One of the best ways to efficiently keep track of your sleeping patterns is through the use of sleep trackers. Getting the most out of a sleep tracker depends on what you expect it to do for you. Some people are deep into quantifying themselves and look for a watch with many features and options to improve their sleep quality. On the other hand, some people only need simple and easy-to-use devices that solely track their sleep.
So, if you’ve been curious about your sleep patterns or want to make sure you get enough sleep, we have put together the best sleep trackers guide just for you. But, first, we’ll look at some critical elements you need to know about sleep tracking before we get to the top devices.
What are sleep trackers? How do they work?
Typical sleep trackers are devices usually worn around the wrist or ankle. However, some can be worn on the tip of your thumb as well. They’re designed to work by measuring different aspects of your sleeping patterns. For example, they measure your quality of sleep based on movements, the time you’ve spent in bed, your heart rate variability while sleeping, and your snoring levels, among other things.
Most of them use complex artificial intelligence algorithms to analyze your sleep patterns to better your sleeping habits. Some devices are more advanced and therefore have sensors that also detect light exposure. This determines whether you’re getting enough REM cycles (the dreaming time) during the day.
Each of us has different sleeping patterns. Therefore, every device is made differently with different features that fit everyone’s individual needs. You’ll be able to find one that has the features that work best for you. After monitoring for at least two weeks, most sleep trackers will provide a full report on your sleeping patterns and how to improve them when needed.
With the report, you’re able to identify any potential health issues you might have. They also show you any changes in habits to help improve your overall well-being. Once again, assess your personal needs before buying one. Most of them range from $50 up to $400 for the most sophisticated ones. The choice should not be done lightly.
How to choose the best sleep tracker for you?
Getting the best sleep tracker that will serve all your needs can be a little hectic. With many varieties available to choose from, it’s essential to know which factors you should focus on when choosing the right one for you. Some important things you should consider include data tracking, the number of sensors it has, among other features that will ensure you get your money’s worth.
If you’re one of those people who prefer trackers with simple and basic information only, then these devices might suffice. However, for those seeking to get more details when monitoring their sleep patterns, the high-end models available today are the ones they should consider.
Sleep trackers mainly fall into three categories.
- Smart pillows are like a normal pillow but packed with sensors to monitor when you fall asleep deeply. They do this by collecting data, including temperature levels, eye movements, respiration rates, snore patterns, and brain wave frequencies (EEG).
- Tracking pads are other trackers that monitor your sleep using a pad that you place under your mattress. The pad monitors your body movements and how often your body turns to get an accurate reading.
- The last type of sleep trackers relates to sleep watches and smart rings. They track your sleep by being worn like smartwatches on your wrist at night. The sleep watches help monitor your heart rate, breathing patterns, and movements while you’re asleep.
What features define a reliable sleep tracker?
The following are the features you should look out for from a sound sleep tracker, it should:
- Monitor duration of wake periods at night
- Track total sleep time duration of the sleep cycles
- Monitor deep or light sleep
- Have accelerometer sensors that measure how often you toss and turn during sleep
- Provide data on the quality of your sleep quality, breathing, and heart at night when you’re asleep
Our top picks for the best sleep trackers
Best sleep tracking Pillow: ZEEQ Smart Pillow
The ZEEQ Smart Pillow offers the comfort of a comfortable memory pillow but goes beyond that. When connected to the companion app, the ZEEQ pillow becomes a sleep tracking platform. It records sleep cycles, detects snoring, and will slightly vibrate to encourage a move, and can even play music to fall asleep smoothly. This whole-in-one pillow has a lot to offer, even though the data are somehow limited compared to a wearable or mat sleep tracker.
Smart Pillow by Zeeq
Price when reviewed: $69.99
- The Tencel cover is smooth, comfortable, and washable,
- Adjustable firmness,
- Detects the snoring sounds and produces a slight vibration to make you change position without waking you up,
- Connects with Alexa,
- It can be used as a smart alarm to wake up at the best sleep cycle,
- Detect the sleep cycles but do not expect as many details as with other devices.
- Detect snoring
- Smart Alarm
- Built-in Bluetooth speakers
- Well price
- Sleep cycle tracking is not the most accurate
- No sleep apnea detection feature
The Withings sleep mat is a simple tracking may that analyzes your sleep and heart rate. It’s easy to use, and you only need to stick it under your mattress, and it will work automatically. With the mat, you don’t need to strap anything on your wrist or head. As a result, it’s one of the first devices to monitor sleep apnea without the need to be attached to the body. Once it’s under your mattress, you go to sleep as usual and let it get to work.
