For something that takes up almost a third of our lives and plays a vital role in how our bodies recuperate both physically and mentally sleep isn’t usually an activity we monitor, track and analyse. Our personal sleep ‘analysis’ is usually done by relying on how our bodies feel after a heavy night out or a restless night in. Other than that though, technology has rarely played a part in our sleeping habits. Until now that is.
If someone wanted to analyse their brain during sleep in the past usually it involved a laboratory bed, lots of wires attached to the head and no doubt a hefty price tag. That of course has changed as we move through the technology health revolution.
Enter the Zeo Sleep Manager
The Zeo is a bluetooth device which is worn over the forehead and has three sensors which track the following sleep variables:
Deep Sleep: The sleep which helps the body repair itself
REM Sleep: The sleep that helps our brains learn and develop new skills
Light Sleep: The first stage of real sleep
Wake Time: How many times you woke and for how long
Total Sleep Time: The total amount of time you are asleep
Before going to bed you synch the headband with the Zeo iPhone app (free to download) via bluetooth, strap the headband to your head and begin tracking. Throughout the night the Zeo will analyse your sleep patterns and once awake the sensors will stop tracking via the iPhone.
The Zeo app includes a ‘smart alarm’ which wakes you when you’re in your most light sleep. So, for example, if I want to wake around 7am I can set the smart alarm to wake me somewhere in the parameters of 6.45am to 7.15am depending on when I’m in my lightest phase of sleep. The idea behind it is you feel less groggy compared to being woken during a deep sleep.
Once awake and ready to get up the Zeo app will give you a breakdown of your night’s sleep including at which points during the night you were at different sleep phases.
Included is Zeo’s own “ZQ score” which “objectively measures the quality and quantity of your sleep by calculating the total amount of time you slept (Total Z) and adding and subtacting points based on the amount of restorative sleep (Deep and REM) and disruptive sleep (time and duration spent awake) that you get throughout the night.” The higher the ZQ score the better night’s sleep you’ve had.
Zeo has recently introduced a new function of the app where it provides you with advice on how your sleep went and where it can be improved which gives you data over the last night, the last week, the last month or indeed the whole year.
The screengrab examples above are from my best night’s sleep since using the Zeo. My weekly and monthly average ZQ scores are not as good and I’ve used the advice section for tips on how to improve. The app also allows you to see how your sleep compares to people of a similar age to yourself.
As well as the app Zeo has an online platform that users can access to find and include additional data such as a Sleep Journal where Zeo asks you a number of questions around your previous night’s sleep to help you figure out what is hindering your sleep progress. There is also a Coaching section which is an eight step program which takes you from evaluating your current sleep “fitness” to improving your bedroom environment, diet and other factors that affect sleep. The My Zeo section is very much catered to people who really do have trouble sleeping. For those like myself whose sleep quality is OK but could be improved perhaps using the app for monitoring and advice is a more practical solution.
Third party integration
Zeo makes its API available for third party integration for apps such as RunKeeper, Digifit and Withings so you can track your sleep alongside your training, weight and other measures which is important to get a holistic view of your health, fitness and well-being and how sleep (or lack of it) impacts it.
The Zeo Sleep Manager is truly a useful tool for anyone that wants to track, analyse and improve their sleep. Used properly the Zeo can help people sleep better through tracking and applying new habits to aid a better night’s sleep. The headband can be a little troublesome to wear some nights as now and again it slips off during the night. This is an irregular occurrence however so shouldn’t be an issue if you plan to track your sleep long-term.
For anyone wanting to understand and improve their sleep the Zeo is a must. The goal isn’t to continue using the Zeo forever but to get to a point where you know your personal sleeping patterns and have implemented the necessary steps to improve where needed.