Proper sleep is vital for maintaining good physical and mental health. Sleep trackers are wearable devices that are specifically designed to track various metrics to help improve sleep. They typically use accelerometers to track motion and heart rate sensors to monitor heart rate variability, respiratory rate, and skin temperature. By analyzing this data, sleep trackers and the accompanying apps offer feedback and suggestions that can provide valuable insights into sleep quality and help users make adjustments to enhance their overall sleep patterns.

To find the best sleep trackers for improved sleep, we tested 14 different tracker options under the supervision of fitness coaches and medical doctors, focusing on comfort, ease of use, accuracy, and value. We received additional feedback and expertise from a sleep coach and an MD who is board-certified in sleep medicine. A physician on our Medical Expert Board also reviewed this article for medical and scientific accuracy regarding what to look for in sleep trackers, how they work, and who could benefit from using them.

Types of Sleep Trackers

There are a few different styles of sleep trackers that go about tracking sleep in unique ways. Our experts recommend seeking the most comfortable option to ensure continual usage. The main styles are:

  • Rings: Less obtrusive; a ring can track resting heart rate and heart rate variability. Some ring options offer blood oxygen sensing and temperature and use infrared light photoplethysmography (PPG), a noninvasive method of heart rate tracking.
  • Wristbands: These track sleep-relevant factors like heart rate and heart rate variability. Some use an accelerometer, which tracks movement, a gyroscope, and a PPG heart rate sensor. They are designed for performance and are often waterproof.
  • Smartwatches: Usually, these are not primarily designed for sleep tracking. While they have sleep tracking as a feature, they are primarily designed for connectivity, fitness tracking, and GPS.
  • Heart rate monitors: These heart rate-specific options can be worn around the chest or clipped to a finger for specific pulse readings.
  • Under the bed: Under-bed options track movement, breathing, and heart rate to monitor sleep for those who dislike wearables.

Oura Ring Gen3

Oura


Our Ratings

  • Ease of Setup

    4.9/5

  • Comfort

    4.8/5

  • Ease of Use

    3.6/5

  • Accuracy

    3.8/5

  • Value

    3.2/5

Why We Like It


The Oura Ring Gen 3 impressed us with its accuracy; incidents of waking up during the night were accurately tracked when we looked the next day. Using research-grade sensors to track factors like sleep quality and stages through temperature and heart rate, it offers a rating on a 1-100 scale in the morning of your previous night of sleep. It also features accumulated data of metrics like sleep patterns to tell you when it’s time to start your evening wind down.

The Oura Ring Gen 3 improved our sleep, including a readiness feature that let us know how prepared we were, based on sleep, to tackle the day. We also found it to work well for cycle syncing for people who have menstrual cycles. It is a minimally invasive and comfortable option, and the simple design blends in with other jewelry seamlessly. Lastly, it’s waterproof, which is good because we forgot we were wearing it sometimes, hardly noticing it in the shower. 

It’s Worth Noting 

  • Though it offers fitness tracking, we found it inaccurate when automatically tracking it.

Product Details:

  • Type: Ring
  • Compatibility: iOS 15 and higher, Android 8.0 and higher 
  • Battery Life: Up to 7 days
  • Subscription: $5.99 a month

Best Fitness and Sleep Tracker

WHOOP 4.0

WHOOP 4.0 Health and Fitness Tracker

Best Buy


Why We Like It

The Whoop 4.0 is a great choice for data enthusiasts looking to track sleep and fitness using one device. Overall, we felt it to be highly accurate. It tracks strain, sleep, and recovery. For sleep, this option tracks duration, performance, efficiency, consistency, latency, sleep debt, sleep stages, and disturbances, letting you know if you hit your target for the night and offering tailored bedtimes based on your goals. 

For fitness tracking, the Whoop 4.0 provides a strain option to allow you to track activity. A stress tracker lets you know how much time you spend in low, medium, and high stress and compares it to your weekly and monthly average. It also tracks recovery based on Resting Heart Rate (RHR), Heart Rate Variability (HRV), Respiratory Rate, and Sleep Performance. 

It’s Worth Noting 

  • Whoop’s strength-based tracking has drawbacks. It requires manual input, takes a month to calibrate fully, and can irritate the skin when wet.

Product Details:

  • Type: Wristband
  • Compatibility: iOS 15 or higher, Android OS 10.0 or higher
  • Battery Life: 4-5 days
  • Subscription: Required, $30 a month

Best Budget

Amazfit Band 7

Amazfit Band 7

Amazfit


Our Ratings

  • Ease of Setup

    3.4/5

  • Comfort

    3.7/5

  • Ease of Use

    4.3/5

  • Accuracy

    4.4/5

  • Value

    4.5/5

Why We Like It

For a more affordable sleep tracker, we suggest the Amazfit Band 7. At a fraction of the cost of competitors, this device can track different sleep stages, such as light, deep, and REM sleep. It also has an alarm feature that sets the optimal waking time within a 30-minute window of your set alarm. This helps avoid waking you up during a deep sleep cycle, which can cause grogginess.

