleep apnea was detected or if it took you too long to fall asleep. Tapping on these highlights gives you additional information about what occurred, what is normal/abnormal, how it could affect your overall health, and tips for improvement.
A third tab, “Details,” displays your sleep as a time graph so you can see how your sleep went up and down throughout the night. This tab can also display (way too small) graphs of your heart rate and respiratory rate over time. It makes it interesting to see how your heart rate and respiration change as you move in and out of deep sleep. Perhaps we did dream that we were Floyd Mayweather one night…
The final tab allows you to add comments and a self-evaluation to that particular entry.
The real-time sleep monitoring page is interesting, although not entirely useful. It is here that you press “Start sleep” right before you crawl into bed. The page will display real-time heart rate and respiration rate as well as respiration and (fake) ECG tracing graphics. You shouldn’t be focusing on this page much anyway if you’re trying to fall asleep.
We found the sharing feature to be lacking and useless. There are icons for Facebook and Twitter, but neither one seemed to work. There are also icons for popular Asian services WeChat and QQ, but most non-Asia readers probably won’t have accounts. We’re hoping Sleepace can add support for Apple Health and other 3rd-party services soon; there’s a lot of good data here!
- App and device are well-designed
- Rechargeable battery means the system is completely wireless
- Lots of interesting sleep data with relevant tips and advice
- Battery life is far less than expected
- Difficult to tell if the device is on or off
- Where’s the sharing and 3rd-party integration???
We enjoyed sleeping with the RestOn, and after using it, are convinced that ballistocardiography (the method used by RestOn and Beddit) is a far superior method of sleep tracking than actigraphy (the method used by wrist-worn fitness trackers). At $149, you can certainly get a fully-featured fitness tracker for the cost of the RestOn, but the accuracy, features, and personalized advice and action plans in the RestOn make it well worth it if you are primarily concerned about your sleep.
More info: Sleepace website…
Purchase on Amazon: Sleepace