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After Oura Ring, Fitbit, Apple Watch, and other sleep tracking devices, we’re presenting you with the Whoop strap. It has been around for years, but we can easily say that its popularity exploded in the past two years, that is, since generation 3 came out.
If you’ve already heard of Whoop, you may have also heard many words of praise about this fitness wearable which can also track your sleep. If you haven’t, here’s some basic information.
Whoop is a screenless strap device that gathers information on your heart rate, body temperature, and physical movement to determine your heart rate variability (HRV), resting heart rate (RHR), sleep and sleep cycles, respiratory rate (breathing rate), and more – like electrodermal activity (electricity which flows through the skin).
All this information is insanely accurate because Whoop does what no other wearable tracker does – it collects information 100 times per second!
Read on to know more about Whoop – we start off by explaining whether and how much it’s useful as a sleep tracker and then we go into all the details and various functions of this gadget.
Buy Now: Whoop Strap + Subscription, $30/month from Whoop.com
WHOOP Strap For Sleep
Whoop looks at how much strain you had each day and based on that it tells you how much sleep you need that night for your preferred performance (in the app, you can choose if you need to be at your peak performance the next day or not, hence “preferred” performance).
It then tells you when you need to go to bed in order to have enough hours of sleep before the wake-up time you set. Let’s say you’re waking up at 6 am and you need 8h15m of sleep. The app will suggest that you go to bed around 9 pm because it takes into account the fact that you won’t fall asleep right away and you may wake up at some point. It may tell you that your suggested time in bed is 9h as 8h15m is the sleep time needed.
Whoop app also shows your recovery score, that is – how well you’ve recovered after a night of sleep. This is something most of us know instinctively know after waking up. When we’re refreshed and in a good mood, that’s usually when we’re also well-recovered. It may sometimes happen that we’re not really aware that our recovery isn’t great and that’s where Whoop can help. Low recovery may mean that you shouldn’t do strenuous exercise that day, or if you’re a very sensitive individual, you may want to skip the long drive to work that day and hail a ride instead.
Next up is your sleep performance score which is calculated by the difference in needed sleep and sleep you actually had.
You can also answer a set of questions each morning and see how external factors (unrelated to Whoop sensors) affect your sleep. For example, if you report sharing a bed several times a week (and let’s say that person is your tossy-turny child), Whoop can tell you something like – every time you share the bed, you have less deep, restorative sleep and more wakings.
You can also report reading a book or having some alcohol in the evening and Whoop will tell you how well (or poorly) you sleep after those activities. These actionable steps help you change your behavior and improve it.
Finally, you can view how much time exactly you spent in each sleep stage, if and when you woke up, and what your sleep cycles look like. The most restorative stage is deep sleep and it’s the one we tend to lack due to unfavorable behavior on our part, such as the use of bright screens late at night, alcohol consumption, too much stress, etc.
Whoop has a Sleep Coach option which gives you personalized advice based on your data.
Can WHOOP Help Me Sleep Better?
It can to some extent. If you like to have a nightcap before bed, Whoop can tell (in percentages) you how much less deep sleep you’re having because of that habit and you’ll be able to pay attention to the fact that this habit indeed is what makes you feel tired every day. This way, by fixing small things in your behavior, you can improve your sleep by a lot.
If you’re suffering from chronic sleep issues, you can track how you’re doing and see what helps you, but Whoop can’t be the solution to complex problems – it’s not a doctor, but simply a monitor with the option of giving basic advice.
One thing we absolutely have to mention, even though it may only apply to a tiny fraction of our readers is – don’t get stressed over your results. If the app says you should be in bed by 10 but you’re busy and can’t make it on time, you shouldn’t panic or let yourself feel pressured. The app is there to say what would be ideal. A bad sleep score should just help you see what you can improve, but by no means get desperate about it.
What WHOOP Exactly Does, How It Works
Whoop is a strap with a small, almost unnoticeable device which can be worn on the wrist or on the bicep for those who want to keep it below clothes. You have no way of communicating with the device other than over the smartphone app. You can only check the battery by tapping your Whoop device twice.
Whoop 3.0 sensors
Optical Heart Rate sensor has LED lights which shine through your skin and bounce back from the blood vessels. The amount of light that gets reflected depends on how much blood is being pumped. This sensor helps calculate the heart rate and heart rate variability (which is important because it shows the healthy changes in your heart rate over the course of the day or night).
Accelerometer tracks movement, so it knows if you’re moving your arm and your body and the direction in which you’re moving. It is important for gathering information on whether you’re sitting still or being active.
