It used to be that you didn’t know much about what happens between when you fell asleep and when you woke up in the morning. You’d know if you had a particularly fitful night of sleep or had nightmares, but everything else was a mystery. These days, that’s not the case. Sleep tracking devices have made it possible to get some insight on why you might be so tired all the time. They aren’t super accurate yet, but using one could give you a start on exploring your sleep habits. And a quick note: If none of the below gadgets sound right for you, rest assured that new sleep trackers are coming out all the time. The latest to get people talking is an Apple product that will use the company’s HealthKit group of apps and will launch in 2015.
This super-thin sensor gets placed directly under your fitted sheet. Just sleep on top of it for the night, open up the app on your smartphone in the morning, and see a history of your heart rate, respiration, total time asleep, and sleep cycles. Then, based on your personal data, you’ll get tips on how to sleep better.
This tracker uses something called an “Advanced Sleep Analysis” to tell you exactly how much time you’re spending in REM, light, and deep sleep, as well as how much tossing and turning you’re doing. You’ll also see an analysis of that data over time, so you can tell if your sleep habits are improving or not. And it’s easy to use—you wear it on your wrist and it can tell when you’ve fallen asleep, what stage you’re in, and when you wake up (you don’t have to do anything).
Unlike sleep trackers that use a wristband, this one comes with a heart rate monitor. The monitor tracks your heart rate (obviously), and tells you how long it took you to fall asleep, how often you wake up, and other sleep disturbances. While that’s happening, the app on your phone is tracking external noises like snoring or sounds from the street. After five nights, you’ll get a detailed report on what is likely causing your insomnia and tips on how to overcome those issues.
UP24 by Jawbone
Wear this slim bracelet all day and it tracks your activity, but it doesn’t shut off at night. It has a bedtime reminder feature, telling you when it’s time to hit the hay, and then tracks how long you sleep and what phases you go through. It also does something more, which is draw connections between what you did that day and how well you slept. As a result, you might get tips. For instance, perhaps that cappuccino you had at 4:00pm is to blame for your insomnia.
$.99; Apple app store
Why buy a whole gadget when Apple’s iPhone can already do the work? That’s the idea behind the SleepCycle app. It uses the accelerometer in your iPhone (which you slide under your fitted sheet before falling asleep) to track sleep patterns and wake you up when you are in a lighter sleep stage. Just tell it the window you want to be woken up in (like 7:00am to 7:30am) and it will pick the perfect moment to go off.
This brand of fitness trackers is the most popular on the market by far—in fact, 40 percent of fitness trackers sold are FitBit. And the good news is that they aren’t just good for calculating calories—they also tell you everything that you need to know about your sleep. Just keep your FitBit Flex on your wrist all night long to learn how long you slept and how often you woke up. It also will vibrate to wake you up in the morning (much nicer than a screeching alarm clock!).
Please note that the National Sleep Foundation does not endorse specific products.