A Tale of Two Sleep Trackers

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Zeo Sleep Manager Mobile: $99.99

LARK: $99.99 – $159.00

The prescription for a good night’s sleep is usually six to eight hours of uninterrupted slumber, but if that sleep is light and non-restorative, you might still wake up feeling like a grumpy zombie. Even worse, you won’t know why. Luckily, we live in an age where tools to track this elusive act are easily attainable and don’t require a night’s stay in a hospital. Zeo Sleep Manager and LARK are two sleep-tracking gadgets with the same goal in mind: to help people enhance and understand their sleep quality. Each device tackles this goal in a different way.

Zeo takes a more scientific route. It’s a module attached to a lightweight headband that tracks brainwaves and notes when and how long a person is in REM and deep sleep — the most restorative types. It works in conjunction with an app (iOS and Android) that, after receiving the sleep information uploads it to Zeo’s website. There, users can see a color-coded graph showing how long it took the person to fall asleep and how long each stage of sleep lasted. Using this data, a Zeo Quotent, or ZQ score, will be determined and used to compare the wearer’s score, by age and gender, to other users.

The website is Zeo’s greatest tool, it provides a personalized sleep coach and an option to fill out a sleep journal. Doing so can help you (and Zeo) point out some habits that may be affecting sleep. The tracker also features a “smart alarm,” which can be set to wake the user at the best time in the sleep cycle.  The person can chose a 15-minute window as a wake-up time. Zeo will then monitor brainwaves during this window and sound a pleasant alarm during the lightest sleep stage, making it easier on the person to wake up.

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LARK is a wrist-worn sleep tracker that's slightly less technical than Zeo, but has a feature that’s ideal for those who share their bed. LARK comes with a charging dock to support the device that has its app (iOS only so far). Once LARK is charged, it's worn on the wrist and tracks sleep with an actigraphy micro-sensor, the same kind of non-invasive monitors used in sleep studies. After a seven day period, it will give you a sleep assessment.

The assessment isn’t as technical as Zeo, but it provides a more general idea of how your sleep is patterned, including how many times the user wakes up during the night. It then sets up a sleep coach that helps you set and track sleep goals, including reminders and tips that can be sent to your phone. Upgrading to Pro gets you a year of unlimited assessment and coaching. The thing that makes Lark special, though, is the vibrating alarm. It wakes you up with a gentle vibration that makes for a much more pleasant morning if your bedfellow has a different schedule. 

Each devices has its pros and cons, if you don’t mind sacrificing your cool factor by waking up with a headband mark on your forehead to get some really in-depth info and tips, try out Zeo. If you only want the basics on info and prefer to keep your alarm to yourself, go for LARK. Either way, you’ll know more about what’s going on while you sleep and make better decisions throughout the day to get the rest you need. It definitely beats the haze that follows OTC sleep meds and the stink that is Valerian root.

Credit: Zeo/LARK

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