Jawbone or Fitbit, wake me up before you go-go (to the snooze button)
December 11, 2013 4:19 PM   Subscribe

I'm strongly considering buying a Jawbone UP24 or FitBit Force specifically for the alarm/sleep tracking functions. Does anyone have any experience with either product for that purpose? Is there something else that would meet my needs better?

I am a horrible snooze-r (thanks for guilting me, New Yorker) and I think a vibrating thing on my wrist will be a good alternative to going back to sleep ad nauseum for 20 minutes to over an hour. I have used sleep trackers on my iPhone for this, but I don't find they work very well. I would also prefer not to keep my phone close to my bed so that I can resist the urge to surf before bedtime, which tends to keep me awake. Also I hate traditional alarm clocks and am sadly very good at turning them off in my sleep.

I might continue to use the fitness tracker for other things (ie. running) but I primarily want it for this reason. I'm not used to wearing things on my wrists, though, so I might not want to do that all day. Plus I have really tiny wrists (around 14cm circumference), which might be an issue for the Force.

If anyone has used either product for sleep tracking and alarms, I would love to hear your experience! And if you have a better idea for me (ie. a very creative alarm clock), I would be interested!
posted by Paper rabies to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I've used both (and still use the FitBit Force), but neither really did the job for me as a vibrating alarm to wake me up - I guess I'm just a heavy sleeper though.

I'd say they both did a good job of tracking my sleep, but the Force was the clear winner in tracking everything else. Also, the bluetooth connectivity of the Force made it easy to synch - I didn't care for having to plug the Jawbone into my iPhone's audio jack every time I wanted to synch. PLUS - the Force has a full display to show progress throughout the day and acts as a watch.

As for a different idea for an alarm clock, the Pandora app was just updated to include an alarm clock that wakes you to your favorite Pandora station. I like that much better than a harsh buzzing alarm.
posted by matty at 4:35 PM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

The Force (and the Flex before it) do not vibrate enough that I could rely on one as an alarm clock. I have mine set for about five minutes before my alarm (in the hopes that if it does wake me up I can spare my late-sleeping partner the wake-up), and maybe half the time it actually wakes me up. I'm guessing it's an issue of where I am in my sleep cycle, or whether I've wedged my hand under a pillow that muffles the vibration, or something?

YMMV, but if this is the only reason you'd want such a device, I'd be hesitant to recommend it.

I would think you'd do better with an alarm (could be a regular clock, not a phone) set far enough away that you have to get up to turn it off. Unless you can sleepwalk to turn off the alarm? In which case you may be looking at one of the ones that makes you do math problems or solve a puzzle to get it to turn off.
posted by Stacey at 4:41 PM on December 11, 2013

The up vibrates enoug to wake me most days. The new version 24/7 uses Bluetooth sync. I also like the variable alarm option where you set the last min it should go off but also allow it to wake you if you are in a light sleep during a defined time before then when you'd more naturally wake.

Example: Alarm @5:30 - 20 min smart sleep window. Will go off at 5:15 if you're in light sleep or at 5:30 no matter what.

If you wear it under a wrostband (tennis players wear) sleep is accurate & it's harder to turn off. There is no snooze but I set up staggered alarms.

I am both a sleepwalking alarm disabler & someone who has to wake without waking the bedmate.
posted by tilde at 5:17 PM on December 11, 2013

The alarm on my phone has a function where it will play some music at slowly increasing volumes before switching to a more normal alarm several minutes later. Usually just the music itself is enough to nudge me out of bed after a while, but the alarm definitely does. Since my phone is left on my desk across the room from the bed, I have to get up to turn it off, which is usually enough to get me awake. My alarm is just what came with the phone (a Galaxy S4) but I'm fairly certain you can find alarm apps that do something similar. If you are even able to sleep-walk through this, I'm willing to bet you can find an alarm that requires you to enter a PIN or solve a math problem or something to silence it.

If you need to be up when it's still dark out, it might be worth looking into getting an alarm that turns on a bright light as well.

If you really want an alarm that uses vibrations to wake you up, there are cheaper alternatives available. You don't get sleep tracking though, if that's important to you.

Finally, don't discount preparation for bed the preceding evening. Make sure you get enough sleep, and try to limit your exposure to bright light with a lot of blue in it. If you use a computer before bed, you might want to try using a program like f.lux to change the color temperature of the screen during the evening.
posted by Aleyn at 5:53 PM on December 11, 2013

I am a very heavy sleeper and my FitBit One, worn in the factory wristband, wakes me up about 80% of the time. I use a cell phone alarm as a backup, ten feet from the bed.

I have found that I oversleep the FitBit vibrating alarm less often than I used to snooze/disable an audible alarm. It's a more gentle way to wake up, and I find that putting the FitBit band on is a mental declaration of "I'm going to bed now, no surfing, no games".

I get up two hours before my very light-sleeping partner, so this is a huge benefit for us both. The extra benefits of logging food into the FitBit application and using it to track my exercise are nice, but the vibrating alarm was the primary reason I bought the device.
posted by Kakkerlak at 6:13 PM on December 11, 2013

I have the Sleep Cycle app for my iPhone and it's pretty awesome. A fringe benefit is that you have to tuck it under the corner of your sheet so it really does help resist temptation to play with it when you should be going to bed!
posted by radioamy at 7:13 PM on December 11, 2013

As a third vibration alarm alternative, the sonic boom alarm clock might be better match than a fit bit. You can disable the astonishing loud sound and, if I remember correctly, there's a pretty long cord between the vibrating disk and the clock. You put the disk under your pillow and, according to my friend, it's pretty much impossible to sleep through.
posted by eisenkr at 7:43 PM on December 11, 2013

I have the FitBit One and it wakes we consistently as long as it's on the inside of my wrist.
posted by 26.2 at 7:49 PM on December 11, 2013

I have a Fitbit Flex and it wakes me more rapidly than any other alarm ever, and more gently too. I wake up feeling like it's time to get up, and not like I want to smash the thing making the noise.
posted by KathrynT at 8:55 PM on December 11, 2013

I owned the first gen Jawbone Up. I liked it on the nights it didn't wake me in the middle of the night from cutting of my blood circulation in my wrist. I believe the rubber on the band would catch under my pillow moving the bands position on my wrist. I remember the vibrating function to be... nice. Definitely keep a backup alarm though.

I now own a Philips Wake-up Light. It's like a sunrise simulator. It slowly wakes you up in 30 minutes using only light, then the alarm will sound: bird chrips, wind chimes or fm radio. I am often happily woken up 10 minutes before the alarm sounds.
posted by glenno86 at 1:44 AM on December 12, 2013

I've been using the Lark sleep tracking and vibrating alarm wrist band for almost two years and it's great. It's super comfortable and I don't notice it. Plus the vibration has never failed to wake me. I highly recommend it.
posted by reddot at 4:28 AM on December 12, 2013

I'm holding out for the Apple watch/wearable/whatever which will almost certainly have this function. In the meantime, the Sleep Cycle app handles sleep tracking nicely.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:20 AM on December 12, 2013

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