In terms of comfort, it feels almost weightless; the rubber on the band didn’t pull on our skin or hair, and we found it comfortable to wear while sleeping. The display on this waterproof tracker was the ideal size, large enough to be visible without being obstructive. It also has a lengthy battery life of up to 18 days on normal usage or 28 days with battery saver mode.

It’s Worth Noting 

  • While you can turn the brightness down, there is no “sleep mode”, so people with sensitivity to light may want to avoid it. We also felt it could benefit from a horizontal screen view option.

Product Details:

  • Type: Wristband
  • Compatibility: iOS 12.0 and above, Android 7.0 and above
  • Battery Life: Up to 28 days on battery saver mode, 18 days on normal
  • Subscription: No

Best Smartwatch for Sleep Tracking

Polar Vantage V2 Smartwatch

Amazon Polar Vantage V2 Smartwatch

Amazon


Our Ratings

  • Ease of Setup

    5/5

  • Comfort

    4.8/5

  • Ease of Use

    4.9/5

  • Accuracy

    4.8/5

  • Value

    3.6/5

Why We Like It

The Polar Vantage V2 is our pick for those who prefer the feeling of a smartwatch. This device monitors your sleeping patterns for quality, duration, and the amount of time spent in each stage (light, deep, and REM). It also evaluates your recovery status to help you understand what you can achieve in terms of fitness the next day. This metric is based on the quality of your sleep and the effectiveness of your autonomic nervous system in calming down during the early sleep phases. In addition, the device provides information about your average heart rate at night and your oxygen levels.

The V2 is lightweight and waterproof, up to 100 meters. It also tracks calories, stress levels, and heart rates. It was easy to download and sync with our phone, and despite all of the information included, we found it easy to read and understand.

It’s Worth Noting 

  • This is a pricier option than other watches, though it doesn’t require a monthly subscription.

Product Details:

  • Type: Smartwatch
  • Compatibility: iOS, Android
  • Battery Life: 40 hours in training mode, and up to 7 days in watch mode
  • Subscription: Not required

Best for Multipurpose Tracking

Garmin Instinct 2

garmin instinct

Garmin


Our Ratings

  • Ease of Setup

    4/5

  • Comfort

    4/5

  • Ease of Use

    4/5

  • Accuracy

    5/5

  • Value

    4/5

Why We Like It

For a sleep tracker that goes beyond just sleep, our pick is the Garmin Instinct 2. For athletes who like the elements, tracking via satellite systems will keep them safe, while ABC sensors track workouts according to elevation and weather monitoring. It also has a feature to track your way back to where you started. It includes a VO2 max tracker, daily workout suggestions, and HIIT workout tracking. It also tracks stress, heart rate, and women’s health.

Its sleep features include tracking light, deep, and REM stages of sleep, with a pulse Ox sensor that uses light beams at the wrist to gauge how effective your body is at absorbing oxygen. A dedicated tracker lets you know your sleep score and insights. If you work out, this option features a recovery time indicator that accounts for details like stress and sleep, which lets you know when you’re good to go for another workout.

It’s Worth Noting 

  • It can be difficult to operate, and the interface leaves something to be desired.

Product Details:

  • Type: Smartwatch
  • Compatibility: Phones with Bluetooth
  • Battery Life: Up to 28 days
  • Subscription: Not required

Best Under the Mattress

Withings Sleep Tracking Pad

Withings Sleep - Sleep Tracking Pad

Amazon


Why We Like It

If you’re someone who doesn’t want to wear a sleep-tracking device, Withings’ Sleep Tracking Mat is a great underneath-the-mattress choice. It uses a pneumatic sensor to measure respiratory rate, heartbeats, and body movements, while a sound sensor examines details attributed to snoring or instances where breathing ceases. It will still track deep, light, and REM sleep cycle analysis and it also offers heart rate tracking and snoring detection. It provides a sleep score, which is viewable in the Health Mate app, and it will clue you into factors like sleep duration, depth, interruptions, and schedule, also letting you know how long it takes you to wake up and go to sleep. This mat offers automation as well, knowing when to turn the lights off and back on, and it can also turn the thermostat up in the morning through IFTTT, an automation platform. 

It’s Worth Noting 

  • If you sleep with someone, it won’t be as accurate as it can sense the other person’s movements. You will also need an outlet near the bed to use it.

