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Dissecting The App: SleepWatch

In this instalment, Laura takes a critical look at the user experience of SleepWatch, a popular mobile health application for Apple Watch users.

If you've got an Apple Watch, chances are you've come across SleepWatch, by Bodymatter.

If you’re someone who often wakes up tired or struggles to keep up their energy throughout the day (definitely not me), SleepWatch helps you regain control over your sleep quality and ultimately, your daily performance. But how exactly do they plan to help you accomplish such a lofty goal?

By wearing your watch day and night, reporting on your energy level upon waking and in the afternoon, sharing your health activities and labeling each night, SleepWatch collects data to provide you with insights. Based on these insights, you can take targeted action towards improving the quality of your sleep.

I've been using SleepWatch for about two months, doing my homework and everything. I've noticed things that SleepWatch does very well, as well as a couple of opportunities that were missed. Without further ado, here's my analysis.

The good:

SleepWatch detects whenever I’ve had an exceptionally poor night of sleep and sends a notification: “Tell us what happened?”

This contextual notification triggers me to qualify my past night by adding tags and labels, so the app can learn what activities and habits I should avoid in the future. I like that the notification comes at exactly the right time and that it voices empathy by taking an interest into why I was sleeping so poorly yet again.

Furthermore, if I qualify enough nights to get to a “critical mass” of data, the app start sharing insights. I was pleasantly surprised each time I unlocked a new insight, such as “Continue to close your activity ring, as your sleep quality increases with X amount of points”. This in turn motivated me to continue qualifying my nights to gain more & better insights, which empowered me to regain control over my sleep quality.

The bad:

Unfortunately, push notifications are a slippery slope and hard to get just right. Every morning and every afternoon, SleepWatch sends me these exact same prompts:

👉 “How well rested did you feel when waking up today?”
👉 “How fatigued have you felt throughout the day?”

To which I can respond with:

🙂 Very well
😐 Somewhat
🙁 Not at all

After a while, I stopped responding to these prompts or used the same neutral response each time, watering down the quality of the app’s analysis in the process. This is called the banner blindness effect: People tune out the things they get repeatedly exposed to.

Although as a user you do understand the need of qualifying your sleep in order to get better feedback, the process of tagging and labeling your night is very time consuming. It takes 3 taps per tag/label, and I have about 30-50 labels to pick from.

After a bad night's sleep, when you’re already somewhat mentally and physically impaired, this can be a big ask. It may result in you half-assing the process or not taking action at all.

My recommendations:

Luckily, there’s a couple of quick wins the SleepWatch team can incorporate to help their users build the right sleeping habits!

Adding variability

👉 Instead of prompting to enter your level of restfulness and fatigue each and every day, only send out this prompt like 2-3 times a week tops. Yes, you’ll have less data points, but the quality of the data collected should increase as users will be less likely to ignore the prompts and more likely give a thoughtful answer.

👉 After a while, you keep getting the same insights over and over again. By investing in more & different insights, and rephrasing each type of insights in a couple of different ways, you’ll be able to stave off the banner blindness effect for a little while longer.

Lessen the cognitive load

👉 SleepWatch should really focus on improving the UX of tagging / labeling, taking into account the capabilities of the user in that very moment. Tone down the options (present a user with too many options and they’ll end up choosing none) and amount of steps needed to qualify a night of sleep to increase the likelihood of the user initiating and completing this action.

👉 The app’s “Today” homescreen bombards the user with a facts-and-figures-laden dashboard. SleepWatch should refocus this screen toward the core of the app: collecting data and limit it to restfulness, fatigue, tagging & labeling, and providing insights using 3-5 key metrics at most.

Do you use any apps to improve your sleep quality? If so, how has your experience been? Shoot me a message on LinkedIn!

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