Week 6: November 21
After six weeks of snoozing comfortably on the It Bed by Sleep Number, my husband, Kevin and I just reluctantly hauled our old bed frame and mattress back out of storage.
Yes, I've finished my review and the It Bed now lives at the CNET Smart Home. If you're interested in hearing my final impressions of It, a $1,099 queen mattress that relies on built-in tech to help you sleep better, give the review a read. I've also attached the review video below if you want to get the gist.
But for my final post here, I wanted to delve into how the It Bed fits in with my sleep tech ideal.
Tech to help you sleep?
So often we hear how important it is to avoid technology when we're trying to fall asleep. As a tech writer who's surrounded by a steady stream of new devices on a consistent basis, that isn't always realistic. But even if I didn't review products for a living, I think I'd still struggle with this.
I regularly fall asleep with my phone in my hand. If I'm working on something after hours from home, I'll set up my laptop in bed. Are these good habits? No. Can other folks relate to them? You betcha. All of the things I'm not supposed to do when it comes to blurring the lines between work and rest, well, I've probably done them.
Because of that, I didn't give it a second thought when I got this assignment. I get to swap out my old mattress for a new smart one? Where do I sign up?
But as the time got closer to testing out the It Bed, a mattress that literally monitors every move one makes, I began to wonder if the tech would feel too intrusive. To me, the best smart bed tech should be ever-present, but entirely out of sight, intuiting my needs and making adjustments for me automatically toward the goal of a better night's sleep.
It Bed versus the ideal
So, where did the It Bed fall on the sleep tech spectrum?
What it got right:
- You'll never feel or otherwise notice the sensors built into the mattress that track your breathing and heart rate every night.
- The adapter that powers the It Bed's Wi-Fi connectivity hides out discreetly on the floor under your bed, assuming you have a free power outlet handy there.
- The module that pumps air into either side of the mattress for adjusting firmness/softness settings tucks into a pocket under the mattress at the foot of the bed -- you'll forget it's there after you zip it into its hidden pouch.
What could use some work:
- The It Bed doesn't come with a remote or any other sort of hardware accessory, meaning you have to open up the app to tweak settings and view your sleep scores -- aren't bright screens in bed against the rules?
- Sleep Number's SleepIQ app will tell you to get out of bed every time you want to change the firmness setting on your mattress, meaning you can't relax and feel out each setting as it inflates/deflates
- Involving third-party integrations is a commitment, especially for wearables like Fitbit activity trackers. Sleep Number suggests manually logging all exercise in the Fitbit app to help it learn your habits.
- SleepIQ will give you recommendations on how to sleep better, but it won't make any of those adjustments for you.
Here are two recommendations Kevin and I received:
- "Megan, you're consistently receiving lower SleepIQ scores on Saturdays. Are your Friday and Saturday workouts tougher than most? Try adjusting your Sleep Number setting to see if that helps with sore muscles."
- "Kevin, SleepIQ indicates that on nights your heart rate is above 70, your SleepIQ score goes down. What activities are you doing that elevate your heart rate? Track alcohol and caffeine consumption to see if they're the culprits."
SleepIQ should be able to change the mattress' firmness and softness settings if it thinks I might not be sleeping well on certain nights due to sore muscles. And since Kevin and I were tracking our workouts, shouldn't SleepIQ know when my workouts are toughest or when Kevin goes on a night run?
If you've connected third-party products, Sleep Number said you should also get alerts about your exercise (through Fitbit, MapMyRun or Withings), the temperature (through Nest) and more. We had a lot of these things set up, though, and never received custom notifications related to these devices.
But even if SleepIQ had sent me a notification about how I sleep better when the temperature is 68 degrees than at 72 degrees, it still wouldn't tell the Nest thermostat to adjust the temperature for me. That's something it should be able to do.
The It Bed gets a lot of things right. Its main sensor technology hides out in the background, making it easy to forget it's there. But you do have to open up the app to view your sleep report and make any needed changes. And while the software pulls in a lot of data, it doesn't auto-adjust anything for you. For example, SleepIQ told me to adjust the firmness of my mattress to help with exercise-induced muscle soreness -- I wish it would just do that for me.
