We tend to think of sleep as a period of inactivity, but it’s not. Our brains are actually extremely active at night. One of sleep’s main functions is to consolidate and process the input that we’ve been exposed to throughout the course of a day. The REM stage of sleep is perhaps the strangest one. During REM, your brain paralyzes your body. Then, it becomes highly active and begins to create dreams.
When your resting brain gets high quality sleep, you become a new-and-improved version of yourself. Well-rested people get sick less often, get along better with others, think with greater clarity and have a better chance of avoiding weight gain. However, there’s more to sleeping better than just scheduling more hours in bed. Sleep quality counts as well. According to The Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 30% of all adults have trouble initiating and maintaining sleep at night. This statistic is particularly disturbing in light of research from Berkeley University, which links poor sleep to memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease.
One practical way to identify and correct sleep issues is with a sleep tracker. Some sleep trackers can be worn on the wrist, while others fit conveniently under your mattress. Read on to learn about the best sleep trackers you can buy and find out about each of their advantages and disadvantages.
Here are the best sleep trackers you can buy:
- Withings Sleep fits right under your mattress and its app does an excellent job of displaying your sleep data.
- Since it comes with two individual sensors, Beautyrest Sleeptracker Monitor is the best sleep tracker for couples.
- Fitbit Inspire HR is a multipurpose fitness wearable that offers not only precise sleep tracking but a range of other useful features as well.
- If you want to improve your sleep and you’re also in the market for a smartwatch, Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 might be your best bet.
- Wellue O2Ring Oxygen Tracker is a niche sleep tracker that caters to the specific needs of sleep apnea sufferers.
The most user-friendly sleep tracker
To install the Withings Sleep, all you have to do is connect the power cord and slide it in place. It is designed to fit right under your mattress, which is extremely convenient. Some sleep tracking pads are designed to go above the mattress and under the sheet. This makes them somewhat of a hassle to use, because it’s easy to push them out of place at night– particularly if you tend to move around a lot when you sleep.
- Designed to be placed below instead of above a mattress. You won’t knock it out of place, even if you often toss and turn at night.
- Clear and easy-to-understand statistics presentation. The app that controls Withings Sleep does a good job of displaying sleep stats in an understandable way.
- Good app compatibility. Alexa, Apple Health, IFTTT and Google Fit are just a few of the most popular apps that Withings Sleep supports.
- Easy to install. Just connect the power adapter and slide the mat underneath the top portion of your mattress.
- Tracks a variety of sleep statistics. Withings Sleep tracks sleep duration, sleep cycles, heart rate, snoring duration, sleep regularity and breathing disturbances.
- Wellness widgets. Withings’ Wellness Programs help you meditate, sleep better, lose weight, learn about heart health, track a pregnancy and compare your stats with your friends.
- Connects to the Internet-of-Things. You can program Withings Sleep to automatically adjust smart lights, smart thermostats and other IoT devices.
- No alarm feature. Some sleep trackers can detect the perfect time to wake you up slowly, but Withings Sleep doesn’t. You have to buy a separate device called Withing Aura if you want to add this functionality.
In a nutshell
This is a sleep tracker that anyone can use with ease. It won’t fall out of place at night and the app displays your sleep statistics in a clear manner.
The best sleep tracker for couples
Beautyrest Sleeptracker Monitor
Many sleep trackers work fine when one person uses them, but can get thrown off when two people share the same bed. That’s where Beautyrest’s Sleeptracker Monitor comes in. Equipped with a special artificial intelligence algorithm and two sensors, it can accurate track two sleepers simultaneously. The AI also generates bespoke sleep improvement tips, which you can use to improve your sleep quality.
- Can track two people at the same time. One of the best things about this sleep tracker is that it can accurately track two sleepers at once.
- Convenient sensor placement. The sensors are designed to fit under your mattress.
- In-depth data analysis. The app identifies not only different sleep cycles (light, deep and REM) but also respiration and heart-rate.
- Provides sleep improvement tips. Beautyrest’s AI-powered algorithm analyses your sleep data and generates sleep advice.
- Smart alarm feature. The smart alarm identifies an ideal time to gently wake you up.
- Good health app integration. Beautyrest’s Sleeptracker can export your data to Apple Health and other popular health apps.
- Intuitive interface. The Sleeptracker app’s clean, sharp-looking interface is easy on the eye.
- You have to get a monthly subscription to access detailed information. The fact that you have to pay a monthly subscription fee to access some of the app’s features seems a bit unfair.
- No features for people with sleep apnea. At this price point, you might expect this sleep tracker to have an oximetry feature.
