Tip : Improve Sleep Tracking Accuracy
You can calibrate your Fitbit for sleep, even if you don’t have the advanced Sleep Stages and Sleep Insights features. Adjusting sensitivity differs depending on whether you’re paired to an iPhone or Android phone. For iPhone users:
1. In the Fitbit app, go to Account > Activity & Wellness > Sleep.
2. By default, this will be set to ‘Normal’, but you can tweak it to ‘Sensitive’ if you find that the tracker isn’t registering your sleep, or is registering odd results.
3. For Android users, you’ll need to log into the web dashboard, go to the settings tab, and scroll down to the page to find the ability to toggle sleep sensitivity between normal and sensitive options.
Fitbit Charge 4 Vs Fitbit Charge : Let’s Talk Upgrades
Does the newer Fitbit Charge 4 have enough to warrant an upgrade from the previous model, the Charge 3? Our Fitbit Charge 4 vs. 3 pits two excellent wristwatch-style trackers against each other. Both models have their perks, from price tag to features, but it really comes down to what you’re looking for in a tracker. Before we dive in, let’s look at how they compare.
|Fitbit Charge 4|
|GPS, accelerometer, heart rate, altimeter, vibration motor, SpO2, NFC||Accelerometer, heart rate, altimeter, vibration motor, SpO2, NFC|
There are some pretty significant feature upgrades with the Charge 4, but both are still viable options depending on what you need out of your fitness tracker. Let’s examine what each piece has to offer.
Additional Features: A Comprehensive App
The Fitbit Charge 3 is more than just calories burned and steps walked. It also has a breadth of other features that give you a deeper look into your overall health. Sleep tracking is one of the most useful offerings. Designed to help you sleep better, the sleep-tracking feature tells you exactly how long youve slept and how long you spent in each sleep stage.
Additionally, the Fitbit Charge 3 has a built-in Relative SpO2 sensor, which measures oxygen concentration in the blood. Traditionally, this is used to diagnose conditions like sleep apnea or other breathing issues during sleep. Unfortunately, this feature has yet to translate to anything in the app, though Fitbit says it could eventually be used to give users a sleep score. The Fitbit is also outfitted with a silent alarm that wakes users up by vibrating.
The Charge 3 has a breadth of other features that give you a deeper look into your overall health.
Female health tracking allows women to track their periods, symptoms, and menstrual cycle trends. Guided breathing sessions give you a few minutes of relaxation. You can get calendar updates and notifications from your phone and check the weather, and there is even a timer feature that I found super helpful, whether I used it for fitness or as a reminder to remove dinner from the oven.
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What The Research Says About Fitbit Sleep
Fitbit is a wearable wrist band that continuously monitors heart rate and body movements. More recent models use sleep-staging a machine learning algorithm that incorporates measurement data and provides a detailed personalized report on sleep patterns.3
The device has become popular among adult sleepers and researchers alike because of the ease of its use, relative inexpensiveness compared to standard clinical sleep studies , and the ability to follow-up variability in sleep over long periods of time.3
Researchers set out to test how accurate Fitbit sleep is as a sleep tracker in a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research and found that the newer models of fitbit showed better accuracy of sleep detection than older models.3
The newer models of Fitbit were also better than older models at calculating overall sleep and wake times because they dont rely solely on the detection of motion to indicate sleep. However, their results were less specific compared to a standard sleep study offered in a sleep lab.
The researchers evaluated all published studies on the accuracy of Fitbit, and 22 papers met their selection criteria. Ten studies assessed the older models of Fitbit and five studies assessed the recent models with only three of them comparing the results to gold standard polysomnography.
The General Accuracy Of Fitbit Sleep Trackers
In a general view, the various attributes that Fitbit sleep trackers take into account are considered accurate and thus dependable to a given degree. According to a survey from users, the falling asleep time and waking time did not lag over most days. For example, the Fitbit Altra HR records no mistakes in cases when a user decides to use the bathroom or grab a glass of water at night. You can rely on this data as it is proven to be almost perfect.
Its hard to determine the accuracy of the sleep stages by yourself. The fact that you can only compare Fitbits data with data captured in a sleep center gives us the benefit of doubt. The Sleep Insights tool allows you to compare your sleep data alongside your past 30 days and other users. This is the point where you have to rely on the manufacturers claims on accuracy.
While Fitbit themselves has never stated 100% accuracy on their devices, in April 2017, an interesting report was published in the Sleep Journal. Data published in this report was pooled from sleep trackers which measure heart rate and movement and sleep lab tests. The report suggested that sleep trackers can be relied on to improve sleep behaviors. Fitbit has backed this report, too.
Looking closely at data from the sleep insights, a lot of users reported that their sleep cycle rhymed with data of other users within their age bracket and gender. The accuracy concerning sleep patterns of people of different ages and genders is highly accurate and consistent.
