One in three American adults don’t get enough sleep, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you’re sleep-deprived, you may notice an increase in junk food cravings, brain fog, and other short-term or chronic health problems.
Like a bedtime hygiene schedule, a supportive pillow and a cooling memory foam mattress, a sleep tracker can be a tool that helps you achieve more restorative rest. While a tracker is unable to add more hours to your day or relieve insomnia, this tool can present helpful patterns and provide suggestions that improve your rest each night. There are dozens of options to choose from. Read on to discover how to choose the best sleep tracker for you.
Types of Sleep Trackers
You can generally choose from two types of sleep trackers: wearable and non-wearable. The option you select depends on personal preference and needs.
Wearable trackers include wristbands, watches, bracelets, rings, eye masks, and headbands. Sensors in these devices monitor various factors that affect your rest, including your overnight movements, heart rate, blood oxygen level, body temperature, brainwave activity, and sleep cycle stages. Smart trackers may also play relaxing music or connect to your home automation system.
Non-wearable or no-contact options are built into the mattress or pillow or are a thin fabric strip you place on top of your cool gel mattress. The infrared technology and sensors in non-wearable devices monitor your body movements, breathing, snoring, heart rate, respiration, and sleep stage cycles. Additionally, smart mattresses and pillows could automatically adjust their firmness or temperature as needed.
How Sleep Trackers Work
Both wearable and non-wearable trackers rely on technology to measure shuteye metrics. Wearable devices typically use actigraphy or an accelerometer to track when you move. Non-wearable devices use ballistocardiography, non-invasive technology that monitors your heart rate and respiration.
By measuring sleep metrics, such as your body movements, heart rate, temperature, and breathing, you can understand how long you spend in the light, deep and REM sleep cycle stages each night. The stages determine the quality of the rest you receive. You may not be aware of these metrics and possible solutions, though, until you review the data provided by your tracker.
In addition to monitoring your sleep and recording the performance metrics, trackers may connect to an online app. The app collates your metrics so that you can see your sleep patterns. It might offer solutions that help you rest better, too.
Features to Consider
When choosing the best sleep tracker for you, compare features. Each tracker is slightly different, and your needs will determine which option you select.
- Detailed analytics measure factors that affect your quality of repose and overall health. Track sleep time, stages and metrics for a few days, weeks or months to determine patterns that affect your rest.
- Advanced tracking goes beyond timing your sleep. Trackers with advanced features can also listen to and record your breathing and snoring. Non-wearable options may monitor your bedroom, too, and prompt you to create a restorative environment that’s cool, dark and relaxing.
- Personalized and actionable solutions promote better sleep habits. The tracker and its accompanying app may collate data and reveal if you need an earlier bedtime, cooling mattress or other bedtime or shuteye adjustments.
- Multi-functional trackers do more than monitor your rest. Some wearable devices also monitor your daytime activity, heart rate, nutrition, and general fitness, which provides a well-rounded view of your overall health.
- Connectivity to a smartphone app improves usability and convenience. Download and sync data, then view metrics on the app. Be sure the tracker you choose has an app that’s compatible with your phone and monitors the metrics that are important to you.
- Smart alarms maximize restorative rest and help you get to work on time. You select a window of time when you want to wake up, and the tracker will vibrate when you’re in a light rather than a deep sleep cycle stage.
- Style features allow you to customize your look. Wearable options include an adjustable wristband that's available in different colors and made from fabric, rubber or plastic finishes. Some trackers are even waterproof. Non-wearable trackers are usually thin strips or a fabric pad that fits smoothly on your bed. Examine a few options to decide which one is the most comfortable.
- Battery life determines how long you can use your device before you need to charge it. Wearable options may last several days between charges, but you’ll need to take it off for charging. Non-wearable options typically must be plugged into the wall or charged via USB to work properly.
- Cleaning your device can be as easy as wiping it off with a damp cloth or using a soap-free cleanser to remove sweat. The material and sensors determine the cleaning technique.
- Price points vary based on features and capabilities. Wearable trackers usually cost more than non-wearable options, except for smart mattresses and pillows.
Restorative rest can improve your health and wellness. Use a sleep tracker, along with your cooling memory foam mattress, to boost your rest every night. These tips help you choose the best sleep tracker for you.