We all know that sleep is vital for a healthy body and mind. That said, we don't necessarily know what happens while we're knocked out at night, besides strange dreams or that you may or may not be a snorer. Sleep trackers offer valuable insights into this mysterious phase of our day-to-day lives, allowing you to better understand your sleeping patterns and work to improve the quality of your sleep.
Sleep trackers come in all shapes and sizes, from wearables to devices you keep on your bedside table. Below, explore the different benefits of sleep tracking, how it works and a few good sleep trackers we recommend.
Table of Contents
How does sleep tracking work?
It depends on your sleep tracker, but they primarily use accelerometers to detect movement, heart rate or oxygen saturation levels. Technology has come a long way and nonwearables use no-contact and low-energy radar that track movement and other environmental factors such as temperature and light to detect possible sleep disturbances.
What do sleep trackers measure?
- Sleep phases: Sleep trackers can measure the time you spend in deep sleep, light sleep and REM. Some even sound an alarm at the optimal waking time according to your sleep phases.
- Sleep quality: Sleep trackers measure movement and can tell when you're sleeping soundly or tossing and turning.
- Amount of sleep: Your sleep tracker can pinpoint your sleep and wake time by tracking your activity (or lack thereof), and by doing so calculate your total time spent asleep.
- Sleep disturbances: Some sleep trackers, like those found in mattresses and bedside devices, measure temperature, sound and other external factors that might interfere with sleep quality.
Best sleep trackers
The Fitbit is a fitness tracker that measures physical and sleep activity. It measures heart rate, blood oxygen levels and time spent in different sleep stages and delivers a calculated sleep score that rates your general sleep quality. During the day, use your Fitbit to track your steps, workouts, calories burned and more.
While it's more expensive than other wearables on the market, the Oura ring is a high-tech, lightweight device you wear on one of your fingers and which tracks your sleep. It's more comfortable than a wrist wearable and delivers accurate readings on your heart rate, blood-oxygen levels, sleep stages and overall sleep score. It also offers insights into other aspects of health, like physical activity and stress.
The Halo Rise is a sleep tracker that doubles as a Smart Home device. It's designed with motion sensors that detect movement and breathing patterns during your sleep to deliver accurate insights into your sleep duration, sleep quality and sleep phases. Unlike wearables, It can also measure possible sleep disturbances in your environment like humidity, light and temperature.
You're receiving price alerts for Halo Rise
With the Sleep Number 360 Smart Bed c2 your sleeping surface is your sleep tracker. Small sensors placed throughout the mattress track movement, heart rate, temperature and breathing. You can't feel them, but these sensors are constantly gathering data to accurately read different sleep performance data points.
Aside from its sleep-tracking feature, you can also adjust your firmness and temperature, making it an ideal mattress for all sleeping positions and for hot sleepers looking for cooling relief.
How we chose sleep trackers
The best sleep trackers were chosen based on the following criteria.
The main criteria considered when looking at sleep trackers are the sleep data points they're measuring. Sleep trackers should offer valuable insights into different aspects of sleep including sleep quality, sleep duration and sleeping patterns. We also took their additional features into account, like their ability to measure blood-oxygen levels, physical activity or other valuable health data.
Another crucial factor when choosing a sleep tracker is its accuracy. There is no device on the market as accurate as a polysomnography test because they don't have the ability to measure brain activity and wave patterns, the true indicators of your sleeping stages and whether you're asleep or awake. However, wearables with heart-rate and blood-oxygen level sensors prove to be the most reliable. For nonwearables, we looked for sleep trackers that measured breathing patterns or external factors such as temperature and light.
From wallet-friendly to premium, there are sleep trackers to fit a range of different budgets. We showcase sleep trackers that offer good results for your money. There are more expensive sleep-tracking fitness wearables and high-tech smart beds you can invest in, but we chose to focus on the ones that offer accurate sleep tracking at a fair price.
What should I look for when tracking sleep?
- Time spent in deep sleep and REM
- Sleep duration
- Heart rate
- Blood-oxygen levels
- Breathing patterns
- Temperature and light disturbances (if applicable)
What is the importance of sleep tracking?
While sleep tracking isn't a sure-fire remedy for curing poor sleep, it can offer insights into your sleep stages, possible disturbances that are keeping you awake and lifestyle habits so you're more informed on your own sleeping patterns and what you may be able to change to improve sleep quality. You can also share your results with a doctor who can work with you to improve sleep hygiene and overall quality.
How do sleep trackers work?
Wearable sleep trackers use heart rate, blood oxygen and motion sensors to measure key indicators of your sleeping stages and patterns. Nonwearables rely on motion sensors and low-energy radar to track movement, breathing and environmental changes like temperature and light.
Sleep trackers collect this data to provide valuable insight into sleep duration, sleep quality, how long you spend in certain sleep stages and potential explanations behind sleep disruptions.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.