Perhaps you know how important sleep is but you might be unaware of all the benefits it has. Apart from heavily contributing to our mental and physical health, sleep affects the quality of life. It reduces stress, improves memory, helps to lose weight, just to name of few. So now that we know a crucial role which sleeps play in our life, let’s look at how we can enhance it. The first step to any improvement is gathering data and this is where sleep trackers come in handy.
This guide covers sleep monitors, fitness bands with built-in trackers as well as mobile apps. A beneficial detailed review of 10 best sleep trackers available on the market will help you to select the most suitable gadget. In this guide, you will also learn about stages of sleep and why it is important to wake up when you are in a certain stage. Read an F.A.Q. section consists of the most commonly asked questions about sleep trackers.
What You Will Learn From This Guide:
- What does a sleep monitor do and how can it help you sleep better?
- Sleep trackers tell deep sleep and active sleep apart
- TOP 10 best sleep trackers
- Most popular sleep tracker apps for Ios and Android
- F.A.Q. on using sleep trackers
Depending on the model, sleep trackers can be worn on the wrist, clipped on a pillow or put on the bedside table. Regardless of their location, these devices collect the following information:
- Track the duration of your sleep, or to be more precise, the time period when you are not active.
- Detect the quality of your sleep. In other words, this is about whether your sleep was interrupted. For instance, you may toss, turn or walk while asleep.
- Record phases of your sleep, which can be deep or light. This information will help you set the alarm for the time when you will wake up more easily.
- Some models can detect such factors as the temperature and illumination in the room. In fact, the environment strongly affects the quality of our sleep while we can be unaware of it.
- There are models that require entering certain information about your lifestyle. For example, the amount of food you normally consume.
Dr. Anatom shares his experience with us: “At one moment it was with the help of Jawbone UP sleep tracker that I realized that I need to limit my alcohol consumption. It showed terrible deep sleep statistics after every party, and I felt really broken the morning after. Now I don’t drink more than 3 bottles of beer, and my sleep has improved drastically”.
There are 4 stages of sleep. The first one takes several minutes and is actually the introduction to sleep. This is when you can easily wake up. The second stage is light as well and involves slowing down brain waves.
The third and fourth stages are where deep sleep begins. At these stages, your body is less prone to respond to an outside stimulus and it is harder for you to wake up. The third and fourth stages are particularly valuable because during this period of time the body repairs tissues and immune function is boosted. A final stage is a so-called Rapid Eye Movement Sleep. It starts about half an hour after you fall asleep and lasts for about an hour. Since your brain is more active at this stage, you see dreams.
So light sleep occurs in the first and second stages, with most light sleep happening in stage 2. Deep sleep is the third stage of sleep and waking up at this time causes unpleasant feelings.
Many models of trackers use sensors to detect these light stages. How do they distinguish them? When in the light stage, you usually move around more often and intense, snore, toss and make other noises, something that is recorded and detected by the device. That is why there is a feature of the smart alarm clock that will wake you up in this perfect moment. No regular alarm clock will be able to cope with this task!
Below, you will find a detailed review of the devices that we have divided into two categories: fitness bands with built-in sleep trackers and multifunctional sleep monitors and sleep analyzers. The former are generally wearable gadgets and used not only for sleep monitoring but in fitness activity as well. The second group is represented by products which should be placed in the bedroom, mostly under the mattress or close to the bed, to monitor the body when you are not active.
To understand how carefully the gadget analyses your sleep, look at whether it distinguishes light and deep sleep. Some models also detect environmental factors, such as temperatures and the light amount in the bedroom. Most models include a function of vibration alarm that goes off at a time when you are in light sleep and, therefore, wake up more easily. Each product section in this review starts with low-end devices at a price tag of about $30 and ends with the gadgets as expensive as $200.
Fitness Bands With Built-in Sleep Trackers
Consumer-Grade Xiaomi Mi Band
This beneficial gadget will cost you some $30. For such ridiculous, money you get a device monitoring your activity, calorie intake, and sleep. So no wonder that is has become increasingly popular among those who care about their fitness progress and quality of sleep.