Yes, $1,099 is too much for most to spend on the queen-sized It Bed today, but I do think Sleep Number is on the right track.
Where do you stand on sleep tech? Should all connected devices be left out of the bedroom? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Week 5: November 11
I had previously written a whole quasi-rant for this week's It Bed post about how my husband, Kevin, and I still hadn't received any of those promised custom messages. But then, around 4:15PM on Friday afternoon, it happened. Finally. At the same time, some of the other app functionality has gotten a little worse.
So while I'm glad the whole personalized alert thing happened, I'm really starting to question the tech behind the It Bed and whether it's truly worth it to drop $1,099 on a queen mattress -- or just, you know, head on over to Overstock.com and snatch one up for 400 bucks.
Editors' Note: Not sure what I'm talking about? Scroll down to read my entries from weeks 1-4. Basically, I'm reviewing the It Bed by Sleep Number, and I'm writing diary-style posts about my progress every week.
Here's the deal
As the folks at Sleep Number suggested, I've been logging my exercise through Fitbit to help the SleepIQ algorithm learn my patterns. The team said Kevin and I should definitely start to see custom in-app messages and push alerts related to our individual sleep routines by day 30 such as, "Your SleepIQ score is highest on days that you walk more than 10,000 steps" and "You get your highest SIQ scores when your room temperature is between 66-68 degrees." It didn't happen quite like that, but we did eventually get alerts 32 days into sleeping on the bed.
Here's what SleepIQ told me and Kevin:
- "Megan, you're consistently receiving lower SleepIQ scores on Saturdays, Are your Friday and Saturday workouts tougher than most? Try adjusting your Sleep Number setting to see if that helps with sore muscles."
- "Kevin, SleepIQ indicates that on nights your heart rate is above 70, your SleepIQ score goes down. What activities are you doing that elevate your heart rate? Track alcohol and caffeine consumption to see if they're the culprits."
Since SleepIQ is tracking my exercise and step-count through Fitbit, shouldn't the app know when I'm working out hardest? I want the app to tell me I'm receiving lower SleepIQ scores on Saturdays because of tougher workouts and for it to then auto-adjust my Sleep Number setting to help with sore muscles. And Kevin's personalized message was pretty vague, similar to the general tips SleepIQ sends about watching alcohol and caffeine consumption.
At the same time, I've also experienced a couple of unexpected glitches with the app this week. Check out the screenshot to the right. The app didn't pick up Monday night's sleep at all. And it said I got 15 hours and 34 minutes of restful sleep on election night -- definitely not true. I reached out to Sleep Number to help make sense of these results, but haven't heard back from them yet.
Honestly, five weeks into reviewing the It Bed, I'm kind of skeptical. The in-app messages we received were somewhat useful, but what's going on with all of the other data this smart mattress is tracking? Will we get just one of these notifications every month or so?
Right now, I'd settle for the app to not glitch-out on me.
My main consolation is that this mattress continues to be seriously comfortable, and I continue to sleep well on it -- with the exception of election night, perhaps. But that certainly won't be enough to recommend it over other smart mattresses -- or even regular non-smart mattresses.
Sleep Number plans to issue a software update sometime today called the "time to fall asleep" feature. In previous posts, I complained about the app not knowing the difference between someone reading in bed and someone sleeping. With this update, the software should be able to distinguish between the two. If you also like to read or catch up on Twitter before you fall asleep (I know that screens in bed is a no-no; I can't resist!), SleepIQ is supposed to log that as part of the new "time it took you to fall asleep" calculation, and it won't factor that in to your overall sleep score. I haven't slept since this update went live, but I plan to investigate this new feature soon.
As far as the other stuff goes, I'm not quite sure what's next. We still haven't received personalized messages related to the third-party apps we've connected (Fitbit, Nest, etc.). I also want to understand what contributed to the app glitches I experienced this week. Since I'm not ready to swap my lumpy old mattress back in just yet, I plan to spend the coming week addressing these concerns.
Week 4: November 4
I've been sleeping on thefor about a month now. A smart mattress with integrated sensors and smart-home partnerships, the It gathers data on your zzz's and daily routine with the promise of using it to help you get a better night's sleep. There's a lot to like about this clever bed, but I'm still waiting for the custom messages that are supposed to give me specific sleep-related recommendations.
