One of the biggest strengths that I’ve found with the Basis Band is it’s sleep tracking functionality. I’ve played with a few of the more popular sleep tracker apps that I can purchase on my iPhone such as Sleep Cycle, which uses the accelerometer if my phone to detect motion, which is a surrogate for the different phases of sleep. Some of the things I didn’t like about this were (forgive me for being a bit whiny):
- The phone would need to be plugged in the entire night (so there needs to be an outlet close to my side of the bed)
- The phone needs to be placed under the fitted sheet of the bed, to best detect movement.
- I know this is just me being lazy, but I thought it was a pain to have to untuck my fitted sheet each night before bed to place my phone there, re-tuck it to sleep, then re-untuck it to get my phone out in the morning, and then re-retuck the sheet to ensure the whole sheet doesn’t come off in the morning.
- I wasn’t comfortable with having to sleep with the EMF of my phone right next to my head every night, so I would put it on airplane mode… which turned out to be a great thing, preventing me from receiving text and tweet alerts as well as phone calls.
- The app also requires you to specify when you go to bed, so if you don’t have the wherewithal to use the app, you don’t collect any data. There has been many a night when I fall asleep before I remember to do the whole untucking and re-tucking ordeal.
I was excited to use the Basis Band because it was advertised to automatically detect when you fall asleep. You just put it on and forget about it.
And that was exactly how it worked. It captured all the naps I took on a couch, on the ground, and even on a plane! No sheet tucking and untucking! No remembering to turn an app on. No worrying about having a close enough outlet on my side of the bed when we’re traveling.
Just set it and forget it (except when it needed to be re-charged). It worked as advertised… AND it turns out that the data it gathers correlates really well with medical grade monitors and differed by only 4.3% when put to the test!
So not only is it easy to use, but it’s accurate! What more can you ask for in a sleep monitor.
The metrics that it actually tracks are:
- Total sleep duration
- REM sleep duration
- Light sleep duration
- Deep sleep duration
- Number of times “Toss & Turn”
- Number of interruptions (ie getting up to pee)
And it gives you a percentage sleep score (the higher the better).
This is what Basis has to say about its sleep tracking.
Here’s a pretty good review about someone’s experience using it for seven nights.
ENTER: Mistfit Shine
In any case, I was very happy with the sleep data my Basis Band provided… but then I came across Tim Ferriss’ Random Show Episode 24 where Tim Ferriss and his buddy Kevin Rose discussed the Misfit Shine, a new activity tracker that is sleek, stylish, and only needed to have its batteries changed out every 6-7 months. Kevin Rose talked about how it was a great sleep tracker and allowed him and his wife to track noticeable changes in the quantity of their deep sleep with various activities such as meditation and ingestion of Magnesium Oxide.
Needless to say, my curiosity was piqued, and with the promise of a sleeker sleep tracker compared to the bulky Basis Band and the fact that I wouldn’t have to remember to charge every 5-7 days, I quickly ordered one up from Amazon.
You can see how small it is compared to the Basis Band in the picture above. I wish I had taken a side profile picture because while the Basis Band is about the size of two watches stacked on top of each other, the Misfit Shine is about the size of 2-2.5 quarters stacked on top of each other.
When I wore it, I almost forgot it was there… AND it was stylish (as much as things can be for fitness trackers) and a good conversation starter. The BJJ Cavewife loved it too!
Since I primarily got the shine for it’s sleep stuff, I didn’t care too much about the rest of the activity tracking, and didn’t do much testing.
This is probably the most comprehensive review out there right now about the Shine, so go take a look if you want to learn more about what it can and can’t do.
I decided to wear both the Basis Band and the Misfit Shine at the same time in order for me to compare their sleep tracking. When getting everything set up with the Shine, I discovered that it offered two different options for detecting the start of sleep.
- You can set it so that it autodetects when you fall asleep, so that it works like the Basis Band, where you can just wear it and forget it. This was in beta version.
- The other setting is where you manually have to tap the Shine three times to let it know that you’re planning to go to sleep. This was one of the reasons I didn’t like the iPhone apps in the first place, is having to go to the trouble to remember to tell something I’m going to sleep…. when all I want to close my eyes and fall asleep.
