A peek into Nod’s tech (How does this thing work, anyway?)

May 22, 2019

With new health and wellness apps popping up every day, for everything from dieting to fitness to mood to sleep, it’s easy to get a little skeptical. Can app X or Y actually help you with something that usually takes more involvement from an actual human coach or expert?


In the case of Nod, yes! Over the past 9-ish years, our team at has experimented, tested, and rolled out tech with the goal of helping parents around the world get more and better sleep for their babies and themselves.


We thought it might be cool to pull back the curtain and give you a peek at how Nod works, and can make a difference in a baby’s sleep. We mapped it out below, using an 10-month-old baby as an example. (Nod’s sleep coaching system is designed for babies between the ages of 3-36 months.)


1. First Nod collects and analyzes information about what’s going on.
A key feature in the Nod App is the sleep tracker. To give you sleep coaching and personalized recommendations, we need to get a deep understanding of your baby's sleep. So, just like a sleep coach or specialist would, we ask you to track your baby’s sleep and feeding activity as you go. We then use this information to assess how well (or not so well) things have been going, looking at factors including:


Total sleep (A)

How long was she down for? Is she a catnapper or long napper?


Time of day (B)

Was she napping or was it nighttime sleep? Our system looks at this factor to help identify if help is required primarily at nighttime, during the day, or not at all!


Longest stretch of sleep (C)

Did she wake up throughout the night or was it smooth sailing? We look at a combination of total sleep events recorded or overnight wake ups, depending on whether you track in real-time or retroactively.


Bedtime difficulty (D)

How hard was it for her to fall asleep once you put her down? Based on this, Nod can determine whether she needs some help learning to self-soothe and fall asleep on her own.

2. Next, Nod starts providing daily recommendations.

Using the info you’ve provided about your baby’s activity and habits, Nod’s system will begin to provide daily, personalized recommendations for what to do on your journey to helping your baby sleep better. (Or, to put it in fancy tech terms: Nod’s system uses algorithms and machine learning / ai to analyze the data and generate recommendations.)


The recommendations, created in partnership with some of the world’s leading sleep experts at the Pediatric Sleep Council, will vary depending on what goal you’re working through (for example, teaching your child to fall asleep by themselves, reducing overnight feedings, transitioning them from your room to their own), where you are in the process, and how things go along the way. We make sure the recommendations are always supportive and encouraging, and give you some flexibility, too. We know that some nights won’t go exactly according to plan, but we also know you that with patience and persistence, you’ll get there!


Below are some examples of recommendations. These are specific to a parent looking to reduce their baby’s overnight wake-ups:



3. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, our engineers are making sure parents are getting results.

While you’re tracking your baby’s sleep and activity information, following the recommendations, and letting us know how things are going, we’re analyzing the data to see how well the app is working, so we can make tweaks and changes to the system as needed.


Below is a 14-day graph showing a baby’s progress on reducing overnight wake-ups. This is just one of the many kinds of graphs our engineers look at to evaluate babies’ progress over time.



In the case of the baby whose data is shown above, it’s going extremely well! From waking up at least once a night (every 6 hours) to sleeping through the night (10+ hours) this baby’s longest period of uninterrupted nighttime sleep (Teal) has increased. Meanwhile, the Purple line shows that the child has been finding it easier and easier to fall asleep all by themselves.


In the app. The baby's sleep schedule adjusted like this:



So there you have it. The recipe for a health and wellness app that actually gets results: input from your real-life daily activity + a system that processes the data you provide + expert recommendations you can put into action + a behind-the-scenes team that’s constantly improving and updating the app.


At Nod, we’re excited to be using technology to help moms and dads navigate the real-world challenges of parenthood. More innovations are just around the corner, and we can’t wait!


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