This Apple Beddit Review (v3.5) will demonstrate very quickly that an updated sleep monitor product is not necessarily a better one.
Apple bought the Beddit company and product (Beddit v3.0) in Q2.2017. Things went quiet and then the Beddit v3.5 model was released by Apple just before Christmas 2018. So that’s a whole 18 months of development. As we shall, see all that there is to show for all that development time is LESS functionality.
Indeed BEDDIT 3.5 is a relatively minimalist sleep monitor. Talking with other industry (competitor) players the speculation is that Apple may have reduced the features down to only those which they can validate to be correct (for now). As a result, when compared to the competition, BEDDIT 3.5 demonstrates notably less functionality and usability. However, I have long suspected that many of the watch-based, competitor products kinda guess at things like sleep stages. So, in one way, Kudos to Apple for half-recognising this and omitting that kind of data for now but then double-negative Kudos points for trying to cash in on Christmas with what I would say is an overpriced product.
Nevertheless, I was specifically assured (verbally) in the Apple Store (Kingston) that Apple Beddit v3.5 will receive firmware updates through to the next version. If not, I’m a mug for a good sales line! And really it is the updates that I am waiting for as I like the sleep analysis products available elsewhere on the market and find the whole area kinda interesting. So I’m really, REALLY hoping that Apple turns this piece of insight-free electronics into something great…over time.
Whilst you do NOT get a free Apple Watch, you do get a black and white ‘strip’, which is the monitor and that is attached to a USB cable and plug. The accompanying iOS and WatchOS apps are free. You absolutely do NOT GET AN IRON.
Here is the strip in more detail and you might just be able to make out that the sensing strip is, in fact, inside a black/white sheath.
Installation & Technology
The technology is balistocardiography (BCG).
The sensor strip measures such small movements to the extent it can even recognise your heartbeat. Whilst this sounds far-fetched the technology has been around for many years and is proven sufficiently in several products. There is no reason to avoid buying this product because of the BCG technology…there are other reasons for that!
The great advantage of the generic BCG technology is that it is totally non-invasive. You don’t have to wear a chest strap, a watch or a ring…you literally can wear nothing (ha ha) and it will work fine. There is no particular downside other than the slight inconvenience of physically moving it to another bed, for example if you go on holiday or to a hotel for work.
Apple Beddit requires that you place the strip underneath your sheet, with the sticky black side facing down. In my case I have a sheet and an undersheet. That’s fine. You can just about feel Beddit under those but that didn’t bother me in the slightest. Remember the story of the Princess and the Pea? That doesn’t apply to me. You’ll be fine. Don’t worry about this (I’ll tell you the stuff to worry about in a minute 😉 )
The main, competing products made from the same tech are QS Emfit and Withings SLEEP. Interestingly both of these can go under the mattress. Yup. Under the big, thick mattress. You REALLY can NOT feel those strips when they’re under the mattress, again unless you are the Princess from the aforementioned Pea-related story. And the devices REALLY can still sense the movements of your heart through the mattress to a VERY GOOD level of accuracy.
In the following image you can see the QS EMfit product and I’m putting that underneath my memory foam TOPPER and above my electric blanket. I don’t have the electric blanket turned on when I am in bed so it does not affect the BEDDIT or any of the other devices. I imagine it WILL affect them if turned on. It’s possible that if you have a full memory foam mattress then the signal might not get through that but, as I say, for a memory foam TOPPER the signal easily gets through.
In one of the earlier images you might have just been able to make out that the Beddit strip is 78cm long. I know you have a good eye for detail. That should be wide enough when laid across the width of the bed to handle all of your nocturnal wanderings and still read your heartbeat.
The more astute amongst you will quickly have realised that often two people share a bed. My suggestion here would be to wait to buy the Beddit until you have been together for at least 7 years. That way you can probably mostly guarantee that you will stick to either side of your bed 😉
Clearly, if you have dogs, cats, children or members of the other (or same, or indeterminate or changed) sex also sleeping ON THE STRIP then it absolutely will 100% pick up their heart rate as well. It’s obvious! However, in reality, I’ve used a similar product for a couple of years and it is not a problem in that respect. My partner does not too often stray from their side of the bed. Newlyweds?….maybe less so. Go figure.
