One of the most important lessons I learned during 2018 was the great impact that sleep has on our daily lives . Sleeping well and enough is key to health and fortunately the Apple Watch is an excellent tool that can help us with this. The Apple Watch does not have sleep analysis by default, but it does have a number of third-party apps that do.
If I say I’ve tried 20 sleep apps, I’m probably short. They all have their drawbacks, especially if you’re an information and design freak like me. However, there is one that has managed to hold me back, it’s Pillow , our app of the week.
Two rings (sleep time and quality) and a graph of the phases during the night. All the information you need to know if you slept well or not.
Monitoring to learn how to sleep better
We’re hardly going to improve our sleep if we don’t know what our sleep looks like. If you have an Apple Watch you don’t need any special device to analyze your sleep, just wear your watch at night. Since it analyses movement and heart rate, it can detect how we’ve slept with different apps. Knowing how we sleep we can therefore know how to improve it .
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But if the data given by the app are indecipherable, too many or too few… we probably don’t put much effort into improving sleep. It is important that the app is understood so that we can know at a glance if we are doing it wrong or right .
Pillow at the Apple Watch.
With this in mind, I think Pillow is the best of the lot. Pillow has the quality that with an unsophisticated design, shows you quickly if you have slept well or not . Two simple rings tell you if you have reached your sleep goal and the quality of that sleep. Then there is a graph showing the phases of your sleep throughout the night, in case you want to go deeper into it. It also has many other data and functions to go deeper, as we will see later. But the interesting thing is that it knows how to focus on offering the user only what is really useful.
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Manual mode vs. automatic mode
Pillow has two forms of use, one manual and one automatic . In the manual form you are in charge of setting the alarm and telling it when you go to sleep and when you don’t. In this mode you don’t need an Apple Watch, as it can analyze your sleep according to the noise recorded by the iPhone. But if you have an Apple Watch it will analyze it according to the movement we make and the keystrokes, so it can be more accurate.
This manual mode is great because allows you to set an alarm at a specific time and the app will wake you up at that time or a little earlier, right in a sleep phase that allows you to wake up easily and rested. The catch is that you have to worry about always setting the alarm and having your iPhone recording for hours on end.
Pillow nightly analysis showing sleep phases and heart rate.
On the other hand there is the automatic mode, my favourite . In this mode you don’t have to do anything else apart from wearing your watch at night. The app detects by itself when you have been sleeping as it analyses the data collected by the clock. It does not consume any extra battery for recording, nor does it consume the clock, as it already analyzes the movement.
The app has a function called Pillow A.I. which is responsible for learning how you sleep to give you more accurate analysis over time. The first few days while training you will see a button to indicate if your sleep has been taken well or not, if not, you can modify it. Also, even if you have trained the app you can do it again and reset it from the app settings.
Statistics to discover what affects your sleep
If you want to go deeper and better understand how you sleep and what affects you or not, the interesting thing is to look at the statistics per week . When you look at the statistics for a day, if you turn the iPhone into landscape mode, the different statistics that the app collects will appear. It compares the quality of sleep with different factors such as the caffeine we drink, the heart rate, the steps taken that day… All this data is collected from the iOS Health app.
Different statistics that Pillow shows.
With this information it is easy to correlate for example how a day that we walk more than normal, we will sleep deeper or that if one day we overdo it with coffee, we are likely to sleep worse. In short, it is extremely helpful to consult these statistics from time to time to see if we are improving and what factors are preventing us or helping us.
You don’t have to be a sleep expert to sleep better
If there is a reason to use Pillow it is because you don’t have to be an expert to learn how to sleep better . Pillow is in charge of telling you if you are doing well or not, showing you the phases of your sleep and teaching you what affects those phases of sleep. There are many apps in the App Store that analyze sleep, if you are worried about the accuracy that Pillow can have compared to others… keep in mind that all use the same data collected by the clock, so the difference between one or another is minimal. The important thing is what you do with that data, and in this sense Pillow uses it better than anyone else.
Pillow also has tips and articles to help you sleep better.
The app also has many other details that have not been discussed and are worth discovering for yourself. For example, it has a function that analyses your sleeping trends and recommends the optimal time to go to bed. It also shows different articles and tips to learn how to sleep better.
Pillow can be downloaded for free from the App Store. The free mode allows you to analyze and see how the dream of the last night has been. But to get the full potential we must buy the app with a purchase in-app that unlocks all the functions and allows among other things to see the statistics of every day, tunes to go to sleep and many other features. My recommendation: install the app and play a little with the interface , if you are convinced and see that you understand how you slept the night before… you might be interested in buying the whole app.