Sleep by Motion X is an app aimed at encouraging you to both get more rest, and more exercise.
I downloaded it ages ago as a sleep tracker, the app uses your iPhones built in accelerometer to track your sleep patterns. You can either wear it in an armband or put it in the bed next to your pillow and it tracks your movements and in the morning presents you with a graph showing you periods of deep sleep, light sleep and wakefulness. It also features an alarm clock that will monitor your sleep and wake you gradually within a half hour window of your chosen time when you are sleeping at your lightest. In theory this means you start the day feeling more refreshed, though I guess that still depends on what time you went to bed and how much alcohol you consumed the night before.
The app isn’t just a genius way of being able to prove to people that you really did have a rubbish nights sleep. It’s also an activity tracker. Completing a profile of your age, weight and height enables the app to use the accelerometer to function as a pedometer. It can run in the background and track the number of steps you take each day and calories burned, as well as assessing how many of those steps were “aerobic steps”. It also has the function to record a walk, so you can also use it to track distance and time.
AND it has a handy almanac that will tell you sunrise and sunset times. Phew.
I’ve been looking for a good easy way to keep an eye on how active I am each day. I had eyed up the Nike Fuelband, but at £150 it seemed a little pricey for what is essentially a pedometer! Motion X Sleep costs a far more reasonable 69p in the app store. You can set yourself targets for steps to take each day (it defaults to 5000) and you can even set it to alert you if you’ve been inactive for a certain amount of time and ought to get up and go for a wander round. It also provides you with stats so you can look back over the last week or month and assess your activity levels.
The sleep portion of the app is interesting. If you look at the graphs and you can see differences in your sleep pattern on days you’ve been active, days you’ve been drinking (if you’re still sober enough to turn the app on at bed time) and see how much sleep on average you get a night over a week or month, which might help you explain why you feel so tired all the time.
The alarm is also a much more pleasant way to wake up than a klaxon sounding in your ear, though I don’t recommend the bells as I just managed to integrate them into a dream and sleep right through.
It only tracks your steps if you’re carrying the phone around. Sounds obvious, but it is a downside if you really want to see how active you are. Although it works in a pocket or handbag when you go outside it will miss all those little steps you take around the house or office unless you pick it up and take it with you. I also found that it didn’t work when I was actually running and using Nike + at the same time. So those steps weren’t counted, though Nike + tracks that bit, so how much tracking do I really need?!
I’ve also frequently turned the app off from running in the background without realising, meaning that nothing I did that day was counted and I look like a lazy old moo on my stats.
I have no idea of the accuracy of the sleep counter, or what some of the stats mean. Apparently my sleep was 82% efficient last night. Is that good? How much deep sleep SHOULD I have vs Light sleep? I have no idea of the answers to these questions which means that there’s not much I can do to resolve the problems, if there even is a problem. Do I sleep enough? Who knows?
The last downside is one that iPhone users will be familiar with. Having the app running in the background eats battery like the cookie monster eats cookies, and with the iPhones stupidly low battery life that can be a problem if you’re out and about all day. You’ll spend all your time desperately looking for plug sockets.
I think that for 69p it’s a good starting point to keep an eye on your activity levels. It might not capture everything, but if you’re aware of it and keep it in your pocket then it can give you a good idea wether you’re even hitting their 5000 steps a day target (10,000 steps a day is recommended by the NHS and Zest magazine the other month suggested I should be taking 15,000, which is a lot of steps!)
It makes you more aware of your activity levels, lets you wave a graph at people to prove you had a rubbish nights sleep and tells you what time the sun comes up. And it’s an alarm clock. You can’t go wrong for 69p really.
You can buy the Sleep by Motion X app from the iTunes store.