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Battery: Lasts Up To A Week
Charge 3s battery lasts for up to seven days, according to the manufacturer. A fitness trackers battery life typically varies depending on how frequently youre using all of the features. During testing, I was able to get just under a week of battery , and I took full advantage of Charge 3s features. When using the tracker lightly, the battery lasted even longer, and it still had about 20% of the battery remaining after a full week.
To charge the battery, you clip on a clamp charger and connect it to a USB plug or a computer. It charges quickly and reaches a full charge in about an hour.
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Change Your App Settings
Fitbit relies on the information you provide in the app to calculate your steps and daily activity accurately.
Make sure the following settings are set up correctly in the app. These options are on the dashboard, either under Device Settings or Personal Information.
- Wrist orientation: By default, Fitbit is set to your left hand, i.e., most people’s non-dominant hand. If you’re wearing it on your right hand, update this setting to Right.
- Height: Fitbit uses height to estimate your walking and running stride lengths. Enter your correct height in inches or centimeters to ensure the most accurate step count.
- Stride Length: Fitbit uses a default stride setting based on your height. For greater accuracy, change this and manually enter your stride length. See How Does Fitbit Track Steps to learn how to do this.
- Exercise App: To better measure workout intensity, use Fitbit’s exercise app to track your workouts, especially for activities like spinning or yoga. The app has Android, iOS, and Windows versions.
- Use the GPS: If you’re not swinging your arms when walking , you can use Fitbit’s GPS feature to calculate your daily activity better .
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Wear Your Device Correctly
Where and how you wear your Fitbit can impact accuracy. In general, the device should remain in close contact with your body when you’re exercising .
Here’s what Fitbit recommends:
- For wrist-based Fitbits: Wear your Fitbit watch on top of your wrist, not too tight or too loose. For devices that track heart rate, make sure it’s touching your skin, and wear it a bit tighter on your wrist when working out.
- For clip-based Fitbits: Wear the Fitbit close to your body with the screen facing outward. Secure the clip tightly to any part of your clothing. Experiment with different locations to see what works best for you .
What To Look Forward To
Were testing the fitness capabilities of the Apple Watch Series 7, the newest Apple Watch model. We also plan to assess the Whoop 4.0, the latest iteration of the display-less, subscription-based , performance-focused tracker that has new features, including vibrating sleep alarms and an SpO2 sensor .
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Study And Participant Characteristics
Publication dates varied from 1 publication in each of 2012 and in 2013, to 8 publications in each of 2014 and in 2015, with 49 studies published in or after 2016. Publications were from 11 countries across North America, Western Europe, South Asia, and Australia. The largest number of publications were from the United States , followed by Australia and Canada . Of the 67 publications, 61 were full research articles, 5 were short reports, and 1 was a letter to the editor .
The 67 studies comprised a total of 2441 participants, with the mean number being 36 , varying from 12 to 166. Of the 61 studies reporting age, the mean age of participants was 37 years, varying from 21 to 84 years. Of the 65 studies reporting sex, 53.95% of the participants were female. A total of 55 studies included only healthy participants, with the remaining 12 including participants living with a variety of chronic diseases or mobility limitations, or both . Studies used several models of Fitbit devices, including the Ultra, Classic, Zip, or One worn on the torso , the Flex, Charge HR, Force, or Surge worn on the wrist, and the One worn on the ankle.
Budget Pick: Fitbit Inspire 2
*At the time of publishing, the price was $100.
The Fitbit Inspire 2 is smaller and lighter than our top pick, the Fitbit Charge 5. Its also missing a few features, like a color display, an altimeter, and contactless payment. But if you want a simple-to-use tracker, this is a nice, low-profile choice that still delivers plenty.
Along with its all-day heart-rate monitoring and resting-heart-rate data, the Inspire 2 offers sleep-stage tracking, connected GPS for real-time pace and distance for select workouts , and more than 20 exercise modes . Thats in addition to basic all-day activity tracking, automatic activity recognition, and reminders to move. But the Inspire 2 lacks the Charge 5s altimeter, so it cant credit you for climbs. By choosing the Inspire 2 instead of the Charge 5, youre also giving up a color display, quick-text replies for Android devices, on-wrist ECG , and an oxygen-saturation sensor.
Few fitness-tracker apps operate as nicely as Fitbits. Even if you use it only on a more-casual basis, we think its simple interface makes for a pleasant experience. You can choose from about 20 faces to customize the look of your display.
The Inspire 2 can be worn on your wrist or in a clip on your clothing. Fitbit offers a one-year limited warranty on its devices.
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Battery Life: As Good As Promised
Where Fitbit routinely pulls ahead of the competition is battery life, and the Charge 3 delivers up to a week of fitness-tracking and notifications on a charge. After three days and three workouts, the band was still chugging along at 68 percent. Thats impressive, because I was also using the band to check notifications, the weather and playing with settings with the brightness on auto .
Fitbit makes trade-offs to keep battery life lengthy, but for many people, week-long battery life would be a great reason to buy this band.
