What is sleep tracking and which devices offer it?
(Pocket Ribbon) – Sleep tracking has been around for a number of years, with plenty of companies and devices offering it – some more granular than others and some providing more actionable data than others.
It includes tracking sleep stages, usually categorized as light, deep, and REM (rapid eye movement or dreams), with a breakdown of how long you were in each stage and your sleep duration during the night.
There are dedicated sleep tracking devices, as well as fitness trackers, wearables, and even smart displays that can track your sleep — but the data and features provided vary by device and company.
Some companies offer sleep scores, some have smart alarms to wake you up within a certain window when you’re in the lightest sleep, and others combine your activity and sleep data to give you insights into your overall charging and what to do for the best sleep. Results.
Here’s everything you need to know about sleep tracking and which companies offer what.
How does sleep tracking work?
Sleep studies conducted in a lab use polysomnography, which measures brain activity, eye movements, and body movements through sensors attached to your head. To phase sleep involves measuring the variation in the heart’s heartbeat-to-beat intervals, and a sleep technician is said to measure signals in 30-second periods.
Wearables and sleeping pads don’t have the luxury of a lab and sensors on your head, of course – and you don’t want that every night. Instead, sleep tracking with these devices is done by using the heart rate monitor and motion sensors to detect what stage of sleep your body is in at night, while the Nest Hub uses energy-efficient radar. During the night, your body goes in and out of the different stages: awake, light, deep and REM.
Your body needs a combination of all these stages to recover, rebuild and feel rested when you wake up. Light is said to enhance memory and learning, while deep aids in physical recovery and REM aids in strategic thinking and creativity.
Why are people so interested in sleep tracking?
There have been many studies linking a good night’s sleep to a healthy lifestyle. A good night’s sleep can lower your stress levels, lower blood pressure, help your immune system stay strong, and help you mentally and physically recover from the stress on your body.
A good night’s sleep helps you stay mentally sharp – important for those in education or in mentally taxing jobs – as well as staying physically strong.
Sleep is especially important for physical recovery after exercise and for many athletes it is an important part of an exercise regime. Through recovery — including sleep — you rebuild the muscles and systems you’ve stressed, making you stronger.
Which devices offer sleep tracking?
Here’s an overview of the companies and devices that offer sleep tracking and the different features on offer.
All Fitbit’s wrist-worn activity trackers offer automatic sleep tracking when you wear them to bed. The heart rate monitor — if your device has one — combined with the motion sensors will track your sleep and give you a breakdown of your sleep stages and a sleep score of 100 when you wake up to help you gauge how well you’ve slept.
In the Fitbit app, you can see your sleep trends over time and get insights to better understand your night’s sleep, although the insights aren’t as useful as Garmin’s Body Battery.
All of Fitbit’s latest devices offer silent alarms – waking you up with a gentle vibration on your wrist. Some Fitbit devices — those with heart rate monitors — also have Smart Wake, where the device wakes you up during the optimal sleep phase within a window you set.
Fitbit devices that offer sleep tracking include:
Fitbit Inspire HRFitbit Inspire 2Fitbit LuxeFitbit Charge 3Fitbit Charge 4Fitbit VersaFitbit Versa 2Fitbit Versa 3Fitbit Versa LiteFitbit SenseFitbit Ionic
Google — which owns Fitbit — offers sleep tracking through its second-generation Nest Hub smart display. The device has Google’s Soli chip onboard that uses energy-efficient radar to track the movement and breathing of the person closest to the screen when placed on a bedside table to provide you with a sleep duration and quality.
The Nest Hub also uses its built-in microphones and Ambient EQ Light Sensor to monitor temperature and light changes in the room, as well as disturbances such as coughing and snoring. All of this is done without the person having to wear anything or sleep on anything, such as a mat.
Sleep results are displayed on the Nest Hub’s screen in the morning and are also available in the Google Fit app. Ultimately, this will likely filter into the Fitbit and Fitbit Premium offerings. The Nest Hub also offers alarms and comes with quick gestures so you can raise your hand to snooze it.
Google devices that provide Sleep Sensing tracking:
Nest Hub (2nd generation)
Apple offers sleep tracking for Apple Watches with watchOS 7 and later. Sleep Tracking on Apple Watch uses micro-motion detection from the device’s accelerometer to record sleep stages, giving you an overview of your night’s sleep and a graph of your weekly sleep trends in the Sleep app.
