The best sleep trackers Monitor your sleep
, by Nams, 10 min reading time
A good nights sleep is incredibly important for your health. Your sleep defines your physical as well as mental well being. But how do you know if you are getting sufficient sleep? Our work, day-to-day life, and our health is entangled with technology these days.Sleep trackers help you understand the quality of your sleep; and the technology has advanced to the extent that some devices can even give you personalised suggestions to improve your sleep. There are plenty of methods to track your sleep -- from a bedside monitor to a smartwatch or a device that can be fixed on your mattress.In this article, we will guide you on buying the appropriate sleep tracker based on our testing and experience with the devices.
Things to consider while buying a sleep tracker
The technology in sleep trackers is much more advanced than smartphone apps. While a smartphone app uses an accelerometer to track your movement when you are asleep, there are sleep trackers that learn your sleep pattern from your heart rate. The results are thus more accurate in a sleep tracker. The following are a few technologies used in sleep trackers for accurate results.
Heart rate vs movement sensors
Previously, fitness trackers used wrist movement to track sleep. But more recent technology uses heart rate to monitor your level of rest. Companies like Fitbit and Withings have made devices that look at your bpm (heartbeat per minute) during your sleep to fetch data like the duration of your sleep or the stage of your sleep.
Good sleep trackers keep a log of the amount of light, deep or REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep and awake time. You should cycle through these stages to feel rested, and if you're not, it's worth investigating. Even though almost all sleep trackers have this feature, it is better to know whether it is estimated based on your heart rate or the motion of your arms.
Sleep tracking can look complicated in a lot of devices. To simplify this, many brands distil your data down to numbers so that you can see how your sleep measures up. Most brands like Fitbit, Garmin, Withings and Xiaomi offer a single sleep score based on the accumulated data
Blood oxygen and sleep apnea
The SpO2 sensor in sleep monitors can track the blood oxygen level. Fitbit, Garmin and Withings devices are a few that have this advanced feature. A dip in oxygen level in your blood is a sign of a condition called sleep apnea. It is estimated that around 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea and it has gone undiagnosed, mostly. A sleep tracker with SpO2 will help diagnose this condition which can, in turn, save you from high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and heart problems in the future.
The best wearable sleep tracker
Fitbit Versa 2 is the best sleep tracker in the market at the moment as far as technology is concerned. It is a lightweight wrist wear that weighs only 38g, and has a 34mm case. It uses the same sleep tracking technology as the other Fitbit devices, but accuracy is not compromised.Versa 2 analyses your sleep stages -- that is, if the sleep is deep, light, REM, or awake time -- using its Fitbit Sleep Stages. The data can be compared with your own sleep stages from the previous month, or with other people who are your age. The Fitbit Versa 2 has a tri-wavelength sensor onboard. This helps in SpO2 tracking and hence, sleep apnea detection.Sleep Score is a feature that could be coming to Versa 2 soon and this will help in interpreting sleep data. It also gives information on your breathing quality and levels of Oxygen in your blood through a SpO2 sensor. Fitbit has also added a new feature that will tell you if you snore.Price when reviewed: 22,000 INR
Fitbit Charge 3
Fitbit Charge 3 has Fitbit Sleep Stages which dives a bit deeper into your sleep. It has the monitor to track whether you are in light or deep sleep, your REM, and give you the information the next morning.Another advantage is that you can compare your results with people in a similar demography and with the data on your average nights sleep over the last 30 days. This machine is capable of learning your behaviour over time and will give more personalised feedback for better rest. The tracking accuracy is as good as it can get from the wrist.The intuitive companion app with the sleep graphs, together with tracking accuracy, makes this the best tracker for sleep. Fitbit Charge 3 also has a SpO2 sensor like Versa 2 and Versa Lite.Price when reviewed: 20,000 INR
Garmin Vivosmart 4
Vivosmart 4 may look like a basic tracker, but it is packed with sensors that can give insights on how well you sleep. Garmins sleep monitoring has gotten better in the last one year with its ability to do an in-depth analysis of sleep cycles and the duration of sleep within each zone.The sleep cycles and sleep pattern data are fetched using heart rate sensors in the Vivosmart 4. Vivosmart 4 also has SpO2 that can track blood oxygen levels with an app. To help you make positive changes, there is a built-in guided breathing exercise in the device, as well as stress tracking, since stress can lead to poor sleep.In addition to sleep tracking, the Vivosmart 4 offers VO2 Max data that lets you use it for workout tracking as well. The disadvantage of the Garmin Connect app is that it lags behind the Fitbit one with an overload of data and fewer insights. But design-wise and considering the quality of data tracking, we recommend Vivosmart.Price when reviewed: 14,000 INR