Our editor's staff have already tested this device and, as a result, split down the middle on the issue of which model version to wear. Our editor Wiki owns the older one, Xiaomi Mi Band 2. The device has been working well for over 5 years and does not fail. So she is perfectly satisfied with it. While more advanced geeks, like Dr. Anatom, have purchased the latest model — Xiaomi Mi Band 3.
Actually, no profound changes have been made for the new model but it has become more modern-looking and stylish. The price is adequate, the pedometer is accurate, the alarm wakes up at the right sleep stage. Put it shortly, everybody wins.
Xiaomi Mi Band: Check the current price
Water-Resistant Band With The Sleep Tracker | Fitbit Flex 2
A low-end wearable model with basic features allows tracking both your activity and sleep. LED display lights will help you to see how close you are to the goal you set. If you frequent swimming pools, you may find this model suitable as it is waterproof and can be worn in the shower or when swimming. Although the model is water-resistant, you should not wear it wet for a long time. Instead, rinse it dry every time after swimming and make sure your skin is dry as well.
The duration and quality of your sleep are tracked automatically. There is the possibility to set the alarm to make a wake-up call when it is needed. The alarm works quiet, emitting a small vibration. The item should be worn loosely enough so that it can move on the wrist. Since the product is lightweight, it is easy to sleep with and does not get caught on the sheet. The downside of the product is that it cannot track the stages of sleep and distinguish between the active and deep ones. It only detects your activity or inactivity.
Fitbit Flex 2: Check the current price
Advanced Sleep Tracker | Garmin Vívosmart 4
This model is twice as expensive as the previous one but has a number of benefits. Apart from the stylish design with a bright display, the band has an advanced sleep monitoring. It can detect REM sleep and distinguish it from other stages. The device can measure the level of oxygen in the blood when you are asleep. This function is performed by a Pulse Ox sensor, however, keep in mind that it is not a medical device so keep in mind that its measurements are approximate and should not be considered as a diagnosis.
Apart from that, the device monitors heart rate, stress and more so that it can be helpful in various activities including swimming and runs as it is water-resistant. The unit notifies you by sending alerts in the form of vibration, calls, or messages. To this end, keep the band connected to your mobile phone. Battery lasts for about a week in case you use the device on a daily basis.
Garmin Vívosmart 4: Check the current price
Sleep Tracker With Smart Wake-Up | Nokia Activity & Sleep Watch
A pricier model by Nokia is apparently for ladies as it is in rose gold colors, however, items in darker colors are available as well. But a common feature here is a luxury style that is characterized by the case made of stainless steel and chrome hands.
This brand name item recognizes over a dozen activities, including running and swimming as well as the amount of burned calories and the distance you have gone. Its tracker analyses sleep cycles and works automatically so do not worry if you have to work at night as the device gauges your activity, not the time of day. It can also alarm you by vibration. The latter is ensured by Smart Wake-Up that will rouse you at the most appropriate time. However, the vibration would be unlikely to wake you out of deep sleep, therefore it cannot be set manually.
If you spend a lot of time outdoors, you may find it helpful that the battery runs for about 8 months without charging.
Nokia Activity & Sleep Watch: Check the current price
Comfortable Sleep Tracker | Motiv Ring Fitness
The item comes at a price of about $200 and is more convenient for continuous use. The producer specializes in fitness tracking devices, particularly the rings, an offers its customers to send first a sizing set so that you can select the most suitable one. After that, you get the ring of your size. Since the company focuses on online security, there is a two-step verification for the account.
The device monitors your activity as well as sleep. The downside is that the ring does not make distinctions between the stages. For this kind of money, this is quite an unsophisticated device in terms of sleep monitoring. One more weak point is a short life of the battery which lasts just for three days and it takes half an hour to charge it. As for the strong points, the durability of its titanium material, water resistance, and low weight could be highlighted. In addition, the product comes with a one-year warranty.
Motiv Ring Fitness: Check the current price
Sophisticated Sleep Tracker | Withings
If you are looking for more sophisticated sleep trackers, this option may be more suitable for you. It costs as much as the previous product but has more beneficial features. The device monitors your sleep, differentiating light and deep cycles. Moreover, it is said to be able to distinguish interruptions, as well as depth and regularity of your sleep. Based on this data, the device can be set to rouse you when it is easier for you to wake up, alarming you with a quiet vibration.