(Didya miss weeks 1-3? Scroll down to see my previous entries.)
The good news
The Sleep Number folks nailed the most important part of this bed: The mattress is seriously comfortable. That couldn't have been very easy given that it's loaded with tech.
According to the It bed's spec sheet, this connected mattress has a "Foam Comfort Layer" and "Foam Chambers." While the comfort layer is busy contouring to your body, you can inflate or deflate the foam chambers to suit your preferred level of firmness or softness (there are two chambers for the $1,099 queen mattress I'm testing -- one for each side of the bed). A module gizmo connects to air hoses hidden in a zippered pocket at the foot of the bed to inflate and deflate the mattress.
It also has built-in sensors that log your breathing and heart rate while you sleep, as well as your restful and restless sleep. It even knows how much time you spend out of bed at night when you're grabbing a drink of water from the kitchen or taking a trip to the bathroom. Even with all of that technology hard at work, it never gets in the way. I doubt I would even know this thing was smart if, you know, I weren't testing it because of said smart stuff.
All of that data pours into Sleep Number's SleepIQ app, which calculates a daily SleepIQ score and weekly and monthly SleepIQ averages. You can use these scores as a barometer of how well you typically sleep and work toward a better routine over time.
SleepIQ can also gather data from third-party smart-home apps about additional variables that could be impacting your sleep. Connect your Fitbit, Nest thermostat or other compatible product to SleepIQ, and watch the data flow in. My husband Kevin is consistently seeing data from the Fitbit he paired with his account, and I am consistently seeing data from the Nest I paired with my account.
Not so fast
Almost everything else has been hit-or-miss with the It, mostly because neither Sleep Number nor its partners make it very clear what these integrations are supposed do -- or even which external products work with the It Bed.
For example, I've been weighing myself on a Withings scale because Withings is a compatible app...until Sleep Number told me earlier this week that it's only compatible with Withings wearables. You mean I've been weighing myself every day for nothing?
*Throws scale out the window, frantically searches the house for leftover Halloween candy*
I've also worn a Fitbit during this testing period, and mine hasn't been displaying nearly as much info as Kevin's. Why? I don't know, but Sleep Number reps looked into it for me. Here's what they found out:
"We explored the Fitbit differences between you and Kevin (specifically the walk data) and found: The Charge 2 contains a 'smart track' technology that the Flex version you're using does not, which is why he can see autorecognized walk data. So the data you're seeing is dependent on what's being captured on Fitbit's end."
So, because Kevin's Fitbit is newer and smarter than mine, it displays more data in the SleepIQ app.
I couldn't find anything on the Sleep Number site or its integration partners' sites that clearly outlined what specific products and services work with SleepIQ, how they work with SleepIQ and what the timeline is for seeing them work with SleepIQ. I've spent a lot of my time this month thinking these integrations just weren't working -- or that they just weren't working yet. Not so with Withings and Fitbit. The Withings scale isn't compatible at all, and my first-gen Fitbit Flex just isn't as smart as Kevin's Charge 2. I really wish that information were provided somewhere so you aren't left guessing.
There's another important piece to this. Eventually, SleepIQ is supposed to start sending us custom messages and push alerts based on the general data pulled directly from the bed, as well as from the connected smart-home apps we're using. So far we've logged 24 sleeps on this bed, and the folks at Sleep Number said we should definitely start to see these notifications by day 30.
The Sleep Number team also told me that manually logging data in the third-party apps can help facilitate those custom messages. They encouraged me to actively input my exercise in MapMyRun or Fitbit to help give the SleepIQ software even more data to inform its personalized recommendations. I'll be doing more of that over the coming days, and hopefully, it will help SleepIQ do its thing. Either way, I'm in a holding pattern until those messages kick in.Week 3: October 28
For three weeks, I've snoozed comfortably on the It Bed by Sleep Number, a connected mattress that promises a better night's sleep via built-in tech and partnerships with other smart home companies and health devices. Goodbye lumpy old mattress, hello foam-filled wonder! (Scroll down to see my entries from weeks 1 and 2.)
