We spend a third of our lives asleep, and sleep trackers can provide a fascinating insight into that deep, slumberous unknown.
If you have trouble sleeping sometimes, or you find yourself feeling more tired than you should in the morning, a sleep tracker could help you to understand why.
Sleep trackers are fitness trackers. They have sensors within them that detect movement, so they can tell when you toss and turn in the night or when you get up. That data is then offered up within a smartphone application. In terms of accuracy, these devices are accurate and they also do a good job of detecting the difference between being asleep and lying still in bed watching TV or reading a book.
Here’s our top 10 sleep tracker recommendations for 2017:
The Fitbit Blaze automatically detects when you fall asleep and uses an optical heart-rate sensor to track your sleep stages. It tracks light, deep and REM sleep and displays that data using a graph on a dedicated smartphone supplication.
For example, it breaks down your sleep stages in percentages. So, it might say that you spent 22 per cent of your sleep in the REM stage, and 18 per cent of your sleep in the deep sleep stage. It tracks more accurately than similar devices without a heart-rate sensor, and has a touchscreen interface. The battery life is rated for around 5 days.
Fitbit Charge 2
The Fitbit Charge 2 offers the exact same sleep tracking capability as the Blaze, but does away with the Blaze’s large colour touchscreen in favour of a ‘Tap’ OLED display and a more traditional fitness band appearance.
This device costs slightly less than the Fitbit Blaze, and yet it still has an optical heart-rate sensor for accurate sleep tracking. With auto sleep tracking and sleep stage tracking, this is a solid sleep tracker and it’s more comfortable to wear than the Blaze since it wraps around your wrist without any lugs. It too has a 5-day battery life.
Jawbone UP 3
The Jawbone UP3 can measure your resting heart rate and your passive heart rate, so it’s one of the more advanced sleep trackers available. Like the Fitbit Blaze and Charge 2, the UP3 tracks sleep stages including light, deep and REM sleep.
Setting the Jawbone UP3 apart is its design. It looks like a fashion bracelet, with several different designs available. These include quilted-effect textures on the front of the device, which is available in several colours. The UP3 is made from silicone too, and it wraps around your wrist perfectly so it’s comfortable to wear all night.
Misfit Shine 2
The Misfit Shine 2 has a polarizing design - you’ll love it or hate it. Thankfully, it’s available in several different colour combinations with the Carbon Black and Rose Tone models being particularly fetching. And best of all, the Shine 2 is a solid sleep tracker.
With a variety of sensors that detect movement, the Misfit Shine 2 offers basic sleep and fitness tracking capability with the added benefit of an excellent app. It doesn’t have a heart-rate sensor so it’s not as accurate as some other devices, but it works well and perhaps best of all, the battery life is rated for six months and it doesn’t need to be charged.
Garmin Vivosmart HR
If you like the look of the Fitbit Charge 2, then you’ll also like the Garmin Vivosmart HR. This is a very similar-looking device, although it stands out with a chunkier design. This sleep tracker has a heart-rate sensor and tracks sleeping patterns accurately.
Interestingly, the Garmin product page for the Vivosmart HR doesn’t even mention sleep tracking but rest assured it does have this feature. It automatically detects when you fall asleep and monitors your movement during these hours. You can also set predefined sleep hours and view your sleep statistics within your Garmin Connect account.
The Fitbit Surge isn’t the most stylish sleep tracker, nor is it the cheapest, but it’s one of the most capable. It has Fitbit’s latest PurePulse heart rate tracking technology, and has an automatic sleep tracking function with trend and pattern analysis.
With several movement sensors and a resting heart rate tracker, the Fitbit Surge tracks sleep accurately. It presents collected data using an intuitive application. You can view the data using graphs or written statistics, and you can set sleep goals. The Surge also prepares weekly sleep trend graphs for you, so that you can compare your weekly sleeps.
Withings Steel HR
If you don’t mind wearing a watch to bed, the Withings Steel HR is an excellent choice as a sleep tracker. It can replace your existing watch with its analogue face, and yet it packs in a heart-rate monitor and a variety of sensors to detect movement.
It offers automatic sleep tracking, automatic sleep analysis, automatic wake-up calls and a silent alarm feature. It measures how long you spend in bend and how long you spend in bed sleeping, and monitors your heart rate throughout the night. This ensures that you get in-depth reports about your sleep and the battery will last around 25 days between charges.
If you don’t like wearing smartwatch-like devices or fitness bands, the Misfit Ray is a good alternative. The Ray is a metal cylinder that can be attached to a keyring, necklace, strap or band, although for sleep tracking, it must be worn on the wrist.
The Misfit Ray has movement sensors that detect when you are stationary or moving, so it automatically detects when you fall asleep. It will track your movement during the night and, based on preprogramed parameters, determine whether you are asleep. Your sleep data is then displayed on a mobile application for you to review.
The Withings Activité has been one of the most elegant smartwatches on the market for some time. It’s an analogue watch with movement sensors built-in, which track your sleep and activity. It offers basic but reliable sleep tracking functionality.
All you do is wear the Activité for it to track your sleep. It automatically detects when you fall asleep and you can review your data once you wake up. The Withings application is intuitive and simple to use. Data is displayed using graphs, but it also offers a numerical breakdown of your sleep throughout the night.
Fitbit Flex 2
The Fitbit Flex 2 is one of the cheapest sleep trackers on our list, and it covers the basics well. It doesn’t have a heart-rate sensor, but it does have reliable movement sensors that track sleep and this device also has auto exercise recognition.
The Flex 2 sleep tracker automatically recognises when you fall asleep. It lets you set sleep goals too and track your progress. It offers a silent alarm feature to wake you up peacefully, and it’s lightweight with a silicone band for comfort. It has a 5-day battery life, and the sleep tracker unit itself is removable and can be put into Fitbit bangles and pendants.