In addition, the item detects your overnight and daily heart rate, records the pace and distance you walk, sending relevant notifications by calls and text messages. For swimmers, the item may be particularly useful as it is water-resistant and can be submerged up to 50 meters deep. As for outdoor activities, there are some other advantages. First, this is almost a month-long battery life and secondly, the product’s case is made of stainless steel, making it durable and resistant to poor weather conditions.
Withings: Check the current price
Multifunctional sleep monitors and sleep analyzers
Consumer-Grade Sleep Monitoring Device | ResMed
This is a low-end model in this section that comes at a price of about $50. The device uses advanced programs and can be synchronized with your smartphone. It is claimed to be able to improve your sleep quality. In particular, it records your breathing habits, movements, as well as environmental factors, such as noises and temperature, which can impact your sleep.
According to the manufacturer, a California-based company producing medical equipment, a study has shown that about 70% of the users of the item have made progress. However, keep in mind that this one is not a medical device and is not intended for making a diagnosis, including that of apnea.
The S+ system technology used in the device has been researched by scientists and featured in scientific papers. The main idea is that it does not require direct contact with the person, nor should it be attached to the mattress or any beddings. Apart from that, you get personalized feedback on the way you sleep and what kind of environment surrounds you at this time of the day.
ResMed: Check the current price
Smart Sleep Tracking Pad | Withings/Nokia
This model by Nokia will cost you twice as much but has a number of beneficial features such as snoring detection. It can distinguish sleep cycles and records your heart rate. The Withings Health Mate app will help you understand how you should make your sleep better.
You do not have to wear the device, which requires to be set up only once. The item should be placed under the mattress the thickness of which does not exceed 15 inches. What I found particularly interesting is the availability of home automation scenarios. So it can be used to control sources of sounds and light, as well as some other environmental factors. For example, the device can switch a thermostat, cooling down the bedroom at night.
The consumers point to the fact that the product is able to register various sleeping patterns such, including the use of several pillows to prop the body up.
Withings/Nokia: Check the current price
Alexa Enabled | Beautyrest Sleep Tracker
This item is within the price range of $150-$200. Its distinguishing feature is that it is Alexa enabled and can be integrated into a smart home. Notwithstanding the thickness of your mattress, the device records your heart rates, breathing, tosses, and any other movements during the night.
There is also an intuitive app that records cycles of the sleep, distinguishing the deep one from the light one as well as REM stage and when you are awake or out of bed. And on the basis of this personalized data, it can be set to wake you up at the right time. You may also find helpful its ability to track sleep of two persons, separating the received information.
Beautyrest Sleep Tracker: Check the current price
Sleep Tracker With Smart Wake-Up Light | Withings Aura
The producer of this model has evidently focused on how easy you will wake up or fall asleep. To this make these transitions more pleasant, sound and light effects have been introduced in the device. So the smart light rouses you from a light sleep as the device can detect the light and deep cycles. On the other hand, the sunset lighting effect helps you to fall asleep when you go to bed. The data is tracked on the smartphone.
If you sleep in the bed with a partner, feel free to use the product as well. It works only for the person who is right under the sensor and the presence of other people will not cause confusion.
Withings Aura: Check the current price
Comparison Chart of Sleep Tracker Effectiveness
Xiaomi Mi Band
|Budget choice, water-resistant. |
Monitors sleep quality.
Accurately detects the heart rate at any time of the day.
Fitbit Flex 2
|Inexpensive, water-resistant. |
Detects the duration and quality of sleep.
Garmin Vívosmart 4
Detects light, deep and REM sleep as well as heart rates, and breathing.
Nokia Activity & Sleep Watch
Detects different stages of sleep as well as burned calories, heart rates, and breathing.
Smart Wake-Up vibration alert.
Motiv Ring Fitness
|You can select a ring of your size before the purchase. |
Made of a durable titanium material.
Detects different stages of sleep as well as its depth, regularity, and interruptions.
The battery lasts for about a month.
|Budget choice. |
Does not require direct contact with the person or bed.