The thing is, there isn't much new information for me to report since last Friday. What gives?
In the dark
I'm still treading water on most of the integrations that are supposed to make the It smart. But before I get into that, here's a quick overview of the It Bed's core functionality.
The mattress has built-in sensors that know the difference between my restful sleep and the tossing and turning that occasionally results in my husband, Kevin, getting clocked in the face (sorry, Kev!). It also works with a lot of fitness-and-health-related devices and software from brands including Fitbit, Apple Health, Withings, Nest, MapMyRun and more.
Curious how to set up a third-party integration on the SleepIQ app? Check out the video below.
Because of the partnerships with the above manufacturers and software developers, I configured a whole bunch of stuff early on in the testing period -- a Fitbit Flex, a Fitbit Charge 2, a Fitbit Aria, an Apple Watch, a Withings Body scale, a Nest Learning Thermostat and my MapMyRun account.
Here's what I have seen the SleepIQ app do with the data it's collecting:
- It tracks my breathing and heart rate.
- It knows when I'm sleeping restfully, when I'm restless and when I get out of bed.
- It uses the data from 1. and 2. to give me SleepIQ scores, which tell me how well I've slept on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.
- Kevin's SleepIQ account logs his runs through the Fitbit integration with his Fitbit Charge 2.
- My SleepIQ account logs ambient temperature data from the Nest thermostat.
The first few things on the list above happen automatically after you've configured the mattress since that's part of the It Bed's included sensor tech. The Fitbit and Nest integrations, however, show that some of the partner apps I've paired separately are at least connecting. That said, the app only seems to be gathering data from Fitbit and Nest, which isn't particularly useful.
All of the third-party integrations are eventually supposed to kick in and start sending me personalized in-app messages and notifications to help me identify patterns in my sleep routine and make improvements. A Sleep Number representative told me it takes anywhere from two to four weeks for that custom info to make its way to the SleepIQ app because it needs time to learn your habits and interpret them.
I supposed that makes sense, but all of this waiting is kind of frustrating. Typically, we open up a product, install and configure it and then we can explore its full functionality soon after (assuming there aren't any glitches along the way). The It needs weeks to figure out my routine.
Check out the "connected sleep" section in the screen shot to the right to see what those in-app messages might look like after SleepIQ starts sending custom messages.
If you can wait long enough, SleepIQ's software is supposed to give you all sorts of personalized details like this. Here are more examples, straight from the folks at Sleep Number:
Insights based on your personal sleep data
- "You have your highest SleepIQ scores when you get x hours of sleep."
- "You have your best nights of sleep on Monday nights. What makes that night unique?"
- "For the last 30 days, your highest SleepIQ scores are when you go to bed between 10:30 and 11 p.m., and when you wake up between 6-6:30 a.m."
Insights based on Age & Gender - compared to others
- "You sleep as well as women in their 40's."
Insights based on data providers
- "Your SleepIQ score is highest on days that you're active."
- "Your SleepIQ score is highest on days that you walk more than 10,000 steps."
- "You get your highest SIQ scores when your room temperature between 66-68 degrees."
- "Great job working out 20 days last month! Your SleepIQ was highest on those days."
I'm three weeks in, and I haven't had anything like that cross my SleepIQ screen. That's (mostly) all right, because I'm still in that two-to-four-week period and because it means I get to spend even more time with a mattress that's significantly comfier than my own. I just hope these custom alerts start doing their thing soon, since this is a big chunk of functionality I haven't been able to explore yet. Check back next week for the fourth installment to find out if those alerts and notifications are up and running.
Week 2: October 21
As of this post, I'm halfway through my month of testing out Sleep Number's It Bed. I know what you're thinking -- reviewing a bed for work? That must be the best gig ever!
Yeah, it kinda is.
And this week was way better than the last (scroll down to read my full Week 1 entry). Instead of feverishly pairing compatible It Bed accessories from Fitbit, Apple, Nest and others, I actually got to sit back and let the SleepIQ app do most of the work for me.
All about that app
The good news is that I've slept pretty well this week. Every day, I've earned a SleepIQ score ranging from 78 to 89, with the exception of Wednesday night, when I clocked a meager 4.5 hours of restful sleep for a total score of 53. My husband, Kevin, slept OK too, scoring from 63 to 86, but mostly in the 70s.
