If you’re someone who reliably gets restful nights of sleep, then you may not fully realize how detrimental insomnia or disrupted sleep can be to your physical and mental health. And it’s not just a lack of sleep: poor sleep hygiene—including not sticking to a sleep schedule—can also make us feel worse.
There are also situations where a person might think they’re sleeping well, but, following observation, find out that their sleep is disturbed regularly by everything from nightmares, temperature fluctuations, or conditions like sleep apnea. Whatever the cause, it can be helpful to be able to track your sleep to see what you get up to at night and what adjustments you can make to improve your overall sleep quality and potentially even your mental health.
Fortunately, you no longer have to spend the night in a sleep lab to get data like that because there are a variety of sleep trackers available, either as wearables or other forms of technology. The right type of sleep tracker is a matter of personal preference but the rule of thumb is to choose whichever model will cause the least amount of interference. These items also vary on the number of people they support, the type of data collected, and other features available.
Table of Contents
Withings Sleep Tracking Pad
If you appreciate data and lots of it, you’ll be fascinated by what you learn after a few nights on the Withings Sleep Tracking Pad. The device works by measuring changes in noise and pressure throughout the night to measure potential disturbances. As a bonus, you can easily share a PDF of that data produced by the app. It doesn’t matter whether you sleep on your back, stomach, or side—this pad placed under your mattress will get the information it needs. It records It records your sleep cycle, heart rate, and any breathing disturbance and automatically sends the information to your app via Wi-Fi in the morning. Keep in mind that this sleep tracker is designed for individual use.
Jason Doescher, MD, chief medical officer for MOBE, an online wellness platform for people living with chronic conditions, has recommended the Withings Sleep Analyzer to patients in the past. He likes that calibration is easy and the device requires no further input after setup, with plenty of insights and easy-to-review results for healthcare providers.
Price at time of publication: $130
Type: Under-the-mattress pad | Battery Life: Plug in | Displays/Apps: Withings Health Mate | Other Features: Works with Alexa, Sensors sleep to control the lights/thermostat to optimize conditions for sleeping with IFTTT integration
Fitbit Sense Smartwatch
Includes a pedometer and other features standard with Fitbit products
Provides personalized recommendations to improve sleep quality
Offers a whole picture of health
In addition to a wide range of non-sleep-related functions, this smartwatch provides personalized insights and tips to improve your sleep quality—as well as reminders when it’s time to go to bed. The Sense, Fitbit's latest smartwatch entry, features the same top-performing sleep technology in the brand's previous model, plus a "Smart Wake" alarm that will wake you up during the optimal stage of sleep.
Doescher recommends looking for sleep trackers that not only measure sleep but integrates that information into whole-person health, including features like activity, weight, and mood—which is what makes the Sense a great option. "This helps monitor the big picture and can help you learn factors that make a difference," he says. "What you eat, how much you move, and how you feel all impact your sleep."
Price at time of publication: $250
Company sends you a free sizing kit when you place your order
Offers around-the-clock monitoring
Personalized sleep score and tips
If you're looking to measure more than just your sleep stats, the Oura Smart Ring also offers the same insights you can get from a health tracker, including activity and wellness information. But, as Doescher suggested, sleep insights are only a part of a fuller picture of health.
Using an infrared LED sensor, the Oura Smart Ring tracks your sleep quality, duration, and other factors and produces a personalized sleep score. It tracks naps automatically, monitors blood oxygen levels during the night, and offers personalized sleep recommendations, including a specific bed time. The ring was also one of the top performers in a 2020 study, when it came to accurately determining wakefulness and being asleep—though it, too, wasn’t very accurate at estimating deep sleep.
Price at time of publication: $299
Best Budget Wearable
SLEEPON Go2Sleep Wearable Sleeping Monitor
This isn’t a ring in the traditional sense: more like a silicon device that you wear on your finger as you sleep that weighs only six grams. If you can get over that, it provides reports on your heart rate, blood oxygen, AHI, sleep debt, and sleep quality through their app. It’s also waterproof and dust-proof.
Price at time of publication: $129
Type: Ring | Battery Life: 3 nights | Displays/Apps: SLEEPON app | Other Features: Heart rate and blood oxygen sensor
Best Battery Life
Amazfit GTS 2 Mini Smartwatch
This is another smart watch that comes with a variety of features, including a sleep tracker. It’s also lightweight and comes in a wide selection of band types and colors. While the wearer is sleeping, the Amazfit GTS 2 Mini assesses their sleep breathing quality through the different sleep stages, and can identify daytime naps to record more complete sleep information.
