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How Do Fitness Trackers Track Sleep

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Is A Smartwatch Better Than A Fitbit

ECG, Blood Oxygen, Sleep, Heart Rate Fitness Tracker by MorePRO V19 Review

A few years ago,Fitbits and similar health trackers flooded the market. Weve all known that one person in our office or in our group of friends that loves to make announcements about how many steps they took each day. Health trackers have become so ubiquitous that no one bats an eye when they see those, admittedly, strange wristbands on someone elses arm.

Many of the first generation health trackers were pretty basic, often being nothing more than a rubber band with a box for the accelerometer and a USB port. The newest models are quite a bit more advanced, with Fitbit moving into the watchmaking business.

Take, for instance, theFitbit Versa, which is essentially a smartwatch and includes literally dozens of features and apps.

Just as Fitbit has moved into the smartwatch business, some smartwatch manufacturers have started proudly touting the health tracking features of their products. Most smartwatches have to charge every night, which negates a sleep tracker feature, but there are some watches that do provide the tool.

TheSamsung Gear Fit2 is the quintessential smartwatch and health tracker. It acts as your phone, runs most of the apps of a smartphone, keeps health data, and comes with a hefty price tag. The health tracker measures heart rate counts calories and tracks movement.

Its long-lasting battery means that it doesnt need to be charged every night.

Hopefully, this information has answered most of your questions.

Garmin Venu : Garmins Best Sleep Tracker

If youre deep in the Garmin ecosystem, youll want to pick up a Garmin Venu 2 for sleep tracking. Its the first and only Garmin device to feature the companys new sleep score feature, powered by Firstbeat.

The Venu 2 can measure your sleep duration, stages, and total time awake. Blood oxygen levels, respiration rates, and overnight movements are tracked, too. Its quite accurate at detecting your sleep quality compared to other devices, though we will note it failed to pick up on irregular sleep schedules on a few nights.

Garmins sleep score, coupled with the companys Body Battery feature, will allow you to really dig into your energy levels to determine how well-rested you actually are and what type of activity you should plan for the day.

Check out our full review to learn more about the Garmin Venu 2.

Fitness Trackers: How Do They Track Steps Stairs Stress And Calculate Calories

It is a wearable device that can calculate some fitness units for you including steps walked, calorie intake, heartbeat rate, etc.

It helps to monitor your health by syncing to your smartphone or computer. They are widely popular with the name of smart bands nowadays.

You can also share this data with your doctor to allow him to keep track of your health and fitness.

It is not only lightweight but also looks attractive on your wrist. These handy devices estimate your fitness figures quite accurately.

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Fitness Tracking: Another Field Turned On Its Head By Ai

As with so many areas of technology, digital health has been vastly improved through the use of AI. For example, instead of writing long sequences of complicated code based on physical models to count steps, modern trackers rely on neural networks that use machine learning to determine strides. Similarly, instead of relying on human analysis of sleep data for each patient, trackers have systems that are trained on huge amounts of human-labeled sample data. As a result, they can categorize the sensor information from users into not just sleeping or awake, but even the specific type of sleep.

An Affordable Apple Watch Alternative

How Does Fitbit Sleep Mode Work?


  • Attractive design with large, always-on color display
  • Integrated GPS
  • Battery charges quickly and lasts for days
  • Measures blood oxygen level while sleeping
  • Supports Amazon Alexa, Fitbit Pay, and Spotify


  • No stress tracking, skin temperature, or ECG sensors
  • Doesn’t provide high and low heart rate notifications



  • Same screen size and resolution as the Series 6
  • Supports fall detection, heart health notifications, and Emergency SOS
  • Always-on altimeter for real-time elevation tracking
  • WatchOS 7 adds a handwashing countdown timer and sleep tracking
  • Best third-party smartwatch app selection



  • Measures breathing, energy level, and stress
  • SpO2 sensor

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What Are The Different Types Of Sleep Trackers

There are so many different sleep trackers on the market that boast unique designs and features, but when it comes to their technology, these devices can be categorized as wearable or non-wearable sleep trackers. Heres everything you need to know about these two categories:

Wearable Sleep Trackers

There are many different types of wearable devices that work as fitness and sleep trackers. These gadgets are commonly worn around the wrist or even fingers that track your activity throughout the day and even when youre asleep.

Wrist Trackers and Smartwatches

Smartwatches are the most popular type of wearable sleep trackers which employ special sensors for monitoring the heart rate and activity level. Wrist trackers can be paired with your smartphone through their own app, allowing you to track your progress and identify any factors that might cause disturbances in your sleep.


If youre looking for something thats less obtrusive with similar features as a smartwatch, then a sleep tracker ring might be a good option. This comprehensive device doubles as a fitness tracker that monitors your body temperature, heart rate, activity level, and key sleep metrics. Like smartwatches, sleep tracker rings can also be synced to a smartphone app for a more in-depth analysis of your nocturnal wellbeing and overall health.

Non-Wearable Sleep Trackers

How Does A Fitness Tracker Track Your Steps

It is something we often ponder upon. The magic behind these smart fitness trackers is simple science.

The fitness trackers are the product of the amalgamation of some sensors and algorithm.