Product Details:

  • Type: Under the bed
  • Compatibility: iOS, Android
  • Battery Life: Plugs into the wall
  • Subscription: N/A

Sleep Trackers We Tested and Don’t Recommend

We also tested these fitness trackers but decided that they didn’t earn a spot on our sleep specific list as they fell short in a few different ways:

  • Garmin Venu Sq 2 Smartwatch: While it offered us useful data, the display proved to be a bit clunky and we definitely found it to be somewhat bulky while sleeping. While it wasn’t overwhelming, we felt that it didn’t earn a spot when there were much less bulky options that we tested. 
  • Fitbit Sense 2: We liked how lightweight and hardly noticeable this option was and that it offered a good amount of info in a clear and concise way, but it didn’t do anything to impress us when it came to sleep tracking.
  • Apple Watch Ultra: A lightweight and comfortable feel, a super adjustable wrist strap, and excellent running tracking are all appealing. However, it just doesn’t focus on sleep or offer as many sleep insights as other options.

Our Testing and Review Process

We have tested a total of 14 health and fitness trackers to date, doing unique tests for both the fitness trackers and the heart rate-specific monitors. During the testing phase of fitness trackers with a sleep focus, we performed the testing procedure at home, with the assistance of Noelle McKenzie, a fitness coach, ACE-certified personal trainer, and the co-founder of Leading Edge Personal Trainers. We connected the trackers to relevant apps and used them for at least four times a week for a month. Additionally, we utilized these trackers for fitness testing during this phase. Ultimately, we selected five of the tested products, as well as one that we researched but did not test. We focused on the following aspects during our testing process:

  • Comfort: A wearable device is more likely to be worn if comfortable. We tested how they felt for all-day use, noting any irritation, pinching, or tugging feelings, and aiming for products we forgot we were wearing. We also considered how they felt during sleep and if they were waterproof. 
  • Ease of Use: We examined the functionality how easy it was to view the tracked data, and how helpful we found that data to be. We noted these trackers’ impact on our sleep and fitness and how useful the displays were.
  • Accuracy: We noted the metrics’ accuracy based on what we perceived we were actually doing. We also noted reliability and how good the trackers were at noting the start of activity.
  • Value: Based on the item’s price, our testers noted if they were worth the money if they would pay the listed price or even more, or if they felt the trackers were overpriced. Additionally, the testers noted whether they would buy them on sale or if they weren’t worth it on sale.

Our Experts

During our testing and research for this story, we received expert insights every step of the way. McKenzie provided input during testing to help us better gauge the trackers we used. Our other experts helped us understand what sleep trackers do, who they are valuable for, who they are not suited for, and the factors people should consider while selecting one. Although we choose our products independently, it’s important to note that the expertise provided by our experts impacts our choices.

  • Alex Dimitriu, MD, double board-certified in Psychiatry and Sleep Medicine and founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry & Sleep Medicine
  • Kelly Murray, Certified Pediatric & Adult Sleep Consultant, FDN- P, Owner at Kelly Murray Sleep Consulting
  • Noelle McKenzie, fitness coach, ACE-certified personal trainer, co-founder of Leading Edge Personal Trainers. 

How Do Sleep Trackers Work?

According to Dr. Dimitriu, most sleep trackers work by tracking heart rate and heart rate variations, as well as through tracking movement and body temperature. When it comes to sleep stage tracking, he says that heart rate, breathing, and movement are what is being used for this, but he does warn that these can be hard metrics to track, even with an EEG (brainwave recorder) in a lab.  

When it comes to using this data, Murray recommends focusing on sleep duration, disturbances, and efficiency because these can be important for determining how the actual sleep matches up with what the user believes is happening during the night. She also notes that these insights can indicate how a sleeper’s habits affect their sleep so they can adjust their habits in the future.

Sleep Trackers and Your Health

According to Dr. Dimitriu, sleep trackers can be useful tools for tracking bedtime, wake time, and heart rate when sleeping. Sleep trackers can help connect activity and sleep quality, maintain consistent bed and wake times, and remind individuals to wind down before bed. Factors like elevated heart rate can indicate if one has eaten or exercised too close to bedtime, which can negatively impact sleep quality.

Sleep trackers can be valuable for understanding how habits affect sleep quality. Dr. Murray recommends trackers to her clients battling the negative effects of sleep deprivation through insomnia. She notes that for some insomniacs, a tracker can inspire confidence by restoring confidence in their body’s ability to get proper sleep. 

One thing to be mindful of with sleep trackers is that they aren’t suited for everyone. Murray and Dr. Dimitriu tell us that overanalyzing sleep data can harm sleep quality. As a result, they aren’t necessarily suited for people already struggling to fall asleep, and research also indicates that they are not a great option for helping people with sleep apnea.

Lastly, while sleep trackers work by tracking factors like sleep quality, duration, and phases, they are less accurate than legitimate lab tests. 

Who We Are

Jack Byram is a freelance writer who covers all things sleep and wellness related. He is consistently interviewing experts and implementing different tools and techniques to improve his own sleep. He previously wore a Whoop to improve his quality of sleep.

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