Review: SleepScore Max, get some quality rest with this non-contact sleep monitor
SleepScore Labs wants to give you insight into the quality of your rest with SleepScore Max, an entirely non-contact, personal sleep improvement system.
Launched late last year, the product was created by SleepScore Labs. This is a joint venture between the world-leading connected health company Resmed, private equity firm Pegasys Capital and renowned surgeon and television host Dr. Mehmet Oz (also known as Dr. Oz).
Resmed is a well known name when it comes to sleep tracking. With a 6,000 strong staff and more than 4 million cloud-connected devices for remote patient monitoring, its devices and software help treat a variety of conditions including sleep apnea, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and more.
The biomotion sensor behind SleepScore Max works in conjunction with respiratory, light and temperature sensors to track the quality and quantity of each sleep stage. This the same peer-reviewed technology you’ll find in Resmed’s popular Sleepscore S+ device. The promise of the product is that it can gather data without touching you or the bed, benchmark your sleep stats against millions of nights of sleep and provide customized insights.
Essential reading: Ten gadgets for advanced sleep monitoring
This certainly looks like a no hassle solution to making sure you get enough kip time. The company says that after 3 days of use, more than a half of users increased their amount of sleep by an average of 48 minutes per night for the next 3 nights.
A couple of weeks ago we wrote a review on SleepScore S+. Since then, I’ve been taking SleepScore Max through its paces. Here is what I made of it.
SleepScore Max review: Design
SleepScore Max comes in a simple, minimalistic design which takes the shape of a rectangular, gray box. The sleep monitor is better looking than SleepScore S+, and measuring 150mm x 100 mm x 55 mm (H x W x D) its much smaller and more portable.
On the front of the gizmo you’ll find a set of LED lights. They can either be green, yellow or red to indicate certain modes such as sleep monitoring, connected and ready to use, not connected, firmware update taking place, etc. When tracking your sleep, the lights will fade out entirely to ensure you get an undisturbed night’s rest.
The premise of SleepScore Max is simple. It sits quietly on your nightstand and uses short pulse of radio waves at 10.5 GHz to detect your breathing patterns and movements. It then listens for the echo of the pulse. This is similar to the high frequency system used by bats to fly around and hunt for insects in the dark. Bats will make occasional calls as they fly and listen to the returning echoes to build up a sonic map of their surroundings.
It sounds almost too good to be true. No need for a wristband, mattress strip or electrodes. As long as the device is positioned correctly and you are within its range 1.3 feet to 3.9 feet, it will measure your sleep. Even when you’re under the covers SleepScore Max does its thing. And its entirely safe, too. The radio frequency it emits is less than 1/10 of Bluetooth so there is no need to concern yourself about harmful radiation.
Under the hood, the device houses a set of environmental sensors including a light, ambient temperature and noise sensor. There is no built-in speaker so for the alarm function SleepScore Max app will activate the speaker on your smartphone.
The gizmo draws power from an electricity outlet. Its fine to plug it in and just leave it switched on. One word of note. Even though the sleep tracking system uses a regular USB cable, it should only be powered by the power supply unit it comes with.
SleepScore Max review: Features
When you’ve tested quite a few products you know to the drill. Take the device out of the box, plug it in, install the app and set up your account by answering a few basic questions. SleepScore Max is no different. Once you’ve done this and set up your profile, its time to pair the device. This only needs to be done the first time you use it, and the app will guide you through the procedure. From then on any Bluetooth pairing should be done automatically. All in all, its a seamless process which only takes a few minutes.
Before tracking your sleep for the first time you’ll need to make sure you’ve positioned SleepScore Max correctly. Designed to sit quietly on your nightstand, it needs to be about an arm’s length away with the front facing your chest. The bottom of the device should be above the height of the mattress. This ensures your breathing data is captured correctly. It should go without saying, make sure there are no obstacles between you and the sleep tracker.
What helps with positioning is the fact that the app shows real-time readings from the bio-motion sensor. This is when you’ll realize just how sensitive the sensors are. Even the slightest movement or twitch will register a spike in the readings. Lying on your back and breathing will show a wavy line mimicking your breathing rhythm.
Its a good idea to plug your smart device into a power outlet along with the sleep tracker. Otherwise you’ll run the risk of losing your night’s data. As an experiment, I left my iPhone 7 unplugged overnight. It lost about 20% of its battery while SleepScore Max was doing its thing, so you’ll probably be just fine even if you don’t leave your phone plugged in.
