Not getting enough sleep is the worst. Fortunately, sleep issues are a bit easier to contend with today, thanks in part to a bevy of options to help you understand your health and wellness. Many wearable tech gadgets on the market have sleep tracking options to help you understand what your sleep patterns look like.
Advancements in technology have helped sleep tracking become even more sophisticated. The forthcoming Fitbit Ionic will even be able to give you some data about sleep apnea (the jury is still out about how accurate this will be, but still, it’s pretty remarkable).
Wearable sleep trackers are no substitute for a sleep study guided by a medical professional, nor should they stand in for a visit to your physician if there’s something else going on beyond trouble sleeping. However, for ongoing sleep data, wearable trackers can be incredibly useful.
The best way to use the information that comes from your sleep tracking is to look at it in context of your overall health and wellness. If, for example, you are trying to sleep better, you can use your tracker to help you see whether you need to get more exercise, reduce stress, or even eat/drink better.
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How Does Sleep Tracking Work?
Since the first wearable tech hit the market, sleep tracking has gotten better thanks to improvements to several kinds of sensors. Most of the wrist fitness trackers and smartwatches that offer sleep tracking will gather data based on some combination of the following:
- Motion: Accelerometers monitor movement
- Heart Rate: From optical or other sensors
- Temperature: Skin temps
- Data: From long-term studies and info about sleep stages
Fitbit, for example, has worked to update its sleep tracking algorithm to be more accurate. So, rather than relying solely on movement and/or heart rate, it has used other research to understand how people behave at various sleep stages.
What Options Are Available?
While this guide looks at wearable sleep tracking devices, there are plenty of other options if you want more comprehensive data or don’t want to wear something to bed. These devices are bed-based or contactless. Apple acquired Beddit earlier this year, so you can now get the dedicated, bed-based sleep tracker Beddit 3 through the Apple website. There is also no-contact monitor S+ from ResMed. These are just a few of the dedicated, non-wearable sleep tracking options on the market.
You can get some information without a device just by using your phone. However, this data will not be very accurate and can be a bit tricky to use.
Then, of course, there are the fitness trackers, smartwatches, and smart jewelry that offer sleep tracking, and those are the devices that we like. Dedicated sleep trackers (and lab sleep studies) are going to get you more specific and accurate data, but even doctors are singing the praises of the latest and greatest in wearable sleep tracking.
What Information Will You Get?
When it comes to your wearable tech, all of your data gets sent to the app you use. In most cases, you can take a look at your sleep patterns and habits over a span of time – a useful feature if you’re making strides to sleep better.
The data that the tracker provides may include:
- Sleep stages
- Total time asleep and in each sleep stage
- Number of times you wake up in the night
- Deep vs. light or disturbed sleep vs. wakefulness
Fitbit’s data doesn’t differentiate between the stages, instead telling you when you were in deep sleep or restless or wakeful. Other apps will give you different types of overviews. Garmin’s app has a ton of data you can wade through. The point is, you will get a lot of information from your sleep tracker. That doesn’t mean that it is as good as medical data, but it can be very useful when you’re working toward improving overall wellness or improving your sleep habits.
Our Favorite Sleep Trackers
- Alta HR: The Fitbit Alta HR is our top pick for sleep tracking. It has a slim design that makes it easier to wear at night, and the sleep data it picks up and provides is comprehensive and helpful. The Alta relies on movement and your heart rate to determine when you are sleeping light, deep, or are in REM sleep.
- Ionic: Though it hasn’t even shipped yet, we’re still counting on the forthcoming Fitbit Ionic to be an excellent sleep tracker for a number of reasons. First, Fitbit has made great gains in researching and implementing the latest and greatest in sleep tracking technology. There’s alsothe announcement that the Ionic will be able to track sleep apnea – the first wearable tech able to do so.
- Vivosmart 3: Garmin is another solid fitness tracker manufacturer, much like Fitbit, and their sleep tracking is known to be pretty good across the board. We like the Vivosmart 3 as a top sleep tracker because of the device’s overall emphasis on wellness. With this tracker, you can take a holistic look at your sleep by factoring in stress levels, plenty of activities, and more.
- Steel: The Nokia Steel is a solid device if you’re looking for something that looks like a watch, hasan excellent battery life, and offers some tracking options. The sleep monitoring on the Steel isn’t very comprehensive – it will tell you when you’re in light or deep sleep. However, it does offer some additional perks that are pretty cool. For example, it includes a Smart Wakeup that locates the best time in your sleep stages to wake up.
- Ray: The Misfit Ray is our budget pick thanks to its affordable price and capabilities. The Ray is a popular wearable gadget because it can be worn in many different ways and is a low profile yet sturdy device. It’s a pretty basic fitness tracker and won’t offer additional tracking features like some of the other devices we have highlighted, but it does a good job of giving you the data you need to make healthier lifestyle choices and take control of your sleep habits.