The data geeks amongst you who need perfect data will have Beddit (or a competing product) linked to a smart plug. You will probably be able to turn Beddit off by saying ‘Hey, Siri/Google/Alexa…iiiiiiiit’s showtime!‘ – or similar. You can then turn on whoever or whatever else you want to before turning on Beddit again. [Comments welcomed on this paragraph, below, you know you want to]
Products that use BCG technology ABSOLUTELY ASSUME that there will be imperfect and incomplete data. So, you might get out of the bed: for a drink; to visit the bathroom; because of a child; or something even more exciting. It doesn’t matter, those periods are generally either ignored or trended over, depending on the specific purpose for which the piece of data is being gathered. Some of the clever products will record an ‘out of bed’ moment. Beddit does too! But as I said, whilst these products are clever they cannot differentiate between two sets of heartbeats on the same strip.
Usage Summary: Slap it under the top sheet, get into bed and just sleep as normal. Do not have your whole family and the cat sleeping on the strip at the same time.
You have to pair Beddit to your iPhone and via the Beddit 3.5 app. Link the WatchOS app too, if you are so inclined. You knew all of that I’m sure.
Here’s where it starts to go pear-shaped.
You have to have the iPhone paired to BEDDIT. So, it’s not Android compatible (fair enough). And you have to have the iPhone plugged in within Bluetooth range (about 5m). If your phone is not present or is not turned on then you will always get zero data. That’s a bit rubbish.
Well, actually, it’s a LOT rubbish.
The competing technologies either cache data or send it over WiFi. Apple Beddit 3.5 does NOT send your sleep data over WiFi. I also tried having only the Apple Watch 4 within range overnight but that did NOT work. It HAS TO BE the iPhone that is within range.
On the positive side your iPhone becomes a snoring detector – a little more on that, below, in the snoring section.
Let’s start with that as it’s the easiest. Here you can see, from left to right: an image I copied from Apple’s website, a screen dump from my Apple Watch 4, showing the ‘beddit’ app’s logo, centrally in all its glory; and then on the right the only screen that the WatchOS Beddit app ever showed me. It seemed permanently and irrevocably fixated on me going to bed at 23:30.
Just woken up after a perfect night’s sleep? Did it care? Nope. It just knew that the next night I really, really had to get to bed at 23:30. Which I failed to do every night. Maybe it was trying to tell me something? and yes the notifications were enabled.
What I should have seen on the Apple Watch: sleep report notifications, bedtime reminders, and nudges. I got nada.
The iPhone App
The image shown on the right is and shows you the full feedback from your night’s sleep ie several screen grabs manipulated by me and pasted together as one image.The app let’s you manually start a ‘sleep’ period but you do NOT have to do that and sleep detection is automatic. The app shows basic stuff and most of it will form just a small part of what the other competing products build further upon.
One of the great things with Apple’s products is that they feed data into the Health app (3rd party apps can too). Thus in the Health app your sleep data is stored alongside your activity and other data.
If you have never, ever had any kind of sleep tracker. If you have no idea what time you go to bed. If you have no idea what time you set your alarm for then BEDDIT will be a revelation. For the rest of you …..errrrr….hmmmm.
I’m being cruel. But it is Apple and they are wonderful. Beddit is ‘fine’ for an entry-level set of sleep information but c’mon foks it’s Apple and it’s 2019. I know for a fact Apple can do WAY better because the competition does things WAY better with the exact-same technology. (Really folks, this is YET ANOTHER technology that Apple didn’t invent)
So there’s very little data shown there in the app but, as this is a fairly detailed review, I have to fill up the space with some more words. So I’m going to go through every last piece of the data presentation screens and discuss every possible nuance of a single number. Maybe.
I wrote this next bit earlier in the week, when I was in a better frame of mind. After a good night’s sleep, funnily enough.
Apple Beddit Review – Sleep Stats
Apple’s marketing is nice. You’ll probably see a sweet-looking image on the net like this:
Without looking into the detail that seems like a good range of data, right?
Looking into the detail…it does NOT look quite so good.
Environment & Breathing
The ‘humidity’ and ‘temperature’ information come from Apple’s USB plug (included). That’s a neat idea. Although if the wall socket is next to a radiator it might read too hot and if your house is cool-to-cold then the socket-level temperature of your room may be notably colder than at ‘bed level’.
‘Breathing’, well, you get the number I suppose – 19/min.
Including the ‘snoring’ measurement is neat. After all snoring IS an indicator of BAD sleep and also, possibly, an indicator of bad sleep that the snorer inflicts on others. Finally…you will have evidence !
If you snore, see below, you will get a bar indicating the snoring periods and the total number of minutes snoring.
Snoring is detected by the microphone of your iPhone which must be near the bed. I couldn’t get it to work at all via my non-LTE Apple Watch 4 and the documentation online didn’t say if either that version or the LTE version would work instead of the iPhone. ie snoring detection works with the iPhone but not the Apple Watch.