Price at time of publication: $100
Type: Smart Watch | Battery Life: 14 days | Displays/Apps: Amazfit; watch face display | Other Features: Connects with Alexa, Blood Oxygen measurement, heart rate monitoring, PAI health assessment system, menstrual cycle tracking
Best for Heavy Sleepers
Beautyrest Sleeptracker Monitor
This sleep tracker from Beautyrest works with any kind or brand of mattress. Like the Withings Sleep Tracking Pad, the Beautyrest Sleeptracker Monitor slides between the mattress and bed base for wearable-free tracking. It measures respiration and heart rate and all three stages of sleep for in-depth monitoring. It also records data for up to two separate sleepers.
The tracker is Alexa-enabled, allowing you to integrate it into your smart home. It also comes with an alarm that wakes you up at the optimal time. Additionally, it uses the data collected via the Sleeptracker app to provide personalized tips to improve sleep quality.
Price at time of publication: $80
Type: Under-the-mattress pad | Battery Life: Plug in | Displays/Apps: Beautyrest Sleeptracker app | Other Features: Can track two people; Sleep coach to give tips on better sleep; Alexa enabled
How We Selected
To find the best sleep trackers, we researched multiple types of trackers to monitor sleep, including sleep stages, movement, noise, and breath rate during sleep. We considered non-wearable trackers that go under the mattress for hands-free tracking, as well as more traditional trackers that consider sleep as a part of the whole health picture. We considered tracker type, stats, apps, features, and price when looking at each sleep tracker.
We also spoke to sleep medicine experts to learn more about what shoppers should look for when buying a sleep tracker, including:
- Jason Doescher, MD, chief medical officer for MOBE, an online wellness platform for people living with chronic conditions
- Leela R. Magavi, MD, a psychiatrist and the regional medical director for Community Psychiatry in California
- Stacie J. Stephenson, DC, CNS, functional and integrative medicine physician
What to Look for in a Sleep Tracker
Wearable sleep trackers typically come in the form of watches or rings. Stacie J. Stephenson, DC, CNS, a physician and expert in functional medicine, recommends a sleep tracker that "will interfere with your actual sleep the least." And that can mean different things for different people. Before investing, think about whether you’d be comfortable wearing something on your wrist or finger all night, every night. If not, you may want to opt for the kind placed under the mattress.
Number of People
Some under-the-mattress sleep trackers—like the Beautyrest Sleeptracker Monitor—come with two sensors, recording data for two people sleeping in the same bed, making it a great option for people interested in only tracking sleep.
Data Collected and Features
While all sleep trackers will provide you with the same basic information on sleep length and movement, others take other factors into account, including sound and temperature. Most wearables will also track more standard features, like daily activity and calorie burn, in addition to sleep tracking.
Do you want a device that is designed specifically to be a sleep tracker, or are you looking for something that can perform other health-related functions? Other features can include a pedometer, a pulse oximeter, and/or menstrual cycle tracking.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do sleep trackers work?
While there are many types of sleep trackers, in general, they work by sensing some combination of your movement, heart rate, respiration rate, and body temperature. Then they use the data collected to determine when you are asleep or awake, according to Stephenson. The data the sleep tracker collects is then analyzed to examine sleep latency, duration, phases, and quality, Leela R. Magavi, MD, a psychiatrist and the regional medical director for Community Psychiatry in California explains.
How accurate are sleep trackers?
Sleep trackers measure our movement patterns and heart rate quite accurately but still rely on prediction models to build assessments, so they aren't 100 percent accurate. For example, Doescher says that you can fool a tracker by lying quietly while awake. “Think of your sleep tracker as if it's a person, asking you: ‘It seems like you sleep well and with normal proportions, does this seem accurate?'” he advises.
It’s important to keep in mind that these commercially available sleep trackers aren’t tested or regulated for accuracy, Magavi explains, noting that they’re not as accurate as sleep studies. “For individuals with chronic insomnia or parasomnias, I recommend they schedule a sleep study to learn whether they have sleep apnea or any other sleep disorder,” she says.
Why Trust Verywell Health
As a seasoned health writer and editor with a special focus on mental health and well-being, Elizabeth Yuko understands how powerful stress-relieving activities can be for many people—as well as the fact that they’re not one-size-fits-all. With decades of first-hand experience dealing with anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, she’s always on the lookout for new (and research-backed) products, techniques, and services that can help people cope with stress and other mental health challenges.