Sleep tracking

I’d previously tried sleep tracking with my Apple Watch but it didn’t go well due to two things. First, the charging regimen required in order to wear my Series 2 watch all night was challenging. Over several days I would slowly lose the battle to keep my watch alive all day. Second, I found the sport strap uncomfortable at night, even though I had no problem during the day.

I decided to try out sleep tracking again, having seen a review of a new, super easy app. I paid the small subscription amount for a month thinking I would see how the experience went including my week on call with middle-of-the-night wake-ups.

First of all, the battery in my brand new Series 5 watch was much more capable of standing up to the all-day and all-night routine. I was able to charge it for 15-20 minutes in the morning while I showered, plus up to an hour in the evening while reading in bed (or writing blog posts). Second, the Milanese Loop is superbly comfortable day and night, probably helped by its near infinite adjustability.

But I stopped the experiment after a week for one simple reason. I found it incredibly unreliable in tracking when I was asleep. One whole night was simply not recorded. Having been woken by a call at 2am one night, that night was split into two separate chunks in NapBot, which was confusing. Apple’s Health app showed this much better but both apps wildly overestimated on the definition of sleep. On a weekend morning I often wake around the same time as a weekday but don’t get out of bed. One of these mornings I read a book on my iPhone and all that reading time (which incidentally is now tracked by the Books app) was counted as sleep, presumably because I wasn’t moving much.

I’ll give it another go when and if Apple bring true first-party tracking to us. And that’s the odd thing. NapBot did not need to be installed on the watch, and I don’t think I gave any permissions so it seems it was drawing on data that the watch captures natively anyway.


I just finished a complete re-read of the Harry Potter series of books. That makes two complete reads plus one complete viewing of the movies.

In one of the final scenes there are Dementors present. Unlike in earlier incidents, their effect on our protagonists is not only less pronounced, but the story almost mentions them in passing rather than, as before, weaving colourful — or should that be dark — prose to really capture the reader in their effect. While reading this passage, it occurred to me that Dementors are real.

I don’t mean there are bony, hooded creatures floating around but I suspect many people, like me, have times when they feel all the life is being sucked out of them by abstract and sometimes uncontrollable forces. Illness, anxiety, lack of sleep, and more can contribute to a low ebb that enables a single event to seem like the approaching Dementors.

The defence against Dementors — the Patronus — requires happy thoughts to conjure and while I haven’t (yet) produced a shining white animal, I can report that resorting to happy thoughts does drive them away.

I wonder what form my Patronus would take? I suspect a large fluffy cat.


I am an Apple Music subscriber. I have been since the service launched. I love listening to music when I have the chance (Ellie Goulding is playing as I write this) though there are times when I go so long between listens that I start to think about whether I’m getting my money’s worth.

Objectively I am, because the cost is really nothing compared to how much I’d pay to purchase even half the music I eventually listen to. But when I’ve gone a week or two listening only to podcasts (which I love) on my commute I start to think about saving some money. That thought never lasts long, though.

Sure, if my economic situation changed a lot I would have to consider it seriously, but many other things would face the cut before it because music is one of my drugs

It is quite effective against the aforementioned Dementors for a start, but it can also help me enjoy a sunny day all the more, power through a rainy walk when I’m tired, relax on a cool afternoon when I can’t leave the house (when I’m on call), and even keep alive the memory of my late father.

A relative handful of dollars for a virtually boundless source of emotion and energy. Priceless.

That concludes this edition of Echoes. The comments are open, but will be moderated for civility. Alternatively you can hit me up on Twitter, where I go by @zkarj.

Categories: Echoes

1 Comment

Scott · November 8, 2019 at 6:48 am

AutoSleep is the best sleep tracking app I’ve found on iOS. I have an issue with the developer, but it has nothing to do with his apps. I use it every night and it really seems quite accurate. I had to tweak it a bit initially, but his app is one of the few you CAN really tweak, and it works well.

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