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If you are a person who sleeps well at night, then you may not fully realize how bad insomnia or sleep interruption is to your physical and mental health. It’s not just a lack of sleep: poor sleep hygiene-including not following a sleep schedule-can also make us feel worse.
In some cases, a person may think that they are sleeping well, but after observation, it is found that their sleep is often disturbed by nightmares, temperature fluctuations, or sleep apnea. Whatever the reason, it can be helpful to be able to track your sleep to understand what you did at night and what adjustments you can make to improve overall sleep quality and even mental health.
Fortunately, you no longer need to spend the night in a sleep lab to obtain this type of data, because there are various sleep trackers available, be they wearables or other forms of technology. However, if you are not familiar with these products, it may be difficult to know which one to choose.
To help simplify this task, we talked with experts to find the best sleep tracker on the market.
Really, it depends on whether you prefer wearable trackers when you sleep. If you prefer the option under the mattress, you may need to purchase Tempur-Pedic Sleeptracker (check it on Tempurpedic)-especially if you are sharing a bed with another person. In addition to all common functions, Tempur-Pedic tracker can also monitor the air quality, humidity and temperature of the bedroom.
If you prefer wearables, the Fitbit Ionic Smartwatch (check it out on Amazon) has a particularly accurate sleep tracker-not to mention all the other health features and the ability to store music.
What to look for in a sleep tracker
Wearable sleep trackers usually come in the form of watches or rings. Dr. Stacie J. Stephenson is a physician and functional medicine expert. He recommends using a sleep tracker that “has the least impact on your actual sleep.” This may mean different things to different people. Before investing, consider whether you would like to wear it on your wrist or fingers every night and all night. If not, you may need to choose the one under the mattress.
Number of people
Some sleep trackers under mattresses have two sensors that can record data about two people sleeping on the same bed.
Although all sleep trackers will provide you with the same basic information about sleep time and exercise, other sleep trackers will consider other factors, including sound and temperature.
Do you want a device specifically designed as a sleep tracker, or are you looking for a device that can perform other health-related functions? Other features may include a pedometer, pulse oximeter, and/or menstrual cycle tracking.
Frequently asked questions
How does the sleep tracker work?
Although there are many types of sleep trackers, in general, they work by sensing a certain combination of your movement, heart rate, breathing rate, and body temperature. According to Dr. Stephenson, they then use the collected data to determine when you are asleep or awake. The data collected by the sleep tracker is then analyzed to check sleep latency, duration, stage, and quality, explained Dr. Leela R. Magavi, MD, psychiatrist, and Regional Medical Director of California Community Psychiatry.
How accurate is the sleep tracker?
Sleep trackers can measure our exercise patterns and heart rate quite accurately, but they still rely on predictive models to establish assessments, so they are not 100% accurate. For example, Dr. Doscher said, you can trick trackers by lying quietly while awake. “Think of your sleep tracker as a person and ask you:’It looks like you are sleeping well and the proportions are normal. Does this look accurate?'” he suggested.
Dr. Magavi explained that it is important to remember that these commercially available sleep trackers have not been tested or monitored for accuracy, and pointed out that they are not as accurate as sleep studies. “For people with chronic insomnia or parasomnias, I suggest they arrange a sleep study to find out if they have sleep apnea or any other sleep disorders,” she said.
What the experts say
“Although sleep trackers are not diagnostic, their monitoring capabilities can detect snoring and show patterns of restless sleep cycles. These measurements alone will not solve the problem-but importantly, they can raise awareness and advise us. Doctors conduct important conversations to screen for sleep apnea and other sleep-related problems, and even increase stress, anxiety, or other mental health problems, which may indicate greater health problems.”
Why trust a very good mind
As an experienced health writer and editor with a special focus on mental health and well-being, Elizabeth Yuko understands how powerful stress-reduction activities are for many people — and the fact that they are not one size fits all — all. With decades of first-hand experience dealing with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, she has been looking for new (and research-supported) products, technologies and services that can help people cope with stress and other mental health challenges.