In a nutshell
This sleep tracker is an excellent choice for couples, since it comes with two sensors and is equipped with a unique algorithm that is designed to track two sleepers simultaneously. There are better sleep trackers for people with sleep apnea, though.
The best fitness wearable for sleep tracking
Fitbit Inspire HR
Since fitness wearables can be used to track sleep at night and activity throughout the day, they can provide a more detailed big-picture view of your health. The problem is that most fitness wearables are pricey compared to dedicated, single-function sleep trackers. Of course, there are some exceptions. The Fitbit Inspire HR combines affordability and multifunctionality with accurate sleep tracking and impressive battery life.
- Multiple use cases. At night you can use your Fitbit Inspire HR to track your sleep, while during the day it can count your steps, monitor your physical activity level and estimate the number of calories that you’ve burned.
- Above average sleep tracking accuracy. In addition to standard stats like sleep time and sleep interruptions, Fitbit Inspire HR can identify discrete sleep stages.
- Guided breathing mode. When you find it difficult to get to sleep, guided breathing mode can help you settle down.
- Automatically detects the activity you’re doing. There’s no need to fiddle with settings every time you stop or start an activity.
- Good battery life. A single charge lasts for up to five days.
- Polished apps. The apps generally do what they are supposed to do and rarely crash.
- Small and lightweight. Some fitness wearables are chunky, but this one is slim and feels comfortable around the wrist.
- It may take some time to get used to wearing it at night. Even though the Fitbit Inspire HR is comfortable, wearing it may still require some adjustment time.
In a nutshell
Other wearables have more and better smartwatch features, but the Fitbit Inspire HR is an excellent choice for anyone who is primarily interested in changing their sleep habits. Versatility, affordability and high quality sleep tracking are three of its main benefits.
The best smartwatch for sleep tracking
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2
Some smartwatch designers cut corners when it comes to sleep tracking, but the creators of the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 went in the opposite direction and made sleep health a central focus. The Active2’s sensors are sensitive enough to detect distinct sleep stages. As a result, its sleep reports are more detailed compared to what many other smartwatches provide. A voice assistant, a contactless payment app, music, YouTube and other premium smartwatch features add additional value.
- Detailed sleep reports. The Active2 will tell you how long you slept, identify your sleep stages, identify sleep trends and more.
- Smart features. You can interact with Bixby, pay for things in stores with Samsung contactless payments, stream music with a variety of different service, take calls and more.
- Guided meditations. Use the built-in guided meditations to calm your mind or prepare for restful sleep.
- Stress tracking and stress reduction tips. Artificial intelligence tells you when it’s time to stand, stretch or go for a walk.
- Ultra-realistic watch faces. Some of the watch faces are so detailed that nobody will be able to tell that you’re wearing a smartwatch when you’re using them.
- Slick operating system. Tizen OS is quick, responsive and easy to use.
- Excellent health app. Samsung Health is one of the best health apps on the market.
- Pricey compared to dedicated sleep trackers. Be prepared to pay more than twice the average cost of a single-function sleep tracker.
- Limited battery life. A single charge only lasts two days.
In a nutshell
The makers of the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 deserve credit for making sleep tracking one of this smartwatch’s main attractions. It’s pricey, but if you think that you’ll get some use out of the Active2’s smart features, it may be worth it.
The best sleep tracker for sleep apnea
Wellue O2Ring Oxygen Tracker
If you suffer from sleep apnea, Wellue’s O2Ring Oxygen Tracker may be your best option. Its core feature is its vibrating alert system, which goes off when your blood oxygen level reaches a critical threshold. If you often snore, that means that you’re probably not getting enough oxygen when you sleep. The vibrating alert is designed to wake you up before you wake up your partner, so that you can shift your sleeping position. This allows you to teach yourself how to sleep more efficiently over time.
- Helps prevent snoring and improves sleep quality. The vibrating alert lets you know when it’s time to wake up and change your sleeping position.
- Heart rate abnormality alert. This feature could be a life saver for people that suffer from various kinds of heart diseases.
- Comfortable and easy to wear. The ring is flexible, adjustable and will accommodate most adults.
- Generate professional-looking reports. The convenient data export feature lets you keep your doctor informed of your sleep health status.
- USB charging. You can either use your computer to charge it up or any standard USB wall charger.
- Easy to operate in the dark. The backlit screen and simple display helps you make nighttime settings adjustments.
- Simple operation. Once you put it on, it’ll turn on automatically.
- May not fit children and people with small fingers. If your thumb is smaller than 2.2 inches around, you may not be able to use this device.
