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Hands on with 'Advanced Sleep Analysis,' the new REM sleep-tracking feature from Basis

You can now have a veritable sleep clinic strapped to your oh-so-quantified wrist. In a Tuesday blog post, Basis announced that it’s pushing live its new Advanced Sleep Analysis feature for owners of both the original Basis B1 and just-released Basis Carbon Steel Edition activity-tracking wristbands.

I’ve been using the new feature on a beta server for the last six days, and Advanced Sleep Analysis pretty much works exactly as Basis said it would in an early January announcement. Competing activity trackers typically report light sleep, deep sleep and sleep interruptions, but Basis ups the ante by tracking REM sleep as well, tapping into the band’s accelerometer and heart rate sensors to pony up data on the sleep state most often associated with dreams.

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If you’re a Basis band owner, you’ll be able to access Advanced Sleep Analysis via new versions of Basis’ mobile apps—version 1.7.8 for iOS and 1.7.9 for Android. Both apps should update automatically, and there’s no need to update firmware. You can also start using Advanced Sleep Analysis via the Basis web dashboard under “Sleep Details.” Apparently, Basis has “retroactively analyzed” everyone’s last few nights of sleep, so sync right now to see exactly where your dream states lie in your sleep timeline.

As you can see from the Android app images in this article, I got an incredible night’s sleep last Wednesday night—well, incredible by my metrics, at least. Deep sleep and REM sleep are essential for rejuvenation and daytime information processing, so I’m stoked that 48 percent of my sleep fell in those categories. 

I’m not so concerned that my Toss/Turn stats reveal 28 events. As the Basis software explains, a Toss/Turn event can be triggered by a body position change or a simple twitch. And notice how none of the Toss/Turn events occurred during deep sleep. This is why we quantify ourselves: To learn way more about our bodies, and physicality, and essential essence than will ever, ever be useful.

Now, one of the things I don’t like about the new Advanced Sleep Analysis feature is how the mobile app quantifies sleep events. I’m typically a poor sleeper. Insomnia is a constant battle. I often wake up in the middle of the night, and have to wait a while before crashing back down.

Well, in the Basis mobile apps, any sleep disruption longer than 15 minutes will trigger the end of a “sleep event,” leaving someone like me with multiple sleep graphs over the course of a night. Apparently, the web dashboard helps you consolidate multiple sleep events that are logged during a single night of unrest, but I only use the mobile app, and don’t have any interest in jumping online for that aggregate data.

basis carbon steel 2 image: jon phillips

Basis Carbon Steel Edition activity tracker—now with REM sleep data.

Regardless, the Basis approach to sleep analysis trumps that of any other activity-tracking system I’ve used. And perhaps best of all, sleep tracking works automatically: You don’t have to push any buttons on the wrist band to begin or end sleep logging. 

Now I can’t testify to the incontrovertible accuracy of Basis’ sleep data, but it does jibe with my own anecdotal observations (at least in terms of when my sleep begins and ends), and more or less runs consistent with data I’ve pulled from the Jawbone UP24. Interestingly, when I compare the UP24’s sleep graphs to Basis’ sleep graphs, it looks like Jawbone recognizes my periods of REM sleep as deep sleep.

But this could change if Jawbone ever implements the technology it received when it purchased BodyMedia. Indeed, a heart rate sensor should be somewhere in Jawbone’s future, and this could help them crack the REM puzzle as well.

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