Whether you kip, slumber, snooze or snore, a good night’s sleep is vital to your health and happiness. Good quality sleep is hard to come by these days, whether it’s because of work, tending to kids, insomnia, or sleep-related conditions like sleep apnea. The good news: there’s plenty of mobile apps and other gadgets that can help bring you a more restful night of sleep.
The best sleep trackers can help by breaking down sleep data with metrics and tracking features like heart rate variability, letting you take back control for a proper night’s sleep.
We all know that having a healthier life and being consciously involved in self-improvement are global trends – but, did you know that ‘better sleep’ and ‘sleep better’ are keywords that are searched more than 10,000 times monthly all over the world? Unless you’re one of the lucky people who wakes recharged and ready to attack the day every morning, you owe it to yourself to consider the innate value of trusting a sleep tracker.
The ubiquity of gadgets like wearable means that millions of us already own a sleep tracker, capable of calculating all sorts of metrics, but they’re not all made equal. It’s also worth remembering that not everyone wants to wear tech in bed, so we’ve gathered the best alternatives that can track your sleep from under the mattress…
What’s the best sleep tracker?
Offering plenty of bang for your buck, the Sense is a superb standalone smartwatch that happens to also pack in a robust set of sleep tracking features. These include heart rate and temperature monitoring, sleep quality measurements and even automatic snoring detection which could be used to pinpoint disturbances throughout the night.
Made from lightweight titanium, the Oura is a cleverly designed smart ring that’s capable of measuring your heart rate and sleep quality, in addition to activity and fitness tracking, improving self-performance through sleep tracking. An ideal choice for people who’d rather not wear obvious bits of tech to their wrist and/or head.
The oura ring is a Smart Ring product developed to improve your overall physical and mental performance with sufficient restorative sleep. It guides you to regulate your body according to your unique circadian rhythm – this is a 24-hour cycle that sets the natural pace for our bodies and minds. When our bodies function according to their natural pace, i.e. circadian rhythm, then we can optimise our performance.
Oura tracks your sleep patterns over time and includes how much time is spent in various sleep stages. It tracks a wide range of metrics – including your body temperature, respiratory rate, pulse amplitude, heart rate, heart rate variation, and even includes the slightest hand and finger movements. Furthermore, on the app, you get recommendations for aligning your daily activities and these include suggestions such as exercising, eating, taking breaks, and sleeping according to your personal circadian rhythm, and nightly restoration patterns.
Rather not wear anything at all? Withings’ under-mattress tracker is for you. Pop this tracker under your mattress and you’ll wake up to a world of in-depth information on your night’s rest, with your sleep cycles and heart rate automatically tracked – alongside your snoring. Developed with sleep physicians, it’s capable of tracking your sleep cycles to provide a sleep score, along with the ability to detect snoring and sleep apnea.
Features you should look for in a sleep tracker
Less sophisticated fitness trackers have tended to use wrist movement to monitor sleep – but now the vast majority use your heart rate instead to calculate when you fall asleep, the type of sleep you’re having and how long you stay asleep. It’s the most important sensor in any sleep tracker.
But how long you sleep doesn’t always determine the quality, which is why many factors are used to build an accurate picture of your sleep, including temperature, breathing disturbances, body movement via accelerometers and even ambient noise. As a minimum, you want to see your sleep broken down into periods of lights and deep sleep, along with any times when you were awake. Some trackers can also provide a graph of your movement overnight, and give information on conditions in your bedroom, such as how hot, humid, or noisy it is.
The best sleep trackers can also offer help if you struggle to fall asleep, with headphones available to block out distractions and relax a chaotic mind. There are also plenty of sleep-tracking smartphone apps to consider. These aren’t quite as accurate as dedicated devices, but they might be more convenient. Non-wearable smart mattresses can even adjust your body temperature based on your sleep history to give you the best chance of a good night’s rest and quality sleep.
What does a good night’s sleep really look like?
Your time asleep can be broken down into a cycle consisting of light, deep, and REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, and for you to fully feel rested you should cycle through these stages at least a few times per night. Your sleep tracking app will break these stages down for you and make it easy to identify problem areas for helping you reach a world of better sleep.
During a typical night, you cycle through these stages of sleep…
Hopefully only lasting a few minutes, the first stage of sleep is light and easy to wake from.
Your brain waves, eye movement and heart rate begin to slow.
Stage 3 and 4:
You move into deeper sleep that’s harder to wake from. This is the time when your body grows and repairs itself and boosts immune function.
REM:The final stage is when dreams occur, as your brain processes and stores long term memories. Our eyes are closed but dart rapidly from side to side, and our limbs become paralysed to stop us acting out our dreams. The sleep cycle repeats every 90 to 110 minutes and sleep progresses, REM cycles increase in length.