- Customer service language barrier. Lack of English language proficiency seems to be one of the customer service team’s main weaknesses.
In a nutshell
If you suffer from sleep apnea, Wellue’s O2Ring Oxygen Tracker may be your best option. It’s easy to use, comfortable and will wake you up before you wake up your partner. The abnormal heart rate alert feature and convenient backlit display add additional value.
Buying guide for sleep trackers
Most single-function sleep trackers are designed to slide either under or over the mattress, but fitness wearables and smartwatches need to be worn around the wrist. Both types have similar accuracy, but single-function sleep trackers are more convenient. Since single-function sleep trackers plug directly into a wall outlet, you don’t have to worry about keeping their batteries charged.
Ease of use and comfort
Smartwatches with sleep tracking features tend to be bigger and chunkier compared to fitness wearables, which are often slimmer and smaller.
Sleep apnea features
Some sleep trackers are equipped with an SpO2 sensor that detects your blood oxygen level. Often, these types of sleep trackers are equipped with a vibrating alarm that is designed to wake you up in the event of an SpO2 level drop. This is useful for preventing sleep apnea related snoring from occurring, since it lets you switch from a back to a side sleeping position.
Smart features vs. price
Single-function sleep trackers can’t do much except track sleep activity. Fitness wearables and smartwatches have additional features, but they’re also more expensive. If you’re only interested in learning about how you’re sleeping, a single-function sleep tracker may make more sense.
Internet of Things connectivity
Sleep trackers that can connect to Internet-of-Things devices like smart lights and thermostats. If you prefer a different room temperature or lighting conditions when you’re in bed, you can use an IoT-compatible sleep tracker to make those adjustments automatically.
Quality of sleep statistics
Not all sleep trackers provide the same level of detail when it comes to sleep statistics. Some sleep trackers can only detect movement and estimate the amount of time that you’ve slept, but others are sensitive enough to map out your sleep stages.
Dual sleep tracking support
Some sleep trackers get thrown off when there are two sleepers in a single bed, but others are designed to accommodate couples. Wearable sleep trackers usually aren’t affected by the presence of another person in the bed.
As mentioned above, most single-function sleep trackers plug directly into a wall. Wearable sleep trackers can last for as little as a day to as long as a week on a single charge. Generally, the more features a sleep tracker has, the worse its battery performance becomes.
Some sleep tracker apps work better than others. Try to find screenshots of your prospective sleep tracker’s app or video walkthroughs of it before you buy. If there are lots of complaints about glitches and bugs, that could be a red flag.
Single-function sleep trackers are inexpensive because they only do one thing: monitor your sleep activity. However, they typically work just as well as multi-function health tracking devices when it comes to detecting sleep stages, sleep interruptions and other sleep events. Expect to pay around $100.
Specialty sleep trackers are equipped with features that cater to sleep apnea sufferers, couples and other specific demographics. These usually cost around $150.
Many smartwatches and fitness trackers are equipped with sleep tracking features. Since they can be used in a wide variety of ways, they have faster processors and more advanced interfaces. However, this extra functionality comes at a price. Even the most budget-friendly smartwatches cost $200. Fitness trackers are slightly cheaper.
Frequently asked questions
Q: How accurate are sleep trackers?
A: Accuracy varies from device to device. Wearable sleep trackers that base their findings on how much you’ve moved your body throughout the night do a fairly good job of determining whether or not you’re awake. However, movement alone only give you a ballpark estimate of which sleep stage you’re in. Sleep trackers that measure heart rate and body temperature are usually more precise when it comes to breaking down sleep stages.
Q: How much sleep should I be getting?
A: Experts agree that adults should get at least seven hours of sleep each night. However, just because you’re in bed for seven hours doesn’t necessarily mean that the sleep you get will be of high quality. Sleep apnea, alcohol use and many other factors can interfere with a good night’s rest. If you’ve set aside enough time to sleep but you still feel tired during the day, a sleep tracker can help you determine if you have a sleep disorder.
Q: How does a sleep tracker determine if you’re asleep?
A: Many sleep trackers will assume that you’re asleep if you’ve remained still for an hour. Others take additional factors into account, like body temperature and heart rate.
- If you decide to use your smartwatch or fitness wearable for sleep analysis, don’t forget to keep it charged. If you use it regularly throughout the day, you may not have enough battery power left to last for the entire night.
- A sleep tracker’s sticker price may not reveal its entire cost. Some sleep trackers require you to sign up for a monthly subscription service to access certain features.
- It may be helpful to jot down a few notes about how you feel each morning. Comparing your notes to the data that your sleep tracker has collected may help you identify any underlying sleep issues.