Sleep Mat by Withings
Price when reviewed: $99.95
- The mat is 637mm long, 190mm wide, and 5mm thick. The dimensions make it easy to slip beneath a mattress and position it where your chest lies. It uses a pneumatic sensor to track your heart rate and breathing patterns. In addition, the sound sensor on the mat measures your sleep apnea and snoring.
- All the data is synced to your Withings account, and the Health Mate app available for both Android and iOS over Wi-Fi when you wake up so you can identify your sleep patterns.
- You get a coded graph that shows periods you’re awake during light, deep, and REM sleep over time. Your overall sleep score for every night is ranked out of 100, and a rating is given in words. Data is also broken down into sections, including regularity, continuous sleep time, depth, and duration.
- Your sleeping heart rate is analyzed with high accuracy. You get a chart showing your heart rate during the night. It gives you tips that might help you understand why your heart rate might be too high.
- The sleep analyzer watches out for signs of sleep apnea every night and records events. You get the data presented to your moderate to a severe sliding scale and expected to mild.
- Very easy to use
- Detect sleep apnea
- Build quality
- The app is very exhaustive
- Relatively expensive for a sleep mat
- The app can be overwhelming
Best Sleep Tracking Ring: Oura Ring
The Oura Ring monitors vital signs and gives you daily sleep, readiness, and activity scores. The scores are derived from your baseline measurements. It takes 14 days of use to collect data that establishes your baseline. The ring is supposed to be worn 24 hours a day, so it continuously tracks your bodily functions. It works with the use of infrared light sensors on your finger arteries to measure your skin temperature. The free Oura app enables you to review your daily readouts. You can also add any other additional information you need. The Oura Ring measures the following during the day: naps, idle times, activity levels, naps, and calories. While at night, it measures: heart rate variability, resting heart rate, body temperature, resting heart rate, nighttime movements, respiratory rate, light, deep, REM sleep, and sleep quality and timing.
Smart Ring by Oura
Price when reviewed: $299.00
- Non-allergenic titanium band
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Water resistance
- Charges full battery in 20-28 minutes, and it lasts for about 5-7 days
- Airplane mode
- Measures three different metrics, which include: Readiness to determine if you’re well-rested or not, sleep metrics are tracked through your heart rate variability, and activity which notifies you when you’re inactive, as well as daily goals you might have set.
- 8 days battery
- Build quality
- Not adjustable to your finger size
- Data can vary
Best Sleep Tracking Smartwatch: Fitbit Sense
The smartwatch nails all the basics required of a sleep tracker. It finally has some impressive features, including the GPS and improved heart rate sensor. It’s overall a satisfactory and solid smartwatch that will go well beyond tracking your sleep. The first thing you’ll notice is the high-end design. It’s built with impressive 6-day battery life.
Sense by Fitbit
Price when reviewed: $299.00
- You can assess your heart for atrial fibrillation. It lets you know of any heart rhythm irregularity. The results are easily shareable with your doctor. Unfortunately, the Fitbit app can’t be used by persons under 22 and is only available in selected countries.
- It has an EDA scan app that detects electrodermal activity that may indicate how your body responds to stress. It also has a built-in skin temperature sensor that logs your data every night, so you can see when it varies.
- Built-in GPS can be used during runs, rides, or hikes, among others, without carrying your phone. You can also use the speaker and built-in mic to pick calls when the phone is nearby.
- You get notifications showing you whether your heart rate is high or low.
- The on-wrist sensor measures skin temperature nightly, so you see how it varies. The clock faces also show nightly blood oxygen levels.
- It comes with the very complete Fitbit Sleep Score that provides insights on your nights and how to improve your rest.
- A lot of sensors
- Measure blood oxygen
- Very precise app for sleep tracking
- Great Display
- The battery could be improved.
- Additional Fitbit Premium comes at a price ($9.99 per month)
Best Sleep Tracking App: Sleep Score
Sleep score is an app with a twist. When associated with the Sleep Score Max tracking device, it offers a complete solution to track your sleep pattern. This is a non-contact tool that tracks your sleep using Sonar Sensor Technology. The reliability of the technology is unquestionable since it has been used to track over six million sleep nights and is backed by ResMed. It’s designed to monitor the quality and quantity of your sleep and give you tips on how to achieve a healthy sleep pattern. The sleep tracking tools are interactive and easy to use. The app functions precisely like bats when they use the echolocation tactic. The app uses your device’s speakers and microphone to keep track of your movements and sounds while you’re sleeping.
