Currently browsing Posts Tagged “sleep”

Fitbit Ultra – A Step Towards a Healthier Lifestyle

Fitbit Ultra, the latest update of the original Fitbit, is a step counter, which allows monitoring your overall daily activity. The current version also comes with a new stairclimb detection and has additional features such as a clock and a stopwatch. The small wearable sensor can be clipped onto your clothing or placed in your handbag. It comes with a computer connected base station for charging the sensor and transmitting your data wirelessly from the Fitbit device to your online profile.

Fitbit visualizes health information and motivates towards an active lifestyle

In its default settings, Fitbit suggests that you take an average of 10,000 steps each day in order to maintain a generally healthy condition. Obviously, this daily target, along with the number of stairs to climb, can be adjusted to your personal needs. Right on the website’s dashboard, you can see how well you’ve achieved your weekly score represented in the number of steps you’ve taken, stairs you’ve climbed, or calories you’ve burned. A number of other stats display ratings such as how long you are active each day, or how long and how well you slept at night. In order to better visualize your stepcount, Fitbit has implemented some game mechanics in the form of badges that are rewarded  according to the number of steps you take. These badges can be linked to foursquare, where they are displayed on 4sq’s website in the partner badges section.

Fitbit online profileIn the website’s log section, you can track other health information such as nutrition, non-stepcount related sport activities or physical parameters such as blood pressure or body weight. Your Fitbit online profile is compatible with Runkeeper’s health graph. When both services are connected, they will automatically share their data, even when obtained from third-party providers such as Withings Wifi Body Scale.

Now, with the product update, Fitbit also features an iPhone application, which helps you track your nourishment and overview your stats on the go.

Fitbit mobile appThe Fitbit can also be used as a sleep sensor. In order to do so, the device must be attached to an armband, which you wear while sleeping. By measuring your overnight movement, Fitbit detects whether you are asleep or awake, and gives you feedback on your sleep quality.

Does Fitbit help staying fit?

Fitbit does a great job at monitoring your step count. When I compared Fitbit’s count with that of the iPod nano’s pedometer, the results of both sensors were within a 5% tolerance range, which seems to be fairly accurate. Compared to the 2 days battery life of the nano, the Fitbit runs for at least a whole week, which is definitely a more user-friendly experience. The dashboard on Fitbit’s website displays a good overview of your activity stats and the log is a well-structured file for storing one’s health data. For those who want to collect their fitness data at services such as Runkeeper, Fitbit allows you to easily connect your Fitbit profile with them and import your step count to them.

Monitoring your step count and the number of floors that you’ve taken can definitely be a way to keep users engaged in improving their overall physical activity. A lot of people – including myself – feel motivated to walk instead of driving or take the stairs instead of using the elevator when rewarded with positive feedback. Especially allowing Fitbit to  automatically post your stepcount on your Facebook or Twitter account can certainly spur your pride and step up your motivation.

If you want to use Fitbit for sleep tracking as well, it can get a bit fiddly to constantly have to attach it to your armband overnight and then clip it back on to your clothing during the day. Companies such as Jawbone or MyBasis will soon come out with sensors, which can be worn 24/7 as a bracelet or watch, giving them an advantage over Fitbit’s convenience in everyday use. So far however, the Fitbit Ultra definitely remains a well-designed, user-friendly and health-engaging product that has made a great contribution to my personal wellbeing. With their just announced  Aria Wifi Scale, Fitbit has made clear that they are going to continue contributing to a healthier lifestyle even more in the future.

WakeMate – Get to Know Your Sleeping Self

WakeMate is a sleep phase alarm clock that can wake you up during one of your light sleep phases and in addition offers extended analysis of your sleep patterns. After my first experience with a simple iPhone app for sleep tracking I found it quite interesting to gain deeper insights into my sleeping habits with this dedicated tool.

