“Quantified self” is a term used to describe the intersection of technology and health that drives heightened awareness of a person’s state of being. The most well-known consumer device in this area might be the Nike Fuelband and one dimension where it falls notably short of its competition is in sleep tracking, which the Fitbit and Jawbone Up both offer.
However, devices specifically focusing on sleep tracking exist. Most notably in 2009 the Zeo was launched as one of the first consumer devices in the quantified self movement. The Zeo consisted of one device strapped around the user’s head to record sleep data and a second device that served as an alarm clock and data upload machine. Aside from the awkwardness of sleeping with an electronic device strapped to your head, the rest of Zeo’s user experience was pretty cool. The metrics were simple: REM sleep, light sleep, and deep sleep, total amount of sleep, and “ZQ” — a made-up sleep quality score not unlike Nike Fuel.
Enter Beddit, a sleep monitoring technology that can monitor a user’s sleep patterns without the need to wear anything — headband, wristband, or otherwise. I was offered a chance to experiment with Beddit and based on my prior experience with Zeo, I was eager to give it a try.
Beddit is incredibly easy to install. Place the sensors on your mattress, plug them into the Beddit device, connect to wifi, and you’ve completed all the hard work. After adjusting your profile settings, all you have left to do is sleep.
Beddit offers four metrics beyond sleep: movement, heart rate, ambient noise level, and light level. This data can help illuminate factors impacting your sleep. I might need to take Beddit with me on my next trip to New York to measure just how much taxis honking and city lights impact sleep quality.
In addition to the machine data, Beddit allows you to add notes to each night to help explain what happened. For example, if you exercised that day or had a spicy meal, your annotations can help correlate activity to sleep quality, allowing you to modify behavior accordingly. Like any other device, Beddit can’t change your actions but it can help you understand quite a bit in order to affect change.
Looking forward: as the quantified self movement evolves, keep an eye out for convergence with the connected home. Imagine this scenario: Beddit is tracking your sleep and you have a higher movement rate than usual. In response, Wemo dims the nightlight in your hallway. Nest raises the heat a couple of degrees, because the temperature has dropped below freezing. Your Android phone switches to do not disturb mode, silencing noisy app alerts. You wake up the next morning feeling relaxed and refreshed.