So… here are some screen shots for direct comparisons:
This was the first night I wore both of them. As you can see they were pretty close! The Basis Band figured out that I fell asleep at 3:38 AM, woke up at 10:11 AM, with a total length of sleep of 6:33 hrs and deep sleep of 46 min. The Shine detected that I fell asleep at 3:39 AM, woke up at 10:26 AM, with a total sleep of 6:43 hrs, and deep sleep of 1:41 hrs.
I thought this was very promising. Although I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the differences in the deep sleep times and the overall data wasn’t as comprehensive, it appeared as if the Shine was almost as accurate as the Basis Band. The Shine felt so much more comfortable than the Basis Band and was pretty spot on in terms of detecting my sleep that I was just about ready to pack up my Basis Band and send it off to ebay! I’m more than willing to give up a little bit of accuracy and data if it means wearing something more comfortable. But… the critical part of me wanted a little more testing.
The Basis Band detected that I fell asleep at 7:38 AM, woke up at 11:33 AM, had a total of 3:55 hrs of sleep, and 36 min of deep sleep. The Shine detected… well… absolutely nothing. Without changing any settings the Shine came up with a big fat goose egg. Zero data acquired!
I assume the Shine’s sleep autodetector tries to use a combination of movement and expected time of sleep to know when to someone is a sleep. Since this was during one of my graveyard week shifts (as you can tell by the strange hours and crappy sleep), falling asleep at 7:30 AM must’ve really confused it.
So…. More testing! Because I was going to have similar hours the following day, I opted to disable the Shine’s sleep autodetector, instead going for the tap-it-three-times to tell it I’m going to sleep option.
The Basis Band detected that I fell asleep at 7:57 AM, woke up at 12:12 PM, for a total sleep of 4:15 hrs, and deep sleep of 17 min. The Shine detected that I fell asleep at 7:59 AM, woke up at 12:12 PM, for a total sleep of 4:16 hrs, and deep sleep of 2:48 hrs.
It seemed that with the manual input of when I go to bed, the Shine again retains its accuracy. I should add at this point that you don’t need to tell the Shine when you wake up, it manages to figure that out on its own.
With this data we can see that things match up pretty evenly… except for the amount of deep sleep. I still couldn’t figure out where the Shine was getting that data from… on this evening it seemed to match up pretty well with what the Basis Band called “light sleep,” but on previous Thursday evening, the Shine’s deep sleep didn’t match up with any of the Basis Band numbers, so who knows what the heck is going on.
Since my schedule is so weird right now, with some weeks sleeping at normal hours and others sleeping the wonky graveyard hours, I decided that the Shine wasn’t for me.
I didn’t want to add one more thing on my list to remember before I went to bed whenever I wanted to track sleep. I foresaw a scenario where I enabled the sleep autodetect on normal weeks, then had to remember to switch it off on graveyard weeks AND THEN tap my shine three times before I fell asleep each night, in order to get accurate data.
It was just too cumbersome for someone in my situation, despite the added comfort and style. I can imagine this to be a great tracker for folks who have a normal schedule and wouldn’t have to fuss around with all that.
The only other issue would then be how much sleep information do you want?
Would you be happy simply with knowing your length of sleep and length of deep sleep (the accuracy I’m still very suspect of)?
Or do you want to know as much about your sleep as possible?
Amazon has a great return policy, so I was able to send the Shine back without any trouble, only having to pay for the return shipping.
- Bulky, less comfortable, always know its there
- More sleep data available (sleep duration, REM sleep, light sleep, deep sleep, sleep score, toss & turns, interruptions)
- Accurate data
- Set it and forget it
- Batteries need to be recharged every 5-7 days
- Auto-LED turn on that can annoy wife
- Very comfortable, easy to forget its there
- Need to remember to toggle sleep auto-detect if sleeping at weird hours
- Less data available (sleep duration, deep sleep duration)
- Questionable accuracy of deep sleep data
- Batteries changed out every 6-7 months
If you’d like to pick these up to try for yourself, feel free to use my affiliate links below:
Just for fun, since I have this information at hand, I figured I’d share what the activity data looked like for both of these devices over the same time period.