When someone has a good night’s sleep, they say, “I slept like a baby.” Nobody says, “I slept like a middle-aged man.”
Sleep is a precious commodity that, in the stock market of life, enters a bear market when you reach middle age. I haven’t slept through the night in a decade. No mattress or pillow satisfactorily cushions my body, and I have enough middle-of-the-night hazing, half-staring at the bathroom, to qualify as a midnight marathon runner.
Enter technology to solve – not – track my problems.
Most wearable technologies now offer sleep tracking as if all of humanity were crying out at once for a binary entity to watch over their dreams. I’ve used some of them. More recently, I spent the night with the Withings Scanwatch Horizon and an Apple Watch 7 (one on each wrist) to compare their sleep tracking abilities. At the time, the Scanwatch Horizon was a more apt tracker.
Apple’s watchOS 9, which was unveiled this week at WWDC 2022, should change that equation. The updated wearable OS, which is in developer beta now and will be released this fall, adds “sleep stages”. This means the watch will know when I’m in REM (Rapid Eye Movement, associated with dreams), Core (aka “slow wave sleep” and an essential part of sleep) or Deep Sleep (actually a part of sleep). . Main Sleep). It will do all this using just the watch’s accelerometer and heart rate sensor.
Apple updating sleep app with sleep stage data #WWDC22 pic.twitter.com/ubKD72muJHJune 6, 2022
Good sleep should have all these stages. My sleep features REM and not enough Core, at least that’s what I’m sure watchOS 9 would show me in its new detailed graphs.
I’m not arguing with the obvious benefit of a sleep tracker, which can shape your sleep patterns and issues.
On the other hand, I don’t need a smartwatch to tell me I wake up every 25 minutes or so.
During the test mentioned above, my sleep was worse than usual because I was wearing two bulky watches on my wrists. At least the Apple Watch is thinner, lighter and smoother. Sleeping with the Withings Scanwatch Horizon was insane. I rolled in my hand and the rotating bezel of the watch cut into my ribs.
Just because the Apple Watch is more comfortable doesn’t mean it feels like a natural part of my sleep. Without painting too much of a picture, I like to be relatively unencumbered in bed. I wear PJ pants and nothing else. Lying in bed with a clock on, I often feel The princess and the pea. It’s a small gadget with a big impact on my comfort.
Comfort aside, I struggle to understand how having all these details about my sleep problems will improve the situation. I think it will simply put an exclamation point. “So you thought you were sleeping terribly? Let me show you what an eyesore you really are! How are you surviving?!”
Sleeping, like eating, is a fundamentally human thing – it’s a living thing. It is also when we are most vulnerable. Why should we introduce technology to it?
I prefer the purity of tech-free sleep (I say as I reach for my iPhone alarm, which I place right next to my bed).
When watchOS 9 arrives as a public beta next month, I’ll probably try sleep tracking – for work purposes – but once that’s done, I’ll take my watch off before bed and enjoy another intermittent night. I already know everything I need to know about my bad sleep habits, with or without Apple Watch and watchOS 9.
Speaking of Apple Watch, does anyone know why it took so long for Apple to add heart rate training?