Sleep phases correlate with subtle body movements and can therefore be analyzed with a scientifically proven method called actigraphy. Its main principle states that comparatively higher body activity indicates light sleep phases, whereas less movement indicates deep or REM sleep. WakeMate comes with an armband, which detects these movements and a mobile application that interprets this information and works as a user interface for the sleep phase alarm clock.

By monitoring your sleep activity, this app detects light sleep phases and – within a given timeframe, which you can set for when you intend to wake up – will alert you with a charming alarm tone at just the right moment. After waking up, you are informed of your sleep score, which is calculated comparing the length of your awake, light sleep and deep sleep phases. So far, it has really worked well for me. The alarm has always gone off either when I was already waking up, or when I was just about to turn over for a little more sleep. Even though I’ve never had problems getting up in the morning, this product can definitely help make waking up in the morning easier and less stressful.

In addition to being a sleep phase alarm clock, there are some other exciting features that WakeMate offers for the lifehackers among us. Straight from your mobile app, sleeping stats are uploaded to your free and personal profile on WakeMate’s website. There, you will get a detailed overview of your sleep score, which is projected over such variables as length of sleep, day of the week or the time of day that you went to sleep. Identifying the right circumstances for a higher sleep score might then be used to improve sleep quality. Other stats show sleep frequency based on sleep length, sleep or wake time. All in all, this gives you an outstanding representation of your general sleeping habits from any perspective you find most helpful.

Quantified self-experiments with WakeMate

One of my favorite features about WakeMate is the possibility to create several tags in order to analyze the quality of my sleep under varying conditions. I had a great time collecting a load of data and testing how my sleep quality would vary depending on differing influences such as stress, relaxation, social activities, late work nights or a few drinks. The results were actually quite surprising. Contrary to my expectations, my sleep scores turned out to be the highest when I had drunk lots of coffee that day or enjoyed working late into the night. On other nights, when I could unwind by spending some quality time with friends or while watching a movie, my sleep scores actually sunk. Maybe these results are based on the deep satisfaction the great work my team and I are doing gives me, or it just means that the short-term analysis over 50 nights doesn’t provide a solid enough database. As I extend this analysis long-term, I will keep you updated on the further results.

WakeMate Analytics from igrowdigital

Does WakeMate help improve sleeping habits?

Being an early bird type, I have never had trouble getting up in the morning, but still I enjoy using WakeMate as a pleasant way to start my day. I see the product’s main potential for improving sleeping habits in its analytical functions. Using WakeMate on a regular basis leads to a rich dataset. As the number of monitored sleep phases grows, the reliability of the data interpretation regarding different sleep circumstances will rise correspondingly. In the long-term, I expect this to produce some deep personal insights, which might be used to optimize sleeping quality.

WakeMate’s mobile application is available for iPad, iPhone and Android. I am currently using it on my iPad, which is most convenient for entering tags. Right now I’m testing WakeMate and Zeo in comparison -stay posted for the results!

 

Simple Sleep Tracking with the iPhone

Do you often feel tired? How long and how well did you sleep int the last days and when do you usually got to bed? In order to get answers to theses questions for myself, I analyzed my sleeping habits with an iPhone app called Sleep hygiene. All you have to do is press a button when going to sleep and again after waking up.

As you can track several sleeps a day, this will work for those of you who are into naps as well. After a few days you get stats on your average sleep length and bed time. I was really surprised with the results, which were kind of different from what I expected and recommend this to everyone who wants to find out some more about his sleeping habits. Sleep hygiene offers additional features such as tips on sleep improvement and suggests your optimal wake-up times based on biorhythm. Also, you might analyze your sleep stats in order to find out your optimal sleep-length and bed-time.

If you want to get more into details, there are sophisticated tools for sleep tracking. Using biosensors, you can measure data like body movement or brain activity, which allow monitoring sleep-length detailed into different sleep phases like REM or light sleep. Right now I’m testing WakeMate, Fitbit and Zeo to track my sleep. Watch out for in-depth reviews and comparison.