The combination of sensors and algorithms are the core to make it count your every step.

The sensors are designed to measure your movement, rotation, direction, and altitude.

These sensors help collect this data from your movement and hence with the help of algorithms it is assembled to track the steps you have taken.

Conclusively, it is a combination of the sensory signals of your movements which are put together to display the data about your steps.

The sensors come in the shape of an Altimeter and some fitness trackers have a Barometer too.

How accurate are they in tracking stairs climbed and which one is best? I have a related article on this website that covers up this topic.

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So Is It Still Worth Wearing Your Fitness Tracker To Bed At Night

Most smartwatches and fitness trackers have whats called a tri-axis accelerometer in them. Thats a techy way of saying theres an accelerator in your wearable.

Its a small device made up of axis-based motion sensing and it tracks movement in every direction. Some even come with a gyroscope to measure orientation and rotation.

Using a process called actigraphy, your tracker translates your wrist movements into sleep patterns.

As you can imagine its not always accurate and theres some guesswork involved in that process. Thats because actigraphy just tracks one thing movement. And theres so much more to monitoring sleep than simply tossing and turning.

Brainwaves, eye movements, and breathing are also required to determine the difference between deep REM sleep and light sleep.

Psychologist Kelly Glazer Baron, PhD, MPH from the Rush University Medical Center, published a report in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine on the impact of fitness trackers on sleep.

Baron states that part of the problem lies in the technology itself. Citing multiple studies, Barons report states that these increasingly popular devices “are unable to accurately discriminate stages of sleep.” As Baron explains, “They are not able to differentiate between light and deep sleep.” Furthermore, “they might call it sleep when you’re reading in bed.”

What Is A Fitness Tracker


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A fitness tracker, such as a Fitbit or Apple Watch, is a device you wear like a wristwatch and that not only tell you the time, but also track your activity, heart rate, and even your sleeping habits. Most fitness trackers collect data on your movement using a 3-axis sensor called accelerometers. We will discuss this science in more detail later in this article, but basically that device you wear on your wrist tracks your movements in any direction, at any speed, to determine your activity levels throughout the day and night.

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How Did We Find The Best Sleep Tracker

Weve gone above and beyond in our quest for the best sleep tracker to find options that will fit most needs and preferences. Whether you prefer a wearable sleep tracker that can monitor your activity throughout the day or non-wearable ones that are fitted inside or under the bedding, weve found the perfect solution for all your sleep-related problems.

Weve evaluated each sleep trackers price, features, customer reviews, and brand reputation to curate a list of the best sleep trackers in 2021. Its important to us that the sleep trackers we recommend are easy to navigate and effective and pair well with their companion apps to give the best user experience for an unmatched price.

How Heart Rate Monitoring Works

If youve ever had a heart issue, you may have been hooked up to a machine with a variety of electrodes to monitor your heart . Those electrodes measure the small electrical currents emitted by the pacemaker cells in your heart. The best consumer-grade heart monitors use a simplified version of the same technique. A chest strap with electrodes on the inside is used. With that approach, it is possible to get both a very accurate measurement of heart rate, and also calculate Heart Rate Variability , an increasingly popular metric of fitness.

As you can imagine, thats something of a hassle, so most trackers rely on a less accurate but lower-hassle optical system. Optical heart rate monitors use a process called photoplethysmography to calculate your heart rate by shining light into your skin and measuring the reflectance. The light is emitted from LEDs on the inside of the tracking device. Multiple LEDs at different frequencies help provide better results across the wide range of possible skin colors and thickness.

To help with this, many trackers also incorporate an accelerometer to help them disregard incorrect data. The amount of light reflected also varies with ambient light level, as unless you are in a dark room or have your hand and wrist completely covered, some pollution of the light from the LEDs will occur. Higher-end devices include ambient light monitoring to minimize this problem.

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How Well Do Wearables Work

All wearable devices use an accelerometer to sense motion.

But theres a big difference between your Fitbit®, Jawbone UP®, or Apple or Android watch and an FDA-approved medical device like the Actiwatch®.

When researchers compared the Actiwatch to a formal sleep study, they found that it accurately measured total sleep and total wake time, says Dr. Lance.

The Actiwatch can also tell us when the sleep/wake cycle is off, which we look for in teens with insomnia.

Because the Actiwatch costs several thousand dollars, sleep experts loan it to patients for testing.

Will Tracking Make You Anxious

How Do Fitness Trackers Track Sleep? The Science Behind It All

There is one caveat: If you tend to be anxious, tracking your sleep may not be helpful, cautions Dr. Lance.

Some people can become obsessed with their device, checking their data constantly and worrying about whether its normal to awaken during the night.

But we all awaken at night, she says. The question is, do we fall back asleep OK, and can we function OK the next day?

Wanting to track your biometric data, however, is generally a good thing, Dr. Lance believes. It means youre more likely to follow doctors orders and do what it takes to maximize your well-being.

Consumer sleep technologies offer a wonderful, relatively inexpensive way to become more engaged in your overall health, she says.

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Common Design Features Of Sleep Trackers

Below is an overview of the common features available with sleep trackers. If any stand out to you as especially exciting, make a note to look for that feature as you start shopping.

