iPhone App Review: Sleep by MotionX

iPhone App Review: Sleep by MotionX

December 1st, 2012 by

Those interested in tracking their sleep patterns and learning how their daily activities affect their sleep have a new weapon in the war against sleeplessness: Sleep by MotionX. Sleep tracks your sleep patterns through the use of the device’s accelerometer and wakes you up during a period of light sleep so you feel refreshed and ready to start your day (though never later than your actual alarm time). Not only does Sleep by MotionX track and report on your sleep patters but it can measure heart rate (in a novel way that seems akin to magic), plus it can measure your activity while awake by tracking the steps you take.

How It Works

Sleep by MotionX has a video tutorial that shows you how to best position your device in bed to track your sleep, which is generally under your pillow or under the fitted sheet on the corner near your side of the bed. It can detect when you’re in light sleep by the tossing and turning you do while lightly sleeping, and when you’re not moving at all it assumes you’re in deep sleep. When you wake up and tell it that you’re done sleeping it shows you a graph that reports when you fell asleep, when you woke up, how much time was spent in deep vs. light sleep, and tracks your historical sleep statistics (averages for the different types of sleep, average hours per night total, “sleep efficiency”).

The pedometer function tracks your movement and reports how you do versus your own goal of steps per day. The app can also track when you’re not moving and set off an alert after a predetermined period to get you up and active again (for those of us that work at desks all day). Sleep by MotionX also detects heart rate: you hold your finger lightly over the LED flash and camera lens, and it reads your heart rate and tracks that information as well.

Other features include the alarm clock (of course) with several different sounds for waking as well as your device’s music; a timed white-noise player that will detect when you’re asleep and shut itself off; and my personal favorite, the Powernap function. It detects when you’re asleep then wakes you after the “optimal” nap time, which adjusts automatically based on your sleep patterns (but you can adjust the nap time manually in the settings).

Pros And Cons

During my time with the app it updated and featured a complete cosmetic redesign, which makes it much easier to use and more attractive to look at. The in-app instructions and tutorial video are easy to understand and make the different functions of Sleep by MotionX easy to use.

I only used the sleep tracking function for two nights but was very impressed with the results. I obviously have no other way of knowing exactly when I’m in deep versus light sleep on my own, but judging by how the app knew exactly when I got up in the night to check on my son (by registering a brief “awake” period), it seems like Sleep by MotionX is reasonably accurate in its sleep state reporting.

The heart rate function is amazing, and I find myself using it all the time. It’s not as convenient as having a heart-rate monitor strapped to yourself while you work out, but if you have your smartphone with you anyway to listen to music then there’s no need to spend money on another electronic device that will only wind up cluttering up your kitchen’s junk drawer.

As I mentioned before, I love the Powernap feature. Naps before usually consisted of me setting an alarm for, say, 60 minutes and then hoping I fell asleep quickly enough to get a decent nap out of it. With Powernap it detects when you’re asleep then sets its own alarm for the predetermined nap length you want, and of course you can give it a hard stop if you can’t sleep past a certain time.

I don’t have a need for a pedometer, but it works very well and is another function of the app that can replace another piece of gear that you might normally carry with you on your walks or jogs.


Sleep by MotionX is an excellent sleep tracking app as well as a general purposes health and fitness device. Tracking your sleep patterns is fun and informative, especially as you correlate it with your daily routine like exercise and food intake. Group that with the heart rate monitor and pedometer functions and you have an app that replaces several expensive devices for only $4.99.

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