For the past two weeks, something's been watching me sleep. The ResMed S+, an aluminum and plastic square that could have been dreamed up by Stanley Kubrick, sits silently on my bedside table, a few feet from my face, perched beside an alarm clock and glass of water. It's eerily observant, not only taking notes on my breathing patterns and movements, but also keeping tabs on the brightness, temperature, and noise-levels of my bedroom. In the morning, it sends a sleep score to my smartphone, a numerical indication of how restful my night actually was. My average grade is 72-percent, a reminder that even rest needs focus. Sleep, it seems, is yet another frontier for personal failure.
But I couldn’t be happier. Sleep has never been one of my strengths: I'm a restless, toss-and-turn type, flailing about under the covers and waking every couple hours. Combine that with the Senegalese man on my street who likes to scream insults at the trash cans and you've got a recipe for unrest. That's a troubling situation, especially now that poor sleep has been linked to everything from general listlessness and heath issues, to losses in productivity and blah blah blah. So I've gone full bore into the world of connected rest, a new realm of personal devices meant to monitor and quantify all the factors that add up to a solid night of shuteye. Most of the products I've tried require strapping all sorts of sensors to my chest, arm, and my bed, adding discomfort to the should-be cozy. But the square seer on my nightstand, the last device standing, watches me without any added inconvenience.
The world's first non-contact sleep monitor, all the ResMed requires is a power source, a spot on the bedside table, and a smartphone to sync with. No bulging bed pads or wired devices necessary. After requesting a few lines of personal information (how much caffeine and alcohol I ingested that day; how much exercise I got, and so on) it's set to judge me. Sensors inside take note of my respiration and general flailing. It tracks the amount of REM sleep I have (that's the good stuff) and the environmental factors of my bedroom. In the morning, it presents me with a well-designed read out of my data via its partner app, which it logs in an easy-to-read chart. Then, it offers suggestions about more appropriate habits (go to bed earlier; stop drinking so much coffee). It's unobtrusive, no bigger than a hardcover book. And it works: after reluctantly heeding its advice, my percentage rose to that 72 after starting as a measly 54. Not a great score, but it's far better than a failing grade. [$150; resmed.com]