ResMed S+ review: An answer to insomniacs’ prayers

Price when reviewed

In The Sims, one of the best things you can do for your virtual person is get them a good night’s sleep. In EA’s fantasy people-management game, a good bed makes all the difference between a successful career and a man wetting himself in the middle of a party. Nobody wants to be that man.

In the real world, sleep is a more complex and elusive beast. Some of us sleep like logs, while others toss and turn non-stop or spend long spells of the night staring at the ceiling. Fitness trackers have been plotting your sleep for years, but what exactly are you supposed to do with that data? There’s not yet been a convincing answer.

Enter ResMed. The company has specialised in sleep and sleep-related disorders since it was founded in 1989, before Fitbit was even a twinkle in James Park and Eric Friedman’s eyes and its latest product is the culmination of years of scientific development.[gallery:1]

Put simply, the ResMed S+ sits on your bedside table and observes your breathing and movement to analyse your sleep, without you having to strap anything to your wrist. When you wake up, you’ll get a full report of how you performed when you were out of it, with tips on how to get better.

ResMed S+ review: Design

The ResMed S+ is a white plastic cube held in place by a hollow metal tower, and this cube can be tilted to and fro. This is because the sensor is designed to be aimed at the sleeper’s chest. Not in a pervy way, but because it relies on your breathing patterns to track the efficiency, or otherwise, of your sleeping patterns. Look, there’s just no way this review isn’t going to sound creepy, but it isn’t when you’re using it, alright? That’s not to say you need to be a back sleeper for it to function, by the way – I’m very much on team front myself, and the S+ never struggled to keep tabs on me.

It’s pretty light, despite the fact that this little cube is holding quite a bit of stuff inside it. It measures breathing and movement through low-power radio waves (a tenth of the strength of Bluetooth, according to ResMed) meaning clothes and duvets are no bar to its effectiveness. This may sound an unreliable method, but it genuinely works: during the setup process, you can see how sensitive it is by modifying your breathing and seeing the graph on your smartphone screen spike to deep breaths and sink to shallow ones. Impressive stuff.[gallery:3]

On top of that, the cube contains a microphone, a light sensor and a temperature sensor. This isn’t to help you get to sleep, but to take a measure of your environment and plot that data against when you tend to get your best shuteye, so you can tweak your environment through heating or air conditioning to get things just so.

Rather than run down batteries unnecessarily, the S+ plugs straight into a wall socket, and considerately comes with an adapter with two USB ports, meaning that even if your socket is currently charging a phone, you won’t need to hunt down a multipoint adapter.

It’s a good design: nicely minimalist and modern. While it would stand out like a sore thumb in an artisan ski lodge, it will blend right in with your standard Ikea-equipped flat.

ResMed S+: Performance

Here’s how it works. Every night you sync your smartphone to the S+, and the little light will go green. You then fill out a short survey about your day, saying how stressed you were on a scale of one to four, how many hours of exercise you did, how much caffeine you had and how many alcoholic drinks you downed. This data can be charted against your sleep patterns in a table so you can see how much of an impact each metric has.resmed_s_comparison_chart

If something’s troubling you, the app has a handy note-taking feature called “Mind Clear”, where you can make recorded or typed notes of what you’re thinking about, getting it physically off your mind, and leaving you in the mood for sleep. Once you press the Sleep button, you put the phone down and the S+ observes you, while (optionally) the app plays relaxing noises in a variety of flavours from your smartphone.

These match your breathing, meaning that as you relax, the sounds slow too. They’re astonishingly effective, especially the piano-style one. Each one automatically ends when you’re asleep, and I personally wasn’t once awake to hear them finish. The brilliance of the feature is only slightly tarnished by the fact it comes from your phone’s tinny speaker rather than the S+ itself – but I guess that’s all about keeping the cost down, and you could always connect to a Bluetooth speaker if it bothers you.resmed_app_screenshots

When you wake up, you pick up your phone and tell the S+ to end tracking for the night. It instantly gives you a score out of 100 (with different quantities of points allocated for sleep time, quantity of deep sleep, quantity of REM sleep, amount of disruption, how long you took to nod off and how much light sleep there was), before it goes away, looks at your data and comes back with some concrete advice about how you can improve the following night. This typically takes a few minutes and you can dip into the raw data yourself should you wish. But the idea is that you’ll never have to: ResMed is automatically doing that for you and interpreting things on your behalf.

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