Skin conductance sensor is the real star here because it measures electrodermal response, that is, the amount of electricity that flows through your skin. Electricity doesn’t travel through the skin in the same way when you’re awake, asleep, and in certain sleep stages. The skin conductance sensor is one of the most important features that make Whoop more accurate than other products in tracking your sleep stages.
Ambient temperature sensor measures the temperature on the surface of the skin. We know that temperature drops when we fall asleep and that it varies throughout the night. The temperature sensor is also vital for tracking your sleep.
Whoop 3.0 data
With those four sensors, Whoop shows and interprets this information for you:
- heart rate
- heart rate variability (HRV)
- resting heart rate (RHR)
- respiratory rate
- sleep and sleep cycles
- body temperature
The data is collected and analyzed so that it makes a lot of sense for the user. Here’s the most exciting part.
Whoop sleep shows you all the data related to your sleep – time spent in bed, time spent sleeping (and how long you were in each sleep stage) with the optimal time you needed to sleep, sleep disturbances, efficiency, and respiratory rate. The Whoop Sleep Coach can help you with recommendations for sleep, for example, it follows how consistent you are with your sleep and teaches you how to improve it in order to become better on the whole.
Whoop recovery calculates how rested and recovered you are using HRV, RHR, sleep, and respiratory rate. Each evening, Whoop tells you how much sleep you need for optimal performance the following day. It also lets you know if you’re not recovered (it may also mean that your body is fighting something) and suggests that you rest that day instead of exercising.
Whoop strain shows how your body responds to exercises, stress, work, etc. so you can take that into account and plan your resting time accordingly.
Overview is the first thing you’ll see in the app. It shows how well you balanced your strain and resting time in the past week so you can optimize your training and even predict how rested you’ll feel the next day. It also gives you information about your strain for that day. If you’re training/straining too much, the app will tell you. This is very important because we tend to forget how much we exhaust ourselves and push way more than we should.
Finally, you can get Monthly performance reports/assessments which tell you how you’ve been sleeping and training. You also get to see your entire year in very simple colorful charts, so you can know how you have been doing at a glance.
WHOOP Is Designed For Everyone
Whoop is the most popular with athletes since their careers literally depend on them being at their peak performance at the right time. At the company, they say Whoop is made for everyone who wants to correct their behavior, improve performance, or monitor their health.
Since it’s so accurate, it can help people detect if there are any unusual changes that may suggest there’s a health problem – be it related to coming down with the flu, heart health, or sleep problems.
It’s easy to stay healthy when you’re able to tweak your behavior and get the necessary recovery when you need it.
WHOOP Memory, Connectivity, Battery
The Whoop Strap has enough memory to store up to 3 days of data. Ideally, you’d be syncing it every day. This means you’d transfer everything to a cloud and make room for more data. If that’s impossible, the oldest data will be deleted after 3 days and replaced with new data.
Whoop 3.0 uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to connect to your smartphone. BLE technology requires you to pair the strap from the WHOOP app on your phone.
The battery has a long life – it can go up to five days. To charge it, simply click the charger battery on top of your Whoop strap and wait for it to fully charge. This is great because it allows you to keep tracking data without taking the strap off. The charger battery is recharged through a USB port.
You Can’t Buy WHOOP, But You Can Subscribe
Whoop doesn’t sell hardware. You get the strap for free with your subscription which includes storing all your data on a cloud, having access to it through analytics, and access to the Whoop community.
One month’s worth of subscription is $30, and if you opt for more, it gets cheaper – 18 months is $18/month. This way they keep the price down and there’s no need to increase it with every new improvement that comes out.
Here’s the price list for all their membership plans:
- 6 months: $30 per month ($180 in total)
- 12 months: $24 per month ($288 in total)
- 18 months: $18 per month ($324 in total)
They have a 30-day return policy and you will be refunded the full price including shipping if you decide to send it back.
Pros and Cons of the WHOOP Strap 3.0
What We Liked
- Unprecedented accuracy in sleep stage tracking
- Monthly reports allow longitudinal tracking
- Recovery tracking
- No need to take it off for charging
What We Didn’t Like
- No display
- Whoop records only workouts of 15+ minutes and it doesn’t record yoga or strength exercises so you have to add them manually
- Connectivity with the phone may be a problem
WHOOP was founded by Will Ahmed, the current CEO, and two co-founders – John Capodilupo and Aurelian Nicolae. They were all Harvard students and are greatly interested in the ways in which we can find out more about ourselves, on the physical level. After 6 years of research, they completed the WHOOP project.
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