There’s a 1 in 3 chance that you’re not getting enough sleep, but if you’re technically inclined you can help fix that with one simple thing — a sleep tracker. If you wake up in the middle of the night or start the day groggy, you just can’t seem to get enough sleep, there are ways to track your sleep quality so you can make the necessary adjustments you need! Enter one of the 21st century’s favorite tech developments; use a sleep tracker (app or wearable) to track your body’s stats and micro-adjust til you improve!
The benefit of using sleep trackers is that you’re able to track all sorts of minutia (snoring habits, REM vs non-REM time, etc.) that can help you make adjustments to your sleep schedule and environment. The advancements in recent years in smartphone and wearable technology have made it easier than ever to collect and analyze data. But… there are a lot of sleep trackers on the market and each option gives data in different ways — here’s a roundup of a few great options get you started:
Non-Wearable Sleep Trackers
(Free or $29.99/year for Premium)
“Sleep Cycle analyzes your sleep and wakes you up at the most perfect time, feeling rested”
Sleep Cycle is one of the most popular sleep tracker apps available — and for good reason. Their claim is that “sleep is all about timing” guides their philosophy. They understand the different stages of sleep and how to track them and their claim is that if you can wake up at the right time, you’ll feel more well rested and less groggy!
The Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock is the bread and butter of this app, which analyzes your sleep states. The app tracks and uses sound analysis through the microphone built into your smartphone or their accelerometer mode, where you place the phone in your bed and the app monitors/analyzes your movements as you sleep. Both of these modes are able to take into account if you have a partner in bed and work towards the same goal.
The alarm clock function initiates a wake-up phase that starts 30 minutes before your alarm and monitors signals from your body to softly jostle you from your slumber when you’re in your lightest possible sleep stage. The idea is that if you are awakened from a deeper sleep stage, you’ll feel more groggy or resistant to getting up. This might be the best sleep tracker 2021 has to offer.
Features (in the free version):
- Slow Wake-up mode (it really helps!)
- Sleep analysis presented in easy-to-read nightly graphs
- Integration with Apple Health
SleepScore Labs App
(Free or $50.00/year for Premium)
“Good days start with good nights”
SleepScore is meticulous in its scientific approach to understanding sleep. With a team of sleep experts from institutions like Harvard, Apple, and ResMed, their approach is difficult to beat. By measuring your breathing patterns and body movements, SleepScore assigns you a “sleep score” from 1-100, as opposed to nightly graphs presented by other apps. Analysis happens across 32 different parameters to ensure that the data is accurately measured before providing advice or recommendations, and your in-depth sleep history is tracked to give you the best improvement possible as time goes on. It’s pretty darn comprehensive.
What people like most about SleepScore is that you’re able to set sleep-related goals and the app’s analysis provides actionable advice for getting there. Drinking coffee too late in the day? You’ll get a reminder to not drink any in the afternoon. Getting off your sleep schedule? You’ll get a note! The smart alarm helps you pull out of a light sleep stage for less groggy mornings, and the easy-to-follow score-based system gives you an idea of how well you’re doing at a glance! If the skeptic in you is wondering, “are sleep trackers accurate?” — let SleepScore clear that up for ya.
Features (in the free version)
- Sleep tracking
- Smart alarm system
- Seven-night sleep history
(In the paid version you get personal recommendations, personal trends, and even a self-generated sleep report for your doctor — it’s pretty darn in depth!)
Wearable Sleep Tracker
($299, but you can spend a lot more if you want it to look very fancy)
“Understand your body’s unique rhythms and learn to optimize your lifestyle”
This is different than the other two apps presented here because the OURA Ring is a wearable. Wearables have become a huge part of technological improvements to monitoring lifestyle choices over the last several years and look like they’re here to stay. Where it was once science fiction to put on a ring and instantly track a range of complex metrics from body temperature to heart rate… the future is now! This little ring is very advanced and provides more data than other apps, as it contacts with the body provides the closeness required for active data monitoring.
The more data you can track, the easier it is to find the culprit of your less-than-adequate sleep and fix it. OURA uses your information over many nights of sleep, daytime activity, and other info to help you make the right decisions for the upcoming day to maximize your sleep success. Do you need a rest day from physical activity? Should you hit the hay half an hour early? OURA will let you know. While the price tag may seem a little hefty, the data points it can collect are more advanced than any app out there.
- Track REM Sleep vs. Deep Sleep
- Latency (time it takes to fall asleep)
- Body temperature
- Heart rate
- Calories burned & step tracking (during the day)
- Respiratory rate
So… What is the Best Sleep Tracker?
The more data you’re able to collect about your sleep patterns and history, the better you can adjust your lifestyle to improve things. If you’re not sleeping well but you don’t know what exactly is causing you strife, a sleep tracker can help immensely.
If you’re just dipping your toes in the water of data collection-based improvement, try SleepCycle — it’s easy to understand and navigate. For a little bit more information and a scientifically-backed team, go for SleepScore Labs. When you find yourself getting really into the minutia of information collecting, consider OURA Ring and explore all of the fascinating things you can learn about your own body and habits!
It’s an exciting time for technology, especially when you can simply put your smartphone on your bedside table and wake up to a better understanding of what to do next. Improving your sleep habits — it’s the way of the future!