Garmin Introduces Vivosmart : Slim Activity Tracker With Advanced Sleep Tracking Through Pulse Oxygen Sensor
Garmin has been making serious strides to provide more details on sleep quality and this latest activity tracker includes four sleep stages along with blood oxygen saturation gauging.
A couple of months ago, Garmin rolled out support for advanced sleep monitoring that includes awake time, light sleep, deep sleep, and REM stage. While my new high end Garmin Fenix 5 Plus supports this functionality, it is great to see Garmin launch the affordable Vivosmart 4 for the masses.
The only other Garmin device currently with the Pulse Ox sensor to measure blood oxygen saturation is the highest end Fenix 5X Plus. The new Vivosmart 4 has this sensor, but rather than focusing on high altitude training monitoring, the sensor is being used to help Garmin better define sleep quality.
The Vivosmart 4 is available in multiple colors with metal trim accents in silver, gold, and rose gold. It is safe for the pool and shower with a battery life of up to seven days.
It has a redesigned Elevate heart-rate sensor, abnormal heart rate alerts, VO2 max support, all-day stress tracking with relax reminders, and more. Basic smartwatch notifications are provided and you can even reply with preset messages if you are connected to an Android phone.
Dan Bartel, Garmin VP of global consumer sales, stated:
The Garmin Vivosmart 4 will launch for $129.99. Colors include berry with a gold bezel, powder grey with a rose gold bezel, black with a slate bezel, and azure blue with a silver bezel.
How Garmin Tracks Sleep
All of the current crop of Garmin fitness trackers and smartwatches have the ability to track sleep. They are not top of the line, but they do a decent enough job.
The lower end wearables use only movement and heart rate to analyse sleep. The companys more recent devices slap heart rate variability data to this, i.e. the length of time between a users heart beat. This helps with accuracy and the level of detail. Those with a SpO2 sensor even show how your blood oxygen levels fluctuate through the night and respiration details.
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The charts and graphs in Garmin Connect not only show how long you spent in light and deep sleep, but also in REM sleep. Awake time is also shown, along with a separate graph on movement.
Each sleep stage is important, but for different reasons. Light sleep typically accounts for over a half of your kip time. It is important for memory, learning, and letting your body recover from the day. The remainder is split relatively equally between Deep sleep and Rapid Eye Movement . The first promotes a healthy immune system and muscle growth, while the second is important for mental recovery and memory formation. REM is when most dreaming occurs.
During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health. The way you feel while youre awake depends in part on what happens while youre sleeping. Better sleep starts by knowing whats happening at night.
Garmin Connect Stress And Breathing Exercises
Sleep stats are incorporated into two other widgets in the Garmin Connect app. This app shows the last 24 hours of activity in a pie chart, with the amount of time spent in the following modes throughout the day.
- At rest
- Medium activity
- High activity
The rest state is considered the lowest stress level, so the more rest you allow yourself throughout the day, the lower your overall stress level.
The app isnt intended to make you remain sedentary throughout the day. Its intended to encourage you to balance out periods of high stress with equal periods of rest. By balancing stress with equal rest, you can keep your body in a balanced state with lower stress hormones that can harm your health.
You can also take a real-time measure of your current stress level by selecting the up or down buttons on your watch until you see the stress level widget. This will show you your current stress score based on activity over the last 2.5 hours.
Use the GPS button to initiate a meditation session for the number of minutes you would like. The watch will take you through a breathing exercise for the time you chose.
When finished, the widget will return to the real-time stress level screen where, hopefully, your current stress level number has dropped.
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Does Garmin Instinct Track Sleep
Garmin Instinct tracks sleep with a feature called Advanced Sleep Monitoring . Essentially, ASM keeps track of your sleep stages, including light, deep, and REM sleep. It also monitors oxygen saturation in the bloodstream while your eyes are closed.
To see your sleep metrics, you need to install the Garmin Connect mobile app or its web-based version.
The app analyzes the data collected by your watch and shows you:
- How long you sleep each night.
- How long you spend in each sleep stage.
- How long you are awake.
- Your movement during sleep.
- Your blood oxygen level.
If the app shows you a number below this, it could be a sign of a breathing disorder, so you should consult with your doctor.
Given the raging Covid-19 pandemic, you should seek medical attention if your Garmin Instinct is showing concerning numbers.