I like the way the app visualizes sleep patterns -- it's clear and concise, while simultaneously displaying a lot of information. Looking at the readings, though, there are a couple of potential problem areas that I'd like to test further:
- Our dog regularly jumps on and off the bed throughout the day.
- The bed might log inactive time as "restful" sleep.
Our feisty Australian Shepherd/Border Collie mix, Halley (after Halley's Comet, naturally), regularly weasels her way onto the bed. In fact, I've opened up the SleepIQ app at the office only to have the software to tell me that I'm in bed. At first, I thought it was a glitch. But it happened again while I was home (but not in bed), and I found Halley catching a midday snooze. Are Halley's surreptitious daytime naps influencing my overall sleep score? What if Halley and I are both on my side of the bed at the same time? Would that affect my breathing and heart rate, not to mention my restful-versus-restless ratio?
Here's another possible data inconsistency: The bed doesn't know the difference between someone sleeping and someone reading a book. If you're in the bed and you aren't moving much, the sensors in the mattress might think you're asleep or even restless and count that toward or against your overall score. You can really see that by looking at Kevin's weekly in-bed average in the screenshot above -- he might have been in bed for 10 hours and 36 minutes, but he probably spent a good chunk of that time reading. And I'm willing to bet that some of the time SleepIQ registered as "restful" or "restless" sleep is time he's knocking back a new chapter in a book.
I reached out to a Sleep Number representative about these concerns. Here's what she had to say about letting your pet sleep on your bed:
"SleepIQ picks up the strongest heartbeat (plus a dog's heartbeat is faster than a human's resting heart rate) - so the algorithm knows to rule out the dog when computing the score. If your dog is active at night and moves around in bed, SleepIQ can pick up on its movement (when it gets in and out of bed). In general, sleep experts don't recommend sleeping with pets in bed -- their movement can cause humans to toss and turn and wake up, which directly impacts the human's restful sleep -- and gives you a low SleepIQ score."
The same goes for reading in bed: "At this time, SleepIQ tracks restful time in bed. If you read in bed, it will show that as 'time in bed' (and if you're awake, your heart and breathing rate is different than when you're asleep)."
She did mention that there's an edit feature in the app, so if you really wanted to track your sleep as accurately as possible, you could go into the app and edit out that 45 minutes you spent reading. It's a little inconvenient, though. To that end, Sleep Number is supposedly working on new features to make the algorithm even smarter.
Where the (third) party at?
Unfortunately, I still haven't made sense of all of the third-party products and apps that sync with this bed. As I said in last week's post, I paired an Apple Watch, two Fitbit activity trackers, a Fitbit scale, a Withings scale, a MapMyRun account and a Nest Learning Thermostat. So far, I've only seen clear integrations from Kevin's Fitbit and the Nest.
The left screenshot below shows my integrations -- the SleepIQ app is pulling in the average temperature picked up by the Nest's built-in sensor. It's too early to definitively talk about trends, but the app shows I didn't sleep as well the two days the Nest thermostat registered an average temperature of 74 degrees. Maybe 72 degrees is actually the best sleeping temperature for me?
You can also input activity tags manually, so I logged the days I went to the gym in the app. It looks like I didn't sleep as well on those days. I suppose that makes sense, since I've been trying out a new morning gym schedule.
In the right screenshot above, you can see Kevin paired his Fitbit with his SleepIQ account. The day he went for a run, he got a SleepIQ score of 74 -- 4 points better than his average sleep score of 70. The confusing thing here is that I paired my Fitbit on October 12, and I haven't had any luck getting it to sync with the app since. So even though I've been wearing a Fitbit Flex this whole time, the app isn't automatically logging that information, but Kevin's seems to be working just fine.
Right now, I'm not totally sold on the value of the It Bed. It's comfy to be sure, but I'm not sure how "smart" it really is. Of course, I'd get a better night's sleep if my dog didn't jump in bed with me, but I also don't want to have to kick her out for the sensors to work optimally. That might be too much to ask for, but it still seems like a limitation. The same goes for the whole resting-in-bed-vs.-sleeping-in-bed thing. I want to be able to take a load off without wondering if SleepIQ is counting it toward my sleep score.