Records breathing habits, outside noises, and temperature.
Its technology was studied by scientists.
Withings Tracking Pad
|Detects sleep cycles, heart rate, and snoring. |
Can control the sources of sounds, light and temperature in the room.
|Alexa enabled and can be integrated into a smart home. |
Detects sleep cycles.
Does not depend on the mattress thickness.
|Detects sleep cycles, wakes up with the light and sound effect. |
Mobile apps developers proved that any smartphone might be turned into a simple sleep tracker a long time ago. Today Apple Store and Android Market offer about 50 such apps, and all of them are not free, and they use some accelerometers built into the smartphone.
The way the work is the same for all of them. You have to place the smartphone with the installed app on the pillow right near the head of the sleeping person. The built-in movement sensor will analyze their movements during the night and tell apart the deep sleep stage from the ACTIVE sleep.
This system has three drawbacks, though. First of all, the sensors of all three apps go nuts if there is a second person or a cat in the bed. Second of all, you’ll have to keep your phone plugged into the charger, otherwise, in the morning you’ll only have 80-40% of battery life left. Third… there is still electromagnetism! There’s a doubtable amount of pleasure to keep your smartphone right next to your head all night along if you live in the world of hi-tech devices!
But what is the profit we get if we do agree to the radiation, a dead battery of your smartphone and if you tell your wife to sleep on the couch? The users of said apps prioritize the smart alarm clock, which works well for all of the “Big 3” apps. But what is there to delight the customers?
Runtastic Sleep Better analyzes the impact of alcohol, coffee, and training on the quality of your sleep. Every single day it asks its owner about the daily activities of their Majesty and is looking for a correlation between the owner’s lifestyle and stage of sleep for several weeks. It also keeps track of lunar phases and warns when it’s better to go to bed earlier or later. Moreover, this is the first app which has its own dreams diary. This is a nice perk for those who get sad when they can’t recall in the evening their dreams of the day before! The app has a trial and premium version, and its average rating online is 4.0.
Sleep As Android has only the same user rating of 4.0 though its developers have stuck many more creative ideas into it. The way of turning off the alarm clock is also interesting, as it the laziest and sleepiest users would have to solve a math problem, count the sheep with the sensor or take a picture of the QR code which is supposed to be hung as far away from the bed as possible in order to turn the alarm clock off! The app also has a lullaby mode, when it’s possible to plug in the earphones and listen to the sounds of nature until you fall asleep. Sleep As Android also gives you an opportunity to share your sleep reports on social media, it tracks your snoring pattern and is compatible with the Pebble Watch Smart Watch.
Sleep Cycle is another like app. It costs much less than its rivals, its price is only a dollar – hence the highest rating (4.5 stars on Google Play). In addition to the smart alarm clock and sleep analyzer an option of recording the “nocturnal sounds” is also found here. This feature helps distinguish the snoring from your cat’s purring, and the sound of the truck passing by outside from the doorbell ringing. What else can Sleep Cycle do? All the same, things that its competitors can… it keeps a diary of your dreams, evaluates the impact of coffee and your ration on your sleep… Unlike RUntastic, though, it doesn’t track the lunar phases.
How accurate are they in tracking sleep? My old band failed to wake me up
What you should understand is that they are not medical devices, therefore, you should not consider the results as a diagnosis. These gadgets monitor only general sleeping patterns like movements and sounds and cannot analyze your body more thoroughly. Sleep trackers are helpful as an additional tool for helping improve your sleep. To obtain better results, purchase two different models so that you can compare their results.
As a rule, I am tight asleep at night. Will the band wake me up?
The very idea of using alarm clocks of sleep trackers is to wake you up at the right moment — when you are in light sleep. This is when you can be easily wake up.
What to choose: a band with a sleep tracker or a separate device?
It depends on what your goal is. If you want to monitor your body’s activity throughout the day and night, choose the band as it records both your activity and inactivity. If you need to improve your sleep, you should better purchase a separate device because it has more features making the analysis more thorough.
Could my apple watch replace all these sleep monitors?
You may download an Apple Watch App like SleepWatch which will perform this function. However, I would not say that it will be able to replace more feature-packed devices designed to monitor sleep.