Dark Light


The glowing black orb that watches me while I sleep says I only got half an hour’s deep sleep last night. This doesn’t surprise, but disappoints me. It’s not the device’s fault, but it does provide information on what (tossing and turning) if not why (No environmental factors). Sleep score 81, because it counted the time after I got up as the deepest sleep I’ve ever had.

2015-05-20 09.22.56Wednesday:

There’s an alarm clock trick I recognise. After an early night (Well, a theoretically early night. Accidentally an entire book) I woke up about 30 seconds before the alarm clock detected a shallow point in my sleep cycle and set off the alarm. – Sleep score 77


It’s less great at two people, it seems. Looking at the spare Android I set up the app on for Fyr, it’s tracked “bed time” from whenever the first of us went to bed (me, normally. I do mornings), to whoever got up latest (Fyr. As I say, I do mornings) and correcting that assumption has no connection to how much sleep it thinks we got (It moves “Went to bed” down the timeline, but doesn’t change the clock). Additionally, it doesn’t appear to be able to tell who’s moving, since a lot of the time it registers as both of us, even when there was only one person asleep at the time. – Sleep Score 79


Sleeping on our own is one of the lost treasures from Martin Guerre the musical. It was cut from the rewrite, but the rewrite wasn’t enough to save the show. Not relevant, except that since Fyr’s wandered up to Empire, so I’m trying the sleep tracker on my own.

Saturday, Sunday, Monday:

Slept like a dead log, according to Sense. Inaccurate. Slept like legal information documents: Briefly, and in a specific field. I hate fucking camping.

Actually, Sense said “No Sleep Data Recorded” for these days. When I came back, it was complaining that it hadn’t heard from the sleep pills for three days. The troubleshooting advice says that you can shake them (like maracas) for three seconds to test they still work, which made the sense ball glow blue, but the phone app still didn’t register them as being connected. Eventually I deleted and re-paired the Sense itself to get it to pay attention again. Not a great experience.

This turned out to be partly my fault. The device paired to the Sense is my iPhone, but I generally check sleep scores on the iPad, because it’s on my bedside table, whereas my phone charges on my desk. The iPad can do most of everything, but there’s no indication that some things require the direct bluetooth connection instead of the via-wifi connection of the non-paired iPad. It’s confusing and not indicated on the UI or in help documents, but if I hadn’t been trying to use two devices it would probably have worked better.


…but all that meant I missed the data for Monday night too.


2015-05-28 08.58.35Early to bed and early to rise. I’ve caught something dreadful from the field while camping, which is knocking me out somewhat. It’s still failing at different sleep/wake times for us, though. Sleep score 68, 0.9 hours solid sleep

2015-05-28 09.07.02Thursday:

Called in sick again (Two days, two jobs). Fyr went to bed before me, which is unusual, but the Sense counted from her sleep time again, crediting me with an hour of solid sleep that’s just pure lies.

Changing my bedtime on the app doesn’t seem to affect what score I get, so I don’t think it’s properly taking that into account. I’m wondering if the stats would be better without the second sleep pill. Might try that over tonight and see how it changes.


2015-05-29 07.41.33_croppedHealthkit is Apple’s collection point for health data. In theory, it’s the central API where info from the Sense, from the Watch and even from my Pebble can come together and be tracked and analysed by good little data nerds. One of my central problems with using the Fitbit/Misfit sleep tracking was that it didn’t end up here in any way (Fitbit doesn’t use Healthkit at all, and Misfit – which can use the Pebble watch as a tracker – will put your walking and fitness stats in, but not sleep, which it does measure).  The Sense does integrate with Healthkit, but data is somewhat spotty – I’ve got four data points since I started – and there’s a conception leap (Sense’s app adds the data against the day you woke up on – like this article – whereas Healthkit tracks it as the day you fell asleep on. So changing your bedtime to be before or after midnight changes where the stats are).

2015-05-29 07.01.19_croppedLast night, however, I slept well for the first time in the last fortnight, and the Sense agrees with me, giving me a sleep score of 80. Its opinion on bedroom conditions hasn’t changed much – still thinks it’s too light in the mornings, still questions the humidity of the room – but those are things I think summer will bring changes to.

And So:

There are tests I’d still like to run. I need to find my fitbit and see how all three (Fitbit/Pebble/Sense) analyse the same night’s sleep. But on its own merits, it’s… nearly there.

The setup is smooth, but brittle. Everything worked fine for me, but I know some others who had massive problems, especially with the requirement for a low-power Bluetooth device per sleep pill which didn’t ever make it to the Kickstarter. The Support staff – post shipping, at any rate – are useful and helpful, though.

I think the tracking is a bit oversensitive – it doesn’t seem to be able to distinguish between me moving and Fyr moving, even when it has both sets of data – and the inability to detect getting out of bed as something other than restful sleep is a bit crap, but they’re aware of these issues and have indicated in Twitter replies or support requests that they’re working on the data. I’m interested in some of the features that didn’t quite make it to first release, like recording the noises that nearly woke you up, pollen counts and sleep aids (They talked of broadcasting low levels of white noise on request, which some people find help them sleep).

You probably can’t buy this. While they attempt to fulfill the Kickstarter completely, they’re not taking Preorders outside the US yet, which is absolutely the right decision. The hardware feels finished and polished, the software needs some work, and the back-end analysis needs rolling improvements. On the whole, though, if you’re going to get some bits that need improvement, that’s kind of the order you want them in.

I can’t in all honesty recommend you get a Sense, even if you could, right now. It’s very cool, and very shiny, but until they can track “not being in bed” as something other than “being very asleep”, it’s not actually tracking your sleep; and while it’s not tracking your sleep it’s a crap sleep-rhythm alarm clock. It’s just a very cool looking environmental monitor, which is a really nice thing of itself, but a couple of steps short of where it needs to be.

As they improve this, I’ll update.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Posts

Design to Print

Table of Contents Hide Fadin’ awayPersonalitySpeedFonts Okay, I’ve looked over the comments about the design, so I’ll deal…


The story begins a while ago. Your humble correspondant was a student in the sunny world of Sunderland…


So, I’ve finished my first week of work. It’s very, very odd. I’ve never had a proper job…