Hands-on review: Nokia Sleep
Wi-Fi enabled sensor promises advanced tracking of sleep, heart rate, snoring and more, and it simply fits under the mattress.
The physical part of the Nokia Sleep is a soft, grey, fabric mat that unrolls. It has the look and feel of a blood pressure monitor cuff, but you don’t wear it: instead you tuck it under your mattress at around chest level. It’s wide enough to span close to the width of a single mattress or go halfway across a double mattress. A (fairly short) USB cable sticks out to power it; you’ll need a socket near your bedside.
Set up is simple. The app and quick-start guide walk you through adding it as a device, using Bluetooth initially and then Wi-Fi ultimately, for automatic synchronisation. Once set up, your phone doesn’t have to be anywhere near the bed to automatically get updated with your latest snooze stats.
The Nokia Sleep rolls up small, so could easily be used when travelling (though you’d have to connect it to a new Wi-Fi network).
If you have other Nokia Sleep or Withings products they all pair with the same companion app, Nokia Health Mate. It works with Withings because Nokia Health and Withings are the same thing. It’s complicated. And it’s changing again.
Nokia bought Withings in 2016 and rebranded as Nokia Health... only to announce this May that it is selling it back to Withings co-founder Eric Carreel. So the Nokia Sleep will presumably get a new name soon, at the very least.
We followed the set-up instructions and found that the Nokia wouldn’t pair at first (perhaps the review sample had been used before) but the instructions showed us how to reset the device with a poke of a paper clip and then it behaved well.
We have a very thick mattress, so we weren’t convinced that the sensor would be able to register our movements, let alone heart rate. Ultimately this fear was unfounded. Somewhat.
Each morning you can open the Nokia Health Mate app and see graphs of your sleep the night before. The timings and a graph indicating time spent sleeping lightly, deeply, REM or not at all. You also get a sleep rating and cumulative stats, so you can see if your night-times have improved over the course of the week. You can spot patterns in the data easily, thanks to the visual representation of it.
Did the device work through our thick mattress? Yes. Did it track our nights well enough? Not always. The problem being that it tracks the movements of whoever’s on that side of the bed. If you have children diving in and out of the bed some nights, or you sleep alone and roll into the middle of the bed, then it can’t do the job properly. Instead it records the movement, snoring, etc that it can feel, whereas a wristband would absolutely track you and you alone.
But it’s more than a tracker. Knowledge is the main use of a sleep tracker like this, but the Nokia goes further. It’s IFTTT (If This Then That) compatible, which means you can set up simple instructions linking it to other smart devices. For example, you can turn smart lighting off automatically when you climb into bed, or on when you rise. You can tell your phone to be silent at bedtime. You can trigger smart-heating controls to come on in the morning and turn the kettle on, just by waking. You can even tell it to turn the bedside light on gently if you get up in the middle of the night to pee. These aren’t life’s essentials, but they are pretty cool gimmicks.
Getting a good night’s sleep is essential, though, and the Nokia Sleep could be a good tool to help with this, aside from the above caveat that you – and only you – need to sleep on the correct side of the bed for the data to be meaningful. It is nice not to have to wear a wrist tracker or charge it.
Just as wearing an activity tracker by day doesn’t do the exercise for you but can be a good motivator, the Nokia can help you understand, and ultimately improve, your sleep patterns. It puts you in charge. And it stops you kidding yourself: you’re presented with the bare facts on when you actually go to bed and get to sleep, how restless your night is, and what time you surface. If knowledge is power then this is a powerful tool for anyone who’s struggling to take charge of their sleep generally or facing challenges such as jetlag or working nights.
It’s also a good choice if you’ve already bought into the Nokia/Withings ecosystem with a fitness monitor or smart scales, because all the data is synced with the same app.
Fitbit Alta HR
This slim tracker is worn like a wristwatch and tracks your activity by day and sleep by night. Again, a companion app presents you with all the stats graphically.
This app uses your iPhone or Android phone’s microphone and accelerometer to track sleep cycles. Clever and a bargain, but it does mean tucking your phone under the corner of the bed sheet every night (but not covered by pillows for fear of overheating). iPhone users who pay for Premium also get snore detection and wake-up features including weather reports and Philips Hue lighting control.
Great value for an activity tracker for day and night. It’s not a wristwatch because there’s no display, but you can wear it on your wrist or on a necklace. And its simple design makes it swimproof, small and light, with an impressive battery life of four months.
From £29.99 misfit.com/uk_en/