Sleep tracking is a standard feature in most wearables these days—the Apple Watch, Android and Garmin watches, Fitbit and the Oura ring all tell you details about your sleep health. But the sleep reports from all those devices are typically not very actionable.
For example, I might learn that I got six hours of sleep last night and my restfulness was moderate… but from a practical perspective, what can I do with that information? This is where Tatch comes in. It’s a different kind of sleep diagnosis wearable, and in recognition of Sleep Week 2021, I tried it out to see how it works.
Read the article here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbes-personal-shopper/2021/05/05/tatch-sleep-tracker/?sh=246304f92f3a
What is Tatch?
Taking its name from the combination of “technical” and “patch,” the moniker might be a little perplexing, but Tatch’s purpose is straightforward. It’s designed to be an easy-to-use at-home tool for diagnosing sleep disorders and helping people improve their sleep health.
The team behind Tatch is setting their sights on people who have chronic trouble getting a good night’s sleep or who suspect they might have a sleep disorder. For people like that, the typical solution is to perform an overnight sleep test at a hospital or sleep clinic, which entails wearing sensors with a lot of cumbersome wires and trying to sleep in a strange bed away from home. Tatch mostly replicates that hospital diagnosis using a pair of wireless sensors and a phone while staying in your own bed.
Moreover, Tatch isn’t like a Fitbit or Apple Watch that you would typically wear to bed every night. Instead, you wear Tatch for a single evening, after which you return the kit. Then you get a detailed sleep report and personalized 1:1 consultation with a sleep specialist.
Giving Tatch a Try
To see exactly what Tatch has to 0ffer, I recently gave it a try. I received a small box with a pair of lima bean-shaped, soft and cushy sensors along with a return mailer and a single page of instructions. At bedtime on test night, I installed the Tatch app on my iPhone and paired the two sensors with the app. On-screen instruction showed me where to apply the sensors—one goes under your right breast and the other goes above your bellybutton.
I was initially concerned the sensors would be uncomfortable, distracting, or prone to falling off, but I was wrong on all counts. Once applied, I barely noticed they were there and they stayed affixed all night. Best of all, they peeled off painlessly in the morning, even more easily than removing a band aid. After applying the sensors, I told the app I was going to bed, placed the phone on my nightstand and went to sleep.
The next morning, I woke up and tapped a button within the app to tell it I was getting up for the day, after which it took about a minute for the sensors to upload their data. Then, before I could even check my morning email, I was notified my sleep report was ready. I was also offered the chance to schedule the 1:1 consultation with a sleep specialist (the consultation is included in the cost of the test).
Reviewing the Sleep Report
Before the Zoom call with my sleep specialist—Dr. Chelsie Rohrscheib, a sleep consultant with a PhD in Neuroscience with a specialty in sleep genetics—I reviewed the report to see what I could glean on my own.
The report told me I had 6 hours and 41 minutes of sleep, which the app graded “fair.” And while Tatch recommends no less than 7 hours of sleep, my actual dreamtime was a lot worse than what those numbers imply. About 3 weeks ago I adopted a puppy, and I was outside with her at 4 a.m. for an “I can’t wait till morning” pee break.
The report also rated my sleep respiratory quality as “good.” This is a critical measurement, as I would soon learn during my consultation, because many people suffer from sleep apnea, which can lead to a number of serious health risks like high blood pressure, stress on the cardiovascular system, diabetes and more. As Dr. Rohrscheib said, “Tatch measures the consistency of your breathing throughout the night. If it notices that you stop breathing periodically, it measures the number of times that happens so we can tell whether or not you may be at risk for sleep apnea.”
Closely related to the respiratory quality was my sleep position. I spent about 72% of the night on my back, where my respiratory quality was only fair; when I rolled onto my right side, it improved to “very good.” The report includes a cool time-lapse video using a computer-generated representation of you to show your sleep position throughout the night.
You also get an assessment of your “snoring hygiene,” which Tatch measures using your phone’s microphone. Mine was “very good,” of course, because I don’t snore, and I finally have scientific proof.
And finally, my restfulness was poor. You can thank my puppy for that—despite spending over 6.5 hours in bed, I was on my feet for a half hour, which is why my eyes feel so heavy even now as I write this article.
Meeting with a Sleep Specialist
Included with the Tatch test is a short sleep consultation Zoom call. Dr. Rohrscheib currently performs all the consultations personally while Tatch is in early access with a relatively small number of beta users, but eventually Tatch will scale up its sleep specialists to accommodate more clients.
Dr. Rohrscheib walked me though the sleep report in detail, offering the kind of nuanced perspective and actionable recommendations you simply can’t get with a wearable like the Apple Watch.
I learned, for example, I might have a very mild form of sleep apnea based on my performance on my back, but Dr. Rohrscheib didn’t think it was a concern. She did suggest products I might want to try to stay on my side through the night.
When we got to my abysmal restfulness results and I explained getting up to care for my new puppy, Dr. Rohrscheib acknowledged “that’s definitely noted in your data.” She didn’t think that having to get up for a puppy (or a baby) was a problem, but explained why this is a critical metric to pay attention to. “The main reason we would look at restfulness as being an issue is if people had sleep-maintenance insomnia.” She explained, “When people think of insomnia, they usually just think of an inability to fall asleep. But sleep-maintenance insomnia is when you cannot stay asleep. If you’re constantly waking up, it’s harder to get deep, restful sleep.”
And while I found the report and our conversation about it fascinating, Dr. Rohrscheib also emphasized that the report I saw was very much a beta, and will soon be fortified with a lot of additional data, with more detailed information about how many times you stop breathing during the night, the number of times you wake, and so on.
How to Try Tatch for Yourself
Tatch is breaking new ground in sleep health. Not only is it an at-home resource for people who suspect they might have a sleep disorder, but it’s unique in that the personalized 1:1 consults allow Tatch’s sleep consultants to educate clients on sleep behavior and hygiene. “Often medical professionals don’t have time to properly discuss sleep hygiene or treatments,” said Dr. Rohrscheib. “When patients get a diagnosis, they almost always automatically get prescribed CPAP without knowing all of their options, or they don’t get any support to help them adjust to their treatment.”
Tatch Sleep Kit
Tatch is preparing to officially launch later in 2021. Pricing will be under $200 per test, potentially with an optional subscription plan for people who want to repeat the test.
If you want to try Tatch for yourself, you can sign up now and add your name to the wait list. A limited number of people may have the opportunity to, like me, take the test during early access.
Dave Johnson has been a tech journalist since the days of the Palm Pilot and Windows 95. He’s the author of about three dozen books about tech, digital photography, small business, and robots, and he authored a children’s book that was adapted into an interactive storybook.
Dave started out in the Air Force, where he flew satellites (he’s always happy to discuss orbital mechanics). He was also editor of Mobility Magazine and a frequent contributor to publications like PC World, Home Office Computing, CNET, and others.
A serial podcaster, Dave’s most recent projects include co-hosting Battlestar Recaptica and Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast. In what little spare time he has left, he scuba dives and plays drums.