Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Product Review: Beddit sleep tracker

I admit it: I'm a sucker for wellness apps. I'm an athlete, but I'm also a geek. So anything that intersects physical performance and numbers is right up my alley.

I also think that more than diet, more than exercise, sleep is probably the single most important major lifestyle determinant in wellness and human performance. How much and how well people sleep seems to have massive effects on body fat, cancer rate, athletic performance, cognitive performance, and more. Additionally, I find sleep results harder to modify and optimize than either diet or exercise. While diet and exercise are largely an issue of good decision making, commitment, and time management, I find that I often do all the "right things" when it comes to sleep and not get a great result. I try to go to bed shortly after sunset, sleep in a nearly pitch-black room, avoid late afternoon caffeine, do relaxation exercises, and basically everything that is thought to achieve a good sleep result, but my results are still inconsistent.

Enter the Beddit (www.beddit.com), which promises to "automatically tracks your sleeping patterns, heart rate, breathing, snoring, movements and environment. In the morning, Beddit tells you how you slept and how to do it better."

After hearing that pitch, this was me:

The Beddit consists mostly of a strap containing a sensor that goes underneath your bedsheet. It connects via Bluetooth to your smartphone and gives you results that look like this:

There's even more data promised in future versions.

This is the kind of shit that I love. The only small problem? It doesn't work.

To date, the Beddit is largely giving me garbage data. According to the Beddit, I haven't slept over 5 hours a single night that I've gotten it, and most nights it's said I've only slept 2-3 hours. I will be the first to admit that I don't get enough sleep, but after one night of just 2-3 hours I'm usually useless, and after a week of it I'd probably be approaching death. The Beddit is recording large gaps in my sleep during hours that I know I was definitely asleep.

Part of the problem may be the length of the Beddit strap. I have a queen-sized bed, and the strap covers less than half of my bed. That means if I roll over on to a part of the bed that the strap isn't sensing, then I'm not getting tracked for that sleep. On one particular night, the Beddit told me that I got up from bed 7 times, when I actually got up from bed once or twice, at most. I think increasing the strap length will help, but I do not think that is the only source of the Beddit's problems at this point, since even when I sleep through the night and wake up on the same side of the bed, my sleep is being dramatically underreported.

I've contacted Beddit support, and they've been fairly slow to respond. This is not too surprising considering that they're an indie company who probably weren't ready to handle the amount of business that they got. I'm happy to be an early adopter of this item and in spite of the fact that the product is currently unsatisfactory, I'll be happy that they got my money as long as that money goes towards product improvements. I want to support a company that comes up with good ideas like this, and I hope they are able to deliver on it. As someone who works in a startup that simultaneously seems to "get it", also desperately needs some major product improvements, I think I'm more sympathetic to this idea than anyone.

I'm continuing correspondence with Beddit support and will update this review if information changes (it's possible I just got a lemon, for example). But the bottom line is this: I think at this point unless you also want the good karma of supporting a sleep app, you should probably pass on the Beddit for now. 

But like some might say about my company, I'll be cheering for them.


  1. I've been looking for something like this too, for years. Got a "SleepTracker" watch years ago that didn't really do anything useful.

    You have an iPhone, right? Maybe check out Sleep Cycle ( http://www.sleepcycle.com/ )? I just got it a couple days ago so I can't say much about it yet, but it has good reviews, seems to be pretty accurate after two nights, and costs a buck.

    Also looking at the Fitbit Force which has (seemingly basic) sleep tracking features besides its main functions - would probably have one if it was in stock anywhere.

    1. Yeah, I had the Jawbone UP (competitor to the FitBit) for a while which was actually reasonably accurate when measuring data. However it broke twice, and the third replacement I lost while in the gym, so I abandoned that. It also did not offer the breadth and depth of information that the Beddit was promising (one can only reasonably expect a motion-detecting wristband to do so much).

  2. Beddit responded to my support ticket. Summary: They think it's an iPhone 5S issue.

    Mikko Honkanen (Beddit)

    Feb 21 16:56


    Based on our own testing and based on feedback there have been some issues with iPhone 5S and maybe also with iPhone 5C.
    When we had to get the product into Apple certification process last October, we just received our first iPhone 5S to Europe for development and testing.
    It was launched earlier in USA but was very hard to get on European side.

    That is why for example the compatibility list in the package and in the instruction leaflet does not promise the compatibility with iPhone 5S as it was not possible to get this fully tested before the Apple certification.
    Of course we assumed that this new version of iPhone would only work better than the previous ones but now we have learned that this is not the case.

    It is extremely important to get this fixed immediately as all the time more and more people are using 5S.

    We will soon publish on our web site the page where everybody can see what is happening in our development, next features as well as known issues that are being fixed. Because of these issues with the initial version of the app we are going all the time more transparent mode in our communication and development.

    Currently we have learned two issues with iPhone 5S that are already being repaired (in progress):
    1) When you install the app for iPhone 5S it is possible that the app cannot access the sleep database in the phone when pressing the start sleeping button. It seems that the phone could not connect with the device but actually it is because the app cannot access the sleep database of the phone and therefore cannot start measurement. This does not happen if after installing the app you first start measurement and only after that add your personal information to the user profile. If you first add your personal info, this sometimes happens. The only cure is to remove the app and re-install it. This is already being fixed (in progress) and is corrected in the next update.

    2) With some iPhone 5S with some iOS versions, we have seen that the sleep database cannot be accessed after approximately 5 nights of sleep measurements. This is most likely the issue that you described. After this it seems that the sleep data is lost and you cannot connect with the device anymore. Actually what happens is that the app cannot access the sleep database of iPhone and this problem only appears like you described. This is definitely NOT a feature. The only cure at the moment is to remove the app and re-install. This is also already being fixed (in progress) and will be fixed in our next update.

    There is something that has changed in the way how iPhone 5S handles the databases and this issue is not present with any other iOS devices. This bug should be fairly easily fixed.
    Please let us know immediately if you are using any other device except iPhone 5C or 5C and this information would be extremely valuable to us.

    We only learned about this issue just before/during we released the initial app for iOS and we have now been busy to get the Android app launched as there are thousands who cannot use the product at all. These two mentioned issues are of course highest priority in our development list as bug fixes and will be corrected very soon.

    Please be patient with us to the next update and we will take care of this... And also add new cool features all the time with the updates. If you have any other iOS device than iPhone 5S, you should be able to use the app without these issues.

    I make sure that our development team does not get high Beddit sleep scores as long as we have these issues. I promise that the product will get to the level that you can be amazed what we can measure with it and IT WORKS.

    Thank you for your valuable feedback and your support/contribution to Indiegogo campaign.


    Best regards
    Mikko Honkanen

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Have the updates resolved your problems? Can you provide a summary of how Beddit is working out for you now that it has been a few months since your initial review? Thank you!

  5. Have the updates resolved your problems? Can you provide a summary of how Beddit is working out for you now that it has been a few months since your initial review? Thank you!

    1. I made another attempt about a month ago, no real notice. I haven't been given any indication (an e-mail or whatever) that their support for the iPhone 5s is any better. That doesn't mean they haven't improved it, but if they have, they haven't reached out to users who complained about the matter.

  6. Any updates on this? I'm looking at getting one of these if I can find some reviews of happy customers.

  7. Any update on this? I'm thinking of getting one if I can find some happy customers.