You’re tired, aren’t you? Yup, we thought so. We’re tired, too. Pretty much everybody’s tired these days. Check out some recent telling stats from the Sleep Foundation:

  • Although adults need 7-9 hours of sleep every night, nearly one-third say they get less than seven.
  • About half of Americans say they feel sleepy during the day 3-7 days per week.
  • According to the CDC, 30% of working adults in the U.S. sleep less than six hours a night.

If you’re not getting enough sleep, what can you do about it? The first step may be to monitor your sleep to get a good idea of what’s going on during your shuteye. There are a variety of sleep tracking devices that can help you do it. In today’s Innovations Explained Series, we’ll talk about sleep trackers, how they work, and if they’re worth it. 

How do sleep trackers work?

Sleep trackers generally use sensors to monitor your sleeping habits. They typically come in three forms:

Wearables

There are loads of different wearable devices that can help you keep tabs on your sleep, including watches, wristbands, and rings. They track your movement, breathing patterns, and heart rate.

Bedside sensors

If you don’t want to wear something while you sleep, some devices go next to your bed. These will also keep track of your movement and breathing. Certain types will record information about the room, such as temperature, light, and noise.

Smart beds

If you want to get all high-tech, you can get a mattress that comes with built-in sensors that monitor heart rate, movement, and temperature. You can also get separate sensors that go under a regular mattress or pillow.

Sleep trackers collect data on several other things, including when you fall asleep and wake up and when you’re tossing and turning during the night. Some are multi-purpose and allow you to enter information about other factors that could affect your sleep, such as when you’ve eaten and how much caffeine you’ve had.

Image source: Pexels

 

Do sleep trackers work?

That really depends on who you ask. Thomas M. Rieck of the Mayo Clinic says: “Consumer sleep trackers are pretty accurate at tracking total sleep time.” 

Dr. Jerald Simmons, director of Comprehensive Sleep Medicine Associates, has a bit of a different take. These devices analyze your behavior,” he says. “They can’t tell if you’re really asleep.” They can also be misleading, he adds. Studies have found that some sleep trackers have overestimated sleep by more than an hour. 

In addition, sleep quality can be subjective, says Dr. Nalaka Gooneratne, a sleep researcher at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. “No one really knows the effect of getting 30 versus 40 versus 50 minutes of slow-wave sleep,” he says. “Everyone is different.” Certain things – like an irregular heartbeat, for example – can affect someone’s heart rate, which might cause a sleep tracker to offer faulty information.

Sleep trackers may also not give you the whole picture. If yours says you’re getting enough sleep – somewhere in that 7–9-hour range – you may take this as gospel. But, if you’re still tired every day, something clearly isn’t right. And if you’re going to bed early to try to get more sleep, if you’re not tired enough and you struggle to fall asleep, this will affect its overall quality.

The best way to use a sleep tracker

It’s important to remember that a sleep tracker isn’t a medical device; it can just help you get some understanding into your sleeping habits. They should primarily be used to look at:

The number of hours you sleep

As mentioned, trackers aren’t always entirely accurate. They can, however, give you a rough idea of how many quality hours you sleep every night.

Changes you may not be aware of

If your tracker suddenly shows that your sleeping habits have changed for the worse, this could indicate some sort of disorder, like sleep apnea.

Insightful patterns

Your tracker can also show you patterns that may be an impetus for change, such as which bedtime lets you get the most sleep. 

Yay or nay to sleep trackers?

 

If you’re looking to get a better idea of your sleep behavior, you might want to consider trying a tracking device. And, if you are having trouble sleeping, perhaps this will help you figure out what the problem is and where you can make changes. A doctor may also be able to use the data from your tracker to offer his or her recommendations.

Share your thoughts on sleep trackers in the comments below!

Want to fall asleep faster? Check this out!

Sleep trackers are great… but of course, you need to fall asleep to use them — and that’s easier said than done for many of us!

If you struggle with falling asleep at night due to racing thoughts, then there’s one innovation you’re going to love: Dodow.

Dodow is an all-natural sleep device that’s proven to help you fall asleep up to 2.5X faster. It uses meditation techniques to turn off your busy mind, which trains your brain to fall asleep naturally. It’s much better than sleeping pills — just give it a try and ask your sleep tracker!

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