Rating: ★★★½☆

Sleep is as vital as eating food.  Without, you’ll go insane, get physically sick and all together won’t be able to function.  So if you sleep poorly, your performance will diminish, hence why you’re told to get a good night’s sleep prior to an encumbering day.  However, unlike the other every day activities that we perform, where we can self monitor our performance, it’s impossible to do so while sleeping since your brain is for all intents and purposes in standby mode.

Enter the Lark.  It’s a wrist mounted device that tracks your sleeping habits and sends the data to an iOS device.

Design

The Lark includes a charging base (it doubles as an iOS stand), a wrist strap with a micromovement sensor and accompanying iOS application.

The micromovement sensor is composed of plastic and plugs into the charging base using a micro-USB port.  A small LED light changes from red to green to let you know when it’s fully charged. Lark recommends you charge it every night to ensure the battery doesn’t die mid sleep cycle.  Since the Lark is inserted into the charging dock in a horizontal like fashion, opposite to any iPhone dock, I found it particularly fiddly.  Furthermore, the wristband, if not completely unwrapped gets into the way.

Despite the dock’s aforementioned short coming, it’s hefty, won’t slip around on your night stand thanks to a rubber bottom and can hold any iOS device at a comfortable viewing angle in its rubber clutches.  An AC wall plug transfers power to a built-in USB port, which is designed to be used with your iPhone’s 30-pin cable, allowing you to charge your handset while you sleep.

Plugging everything in couldn’t be more simple, but setting the Lark’s vibrating alarm takes a bit more finesse.  First you must leave the Lark in the charging dock.  Next, pair your iPhone’s Bluetooth with the device and then download the accompanying app.  If you don’t leave the Lark in the charging dock it won’t connect with your iPhone since it automatically goes to sleep once you remove it.  So to set the alarm you must follow the same procedure.  Fire up the app, enter your wake up time(s) and then strap on the Lark.  In in the morning, turn off the Lark’s alarm when you wake, plug it back in and the data from the night will be sent to your iOS device, provided you’ve left the Bluetooth engaged on the handset.  A bit laborious for an evening or morning task, but for the latter time it’s perhaps a good way to wake up since your brain will have to kick into think mode.

The Lark is designed to wake you using vibrations.  In the event that the Lark’s battery dies or that the vibrations don’t wake you from your slumber, you can setup a back up audible alarm within the app or use the iPhone’s native alarm clock.  In addition to waking you with slight vibrations, the Lark can track your sleeping habits.  I’m not entirely sure how it works, but it will display, per the picture above, how much time it took you to fall asleep, how many times you woke up during the night and the quality of your sleep from 1-10, with 10 being the best.  The quality scores seems to be calculated based on how many times you woke up during the evening and how many hours of sleep you attained.  I believe that it is also compared against a database of sleep data.  You can review your results directly on the handset, within the Lark app, or login to the website, as shown in the above screenshot.

Performance

I’ve never been one to sleep through audible alarms unless I’m dead tired, but nor am I a light sleeper.  Despite that, the Lark’s vibrations, while not any more soothing or jarring than an audible alarm, woke me without fail for the 10+ days that I tested it.   Who knows, perhaps it is THE answer for partners who squabble about being woke early as a result of keeping different hours. As to whether the gentle vibration will awake more refreshed, keep dreaming (pun intended).

Lark failed to hook me up with a Pro account, which provides you with detailed feedback about how to improve your sleep based on your score.  As a result I was left to my own devices as to why I slept the way I did.  Nonetheless, I can’t help but wonder what kind of improvements they could suggest based on my movements throughout the night.   However, at first I had a hard time believing that on average I woke up 20-30 times during my night’s sleep.  But despite my skepticism this seemed to be accurately reflected, especially on the days I thought I had gotten more sleep but soon found myself dragging.  So Lark is definitely onto something, it’s just a question of how you apply the collected data, which is why the Pro account, which costs $59 a year, is so pertinent.

Conclusion

In the end the Lark proved a bit too intrusive a device on my wrist to enable me to get a good night’s sleep.  Furthermore, whose to say that the Lark didn’t cause me to wake up more times through out the night than I normally do as a result of having a foreign device strapped onto my wrist.  But alas, a 14 day test may not be an appropriate amount of time for me to adjust to the device.   So with that said it’s a question of tolerance and your willingness to not only be patient, but adjust to a device that isn’t any more encumbering than a watch.

Bottom line: The Lark would be a fair more attractive, and useful device if they didn’t charge a yearly subscription fee.  Without the Pro account, which provides a Sleep Coach, it’s little more than going to the dentist with a toothache, only to be told by your dentist that you have, what else, a toothache.

Pros:

  • Silent alarm is a God send for partners with different sleeping hours
  • Relatively easy to use free app
  • Looks neat and seems to be very well made

Cons:

  • App doesn’t provide enough insight into your sleeping habit; you’ll need to invest in the Pro version for more info ($59/year)
  • Micro-USB port is at an awkward angle; difficult to dock the device

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Christen Costa

 
Grew up back East, got sick of the cold and headed West. Since I was small I have been pushing buttons - both electronic and human. With an insatiable need for tech I thought "why not start a blog focusing on technology, and use my dislikes and likes to post on gadgets."