Advanced sleep tracking

More advanced sleep trackers offer more than just sleep time and sleep stage analysis. They may also include smart listening technology, in order to detect signs of snoring or breathing irregularities.

Contactless sleep tracking systems usually monitor your bedroom environment as well. Theyll track ambient noise from your bedroom, air quality and temperature, and darkness level. For the most restful sleep possible, you need a bedroom thats dark, quiet, and cool. Contact-free sleep trackers can reveal whether your bedroom is set up for restful sleep, and theyll provide tips for improvement, such as lowering the temperature.

Detailed analytics

Many sleep trackers include advanced analytics, so you can gain a better picture of your overall health. You can track your bed- and wake-times from the past few days, weeks, or months, and see how your overall sleep time is affected. Advanced sleep trackers will overlay snoring and sleep stage metrics, too. Some trackers will give you a Sleep Score based on these metrics, giving you a goal to work towards with suggestions on achieving better sleep.

With wearable sleep trackers, you can view your activity level alongside your sleep patterns, allowing you to better understand how your sleep affects your daily life, and vice versa.

What Does A Typical Sleep

A typical night’s sleep follows the pattern below, cycling through Stages 1 to REM every 90-110 minutes, with REM cycles getting longer each time.


Stage 1 – light sleep

We drift in and out of sleep, our eyes move slowly and our muscle activity slows down. We are easily woken up again.

Stage 2 – also fairly light sleep

Our bodies start preparing for deep sleep. Our eye movements, heart rate and brain waves slow down. Our body temperature drops.

Stage 3 – deep sleep

Deep sleep or slow wave sleep. Our heart rate and breathing rate are at their lowest, our muscles are relaxed and our brain waves slow down further.

For healthy adults, 15-20% of your sleep should be deep sleep.

We are difficult to rouse and can feel disorientated if woken up from deep sleep.

REM sleep

We dream. Technically REM sleep isn’t the only period of sleep in which we dream, but the vivid, hallucinogenic, often emotional, and bizarre experiences which seem to form a narrative come from REM sleep.

Our eyes are closed but dart rapidly from side to side. Our brain activity returns to a more wakeful state.

Our breathing becomes faster, irregular and shallow.

Our limbs may become paralysed to stop us acting out our dreams.

Interestingly, studies show that getting enough REM sleep helps us better read the social world around us. Insufficient REM sleep can, amongst other things, blunt our ability to discern changes in others’ facial expressions and, thus, make it harder for us to navigate social situations.

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What Do Sleep Trackers Monitor

A wide variety of sleep trackers have hit the market, with more beingreleased all the time. Many are wearable trackers that you can strap toyour wrist. Others clip on your pillow or sit on your bedside table.

Features of these devices vary, but some common capabilities include:

  • Sleep duration: By tracking the time youre inactive, the devices can record when you fall asleep at night and when you stir in the morning.
  • Sleep quality: Trackers can detect interrupted sleep, letting you know when youre tossing and turning or waking during the night.
  • Sleep phases: Some tracking systems track the phases of your sleep and time your alarm to go off during a period when youre sleeping less deeply. In theory, that makes it easier for you to rouse.
  • Environmental factors: Some devices record environmental factors like the amount of light or temperature in your bedroom.
  • Lifestyle factors: Some trackers prompt you to enter information about activities that can affect sleep, such as how much caffeine youve had, when youve eaten or whether your stress level is high.

What Does a Typical Sleep Cycle Look Like?

During a typical night, you cycle through various stages of sleep:

This cycle repeats every 90 to 110 minutes. As sleep progresses, REM cyclesincrease in length.

Best Fitness Tracker : Top Picks For All Budgets

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It’s a boom time for fitness trackers, and there are more choices to suit every wallet.

While smartwatches have certainly taken over, activity bands style wearables are still immensely popular. And for good reason they’re suited to smaller wrists, generally less techy and easier to use.

So what can a fitness tracker do? Think step counting, measuring calorie burn, heart rate monitoring, detailed sleep tracking, swimming, stress tracking, sports and workout modes. And some of the best fitness trackers even pack in GPS.

Read on for our top picks.

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Making Data Easily Accessible

While wearables don’t do a perfect job of recording your sleep times, they can present the data to you in an easily digestible format graphs and charts through the companion app, for example.

Plus, many offer extra features that can help you chart changes in your sleep over time and spot patterns so that, over time, you can build up a good picture of how your daily behaviours impact your sleep, and vice versa. And simply being more conscious of the need to get more sleep can encourage better sleep behaviour which can, in turn, lead to better sleep.

Don’t get too concerned about the data from your smartwatch or fitness tracker, though. Dr Heather Morgan, lecturer in applied health sciences at the University of Aberdeen, and a specialist in digital health and fitness tracking, told us that wearables can help you better understand your sleep, and that analysing her own sleep had helped her achieve a better sleep pattern.

‘But’, she adds, ‘use your judgement and know your personality. If you’re prone to anxiety, sleep tracking may not be for you. Trying to perfect your sleep could be one more thing to fixate on, which could, ironically, stop you sleeping’.

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