- Q: What if you both snore?
- A: It probably is biased to the person who is nearest the iPhone
When Snoring Detection is activated then notification sounds and system sounds are muted. Siri is entirely disabled but can be used via the home/side button on the iPhone.
Playing music is trickier too. You have to start playing your bedtime audio through external speakers BEFORE Snoring Detection is activated. Good to know.
Heart Rate *IS* a useful thing to look at as it trends throughout the night. This will be your resting heart rate. Generally, if you can get that down into the 50s bpm and 40s bpm then you are probably in a very good place with your fitness. The less fit or older you are then the more likely it will be higher.
Heart rate can also be abnormally suppressed (lowered), which is not good. So just looking at a raw HR number might not always give you as much more of an insight as you hoped for.
Anyway, this is all you get from BEDDIT 3.5, coupled with a high/low and average value for the night.
Here we have a comparison to Withings SLEEP of a typical night’s heart rate track.
Hmmm those graphs didn’t tie up. Let’s look in some more detail at another night. Let’s try a last night sleep comparison.
Here we have QS EMFIT vs Apple Beddit vs Withings SLEEP from a somewhat troubled night’s sleep. The sleeper is a lone sleeper (not me and no cats or dogs)
|QS EMFIT||Apple Beddit||Withings Sleep|
|HR min||48 (57)||65||58|
You can’t draw too much from that no REM sleep or anything. Sometimes the outliers or errors spoil the high-level reading and that was the case with an erroneous 48bpm for EMFIT’s HRmin reading. But EMFIT also gives you more granular details so that you can see the cause is a strange blip near the start of the recording (third image, below)
Overnight Heart Rate
You can’t draw too much from these detailed charts either. They look like they are from a different night’s sleep but it’s the same data as for the table above.
As you can see it can be quite difficult to compare the data from different systems and we’ve not even got into sleep stages as Beddit doesn’t show those yet.
There are simple trends of the daily averages for selected measures, namely these: bedroom humidity, bedroom temperature, nightly hr, bedtime, sleep time and morning feeling.
The trends are over 30 days and 90 days but I don’t have that much data yet.
I suspect I’ve not convinced you to pay $/Eu/£150 on Apple’s Beddit 3.5. Let’s hope Beddit 4.0 comes to fruition and starts to add back in some of the things that are missing like WiFi sync and sleep stage approximations.
You can get WiFi sync from QS Emfit (Review link) which is probably the best tracker out there if you like your detailed sleep & recovery data. It has awesome presentational data, great insights both on individual night’s sleep, full granular detail and sleep trends over very extended periods. As a wannabe athlete, that’s my choice – it’s generally priced over £/$/eu200 but can sometimes be found more cheaply online. I’m just about to get a reader discount sorted out for EMFIT, so if you can wait until March 2019 you could be £/$/Eu30 better off.
But QS Emfit could be criticised as having TOO MUCH data. If you want more data than Beddit but not as much as EMFIT, then I’d suggest a good look at Withings SLEEP (aka Nokia SLEEP…they are now identical). The Withings product goes into a little bit more detail with the data and presents it in a straightforward and clean app. But, a bit like Apple, you will probably benefit more from Withings SLEEP if you also use one of their activity trackers and perhaps also the weight scales.
BeautyRest is a similar under-mattress technology but I’ve not used that. The price looks fairly competitive – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
OTHER RING Ring (review link) has a great consumer focus on SLEEP and your holistic state, including activity. It is also more geared towards helping you manage and improve your sleep. OTHER RING starts at just under $300.
I’ve been a little unkind with Apple Beddit 3.5 in this review.
I knew what to expect before I bought the Beddit sleep monitor. But I bought it with hopes of improvements in the future. Always a risky call.
If you are looking for a product as an intro to sleep monitoring then Beddit IS a good call, albeit a little expensive for what it currently is. However if you want a product that will mesh with your other Apple products and be the source of your Sleep data for Apple Health, then Beddit 3.5 makes supreme sense if you buy-in for the long term.
To fix: Apple need to WiFi enable Beddit and not require the phone to be present and ‘on’. Then they pay for 3rd party verified sleep stage data and expand the anslyses based on the data they already collect. Independent verification would be even nicer. Apple will also, at some point, introduce a single figure measure of ‘sleep quality’ and have better mechanisms to feedback on how you can improve your sleep routine. I suspect that if Apple also provided much more of the detailed data for each night’s sleep rather than just the super high level summary, then a lot of people would be fascinated with insights it could expose.
And with that. Good night.