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We Tried It: The Pillow Sleep App

We Tried It: The Pillow Sleep App

For Sleep Awareness Month, team Zeel tested another sleep-enhancing product – yes, we’re obsessed with sleep-related wellness. So far, we’ve told you about Semra’s experience sleeping with a Himalayan salt lamp and Tessa and Flo using the Klova sleep patches. This time, one of our designers, Leah, recorded her sleep patterns using the Pillow sleep app.

Leah’s sleeping habits

I’m definitely a light sleeper, yet I have no trouble falling back to sleep after being woken up. In fact, I am perfectly capable of sleeping for hours on end. I also dream most nights and remember everything in the morning.

I’ve always been curious what my sleep patterns mean – how much quality rest do I really get?

When my team introduced me to the Pillow app, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to get my question answered. Pillow analyzes and records your sleep activity – which is determined based on a combination of factors, including body motions, noise levels, and more.  It also syncs its in-app alarm feature with your sleep cycles.

Zeel Sleep experimentI used the app for a week starting Monday night. I was surprised to see how my sleep quality went down as the week progressed. On Monday, for example, I got the least amount of sleep – only 6 hours and 50 minutes yet, according to Pillow and my it was the best sleep I got all week.

Even though studies show that you should avoid alcohol before going to sleep, every night of the experiment I had a glass of red wine before bed. I also spent the hours before going to sleep in front of my computer. However, it doesn’t appear that wine drinking and computer time affect my sleep. My sleep quality did fluctuate between 80% and 56%, but wine and screen time were constants all week, so there must be a different explanation for the discrepancy.


The results

Night 1: Monday

Bedtime: 1:00 am

Time asleep: 6 hours, 40 mins

Quality: 80%

Night 2: Tuesday

Bedtime: 1:30 am

Time asleep: 6 hours, 41 minutes

Quality: 78%

Night 3: Wednesday

Bedtime: 12:00 am

Time asleep: 7 hours, 45 minutes

Quality: 73%

Night 4: Thursday

Bedtime: 12:30 am

Time asleep: 8 hours, 24 minutes

Quality: 58%

Night 5: Friday

Bedtime: 1:00 am

Time asleep: 8 hours, 31 minutes

Quality: 60%

Night 6: Saturday

Bedtime: 1:30 am

Time asleep: 8 hours, 7 minutes

Quality: 70%

The verdict

My biggest issue with the Pillow app is that there’s no easy way to turn off its app-specific alarm. You have to open the app and hold your finger down until the alarm stops. And let me tell you, that’s anything but easy when you’re half asleep! Also, when setting up the alarm you have to put in a wake-up time range, not an exact time. This way the alarm goes off during your lightest sleep cycle.

On Monday morning, the Pillow app alarm went off before I had to get out of bed. I was upset and set up a separate “regular” alarm, so I could get the extra 10 minutes of sleep. Generally, you’re not supposed to do that. In fact, sleep researchers recommend waking up during your lightest sleep stage, just like the Pillow alarm prompted me to do. Call me a rebel, I had two alarms set up all week – a regular one and the Pillow. Despite the scientific evidence, I couldn’t bear the thought of waking up earlier than I have to.

Overall, I enjoyed using the sleep app. Granted, I didn’t use it to its full potential but still learned that often when I sleep for longer than 7 hours, my sleep quality deteriorates. Instead, for ultimate quality, I should now try and limit my sleep to 6-7 hours per night.


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