Best Sleep Trackers
The last decade has seen a cascade of wearable devices from companies like Apple and Fitbit, who design these products with the goal of improving our lives in mind. From steps taken and calories burned to calendar alerts and the daily forecast, practically anything can be made available to you via the technology in these devices. Recently, a new area has been subject to experimentation from trackers and health-related apps: sleep.
Tracking your sleeping habits allows you to collect valuable data that can be examined for trends that reveal how to achieve better sleep. But which sleep tracking device or app is best in terms of functionality, data, accuracy, and usability? Keep reading to see our top 10 picks for the best sleep trackers of 2019, followed by a guide to finding the best sleep tech for you.
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Top Sleep Trackers
How to Pick the Right Sleep Tracker for You
Types of Sleep Trackers
So should you integrate an app with a wearable you own, purchase a wearable, or rely on an app for sleep data? It depends.
Wearables currently vary in their ability to track sleep natively. If you purchase an Apple Watch, you’ll need to download an accompanying iPhone app to track sleep, some of which may charge a monthly or annual fee. Other wearables, like Fitbit, track sleep natively and communicate the data via an accompanying apps. The advantage of wearables is that they track your sleep automatically—no setup required before bed. If you already use a wearable with sleep-tracking capabilities, you may be perfectly happy sticking with what you have.
If having a wearable on disturbs your sleep, a non-wearable method of sleep tracking will work best for you. You can choose to download one of the apps above that doesn’t require a wearable for tracking or research alternative devices, like the Withings Pad. The biggest advantage of sleep-tracking phone apps over wearables are the extra features, like lulling sleep sounds and smart alarms.
Considerations for Functionality and Features
When selecting a tracker, consider the visualization of the data. Some people prefer a minimalist layout whereas others want the option to know as much as possible about their sleep habits. Whichever level of information you prefer, make sure the app you choose displays it coherently.
Also, consider that sleep tracking should feel less like a chore and more like a service. If the app or wearable requires you to complete a long series of steps before it will track, there are simpler options available.
Integrations are another factor to consider. If you’re an Apple user, does the app share its data with the Health app? Integration can give you a more holistic view of your health if you also track other data points, like steps, workouts, and food intake.
Considerations for Technology
Sleep tracking apps, devices, and wearables use a variety of technology to track sleep. As such, the accuracy also varies. Researchers warn that some sleep-tracking tech could provide inaccurate data and worsen insomnia by making consumers obsessed with their sleep. Of course, no tracker will meet the gold-standard of sleep tracking labs, which measure eye activity, brain activity, and more but, in general, the more details an app or device measures, the more likely it is to provide accurate data about your rest.
Considerations for Price and Buying Experience
When evaluating the app or device that’s best for you, consider the price and business model. The Apple Watch, for example, is not only an expensive one-time investment, but you may be required to pay a monthly fee for a compatible sleep tracking app.
If you opt to let your phone track your sleep, decide whether you want to get simple data from a free app or pay monthly for one. Also, if you envision tracking your sleep over months or years, you’ll want to keep in mind whether the app you select is poised for long-term success. If the company fails, the app will be taken off of the app store—along with your sleep data.
A sleep tracking app or device drives home the importance of sleep quality and healthy patterns, like a consistent bedtime and wake time. They can also underscore the effects that factors like alcohol and exercise can have on sleep patterns. If you’re looking for a tool to understand your sleep health, use the list of our top 10 sleep tracking devices and apps to get started in your search. Keep in mind that, like all technology, sleep trackers are subject to innovative updates from year to year that make them more accurate, user-friendly, and valuable. As the field broadens and the quality of these devices and apps improves, check back to see our updated recommendations.
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