Are you getting enough sleep? Research has shown that sleep is important for your immune function, metabolism, memory, and other important functions. Too little sleep can lead not only to cognitive difficulties but also serious health problems. If you’re not sure that the duration and quality of your sleep are sufficient, it might be time to consider a sleep tracker.
Sleep trackers function like an observer, watching you sleep and recording data. They use movement and sound sensors to figure out when you fall asleep, how well you sleep, and how long you stay asleep. They’re great for detecting normal sleep patterns, but not really very good at noticing insomnia. That’s because if you’re just lying in bed trying to get back to sleep, there’s no way for a sleep tracker to know you’re not sleeping. Because broken sleep is not really a sleep tracker’s specialty, if you’ve got major sleep disturbances like nightmares, insomnia, or sleep apnea, you’re better off with a sleep study. A sleep tracker also might not work well for you if your bedroom is noisy, or you have a partner who thrashes around a lot.
If you’re someone for whom a sleep tracker would work well, it’s time to determine which sleep tracker is best for you. To figure that out, you should ask yourself two questions. First, what’s your budget for a sleep tracker? Second, how much time will you want to devote to reviewing sleep tracking data?
High-end sleep trackers are often used by sports teams to track their players’ sleep patterns. These might not be the best option for an ordinary person though, because they’re very expensive and require extensive data interpretation. Sports teams hire an expert to do this data analysis, but most ordinary people aren’t able to do that.
If you just want a basic idea of how many hours you’re sleeping, you might consider a smartphone app. They’re not the most reliable trackers if you’re looking for in-depth data, but they are really convenient because when your smartphone is your sleep tracker, there’s no need to buy another device. Since most of us check our smartphones every day, it’s not hard to find time to check the app’s data. Sleep tracking apps available on iPhone and Android include Sleep Cycle and Sleep Score, while Pillow is only available for iPhone, iPad, and Apple watch.
You can also choose a wearable sleep/fitness tracker. These products are not too expensive, and they’re good for recording daily movement and overall sleep time.
- Fitbit has a heart-rate monitor and motion detector, which work together to monitor your sleep. With a Fitbit, you’ll know how long you stayed in each sleep stage, and the tracker will make recommendations to help you meet your sleep goals.
- Garmin trackers use movement, heart rate, and heart rate variability to analyze your sleep. The data is recorded in the Garmin Connect app.
- Withings Move has the advantage of being able to go without a charge for 18 months. It tracks light and deep sleep cycles and offers a sleep score based on the length of time you slept, the depth of your sleep, and whether you woke during your sleep. It can even track naps.
- ŌURA Ring tracks body temperature, pulse, and body movement. It compares favorably to medical grade equipment, and provides both a sleep score and a readiness score, which tells you if your body is ready for peak performance.
Some sleep trackers are not wearable, but either sit under or are built into your mattress. These include the Emfit, the Beddit, and Withings Sleep. They analyze aspects like breathing and cardiac activity to in-depth data about your sleep.
Of course, there’s always the old-fashioned way to track sleep: with a pen and paper. It’s easy to keep a sleep diary by writing down when you go to bed, when you wake up, and anything unusual that happens during your sleep time. This is actually considered one of the best forms of sleep tracking, and medical researchers use sleep diaries to test how well sleep trackers work. Whether or not this method is for you depends on whether you want to add one more task to your day in pursuit of a good night’s sleep.
If you’re looking for a good night’s sleep in Northern California, you owe it to yourself to check out Mancini's Sleepworld. Since 1969, the Mancini family has owned and operated their store in Sunnyvale, CA, selling brand name mattresses at fair prices and treating every customer with respect. Beginning an expansion in 1989, we now have 33 locations across the greater bay area, allowing for same day mattress delivery in most cases. To learn more about Mancini's Sleepworld, contact us through our website or call 800-647-5337.