Sleep tracking has become increasingly popular, thanks to the growing combination of sleepless nights, stressful days, and increasing awareness of how important sleep is for our immunity system and overall physical and mental health.
Sleep trackers solicit various benefits, such as:
However, do sleep trackers really work? And, what type of technology are sleep tracking devices using that enables them to boast such claims?
Basically, sleep trackers allow you to measure the quality and duration of your sleep. They sync together your "sleep data" to a tablet or smartphone app, which interprets this data, translating it into helpful insights. Many sleep tracking devices will provide personalized suggestions on how to improve your sleep.
Typically, your most basic sleep trackers will track if you're sleeping, and the amount of time you spend sleeping. But, there are also other aspects of your sleep they measure as well, such as:
There are a couple broad types of sleep trackers. These are wearable and non-wearable devices. Many individuals aren't sure which ones to choose. So, here is some basic information that may help you decide.
You'll find several types of wearable trackers to help measure your sleep. Some will provide you with very basic measurements, whereas others will give you extremely valuable data.
The primary goal of a smartwatch is keeping you connected (just like your smartphone does). Smartwatches might come with a basic built-in sleep monitor for measuring your sleep duration, but you might have to download a separate app in order to gain more sophisticated data on your sleep.
These rings have recently shown up on the sleep-tracking scene. They can provide you with 24/7 tracking data, and might be a bit more accurate than a wristband for measuring heart-rate.
This is a motion detector and heart-rate monitor combined for monitoring your sleep. It measures how much time you stay in each sleep stage, and even makes suggestions based on your sleeping goal.
A wearable sleep tracker with a decent battery life that can last up to 18 months on just one charge. It tracks your deep and light sleep cycles automatically when you wear it in bed. It provides you with a sleep score that's based on:
It can also track your naps.
While wearable sleep trackers seem to measure better circadian cycle sleep data, some non-wearable ones will request input data on any potential daytime influences (i.e. mood, caffeine intake) to see if they're impacting your sleep.
These you place underneath your pillow or mattress. They measure the quality and duration of your sleep.
Bedside trackers look similar to bedside lamps, therefore some individuals prefer them, since they don't seem too clinical. They detect the quality and length of your sleep. Some can even assess your sleep environment (i.e. light, temperature, noise) to see how it's impacting your sleep.
These aren't as effective for in-depth data. But, if you have a smartphone, you won't require any other device. Since you check your phone each day, it'll be simple to check for data it offers.
Some examples are:
This sleep tracking device uses ballistocardiography (measures the contraction and expansion of your circulatory system). Emfit is similar to a heart monitor in the way it works.
Collecting sleep data will only be helpful if you use the data you collect. After you track your sleep for several nights, you'll be provided with data on how much light vs deep sleep you're obtaining, sleep cycle times, how often you move, or even how much you snore, in some cases. Unfortunately, not all sleep trackers and apps provide you with a whole lot of advice based on the data on what changes you should make on your sleep habits.
Sensors and apps can give you an understanding of what's going on when you're sleeping, but they're not supposed to replace a doctor. If you're experiencing troubles sleeping, waking up tired, or staying awake in the daytime, you may want to have a doctor check for any underlying problems.