How does an App monitor my sleep?

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Offline thedoc

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How does an App monitor my sleep?
« on: 26/05/2016 01:50:01 »
Milly asked the Naked Scientists:
   Science question: I've recently downloaded an app that supposedly monitors my sleep simply by being next to me on the bed, but I can't really wrap my head around how it could work. Is it simply just guessing and trying to trick me into thinking it's working? Or is there some truth and science behind it? Thanks!
What do you think?
« Last Edit: 26/05/2016 01:50:01 by _system »


Offline evan_au

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Re: How does an App monitor my sleep?
« Reply #1 on: 26/05/2016 10:52:07 »
I recently purchased one that sits on your wrist like a watch.

This device has many sensors in in it, including accelerometers and a barometer, plus LEDs that measure your heart rate. As far as I can see, it gives a pretty good indication of when you fall asleep, when you wake up and how many times you woke up or were disturbed in-between.

A device on your wrist has a pretty good indication of when you are moving; no movement for a few minutes suggest that you are asleep.

These sensitive, low-power and low-cost accelerometers were previously deployed in the smartphone market. So a smartphone on the bed should be able to pick up your movement quite well.

Although it may get a bit confused if your partner has a restless at night...


Offline saspinski

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Re: How does an App monitor my sleep?
« Reply #2 on: 20/06/2016 02:30:51 »
I've bought one that monitors me through a strip under the sheet that covers the matress.
I think the main control parameter to know if you fell asleep is the breathing regularity. When my wife sleeps while I am still awake, it is easy to know that by the difference in her breathing rhythm.
I've tried already to count slowly (1001  1002....) while breathing, and the device assumed I was already sleeping...
But it also informs if your sleep is light or deep. I don't know how. 


Offline ranuncudahlia

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Re: How does an App monitor my sleep?
« Reply #3 on: 22/06/2016 02:33:02 »
If this is an app on a smart phone/tablet (which I think is what you mean, given the wording of your question) then the answer is pretty simple. Pretty much all smart phones have a motion sensor in them, which measures movement and direction. The main use for the sensor is knowing which way is the ground (this is how phones can rotate the screen portrait style vs landscape style.)

The app, much like many games which use motion controls, uses this sensor to tell when you are moving and how. That's why the device works by setting it on your bed beside you. The app measures how much the phone/tablet moves, and then roughly compares the movement to how "awake" you would have to be to move like that. (Results, of course, can be distorted with the app; earthquakes, for example, may move the bed but not rouse you, or sneaky children/roommates/spouses may pick up the phone and move it.)

Hope my answer helped!