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Fitbit adds sleep tool

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Fitbit has released a set of sleep tools to help Fitbit users improve their sleep consistency and overall health.

Sleep plays a critical role in health and wellbeing, from protecting against cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, to boosting neurocognitive functions, mental health and longevity. Available today on the free Fitbit app and compatible with all Fitbit devices that track sleep, Fitbit’s new Sleep Schedule feature helps guide you to get a more consistent pattern of sleep with:

  • Personalised sleep goals based on your sleep data to achieve your optimal amount of sleep each night
  • Customised bedtime and wakeup targets to establish sleep consistency
  • Reminders to stay on schedule, and a sleep schedule history to chart your progress

These tools are the first in a series of new sleep features being developed in collaboration with Fitbit’s new panel of leading sleep experts that includes Drs. Michael Grandner at the University of Arizona, Allison Siebern at Stanford University, and Michael Smith at Johns Hopkins University.

The Fitbit app is a vital part of the Fitbit platform – consisting of devices, apps, social and motivational features, advice and personalised coaching – which is continually getting smarter and easier to use with features like automatic sleep tracking and exercise recognition to make tracking your health and fitness effortless. Working in harmony, the Fitbit platform helps people make behavioural changes to be more active, exercise more, eat smarter, track their sleep and manage their weight. While many people understand the benefits and importance of a good night’s sleep for their health, getting enough sleep (7 to 9 hours) and regularly going to bed around the same time each night can be a challenge.

According to Fitbit’s sleep experts, adhering to a consistent sleep routine is one of the most important things people can do to improve their sleep: “If you’re constantly changing your sleep routine, it can have the same effect as giving yourself jetlag because you are continually changing your circadian rhythm, also known as your internal clock, which can negatively impact your health and wellness,” said Michael Grandner, PhD, MTR, CBSM. “To improve your physical performance, mental health and cognitive functions, you should aim to get a sufficient amount of sleep each night and be consistent with the times you go to sleep and wake up each day. Fitbit’s new Sleep Schedule tool makes it easier for people to see how much sleep they’re actually getting in order to establish a healthy routine – this has the potential to help millions of people around the world improve their sleep and overall wellbeing, which is really exciting.”

Research has shown that getting enough sleep can also positively impact how much you exercise the next day and is vital to post-training recovery, playing an integral role in the body’s ability to repair itself. Additionally, Fitbit data also shows a correlation between consistent bedtimes and daily active minutes, especially for users who go to bed early each night. Users who sleep an average of 7 to 9 hours nightly also have a lower body mass index (BMI) than those who sleep only 3 to 4 hours per night, while those who are overweight or obese (BMI over 25) on average sleep over an hour (70 minutes) less per week than those with a normal BMI (BMI 18.5-25).

“What’s great about the new Fitbit Sleep Schedule feature is that it looks at your sleep data from your Fitbit device you’re wearing day and night, analyses it for patterns and creates a personalised schedule just for you,” said Tim Roberts, Executive Vice President, Interactive at Fitbit. “This is a great example of how we’re providing guidance using Fitbit data to help millions of people develop healthier habits and routines, and is just the first in a series of new sleep features that we’re working on to help our users improve their health through data and coaching.”

Enhanced Sleep Tracking Features 

The new Sleep Schedule features on the Fitbit app will help you meet your sleep goals and maintain a more consistent pattern of sleep through these tools:

  • Sleep Goal: Based on your sleep data from your Fitbit tracker, you can follow the app’s personalised recommendations or set your target number of hours to make sure you’re getting enough sleep each night.
  • Bedtime and Wake Up Targets: Based on your sleep goal and past sleep behaviour from your Fitbit tracker, the app will recommend target bedtime and wake up times. You can customise these based on your personal preferences and schedule.
  • Bedtime and Wake Up Reminders: To help you reach your sleep goal and regularly go to bed and wake up more consistently, you can receive push notification reminders on your smartphone. You can also set a silent wake alarm on your Fitbit tracker based on your wake up target.
  • Sleep Schedule History Chart: Track your sleep consistency over time to determine if you’re meeting your goals or if you need to adjust your sleep schedule.

About Fitbit’s Sleep Experts

Fitbit established a panel of leading sleep experts to provide a wealth of academic expertise as it develops innovative and effective sleep features for its users. Their expertise spans a variety of sleep-related topics including health, chronic diseases and insomnia.

  • Michael Grandner, PhD, MTR, CBSM, the director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona, is certified in Behavioural Sleep Medicine and focuses his research on how sleep and sleep-related behaviours are related to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, neurocognitive functioning, mental health and longevity.
  • Allison Siebern, PhD, CBSM, a consulting assistant professor at Stanford University Sleep Medicine Center and director of the Sleep Health Integrative Program at the Fayetteville VA Medical Center in North Carolina, is board certified in behavioural sleep medicine by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. She has over a decade of clinical and research expertise in the field of sleep, including examining the factors associated with successful treatment outcomes using Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Insomnia (CBTi).
  • Michael Smith, PhD, CBSM, is a professor of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Nursing at the Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine. He is also the director of the Center for Behaviour and Health, founder of Johns Hopkins’ Behavioural Sleep Medicine Program and co-directs the NIH-funded Center for Sleep-Related Symptom Science. His research focuses on the neurobehavioural causes, consequences, and treatments of insomnia and sleep loss with an emphasis on the interface between sleep and pain.

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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