Sleep Score Max by Rest Med
Price when reviewed: $149.99
It uses a variety of parameters concerning your sleep, they include:
- Your REM (rapids eye movement) sleep duration
- The total amount of time you’ve slept
- How long you stay in the deep sleep stage
- Amount of time you spend in bed before sleeping
- Number of times you wake up at night
- A very innovative technology
- App quality is great
- Clinically validated
- Relatively expensive
Budget Sleep Tracker: Sleepon Ring
The sleep tracker promises to help you understand sleep tracking better. It’s one of the most advanced ring sleep trackers available on the market. We already recommended it in our Best Sleep Tracker Rings. Packed with sensors, it detects sleep cycles, blood oxygen levels, and so much more in a comfortable and easy-to-use ring. Priced very reasonably, the Sleepon Go2Sleep ring is highly recommended if you have snoring problems and are looking for a good deal without sacrificing quality and accuracy.
Go2Sleep by Sleepon
Price when reviewed: $99.00
- Integrated reporting: you’ll get your heart rate, sleep deprivation, blood oxygen, apnea-hypopnea index (AHI), and sleep quality reports.
- Improves your sleep quality: by letting you know what’s causing your poor sleeping habits and how you can improve.
- Precision: minimalistic design provides more accuracy than trackers worn on the wrist.
- Alerts: if you snore and your blood oxygen drops, the ring will notify you to change your posture through vibration.
- Great price
- Non-intrusive design
- Detect oxygen levels and Sleep apneas
- Its accuracy has been questioned
Best Overall: Apple Watch 6
Apple Watch 6 has many beneficial features for sleep tracking and comes with a revolutionary sensor and app. The Apple Watch does not need any introduction. It offers the best of the technology and does not limit itself to sleep tracking. A premium smartwatch that keeps getting better and better. Still to improve? Its battery life! Check our article devoted to the sleep tracking capabilities of the Apple Watch.
Watch Series 6 by Apple
Price when reviewed: $349.00
- Swimproof design
- You can take calls and reply to texts making it a standalone smartwatch
- The FDA cleared ECG app lets you check heart rhythm and detect rhythms abnormalities
- 5GHz Wi-Fi and U1 Ultra Wideband chip
- You can measure your blood oxygen through the app and its all-new sensor.
- One of the best smartwatch on the market
- Very complete
- Build quality
- App Store app ecosystem
- Highly customizable
- Battery life
- Quality comes at a price
Sleep cycles are oscillations between the slow-wave and the REM sleep phases. There are four stages: stage 1 is where the breathing and heart rate start slowing down. Step 2 involves your brain functions changing quickly, but it’s not classified as actual sleep. Stage 3, no other activity goes on apart from your pulse and breathing slowing down even more, and in stage 4, if an external stimulus occurs, it wakes us up and gives us a shot of adrenaline that wakes up the brain.
Sleep trackers let you know how your sleep quality is; let you know what’s interrupting your sleep. They also track our sleep phases to provide precise data. If knowledge is power, sleep trackers are great to know about how you sleep and make the necessary adjustments to your lifestyle.
Sleep trackers with advanced tools can detect sleep apnea. They do this through the use of sensors that detect the decrease in blood oxygen saturation. The Wellue Ring is recognized as one of the top rings to detect oxygen levels. It also offers a complete sleep tracking solution.
According to a study conducted by Pr. Conley at the Yale School of Nursing, sleep trackers are only 78 percent accurate compared to polysomnography tests that diagnose sleep disorders. However, keep in mind that these trackers are consumers orientated and will never replace a true polysomnography test conducted in a clinical setting.
Yes, sleep trackers can improve your sleep. This is partly because it helps you train yourself on following your natural Circadian rhythm. Most people who have trouble sleeping have a difficult time maintaining a healthy Circadian rhythm. Sleep trackers are the first necessary step to make the necessary adjustments.
Yes, sleep trackers are safe for use. They can notify you when you need to wind down and give you data on your sleep quality without any side effects. However, some specialists suggest the data may be inaccurate sometimes. When in doubt, always contact your doctor or sleep specialist.
Data collected by sleep trackers help you get a comprehensive picture of sleep practices. That’s beneficial to people who struggle with recording details objectively. If you possibly have insomnia, you’ll benefit from all the data collected, and you can even share it with a physician.