Waking up with Wakemate

The age of the quantified self is coming, whether you like it not. I’ve recently started experimenting with a few aspects of this idea, with sleep being one of the first that I was interested to look at, since I’ve had a quite a lot of trouble with getting good sleep over the years.

My theory has always been that after I had glandular fever about 12 years ago, sleep has never left me feeling rested or fully revived. That’s been very difficult to quantify or keep track of though, other than saying “I feel crappy in the morning.”

I had been looking a little bit at a new startup called Fitbit when Matt turned me on to Wakemate, a company that not only is he investing in, but they are building a system specifically for analyzing your sleep and helping you figure out what helps you get better quality sleep. They also have a “smart” alarm system that wakes you up during lighter sleep cycles to avoid that groggy feeling in the morning that I’m all too familiar with.

Last week I received my Wakemate and here are some of my initial reactions:

  • The device itself is a comfortable, padded wristband that you wear to bed. It communicates with your phone (iPhone, BlackBerry or Android) via bluetooth to keep track of your sleep cycles via movement.
  • The smart alarm thing works! If you’re using an alarm of any kind to wake up at a certain time, this is a better solution. Your new alarm will go off up to 20 minutes before your specified time, and you’ll wake up immediately, feeling like you’ve just taken a quick, refreshing nap.
  • I had to wake up to get to the airport after only about 4 hours sleep, and woke up using the smart alarm feeling surprisingly fresh and ready-to-rock.
  • It’s obviously early days. The bracelet is a little rough-around-the-edges, with raw-feeling components inside. The app (I’m using the iPhone version)is very simple and feels like it was designed by an engineer, but it works.
  • Battery life could be longer. It’s kind of cumbersome to charge via a USB cable, so it’d be nice if you only had to do it once a week at the most.
  • There’s no option to set an alarm for ‘x’ hours for now (you can add it up yourself obviously, I just mean a quick way to say “wake me up in 8 hours” would be good).
  • The Wakealytics service they provide for looking at your data for each night and comparing nights is interesting, and I’m really looking forward to collecting more data so that I can hopefully start seeing some trends and seeing my sleep change as I make changes (like getting a new bed).

All in all I’m really happy with it so far, and will definitely keep using it. Even without the analytics side of things, just having the smart alarm is worth the current price. I’m not sure how useful it’d be if you had someone else sleeping in your bed and/or waking you up, but for a single guy, it’s working out just fine.

  1. Alex (Viper007Bond) said:

    Nice! The smart alarm was what I was most interested in. I'm a super deep sleeper and always feel tired when I wake up — never refreshed.

  2. trademark said:

    One thing I was wondering about: is it just a standard audio alarm from the iPhone/smartphone, or does the wristband come in to play at all? I too am an incredibly deep sleeper, and I was thinking some type of physical vibration/stimulation might help to haul me out of the depths of slumber. Didn't know that Matt was investing in the company, hopefully there are great things to come!

    • Beau Lebens said:

      This is exactly what I was thinking — that since you're wearing it anyway, it'd be cool if it would vibrate or something. Right now it's just an audio alarm though. I have found that I can have it quieter than I would otherwise have an alarm, because it only goes off when I'm "light sleeping" anyway. You pick from a series of sounds within their app, and I use the "Green Tone".

  3. CK Hicks said:

    Really appreciate the review – I’d really like to get one of these units and give it a try! Glad to hear reports of it going well.

  4. bfeld said:

    Give the Zeo a try (www.myzeo.com). I'm a huge fan of theirs, even though I'm not an investor.

    I am an investor in Fitbit. I'm curious how your experience with it has been – feel free to email me at brad@feld.com if you have time / feel like it.

  5. Lloyd Budd said:

    Like Brad, I suggest you give the Zeo a try — so maybe I don't have to ;-)

    Are all the competing solutions accelerometer based? Do any take into account your pulse or other metrics?

    I think the Zeo is the only one that Tim recommends. I think in the 4hr Body, he suggests it was the only one that gave him gave him data that helped him make progress versus his onset insomnia.

    The Wakemate being the most affordable, and Matt being involved, was the natural choice for me to dip my foot into the quantified self waters. I ordered it at the end of December, so hopefully it will arrive soon.

  6. WakeMate - Become a Morning Person - UsefulTools.com

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