Another metric not included in the Instinct model but measured by several Garmin watches, such as Vivoactive 4 and Fenix 6, is respiration rate.
Respiration rate shows how many times you breathe in a minute, which generally should be between 12 and 20 during sleep.
Garmin Vivofit 4 First Take: Great Battery Life But No Heart
The Vivofit 4 is a relatively straightforward activity tracker, although there are plenty of options in the Garmin Connect app. The main draw is its year-long battery life.
| Topic: Mobility
The most significant feature of the £69.99 Garmin Vivofit 4 is probably the year-long battery life from its user-replaceable SR43 batteries. This means theres no need to carry a charge cable. As a regular wearer of activity trackers since they first became available, this has been a very long time coming, and its fabulous that its finally arrived. How nice it is to go away for a week and not have to pack a proprietary charge cable for my wristband.
The general build quality is fine, if a bit on the basic side. The one-piece rubbery band is snug enough on the wrist, and my review sample was black with lime-green specks and spots. Plain black and white options are also available, both with a textured finish.
The 8-colour screen is very small at just 11mm and 88 pixels square. The display is always on, so its easy to see the time whenever you want to provided you can manage with the small screen .
Upload data from the Vivofit 4 to the Garmin Connect app, where you can view and share a wealth of fitness information.
Garmin has not given the Vivofit 4 the ability to relay handset notifications. This isnt a feature Ive ever used in an activity tracker, so I didnt miss it here. Frankly, if a text comes in, Ill pick up the phone rather than look at my watch.
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Is Garmin Sleep Tracking Accurate
The Garmin sleep tracker relies solely on heart rate and your movement to determine if and how deeply you are sleeping. Despite not using other important measurements to monitor sleep, such as brain waves, oxygen levels, and breathing, Garmins 2019 found their accuracy to be about 70%.
If you have serious concerns about your sleep, your tracker will not help you get to the bottom of it. Those concerns need to be addressed by a medical professional. If you want to set and track a sleep goal, or you are just curious about your sleep patterns, Garmins tracker is accurate enough to serve those purposes.
Sleep Data From The Garmin Fenix 3
From the Garmin Fenix 3 via your phone or their Garmin Connect online account you let the watch know your typical sleep times and the watch will record your sleep.
The graph above is the movement during sleep. Garmin will interpret this data into deep and light sleep and that looks like the following.
Typically activity trackers that monitor your sleep will flag up just how little sleep you have. Read up on sleep and how much you should get. Then you will realise it is important and the deep sleep is what counts. In the chart above deep sleep is represented by the dark navy bars and the light sleep the light blue. Pink is awake time.
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How To Edit Sleep Tracking Data On A Garmin
Did you know that you can edit your Garmin sleep data?
For a day on which you get no sleep results, you can use this method to enter sleep manually. The screen will show a button marked Add Sleep Data. Tap on this and edit the start and end times.
Youll probably get a flat line representation during the hours you say you slept. But when you sync the watch the movement and other data should fill in.
You can do the same via the Sleep widget on the website dashboard.
How Does Garmin Monitor Sleep
Garmin and other major smartwatch makers generally use two sensors, the optical heart rate sensor and the accelerometer, to figure out whether youre asleep or not.
About five minutes after you sleep, your heart rate starts to drop below the average levels while youre awake. So, when the accelerometer shows that youre not moving and the HR sensor shows your heart rate has fallen, they know that youre asleep.
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Smartphone Apps For Sleep
If you dont want to wear your smartwatch or fitness tracker to bed or you cant, because the short battery life requires you to stick it on charge every night there are plenty of smartphone apps you can use instead.
Smartphone apps rely on an accelerometer to detect movement and, by extension, sleep. So, even more than with wristworn devices, you cant expect them to track super accurately.
Still, many offer useful tools for example, playing dreamscapes to help you sleep better, giving you tips from sleep experts and teaching you cognitive techniques and behavioural strategies to reset your sleeping patterns.
You could use Pillow on your phone instead of watch, for example.
If you use your watch, Pillow says it will take heart-rate measurements into its calculations. If you use your phone in addition to or instead of your watch, it will use the phones microphone to include analysis of your snoring if you restrict access to the microphone, Pillow says its sleep analysis could be less accurate. Pillow is an iOS app only, so you cant use it if youre on Android.
