The Best Sleep Trackers
How much sleep do you get every night? The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults between ages 26 and 64 get from seven to nine hours of sleep each night, but 35 percent of us get less than that.
An obsession with technology can make the situation worse. The tendency to stay glued to computers, smartphones and televisions disrupts sleep schedules with blue light, which disturbs your body’s natural circadian rhythm. The end result? You have a harder time getting to sleep at night and feel tired when you get out of bed in the morning.
Could technology help you get a better night’s sleep? We found the best in sleep tech, from simple fitness trackers to full-fledged smart mattresses. They can track your sleep, offer suggestions for getting more restful sleep and even help you fall asleep faster. If you’re looking to improve your night’s rest, keeping tabs on your sleep with one of these products is a good place to start.
Fitbit Flex 2
The Flex 2 is a basic fitness tracker designed to keep tabs on your steps and daily physical activity, including swimming. Like many fitness trackers, it also tracks sleep and includes a silent alarm to wake you up in the morning. When you wear the Fitbit Flex 2 to bed, it automatically senses when you doze off. Then it spends all night keeping an eye on your sleep patterns, recording how long you slept and when you were restless or awake, a good indication of the quality of your sleep. The data, all of which syncs up to your smartphone, computer and the Fitbit website, is a bit basic compared to what you’ll get from devices wholly devoted to sleep, but this tool gives you a good overview of your sleeping habits.
One nice feature of the Flex is its wide range of accessories. Instead of only offering a rubberized band that screams “fitness tracker,” Fitbit’s pendants and bracelets in silver, gold and rose gold fit in with any jewelry collection. Third-party designers offer even more options for wearing your Flex, like the eGenPlus silicone clip holder ($12), which features a strong magnetic clasp to keep your Flex in place. If you don’t like the feeling of a wristband, this is a great option for sleep tracking; just clip it to your pajamas, and you’re good to go!
Price: $79.89 at Amazon
The Activite’s features are similar to those of the Flex 2. It tracks steps, activity (including swimming) and sleep. The big difference here is the Activite’s look and battery power. The Activite’s appearance is what you’ll notice first. This smartwatch has a round face with analog hands for a classic wristwatch look. The Activite Pop has a PVD-coated watch case with a silicone band, and the Steel has a stainless steel case with double-domed glass with a silicone band. If you like the classic look, you won’t find anything in the Fitbit lineup like it. If you’d rather have something more modern (or more options for how to wear it), the Flex 2 may be a better bet.
The Activite’s battery supply is another huge selling point. Its replaceable watch battery lasts up to eight months. By comparison, the Flex 2’s rechargeable battery lasts up to five days. If you have trouble remembering to charge your tracker, you may find your Flex 2 frequently dead.
The Withings app makes health suggestions to keep you active and tracks the same types of sleep data as the Flex 2. It automatically records how long you’ve slept, but instead of splitting data into categories showing whether you’re asleep, restless or awake, Withings shows you how long you were awake, in light sleep and in deep sleep. The Activite syncs automatically to the Withings app for easy access to all of your sleep data.
While fitness trackers are convenient, multipurpose devices, the Withings Aura is fully focused on helping you sleep better. The Aura is a two-gadget package: a bedside speaker and light plus a sleep sensor that slides under your mattress, more accurate than the average fitness tracker. The Aura automatically monitors your and analyzes your nightly sleep patterns. In addition to tracking light, deep and REM sleep phases, Aura monitors the conditions in your bedroom, noting sound, temperature and light levels and how they impact your sleep. All this data is synced to your smartphone (sorry, Android users, iOS only for now), which lets you check out your sleep data and offers suggestions on how to get a better night’s rest.
But sleep tracking is only part of the package. Aura’s bedside light makes use of the correlation between light levels and circadian rhythm. Its programmed light and sound patterns are designed to lull you to sleep and wake you up in the morning. It also picks just the right time to wake you up; instead of waking you at a precise time, it waits until you’re in a light sleep phase to rouse you. That means you’re less groggy when you get out of bed — and who wouldn’t want that?
Price: $299.95 at Amazon
Sense Sleep System
Perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing of the bedside sleep trackers, Sense is a simple sphere that sits on your bedside table and pairs with a tracker that attaches to your pillow. The Sense lulls you to sleep with white noise and then monitors your environment to pinpoint things that might interrupt your sleep. The tracker, or “Sleep Pill,” keeps tabs on how much you toss and turn. (If you want to track more people, all you have to do is buy another $50 Sleep Pill.) Like the Aura, Sense puts that data together to offer insights on how you’re sleeping and how to get a better night’s rest. Also like the Aura, the Sense’s smart alarm wakes you when you’re in the lightest phase of your sleep cycle.
The stand-out feature here is voice control. Instead of groggily scrolling through a smartphone app when you wake up, you can just talk to Sense. Ask it to set an alarm before you go to sleep, or ask it how you slept when you wake up in the morning. Voice control is starting to take over technology, but it hasn’t quite gotten to the sleep tech market. Sense is the only place you’ll find it yet.
