A great majority of our time is spent sleeping. But there is a growing amount of people who feel they are not getting a decent amount of quality sleep. And they are right to be concerned. A good night’s sleep can mean the difference between a healthy individual and an unhealthy one.
The Withings Aura sleep system is a device that attempts to bring better understanding about our everyday sleep habits. It is backed by years of research and comes with a number of interesting and unique features. My Withings aura test yielded some interesting results. Read on to see my Withings review.
The aura is hands free device that consists of a small lamp that sits on your nightstand and a mattress sensor. resting area.
The lamp is a small white lamp that resembles a dorade box. The interior of the device houses an LED light that emits a soft colored glow which will change depending on your current sleep status. The lamp motion controlled and touch sensitive. You initiate sleep mode by tapping the top 3 times. Sliding your hand left or right will disable the light or turn down the volume. The bottom of the device has a built in speaker, while the back has a USB port for connecting a phone.
The mattress sensor is small, flat device that is supposed to go under your sheet or in between your mattress and box spring. The end has a USB wire that attached to the back of the nightstand sensor. The sensor monitors vital statistics such as your heart rate, breathing, and the times you get out of bed. The sensor pairs with the lamp module, which doubles as a smart alarm clock and keeps track of things like ambient temperature and the noise levels of your resting area.
When you first tap the device and enter sleep mode the aura will emit a red light from its led, to simulate the sun setting. Pretty neat if you ask me! The device will also let you choose different sounds that will work in concert with the LED light dimming as you drift off to sleep. There are quite a few to choose from, such as instruments or white noise. I prefer quiet when I sleep so I didn’t test this portion too much.
Withings claims that overtime your body will become used to this process and it will help to stimulate melatonin production. I am not sure how accurate that is.
The included bed sensor is a little on the bulky side. I am not sensitive to these types of things but if you are you should take note of this. I was able to tuck the sensor under in-between the mattress and box spring and I did not notice an accuracy difference. The sensor will detect all activity on the bed – regardless of whether it’s you or your partners. If you want to ensure an accurate reading it is probably best to sleep alone.
I found the controls to be pretty intuitive, although tapping the device to make it enter sleep mode took some getting used to.
The aura utilizes Withings Health Mate app, which is used by many other Withings products. However in terms of actionable data the app is pretty limited. For sleep tracking you will have a read out of 4 levels: awake, REM, light, and deep. The app will also show you your average heart rate and will record any significant jumps or dips during the night. You can dig a little into each night’s sleep metrics to look at charts and graphs and there is a weekly summary, but that’s it. There is no detailed analysis on how to improve your sleep habits or even a sleep score. Compared to some of its competitors the Withings app is a bit on the lean side.
As an aside, Withings has recently made its data compatible with Apples Healhkit app, which is open source and allows developers to modify it to suit the any particular device. It will be interesting to see what independent developers can do with the Auras data metrics. This may be worth looking into if you plan on using the Aura as your main sleep tracker.
Like similar sleep trackers, the Withings sleep system comes with a built in smart alarm. Smart alarms work by setting a time zone between your normal wake up times which will allow your device to randomly wake you at the most optimal time or when you being to move during the morning. Research suggests that being woken up during a lighter sleep cycle is easier on the body and helps you feel more refreshed.
That said, the smart alarm on the aura is pretty basic. There is no way to set a different time for each day of the week and it does not have any sort of snooze function. The upside is that since the aura has a build in LED you can set the alarm to “light mode” which can simulate the sun coming up. Either way, I don’t see myself ditching my main alarm anytime soon, especially since I am a person who absolutely requires a snooze button.
Is it worth the price tag?
The Withings tracker is a fairly basic sleep tracker that has some unique features. It is not without its share of flaws, however. The main 2 being its weak app support and its accuracy. Withings is however making steady improvements so I don’t hold this against it so much. If all you need is a sleep tracker, than the Aura does the job adequately and is a worthwhile purchase. Those who are looking for more should opt for a smart watch or fitness band instead.