I am quite obsessed with improving the quality of my sleep, and as a tech geek, I love tracking things and obsessing over the data. Several years ago during the peak of my insomnia, I was getting around 2-3 hours a night sleep and walking around like a zombie. Nowadays I sleep much better, but it is still not good, I am in bed for around 8 hours, but I will wake up 3-4 times, quite often getting up and going to the toilet. It’s not diabetes, more likely psychological. I also occasionaly snore, and sleep apnoea has been one of the things that I thought may cause my problems.
Recently Withings rolled out features that would detect breathing disturbances with heir sleep tracking matt, so I was keen to try it out and see if it could identify any issues that I was not already aware of. I have good sleep hygiene, sleep on a decent quality mattress, avoid caffeine in the afternoon, and I am much fitter than average, so I have covered all the basics of getting a good night sleep.
I have reviewed a few sleep tracking gadgets now, and generally, they are a little underwhelming with their accuracy. As much as love my Garmin Fenix 5, its sleep tracking can be truly awful. So I entered this review with low expectations but still hopeful that it would be superior to my Garmin.
Priced at £99.99 it is not cheap, but it is cheaper than Beddit and the lesser known REM-Fit Sleep Monitor which both cost arround £150.
As you might have guessed from the name this is a mat, and it sits under your mattress, so it is there permanently, and you don’t have to worry about putting a watch on, making sure you have a tracking tag stuck to your sleepwear, or placing your phone on the mattress.
There is not much going on with the device itself, it's just a pad with a USB cable attached to it, so set up is quite and straightforward, just plug it in and follow the instructions on the Withings app.
I already use the Withings scales, so I was good to go for the app, I will say that Withings have a well-designed app and health ecosystem. I am a fan of their scales, they work well and they are more affordable than competing brands. I have also linked it up with Google Fit, so there is basic step counting via a phone. Frustratingly Garmin does not connect directly with Google Fit.
With the device added to the app it takes a few minutes to calibrate, and then there is not much to do with it, you have to wait until you have had a night’s sleep.
Following your night's sleep, you can view your stats, I have found that loading up the app shortly after waking indicates only half a night of sleep, I think the mat syncs periodically so the last few hours would be missing.
From my limited understanding, no consumer product can 100% accurately track sleep stages compared to lab-based polysomnography. These companies use algorithms based on motion, heart rate etc to guess. So, for unusual sleep patterns such as mine, I suspect sleep trackers will have a hard time being accurate. So, any result provided should be taken with a pinch of salt.
How this performs in terms of accuracy, it is hard to say, to be honest. I only have the Garmin to compare against, and I know that is poor at tracking sleep times on many nights. It would appear, according to Withings, I sleep much better than expected. I am somewhat sceptical, as I know for a fact on the few nights, I scored 90+ that I physically got out of bed at least three times, and I don’t feel like that should be classed as a good night sleep. The times I wake up generally align with the 90-minute sleep cycle pattern, on a bad night I will fully wake every 90-120 minutes, and the times between this I do seem to sleep quite well. Looking at the graph which indicates REM, light and deep sleep, things look a lot more promising than Garmin. Garmin says I get no deep sleep almost every night.
The overall score is also a little conflicting too, as when I look at my deep sleep, it is always under 10% while you should get 25% apparently, I would say consistently low levels of deep sleep is an indication of poor sleep.
On the flip side of this, when I know I have had a bad night sleep, Withings appears to agree. So, I think that it is not so much inaccurate but perhaps a little lenient on what it classes as a bad nights sleep. Within the settings, there is an increased sensitivity setting, which should only be used if you sleep by yourself. Enabling this does appear to improve things a bit. Looking at the interruptions in sleep shows roughly the right amount, maybe missing one. With this on, for the past few days, my sleep quality has been 70-80-ish which is probably a little closer to the truth.
In general, delving into each section of the data will yield more rewarding information, giving you a better idea of how you really slept. The data it tracks correlates roughly to what I already know, I am a very light sleeper, wake up a lot, and don’t get enough deep sleep.
Going into each element of your sleep provides some useful insight into what you should be getting and what you can do to improve things, so if you are willing to follow the suggestions, then the £99 price tag is well worth it.
One thing Withings is good at is the timings, it has a bit of an advantage compared to a watch you wear, but so far, I have not had to edit the time I have been in bed. The only issue is that there is a delay in getting the correct time to sync, on my most recent night, when writing this review shortly after I got up, it thought I had a 2h45m nap from 8 pm.
The area I was most interested in was the breathing detection, and it would appear that I don’t have many issues at all. With breathing disturbances being classed as few for every night I have used it and my snoring was never going above seven minutes. Most importantly it means I don’t have sleep apnoea, so that is another thing I can rule out in my quest to improve my sleep.
Withings also somehow detects your heart rate, the result it gives you is the average heart rate, and then clicking on the number shows the peak, lowest and average. I am not sure how they manage to do this through a mattress, but it roughly aligns up with Garmin. My heart rate generally bottoms out at 40, peaks at 76 and averages 54bpm. I exercise a lot, so it is lower than average, but the variance throughout the night is surprising.
Overall though, while I can’t say if the sleep tracking mat is truly accurate, it does appear to be significantly more accurate than all the other devices I have tried. I do love my Garmin Fenix 5s, but it is 50/50 if gets my sleep time correct, and when it doesn’t, it can be terrible, which causes me to lose confidence in its overall accuracy.
The below two examples are perhaps slightly unfair as I have delibrately picked out the bad ones from Garmin, but it is to show how bad it can be.
Withings do more than just sleep tracking though, in order to add some more value to the product they have built-in home automation features through IFTTT. Some of the recipes include dropping the room temp when you go to sleep (which is important for better sleep), turn off Philips Hue when you get into bed, and mute your phone when you get into bed. It is a simple feature, but I think it is something they will help maintain the usefulness of this mat, as I suspect many people will use it for a few weeks then stop bothering looking at the app. From my experience, a lot of people do this with basic fitness trackers such as Fitbit.
While it is hard to say how accurate it really was, it does appear to much better than competing products. For your average consumer that is probably all that is needed. Analysing the individual data points separately to help identify and optimise the way you sleep will be more fruitful than just following the sleep score data.
I love the ability to track breathing disturbances as well as the home automation functions, which help it stand out from the crowd and justify a dedicated sleep tracking device.
At £99 it is not a cheap device, but if you look at the direct competition, Beddit Sleep Monitor, which costs £149, it is an absolute bargain.
If you are particularly interested in sleep and want something a bit more accurate than a watch, or the home automation and sleep apnoea tracking have piqued your interest, then this is well worth the buy.
Withings Sleep Tracking Mat Review
Product Name: Withings Sleep Tracking Mat
Offer price: 99
Overall - 80%
Cheaper than Beddit, and more accurate than watches. The Withings Sleep Mat may not be perfectly accurate, but it does better than any other product I have reviewed.