A Review of the Sense Alarm and Sleep Tracker

by Jenn Parks March 01, 2016 6 min read

Rating: 5 Stars

“A beautiful and modern sleep tracker and even better alarm."

Overall, the Sense by Hello is a great non-invasive sleep tracker with a wonderful alarm that gives you a holistic view of your sleeping environment. Back in July of 2014, the Sense sleep tracker from a company called Hello was launched on Kickstarter. We funded this project because their mission is to help people live better through the use of technology. We’re going to dive into the pros and cons of this wonderful piece of technology to see how it may help you to sleep better and understand all the reasons you may or may not be sleeping to the best of your potential.

This little device (that looks like a modern trinket you may have created on a 3D printer) sits on your nightstand and is accompanied by what they call a “Pill”. The Pill clips onto your pillowcase and is what actually tracks your movement throughout the night. 

The Sense is actually quite hard to describe to someone – it’s a nice little alarm clock, but it does way more than just wake you up. It keeps tabs on your room’s humidity, temperature, light levels, noise levels, air quality – oh and it also tracks the way you sleep. The Sense is accompanied by an app (we tested it using the iPhone app with an iPhone 6s.) It connects to your WiFi and must stay connected at all times. The Sense Pill connects to the Sense through bluetooth.

The app that accompanies the Sense shows all the stats in real-time about your room. Setting up the app with the Sense wasn’t the easiest of feats, as it required a few steps. But once it was up and running I haven’t had a problem with it. The app is where you go each night to set your alarm for the next day and to see all your sleep stats from previous nights.

Let’s get into the pros and cons of the Sense to see if this device is a good fit for you.

Pros of the Sense

  1. The Sense just sits on your nightstand and the Pill attaches to your pillowcase. As far as sleep trackers go – this is great because you have nothing to wear. It’s completely non-invasive. Most other sleep trackers you need to wear on your wrist. So this is probably the biggest benefit when compared to something like the Jawbone or the Fitbit.
  2. The second huge benefit to the Sense is all the other things that it tracks when compared to traditional sleep trackers. The fact that it tracks humidity, air quality, noise level, temperature, and brightness is something that we doubt wrist-worn trackers will ever be able to monitor. Sense really tries to provide a holistic view of your sleeping environment by tracking all of these variables.
  3. The app provides very nice little insights into how you sleep each day. Over time it gives tips and fun facts about sleep that really make you focus on just how important certain things are to getting a proper night’s sleep. We have noticed the app does receive regular updates to it’s interface and information that it provides. This provides peace of mind in knowing that the company is always trying to improve it’s product.
  4. In our opinion, this alarm clock is one of the best ways to wake up each morning. If you’re like most people you probably have your phone wake you up each morning, right? Probably some super loud and obnoxious alarm that jolts you awake, starting your day off with a groggy (and maybe grumpy) reach for your phone to hit the snooze button. Well, say goodbye to those grumpy mornings by waking up with the Sense. There are two features to the alarm clock – noise and light. The sounds that you can pick from in order to wake you up sound like heavenly chords that start off very low and gradually get louder. The gradual increase in sound is a great way to slowly wake up out of slumber when compared to the abrupt sirens from your phone. The Sense also emits a light that starts off very low and gets brighter. The combination of a nice low sound and low glowing light, both gradually increasing is a surprisingly pleasant way to wake up that leaves you with a sense of calm and clarity. To turn off the alarm, you simply wave your hand over the device and it slowly turns off.
  5. The sleep patterns on the app are pretty easy to understand, with nice graphics and an interface that makes it fun to look at each morning. The Sense app gives you a sleep score each day that lets you quickly gauge what kind of sleep you had that night. You can easily compare it to your previous night’s score.

Cons of the Sense

  1. While the biggest benefit can be not having to wear anything in order to track your sleep, this makes us wonder just how accurate the Sense tracks your sleep. Since the pill just clips onto your pillowcase, there is a host of variables that could lead to inconsistent sleep tracking. Variables such as a memory foam mattress or an innerspring mattress could lead the pill to detect more or less movement. An innerspring mattress transfers much more movement than a memory foam mattress, therefore causing the pill to shake more and detect more movement. Another reason the pill could detect more or less movement could be the size of your pillowcase. If you have a huge pillowcase and a small pillow, then your pill could barely move at night while you toss and turn therefore providing inaccurate results. These are just a few of the variables to consider when analyzing the data that the app gives you each morning.
  2. The Sense Pill is a bit tough to get on your pillowcase although mainly because they want it to be secure and not fall off at night. However, since its so secure its easy to forget the Pill is attached. Case in point, mine ended up in the washing machine because I forgot it was attached to the pillowcase! After realizing this I quickly stopped the washing machine and dried it off. Much to my surprise, it still works! I do notice the battery drains very quickly now (it might last only 3 weeks at a time now) but I’m very impressed that it even works. So make sure that if you get this product to take it off before putting your bed sheets in the laundry.
  3. Another downside is that the Sense completely relies on the app – meaning that if your phone is not turned on or doesn’t have any battery left, then you can’t turn on the alarm. This is also true for other sleep trackers/alarms on the market, but I guess they figure that no one is without their mobile phone these days. Also, the Sense must be plugged into the wall. If you lose power, then you’re not waking up the next morning!
  4. After using the Sense for about 8 months, I see that sometimes the stats are incorrect for when I wake up because my wife steals my pillow in the morning. If she sleeps in longer than I do, the Sense still thinks I am asleep even though I woke up much earlier. This has led to some inconsistent tracking and wrong sleep scores. For me it’s not a deal breaker, but this goes back to the tighter consistency of sleep trackers that you wear on your wrist.
Overall, the Sense is a wonderful little device that aims to improve your quality of life through proper sleep. The price tag right now for the Sense is $129. Not a bad price considering it’s something that can change the way you wake up every morning. You’ll really get an idea for what it is that makes you sleep better by actually seeing what it is that affects your sleeping patterns. However make no mistake – this won’t do all the work for you. You’ll need to put in the effort to change your sleeping conditions in order to make improvements. Maybe you need to sleep in a colder room, maybe you should turn the TV off before falling asleep, maybe you need a new pillow or a mattress. Trying to actively change your conditions and learn what works and what doesn’t is ultimately what will improve your sleeping patterns. We here know that nothing is more important that waking up to the world ready to take on whatever it is that you do. So however you wake up, make it good.

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