Have you ever woken up tired even after a full night’s sleep? A one-off occurrence may not be cause for concern, but if it happens consistently, your sleep health may be suffering. And because you’re, you know, unconscious while snoozing, it can be difficult to know what’s going on. Sleep trackers can help you (and your doctor) pinpoint the problem so you can be on your way to getting the best rest possible, ASAP.
Sleep trackers are typically (but not always) wearable devices that record a variety of data, including heart rate, breathing rate, sleep onset and duration, sleep stage insights, and sleep position, although some offer more or fewer functions. In addition to identifying any possible issues, these devices can also “set and track sleep goals, provide personalized insights, and motivate you to improve your sleep,” says Raj Dasgupta M.D.
However, Dasgupta warns that the devices aren’t totally fool-proof, and they certainly don’t exclude the need to see a sleep specialist if problems like sleep apnea arise. “Sleep trackers are not as accurate as medical sleep studies,” he explains.
While sleep trackers come in many different forms, there are a few key things you should be looking for when you purchase one. “A good sleep tracker should be comfortable, have a good battery life, an easy-to-use app, and should be within your budget,” says Chisom Ikeji, M.D., a critical care doctor and NatureMade wellness ambassador.
Dasgupta adds that the best sleep tracker for you will depend on your individual needs and preferences. “If you are not sure which functions are important to you, talk to your doctor or a sleep expert,” he suggests.
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How we chose the best sleep trackers
With the help of our experts, we’ve narrowed down the best sleep trackers you can buy right now. Keep reading to learn more, and shop your way to a peaceful slumber.
FitBit HR Inspire
This iteration of the FitBit improves upon previous models, giving more insight into sleep stages. “The FitBit Inspire HR has consistently performed well in clinical studies and their technology has improved their sleep-tracking algorithm performance over the years,” says Ikeji. The device will automatically track and estimate the time spent in light, deep, and REM sleep.
Ikeji also notes it has an excellent battery life and is reasonably priced. It may not be the least intrusive pick on this list, as it requires sleeping with a wristband, but it’s relatively lightweight and worth the sacrifice for its price point and various other fitness-related functions, like tracking calories burned during a workout and daily steps.
The WHOOP 4.0 may seem like another basic wristband tracker, but it’s so much more. The screen-less, lightweight bracelet is meant to blend seamlessly into your everyday life while providing you with ultra-accurate health input thanks to five LEDs and four photodiode sensors. It’s meant for 24/7 wear, meaning it’s waterproof, and when it’s time to charge, there’s no need to take it off and lose data—instead, you can attach the brand’s wireless, waterproof battery pack to power up on the go.
For sleep tracking especially, users love its ability to suggest optimal wake and sleep times, and its haptic alarm function that gently vibrates to wake you up during your sleep stage sweet spot. A paid subscription is required to access all your data within the WHOOP app, which is why the band itself is under $50.
Apple Watch Series 8
Perhaps the most convenient aspect of using an Apple Watch to track sleep is the fact that it can also serve your time-telling, iPhone-having needs. (Once you have the ability to read a text on your wrist, it’s hard to go back.) The tech’s sleep-tracking functions are simply a bonus—and one that really works. The latest version tracks your body temperature, blood oxygen, heartbeat, and sleep stages, even breaking down how much time you spend in each stage: rapid eye movement (REM), core, and deep sleep.
The only downside—if you want to use it as a sleep tracker, you’ll have to find time to charge it that’s not overnight.
Best for Beginners
Garmin Vivosmart 4
If you’re new to sleep tracking, Dasgupta recommends trying a wrist-worn device, as they are “relatively accurate in tracking total sleep time.” The Garmin Vivosmart is highly rated, and it’s pretty basic as far as bells and whistles go, making it easy to use. It measures blood oxygen levels during sleep, sleep stages, and overall sleep time, which are delivered in an easily digestible graph in the connected mobile app each morning.
Ikeji also recommends the Oura Heritage Ring. It uses NTC skin sensor technology and infrared light (commonly used in hospital heart rate trackers) to get a highly accurate read of your health stats, unlike many wristbands, which use less accurate green light sensors. Some may also consider it easier to wear than a wristband while sleeping. “Studies show that it had comparable results to invasive sleep monitoring devices. It’s also fashionable and doubles as a fitness tracking device,” says Ikeji. “I prefer the ring because I find it less cumbersome than a wrist device to wear to bed.”
Best for Light Sleepers
Bía Smart Sleep Mask
Light sleepers, or those who want their arms free of accessories at night, might like a wearable sleep-tracking eye mask like this one, which simultaneously blocks out light and picks up on your sleeping habits. “It’s great for people like me who work overnight and need to sleep during the day or those who are sensitive to light affecting their sleep quality,” Ikeji says. “There are sensors in the mask that deliver neurofeedback, so it theoretically is better at detecting sleep stages.” This one also has an easy-to-navigate app and is Bluetooth compatible, so you can stream music. The music will automatically turn off when it senses you’re asleep.
Best Sleep Tracker App
If you don’t feel quite ready to invest in a new piece of tech, start with a sleep-tracking app like SleepScore. Using just the microphone and speaker capabilities on your smartphone, it tracks your sleep stages, breathing rate, and body movements, delivering you a “sleep score” every morning. Upgrading to a premium subscription offers even more perks, like the ability to chat with a certified sleep coach, a record of your sleep trends, and weekly sleep insights.
Kayla Blanton is a freelance writer who reports on all things health and nutrition for Men’s Health, Women’s Health, and Prevention. Her hobbies include perpetual coffee sipping and pretending to be a Chopped contestant while cooking.