Withings Steel HR Sport
Withings Steel HR Sport watch can track whether your sleep is light or deep, the amount of sleep, as well as give insights on how your heart rates vary throughout the night. There could be an improved sleep tracker coming with Withings ScanWatch, for which we have to wait a bit more.The slim Steel HR Sport is comfortable to wear during your sleep. There is an alarm option as well that can wake you up with a gentle vibration on your wrist rather than with a loud noise. On the negative side, our testing proved that the accuracy in data is not good.The insights suggested are not up to the mark as well. But if you are looking for something basic to track your sleep, Steel HR Sport is the one you should be looking for.Price when reviewed: 42,500 INR
Xiaomi Mi Band 4
Xiaomi has recently been making a few impressive fitness trackers at low prices. The latest from Xiaomi is Mi Band 4. For around 2,500 INR, the range of tracking you get is appreciable.This band is capable of tracking your sleep as well. Mi Band 4 records data on your sleep duration, gives you a sleep score, and other quality analysis on your sleep. Just like your mom, it can warn you to go to sleep early if the band learns that your sleep is insufficient. The sleep data that the band collects over a week will be used to give you insights on your sleep and for comparisons.The data presented to you on Xiaomis companion app is clear, accurate, and comprehensible. Based on its price, lightness, and 20-day battery life, the Mi Band 4 is a convincing option as a sleep tracker.Price when reviewed: 2,500 INR
Apple Watch Series 3
The Apple Watch cannot track your sleep with its own app. However, third-party apps can be used. Since this is true for the expensive Series 5 as well, we recommend a cheaper one, the Series 3. There are many sleep trackers compatible with Apple Watch.We have tested and found the best one. However, they all use the same sensors to fetch data on your sleep. The accuracy is not as good as the Fitbit. Also, the battery life is only 1 to 2 days if it has to work all night. Even with all these disadvantages, it is still a good option to track your sleep.Though not quite as light as the Fitbit, the Apple Watch is comfortable to wear to bed. This is one of the best smartwatches with overall functionalities that you can buy in 2019. There is a rumour that an Apple Watch with a built-in sleep tracker is on the way.Price when reviewed: 24,000 INR
Best bedside sleep monitors
The SleepScore Max uses a technique called echolocation (similar to what bats use) to track your sleep from the bedside table. It emits low-energy radio waves to track your breathing pattern.Though it is costlier than other options to monitor your sleep, it is worth the price for the accuracy of the data and the insights that it gives. Every morning you will get a sleep score based on your nights sleep that tells you if you have had enough rest, as well as a solution for better sleep.The only disadvantage that we found is that it has to be manually started every night and needs your phone to be on for it to work. SleepScore has also launched a free app that uses echolocation.Price when reviewed: 35,000 INR
S+ by ResMed
The S+ is a large device that you can leave on the bedside table to track your sleep. It uses sonar, and the ultrasonic wave it emits monitors the movement of your chest as you breathe through the different stages of your sleep. Though the machine does not give accurate results, it excels in its sleep coaching.It can even tell you how much caffeine you had, how stressed you are, and other factors that affect your sleep. All this sleep tracking data helps ResMed train you for getting a good nights rest. The Relax to Sleep function synchronizes a sound with your breathing pattern that helps you doze off.The machine can sync the tempo of the music it plays with your respiratory rhythm, which lulls you to sleep. The S+ does not have a speaker and it plays music on your phone, so you will need a handset nearby.Price when reviewed: 11,000 INR
Withings SleepThe Withings sleep, formerly known as Nokia Sleep ( or Withings Aura, as it was known even before that), fetches your sleep data from under your mattress. It collects data like sleep duration, interruptions, light, deep, or REM sleep, and snoring. It has a built-in microphone.It can tap into the Withings app and can give you tips to reduce fatigue and improve health. It can also detect sleep apnea. The accuracy is not as good as the Fitbit, but the sleep score has proven to be genuinely useful when we tested the Nokia version of Withings Sleep. It is quite easy to find from this sleep monitor whether you have had a good sleep.The higher the score, the better the rest that you have had. The app also suggests ways to improve your sleep score. Withings Sleep is essentially the same device as Nokia Sleep, with only the change in name that happened after Withings took over the business from Nokia.Price when reviewed: 37,500 INR
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