Or the NHS recommends the following smartphone apps:
- Pzizz free for certain features, with the option to make in-app purchases
- Sleepio free in some areas of the country
- Sleepstation free with GP referral
What Garmin Sleep Reveals
We would all like to get the best sleep at night, not having to wake up tired and/or feeling sleepy throughout our day. Many people, including myself, get very upset and cranky after not having enough sleep. Our mood and health get affected when we are not able to get enough sleep.
After a good nights sleep or in some cases a short nights sleep, you can see the breakdown of the time you have spent in the different sleep stages and also the duration of any periods when you were awake. However, the sleep stats will not be displayed on the watch itself but the Garmin Connect app or web tools.
Moreover, the app allows you to add a widget to get your most recent sleep time displayed on your My Day screen. Also, you can get the breakdown by hitting More and then tap into your health stats. If you see the timeline presented and you spot an error, you can manually edit the information in the Garmin Connect app and the web tools.
But there is an additional measure you will see called Pulse Ox. Well, since this measure will be recorded as you are sleeping, you will see a movement line showing the level of oxygen in your blood, also known as SpO2. The normal range is between 94 to 100% range. If you get a score particularly below 90% it may be a sign of health issues .
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Making Data Easily Accessible
While wearables dont 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.
Dont 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 youre 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.
What Is Garmin Sleep Tracking
Garmin sleep tracking is more officially known as Advanced Sleep Monitoring . Although previous Garmin watches could track heart rate, newer Garmin watches have an optical heart rate sensor, allowing the watch to give you more detailed information about your sleep.
With the optical heart rate sensor, the watch can measure heart rate variability, which lets you know when youre in REM or non-REM. Your heart rate is all over the place when youre in REM sleep, which allows your watch to differentiate between the two.
The watch will get more accurate the more often you wear it because it will start to figure out what your heart rate is when you fall asleep. It will also use the accelerometer to track movement to account for any times that you get up in the middle of the night for a bathroom break.
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How To Get The Most Accurate Garmin Sleep Tracking Data
Here are a few pointers to ensure you get the most accurate sleep data from your gadget.
- Turn on the Garmin two to three hours before your bedtime. Doing so will allow the watch to measure your heart rate before falling asleep, boosting its accuracy in determining when you fall asleep.
- Ensure the heart rate tracking is accurate by ensuring the watch isnt tightly snug on your wrist. To get into the habit, its advisable to wear it every night. Leaving it charging overnight means youll get inaccurate sleep data.
- Ensure the heart rate monitor of the watch is on.
- If you own at least 2 Garmin watches, set the one you want to wear throughout the night as your preferred activity tracker in the devices Garmin Connect app. Youll also have to ensure the app is up-to-date and your date of birth is saved in the User settings.
What To Do With Your Garmin Sleep Data
Just like you use your running data to improve and figure out things about yourself, sleep data works the same way. Use information youve gained to recognize sleep patterns.
If you feel particularly groggy some mornings, look at your data. How long did you sleep? When did you go to bed? Compare it to days when you felt refreshed. What was different?
Having more information about your sleep patterns will help you develop good sleep habits, which are key for any runner who wants to run their best. Sleep is an integral part in physical fitness, helping your body to heal and making you stronger.
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How Is Deep Sleep Measured
Sleep researchers usually measure deep sleep with the use of polysomnography or PSG, normally in a lab setting. This is known to be the Gold Standard for measuring sleep and researchers seem to agree that PSG is the best way to measure sleep. However, if we refer to a wearable device such as a smartwatch, it usually employs the heart rate optical sensor to detect changes in heart rate to determine sleep cycle stages.
Garmin Vs Fitbit: We Compare Wearables Apps And Features
Choosing between Garmin or Fitbit is a big decision for many trying to choose a fitness wearable and while they may seem similar, in fact theres huge differences between the two.
Its all about the type of data you want and once you work that out the choice between the two brands becomes much more straight forward.
For people who live and breathe sports Garmin is a natural choice.
And while Fitbit has moved way beyond step tracking, its still the right choice for those interested in their overall health and wellbeing, with perhaps less interest in hardcore fitness features.
But thats not the end of the story.
Garmin has a much wider range of features and devices which come in different form factors and price points.
Whats more, if youre starting a fitness journey then you might want to choose a device that grows with you.
We know theres a whole lot to cover, so weve broken down some of the key areas from hardware, features, apps and of course fitness tracking to see how the two compare.
And weve tried to offer a glimpse inside what owning a device from each company is really like.
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