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Part 1 Sleep Tracking

It has been more than a year ago when I had jumped on the quantified self movement. I started to count my steps and use the Fitbit Flex for silent vibrating morning wakeups without disturbing my wife. Looked good, felt good, though the benefits were limited and charging, sync was quite cumbersome. Charging the device required taking apart, load into an USB cradle to charge, syncing via website of via bluetooth with limited compatibility to devices due to phone specific implementation especially on Android. The belt caused irritation on my hand, so we needed to part our ways. Credit to Amazon and Fitbit as it was taken back with full refund.

At the dawn of the motion coprocessor coming with iPhone 5S I had switched from Android and started to use those inbuilt capabilities for step counting. It is limited. My favourite sports are with bicycle, so getting my mountain bike had not much use with step counting… Indoor spinning, even worse in lack of GPS trail tracking.

More than a year and half passed, in this spring I am again in the mood to do more with sport after occasional running last year, to measure how much I do and what is the impact.

So I refreshed some devices around me and working out my tracking methods with an arsenal of apps on the IOS platform.

i tend to read late due to my hunger for knowledge both in form of books, electronic newspapers and curated contents via iPad apps as Zite or Flipboad, Twitter lists, and topic specific websites. This sometimes eating into the sleep. Therefore had decided to track my sleep and figure out what is the best to have extra awake time versus optimal rest to recover from sport activities.

SleepRate sleep stages

SleepRate sleep stages

Had tried 2 method and 3 laps so far for sleep tracking.
I have a Polar H7 bluetooth heart rate belt, thereforeI had used that with SleepRate app.

It needs the bluetooth connection to the tracker during the night to measure the sleep patterns, giving you total duration, percentage of light, deep, REM stages.
Connection and charging is important to consider for this measurement approach.

The presentation is quite pleasing and informative on the app to able to overview your sleep. The app has an upgrade with sleep improvement plan and few other capabilities.





SleepRate snoring and environmental noises

SleepRate snoring and environmental noises



It gives you the timeline for your sleep with the stages, and recording  snoring or environmental noises, which can be useful if you have weak sleep and need analysis of the causes.

The measurement is quite detailed, unfortunately the current version is not integrated to HealthApp to abel to on pass these detailed data.




SleepRate heart rate and relaxation level

SleepRate heart rate and relaxation level

Heart rate and relaxation level are also measured. You can add subjective notes and sleep rating, recording assumed stress level.  Was interesting to listen back the loud noises where they came from.

The weaknesses for me were coming the need of the bluetooth connection during the night, It required my phone being closeby and having internet connection as well. If the pulse belt is not tight enough, than during turning can loose the signal which has happened with me few times causing partial or erroneous measurement.

When planning to use the data for further analysis this can be a problem and rendering a period of sleep data unusable.



Another app I had started to use is SleepBetter. it is uses the iPhone5s or newer built in motion coprocessor while put on the mattress you are sleeping. Different benefits and restrictions comes with the measurement. It does not require bluetooth, wifi or GSM on, so can you set the phone into flight mode to minimise radiation. The phone needs to be on charger, otherwise might run out of battery – though this is true for the previous measurement as well.

SleepBetter one night overview

SleepBetter one night overview

It has also colourful pleasing look with less details compared with SleepRate, REM stage detection missing from the charts.

Otherwise information is clearly presented, colours adding easier overview at a glimpse.

While setting the start of the sleep recording you can record whether you had worked out, had a stressful day, not sleeping in own bed, had food late, had caffeine or alcohol. The pictograms bellow the timeline are indicating with a splash of blue any of such recorded fact.

Dream and mood rating are also recorded with additional notes.



SleepBetter insights

SleepBetter insights

Weekly , Monthly, Yearly and overall statistic view available selecting statistics from the most bottom menu.

Insights gives moon phase based sleep pattern, or relations recorded workout, or alcohol consumption by selecting the relevant pictogram. In the view here shows that 8 nights from the 15 recorded I had worked out, and this had increased my sleep with over 20 minutes in duration and the sleep quality with 3%.

I use the wake up of this application where I can set latest wakeup time and the time range within the app will wake me up when I am in a light sleep to have the best sleep possible with a little time variation accepted from me.


SleepBetter is able to share its data to HealthApp on IOS. Only sleep duration is unpadded however, so if you are experimenting with different apps and sometimes use other app for measurement you will have data in multiple places and unable to have long term analysis.

From HealthApp I can get out the data for further analysis into an CSV format, with QS Access app, however the richness of data is not kept while recorded data transferring between the different apps and data structures.

I was looking for a particular gadget to satisfy my needs , which had not showed up so far. If you happen to know a solution, please let me know. I am keen to have the device which can sense my sleep patterns and wake mu up with silent vibration when set, without the need of bluetooth or wifi connection to minimise necessary waves in my bedroom 🙂

 Part2 Blood pressure, pulse and HRV tracking