Sensors And Sleep: Serious Potential
Like Fitbits Versa and Ionic smartwatches, the Charge 3 has an SpO2 sensor for measuring blood oxygenation levels. With that information, Fitbit can tell if you experience breathing disruptions while you sleep. Or it will soon.
In November, Fitbit is opening up a Sleep Score Beta program to qualifying Fitbit users that will use the Charge 3s SpO2 and heart rate sensors to assess your sleep quality and rate it out of 100.
Fitbit will soon let Charge 3 users leverage the SpO2 and heart rate sensors to assess your sleep quality and rate it out of 100.
Fitbit could also use the SpO2 sensor to diagnose sleep apnea with clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, though its unclear as to how far along in that process Fitbit is. Apple just received FDA clearance for two Apple Watch features, one an electrocardiogram app that uses the Series 4s electrical heart rate sensor to diagnose atrial fibrillation, or irregular heart rhythm. The other is a watchOS feature, not exclusive to the Series 4, that alerts users if they experience five instances of irregular heart rhythm.
Fitbit is also working on atrial fibrillation, but has already differentiated itself with in-depth sleep analysis, which the Apple Watch doesnt offer. With an SpO2 sensor, the Charge 3 could give Sleep Score Beta participants life-changing health information. The potential is huge.
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Tracking Your Health And Fitness
For fitness tracking, the Charge 5 features 20 exercise modes, SmartTrack automatic exercise recognition, Fitbits Active Zone Minutes metric, a GPS to map your route during outdoor exercises , and in-app workout intensity maps showing your pace and heart rate zones throughout your route. To help you keep tabs on your ticker, it tracks your heart rate 24/7 and can alert you if its unusually high or low.
At night, it will track the duration and quality of your shut eye, as well as your sleep stages , breathing rate , heart rate variability , skin temperature variation , and blood oxygen saturation . Every morning, it will give you a stress management and sleep score.
When you swipe to the Exercise app, it gives you the following default tracking options: bike, interval workout, run, swim, treadmill, and weights. You can edit that list in the Fitbit app . The list of available exercise shortcuts also includes bootcamp, circuit training, elliptical, golf, hike, kickboxing, martial arts, outdoor workout, pilates, spinning, stairclimber, tennis, walk, workout, and yoga. You can have up to six workout tracking shortcuts on the watch at a time. I chose bike, run, walk, weights, workout, and yoga.
During a one-hour rowing session on the Aviron, the Charge 5 said I burned 395 calories and had an average heart rate of 136BPM. The Series 6, meanwhile, said I burned 385 active calories and had an average heart rate of 147BPM.
Fitbit Vs Iphone Accuracy
Of course, phones have been counting steps for years before fitness trackers became popular. So how does the iPhones fitness tracking features compare to the Fitbit?
Eddie Smith, an actuary from Greenville, North Carolina, tested the two step counters against each other for several months. From December 23, 2014, to March 23, 2015, Smith discovered that the Fitbit logged 509,482 steps and 1,009 floors, while the iPhone logged 506,909 steps and 735 floors. The steps matched closely, but the Fitbit had counted significantly more floors.
After further testing, Smith concluded that this difference was probably due to how the two devices deal with steep terrain. The Fitbit uses its barometer to detect elevation changes, so it counts walking up steep terrain as floors. On the other hand, the iPhone measures floors when you literally walk up steps.
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Apple Watch Series 3 Vs Fitbit Versa 2
The Apple Watch Series 3 is the cheapest option you can buy officially from Apple, and offers an older look, but most of the same redeeming design features albeit doubts over how long it will still receive software updates to improve its abilities.
The Fitbit Versa 2 comes in cheaper and adopts a similar look to the pricer Versa 3, offering a similar smartwatch and health and fitness tracking experience for less.
Design-wise, the Series 3 comes in 38mm and 42mm case options and the Versa 2 in just the 40mm option. They both have removable straps and color screens, though the Series 3 doesn’t offer an always-on mode like the Versa 2 can. There’s physical buttons on both watches and similar waterproof ratings to let you take them for a swim.
As smartwatches, the iOS-only Series 3 gives you notifications, a music player, Apple Pay, a speaker and microphone for Siri support and access to Apple’s App Store to throw on some apps. The Fitbit Versa 2 offers notifications, a music player, Amazon Alexa and access to Fitbit’s app store too, though it pales in comparison to what you can find in Apple’s store.
As sports watches, the Series 3 does have onboard GPS while the Versa 2 doesn’t. You have access to third party fitness apps, though Apple offers the greater support. They work for swims, but Apple offers both open and pool swim tracking while it’s just the pool for the Versa 2.
Graph Of Sleep Phases
The sleep phases graph at the top again offers an expansion to full screen. There, one again gets helpful information and pointers:
The first screen only expands the graph and adds data on percent and absolute time in the different sleep phases.
Swipe over, and you get into the details. First of all, on times you were awake :
Or, one over, how long you were in REM sleep and what that is supposed to mean:
And the same for light sleep:
And for deep sleep:
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