SleepLabs also recommends that you keep your smartphone or tablet in the same room to ensure continued Bluetooth connection. The device will continue to track your sleep even without this, but it will require reconnection in the morning to transfer the data to your smartphone.
Not surprisingly, SleepScore Max can only be used to track one person at a time. But its clever enough to be able to distinguish between two people sleeping on the same bed. If you are thinking about purchasing another unit for the other person, think again. Two units cannot be used in the same room at the same time as this will disrupt performance.
That’s it. You are now ready to track sleep. To start, open the smartphone app and start a session by clicking on the large + icon. While exceedingly clever, unfortunately SleepScore Max cannot start itself. Perhaps the next version of the product will be able to automatically detect when someone is in bed. Even a start button on the device itself would be an improvement, as it would not require opening the app when you jump into bed.
If you like, you can set up a smart alarm at this time. This will awaken you during a period of light sleep so you’ll feel more refreshed.
In the morning, hold the “Wake Up” button on the smartphone screen to stop tracking and sync data to the app. One time I only remembered to do this about an hour after getting out of bed. When sifting through the data, I noticed that the tracker was intelligent enough to know exactly when I left the bed and indicated my absence by displaying a gap in the hypnogram.
The sleep stats in the smartphone app are quite detailed. To simplify things SleepScore Max provides you with a personalized score between 0 and 100. This is calculated with six defined parameters including total sleep, light sleep, deep sleep, REM sleep, awakenings throughout the night and time to fall asleep.
You nightly stats are pitted against known sleep averages for your age and gender. You also get a separate daily Mind and Body score to indicate how refreshed you are, and can set up goals and monitor your progress over time.
You want to try and keep your score above 75. A score of 50-60 indicates an average sleep score and less than that, poor sleep. Tapping on the number will take you through to a pie chart which shows exactly where you missed out, along with a detailed hypnogram of your sleep stages. In the two weeks I tested it, my average was slightly below 70.
The sleep score is a great feature but if you take an afternoon nap this will be register as a second sleep session for that day with its own separate score. While you can view both, the value displayed as the daily score will be the higher of the two. I’m not exactly sure why the company opted for this. To me it would be more logical if both scores were added up into a single daily value.
The app is very well designed and represents a major improvement over the SleepScore S+ app. The historical tab is richer and now also averages your data for weeks and months allowing you to easily monitor your progress over time.
There is a website dashboard, too. This provides even more detailed statistics and makes more use of the environmental light, temperature and noise data.
You’re probably wondering whether a contactless sleep tracker can be accurate. Sleepscore Labs says the gizmo has been tested against Polysomnography (PSG), the gold standard of sleep labs. It has also been validated in clinical research and published in more than 10 scientific papers. I certainly found that it does the job exceedingly well.
Where the sleep app excels, though, is in its insights. This is based on a combination of your sleep, daily activity and bedroom environmental data. The feedback can range from letting you know that eating cherries in the evening can help you sleep better, to suggestions that are specifically tailored to the user. If you forget or are too busy to read an insight, no worries. There is a separate tab in the app where you can scroll through the Sleep Guide.
Finally, if you find you are experiencing sleep issues, SleepScore Max will put together a downloadable report for your doctor. You can also access this report through the website dashboard.
SleepScore Max review: Summary
SleepScore Max is a comprehensive sleep improvement system. While its one of many on the market, its unique selling point is that it does its thing without any physical contact whatsoever. No need for a wristband, mattress strip or electrodes. It sounds almost too good to be true.
Similar to the echo-location system used by bats, the gizmo does this by emitting radio waves to monitor your breathing and body movement. This info is combined with room temperature, light and noise levels data to provide you with a comprehensive sleep report.
While not perfect, SleepScore Max is right up there with the best of them. Its sleep tracking is accurate, the stats are very detailed and it dishes out useful insights. In an ideal world, I would have liked for the tracker to know automatically when I’m in and out of bed, but maybe we’ll get that with the next iteration of the product.
If you want a no hassle solution to monitoring your sleep and are not happy with data provided by your fitness tracker, you won’t go wrong with SleepScore Max. Its a truly unique sleep improvement solution, that works.
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4 thoughts on “Review: SleepScore Max, get some quality rest with this non-contact sleep monitor”
can I get a sleep/ heart/fitness Monitor that doesn’t require a smart phone. I only have a Laptop
You can get an Android emulator for your laptop. As long as you have bluetooth you should be able to use it, but there may be performance issues.
I would recommend getting a basic Android tablet if a smart phone is not an option
Would a white noise device affect the SleepScore Max? I can’t sleep in silence…
I don’t think it would – but best to ask them directly.