Price: $134.99 on Amazon
Sleepace Sleep Dot Mini
If you want quality sleep tracking on a budget, the Sleep Dot Mini is probably your best bet. Priced at just under $40, this sleep tracker attaches to your pillow and syncs to your smartphone to monitor your sleep throughout the night and wake you up in the morning. It provides a lot of data, breaking your night up into awake, light sleep, mid sleep and deep sleep as well as tracking your movement through the night. Every night it gives you a score based on how long you slept, how long it took you to fall asleep, how late you went to bed and more, which gives you an easy way to evaluate how well you’re sleeping. If you want to monitor sleep for multiple members of the household, pick up multiple Dots.
While the Sleep Dot lacks the light and sound features of the Aura or Sense, you can pair it with the Nox Smart Sleep Light to add those features for an extra $150—still less than the price of an Aura, although pricier than the Sense. But if you don’t want the extras, this gadget offers some very budget-friendly sleep tracking.
UA Athlete Recovery Sleepwear
One factor that affects sleep quality is what you go to sleep in, at least according to fitness brand Under Armour. The company’s Athlete Recovery Sleepwear uses far infrared therapy to help your body recover. It sounds like science fiction, but studies suggest far infrared can improve both recovery time and sleep quality. That’s where picking up UA’s Sleepwear comes into play. Each garment has a bioceramic print that absorbs natural heat and reflects it back as far infrared, giving your body a nighttime boost.
But does this really work? Even UA admits wearing the right clothes is just part of getting a good night’s sleep. The company also recommends shutting down digital devices, keeping a consistent bedtime and keeping your room clean and quiet for the best sleep. Once you have those routines down, Athlete Recovery Sleepwear may help you get more out of your night’s rest.
Price: $59.99 to $99.99 at Under Armour
Eight Sleep Tracker Smart Mattress and Mattress Topper
If you’re interested in tracking sleep for both you and your partner, Eight’s Sleep Tracker mattress or mattress topper may be the answer. This gadget is exactly what it sounds like, a mattress pad laced with sensors to monitor just how well sleepers on both sides of the bed are resting. Place the mattress and mattress pad on your bed frame like any other mattress. Both devices plug into the included hub, which plugs into the wall (no batteries to worry about) and gives the Eight its smarts.
And this tracker really is smart. Like most sleep sensors, the Eight tracks your body movement to see when you’re restless and when you’re in deep sleep. It also monitors your breathing rate, heart rate and more to gauge the quality of your sleep. Paired with a smartphone app, the Eight offers insights into how you’re sleeping and offers tips to sleep better. Like the Aura, it can wake you up in the morning at the lightest part of your sleep cycle.
Its standout features are heating and smart home integration. The Eight has a built-in heating system to warm the bed when you’re ready to turn in for the night, so you’re always pleasantly toasty. Each side of the bed can keep its own schedule, warming to the ideal temperature at the ideal time for each sleeper. The Eight offers stellar smart home integration with IFTTT. It can automatically turn on your coffee pot when you wake up or turn off the lights when you go to bed.
Sleep Number 360 Smart Bed
Sleep Number has always made mattresses you can customize to just the right firmness for each sleeper. The company’s latest creation changes firmness automatically to keep you comfortable. When the mattress senses you’ve rolled from your back to your side, it automatically adjusts for maximum comfort. It even detects snoring and automatically raises the snorer’s head to stop it. To help you fall asleep faster, it pre-warms before bedtime, because cozy feet can help you fall asleep faster. Just like other Sleep Number beds, the 360 does these things independently for sleepers on both sides of the bed.
It’s all powered by biometrics built into the bed that tell the 360 just how well you’re sleeping. In addition to the basics—how long you slept, when you were restless and when you were awake—the Sleep Number 360 tracks your heart rate and breaths per minute. Like many smart sleep gadgets, it can wake you when you’re in the lightest phase of your sleep cycle. Integration with other apps like Fitbit, MapMyRun and Nest let the bed give you sleep insights based on other data, like your exercise habits and room temperature.
Price: None yet; coming in 2017 from Sleep Number
Sleep isn’t important only for grown-ups; being well-rested helps kids do their best in school and other activities. And getting a good night’s sleep means a good mattress. Sleep Number’s SleepIQ Kids mattress is like an adult mattress, adjustable for comfort. That can be important for a growing child whose needs will change. The SleepIQ can change with them.
But what’s really handy about this bed is the sleep tracking feature set. SleepIQ knows when your kids are asleep and when they wake up. In both cases, it can let you know so you can turn out the lights (remotely, of course) or know when it’s time to get breakfast ready in the morning. Two mattress types are available. The K1 does everything we’ve explained so far, and the K2 can also raise and lower the head of the bed for reading.
ReST Smart Bed
While the Sleep Number 360 adjusts its firmness based on your preferences, the ReST Smart Bed adjusts its firmness for different parts of your body to provide completely customizable comfort. The mattress has five zones—head, shoulders, back, hips and legs—all of which can have their own independent firmness settings. While you sleep, ReST monitors your unique shape and pressure profile and adjusts to keep you comfortable as you shift in your sleep. The ReST app keeps track of everything, letting you see how long you were asleep and awake and your position throughout the night.
This bed offers no light or sound programs to help you get to sleep or alarms to wake you up; the ReST is fully focused on giving you a great bed and nothing else. If you’re looking for a comfortable night’s sleep without bells and whistles you won’t use, ReST is it.
Price: $2,799.00 to $5,598.00 from ReST
[Image credits: waking up happy via BigStockPhoto, Fitbit, Withings, SleepAce, Hello, Under Armour, Sleep Number, Eight, ReST]