There are charging reminders when your Apple Watch doesn’t have enough energy to get through the night and a Wind Down mode that works with your iPhone to help you go to bed so you can snooze notifications, open meditation apps, music playlist or activate smart home presets.
You can read all about how sleep tracking works on Apple Watch in our separate feature.
WatchOS 7 (and later) and sleep tracking are compatible with the following Apple Watch models:
Apple Watch Series 3Apple Watch Series 4Apple Watch Series 5Apple Watch Series 6Apple Watch Series 7Apple Watch SE
Withings offers sleep tracking through its wrist-worn activity trackers, but it also offers a special sleep tracking mat – Sleep Analyzer – that is placed under the mattress so you don’t have to carry anything to bed.
The Sleep Analyzer provides sleep stage data and a sleep score, but also has sleep apnea detection by measuring your breathing, heart rate and body movements, as well as snoring detection.
Withings’ activity trackers automatically track your sleep when you wear it to bed, with a sleep score, as well as light and deep sleep stages, silent alarm and smart wake-up features, just like Fitbit but without as much data.
Withings devices that offer sleep tracking include:
Withings Sleep AnalyzerWithings Move ECG Withings Steel HR Withings Scan WatchWithings Pulse HR
Polar’s most advanced level of sleep tracking is called Polar Sleep Plus Stages and it automatically tracks the amount of sleep you’ve had, along with the quality, and tells you the length of time you’ve spent in each sleep stage. There is a sleep score out of 100 – broken down into a reflection of firmness, quantity and regeneration.
There are insights so you can see how different components of your sleep score compare to your usual level. Separately, Polar also offers something called Nightly Recharge. This takes the sleep data and puts it in the context of your daily activity to see how well you are charged. A hard training day followed by poor sleep and you are advised to rest instead of training.
The following Polar devices offer the company’s Sleep Plus Stages, with Nightly Recharge:
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Polar Vantage V TitanPolar Vantage VPolar Vantage MPolar Vantage M2Polar Grit XPolar IgnitePolar Ignite 2Polar Unite
Garmin has a comprehensive sleep tracking suite that again tracks your sleep stages and gives you a picture of how you slept. Since many Garmin devices also give you oxygen saturation readings, this is also part of the sleep score, along with your breathing level.
The data flows to a system called Body Battery that takes into account your stress and activity level from the day before to show how well you have recovered. It’s a fantastic system and it really works, it gives you an idea of how much you have in the tank.
Sleep tracking is widely supported by: Garmin devices. Below is a list of more recent devices that also offer Body Battery:
Garmin LilyGarmin EnduroGarmin Approach S62Garmin Fenix 6 SeriesGarmin Fenix 7 SeriesGarmin Forerunner 245 / 245 MusicGarmin Forerunner 45 / 45SGarmin Forerunner 55Garmin Forerunner 945Garmin Swim 2Garmin InstinctGarmin InstinctGarmin InstinctGarmin Instinct TacticalGseries Sagain Plus Series Venu SqGarmin Vivoactive 4/4SGarmin Vivosmart 4Garmin Vivomove 3/3SGarmin Vivomove LuxeGarmin Vivomove StyleGarmin Epix
Samsung uses a combination of heart rate and movement during the night to determine how well you slept. If you wear one of its compatible watches or fitness trackers, it will automatically create a chart for you to view the next morning when you wake up.
This chart shows you how many hours you spent in deep sleep, light sleep, and REM sleep, with a breakdown below that chart showing you how that compares to the optimal time in each sleep cycle. It then uses this data to create a sleep score of 100. The higher the sleep score, the better you slept.
Once you’ve tracked a few nights of sleep, Samsung Health (the app you use to track everything) will do an average breakdown for you and help you understand how to improve your sleep by telling you not to go to bed too late. should go, or aim for a consistent bedtime every day.
Most of Samsung’s more recent wearables track sleep, including the following:
Galaxy Watch 4Galaxy Watch 4 ClassicGalaxy Watch 3Galaxy Watch Active 2Galaxy Watch ActiveGalaxy WatchGalaxy FitGalaxy Fit eGear Fit 2 Pro
Written by Britta O’Boyle.