There's plenty of time left to explore the It Bed, so I'll reserve judgement for now. Be sure to check back next week for the third installment, where I hope to focus even more on third-party integrations.
Week 1: October 14
I didn't sleep very well last night, but my husband slept worse. How do I know? Thetold me.
This week, we started sleeping on this smart mattress so I could test it in a real-world setting and eventually write a review. The It mattress, which is available in the US now starting at $800 for a twin and going on up to $1,500 for a California king, has a lot of the tech you'd expect from Sleep Number. There are dual inflating air chambers that let you and your partner pick custom firmness settings, built-in sensors to track vital stats, and a related Android and iPhone app where you can check out your SleepIQ score from last night's sleep, as well as view weekly and monthly averages.
When my husband, Kevin, went to sleep at 11:49 p.m. and was out of bed at 5 a.m. for a relay run around Kentucky's bourbon country, he logged only 4 hours and 32 minutes of what Sleep Number calls "restful sleep" and earned a SleepIQ score of 55. Sleep Number says, "There's no such thing as a bad score," but 100 is optimal, so Kevin's 55 and my 67 for last night could use some work. SleepIQ numbers are individualized based on your heart rate and breathing rate, as well as how much of your time in bed is restful versus restless, and when you get out of bed entirely.
For the next few weeks, I'll detail experiences like these while I sleep on and test Sleep Number's It Bed. I'll discuss all of that behind-the-scenes stuff we do leading up to a review, including a quick aside to rant about the number of boxes this thing came in: SIX, more than half of which were heavy and spectacularly difficult to lug up to our second-floor bedroom.
To be more specific, the It Bed is actually just a mattress -- bed frames, bases and other add-ons like headboards are sold separately. I received a frame, a base and a queen mattress to get the full experience, which helps account for the many boxes waiting on my front porch when I got home last Friday. The total cost of those components comes out to $1,598; $499 for the frame and base and $1,099 for the mattress.
I feel like a test subject in a clinical trial
The most captivating smart-home products work with a variety of devices from other manufacturers, so you can engage with multiple platforms in a (hopefully) seamless way. Want your Wi-Fi LED bulbs to flash every time your security camera detects motion? Give IFTTT a go. Want to use Siri on your iPhone to open and close your smart window shades? Ask Apple's HomeKit.
But testing a sleep device and its various accessories over a monthlong period is a bit more...involved.
Basically, that's because this mattress (and select other Sleep Number mattresses) now works with a growing number of other brands thanks to Sleep Number's new application program interface, or API -- a fancy term for the software that lets devices from different manufacturers work with one another. The idea is that the SleepIQ app will pull data from all of these partner apps to detect patterns and give you tips to improve your sleep. Some compatible programs include:
And to do this thing right, I want to try out as many of those It Bed partner integrations as possible. That means my daily connectivity to and interaction with gadgets and gizmos is at an all-time high. In fact, I've spent most of the week getting those third-party devices up and running with It:
- I'm wearing an Apple Watch that tracks my activity and communicates that data to Apple Health
- Kevin's wearing a Fitbit Charge 2 ($164 at Walmart) to compare its Sleep Number integration with Apple Watch
- I've paired my MapMyRun account with the Sleep Number's SleepIQ app
- We're both logging our weight on a Fitbit Aria and a Withings Body scale
- I've replaced our old thermostat with a Nest Learning Thermostat
And for an extra dose of overkill, I found my old Fitbit Flex hanging out in a drawer and decided to add that into the mix, too. Because, at this point, why not?
Certainly, the majority of households won't have two connected scales and three fitness trackers between two people, but we're going all in to see what works and what doesn't.
After a week, it's still a bit early to see how all of these integrations work with the It Bed. My hope is that the SleepIQ app will help me make sense of all of these partnerships over time. So far, I feel like a participant in a clinical sleep trial -- all wired up with devices tracking my health and fitness, but unsure of what everything means.
Be sure to check back next week for the second installment, when I hope to have a better handle on all of these accessories. After a month or so of weekly journaling, I expect to have an official recommendation in the form of a full review.