I Tried a Sleep Tracker And Even I Was Surprised About What Happened Next
You track your bank account, your fitness gains, your favorite sports team and your newsfeed but what about your sleep? Technology offers us a myriad of ways in which we can improve our health, and tracking your sleep is a sure fire way to building a better you. Read on to find out about a range of sleep trackers, their various features and how you can utilize their technology to enhance your life, whilst sleeping and awake!
How do sleep trackers use advanced technology to measure your sleep?
Of course before one dives into making a purchase that can set you back a fair bit of cash, it is necessary and very helpful to understand how a product works. If the best sleep is what you’re after, then you will require the knowledge of how a sleep tracker actually functions to ensure you buy the best one for your circumstances.
Tracking physiological changes
There are several ways in which sleep trackers engage with our bodies to measure how well we are sleeping. Most sleep trackers, including all wearable gadgets, use a built in accelerometer. This is a device that measures the amount your body moves during sleep. Accelerometers are considered the most accurate single method of measuring sleep quantity and quality in regards to sleep trackers. On the surface it seems pretty simple; when we are asleep we are more likely to lay still and when we are awake we are more likely to move. With the help of scientific research and technological developments we can take such a simple measurement and extract from it more specific, detailed and relevant data. Modern sleep trackers can directly correlate the amount of movement produced with a specific stage in the sleep cycle. This allows sleep trackers to more accurately track your sleep patterns; identifying whether you are in deep sleep, light sleep or REM sleep, as well as whether you are falling asleep or are about to wake.
Investigating the top level choices of sleep trackers you’ll find they go one step further and integrate more than one measuring process with their inbuilt accelerometer. Measuring your heart rate is a common addition that, when combined with measuring your movement, produces more accurate data. As you move into deeper sleep, your heart rate slows and beats in a more even and regular rhythm. The rate of your breathing is also a bodily function that can be measured for more detailed analysis. Just as with the heart rate, your breath rate also slows into a balanced, rhythmic pattern when sleeping.
Developers of these sleep trackers are utilizing new technologies to measure and interpret the physiological changes that occur in our body when we are sleeping. But they haven’t stopped there. Modern sleep trackers also have the ability to measure external factors as a means to produce even more accurate and detailed data about your complete sleep experience.
Measuring external factors
Through the use of microphone technology, many sleep tracking devices have the ability to measure noise. This helps in two ways; firstly it determines whether or not there is a disruptive noise present that could be eliminated to promote better sleep. Secondly it identifies if you are snoring which, when at a level that is severely disruptive, can be a sign of sleep conditions including sleep apnea.
Additional sensors on various devices record the ambient temperature and air humidity of your bedroom. A temperature of 60-67 degrees and a humidity of 40-60% represents a comfortable, sleep conducive environment. These particular conditions ensure your core body temperature drops slightly as you fall asleep. This mimics the natural process of falling asleep and therefore encourages sleep initiation, as well as longer periods of uninterrupted sleep. Collecting data on the temperature and humidity of your bedroom enables sleep trackers to provide more insight as to why you maybe finding it difficult to fall and stay asleep.
Light sensors also offer greater information about whether the type, quality or amount of light is conducive for sleep. As natural light fades, the hormone Melatonin increases in our bodies and communicates with our brain to prepare our body for sleep. This encourages our muscles to relax, our body temperature to drop and creates a feeling of drowsiness. When we are overexposed to strong, harsh light at night, including blue light from electronic devices, our Circadian rhythm - or ‘body clock’ - is put out of whack. When this occurs it becomes difficult for our confused body to produce effective sleep. Sleep trackers that use these sensors provide another way in which you can identify if you are sabotaging your sleep routine with inappropriate exposure to light.
You can see how these intelligent devices use many methods to gather extensive information in the aim of helping you improve your sleep. From advanced gadgets that are clipped to your pillow, devices strategically placed in your room, high tech sensors placed under your mattress or wearable technologies, there is a variety of products you can choose from that will fit the bill.
How do you utilize sleep trackers’ features to master healthy sleep?
For you to be able to achieve the great results you desire with the assistance of your sleep tracker, you first need to recognise what great results look like! Let's take a closer look at the outcomes of obtaining healthy sleep and how you can use sleep tracking devices in a way that optimizes the potential for these successful health gains.
Health benefits of better sleep - the goals of sleep tracking devices
Do you know that amazing feeling when you wake up after a long peaceful sleep? The world is calm, your mind is clear and your body feels in tip-top condition. The benefits of healthy sleep have an extremely positive impact on the mind and body, and become the ultimate goals when you decide to use a sleep tracker to improve your sleep.
The benefits of a healthy sleep routine and the goals you should be aiming for include increased alertness, greater creativity, enhanced problems solving skills, sharper attention and longer attention span. A good night's sleep will improve work performance due to elevated cognitive ability and a reduction in fatigue and exhaustion. When you are well slept you are less reliant on calories for energy which assists in healthy weight loss or maintenance. You experience greater physical capabilities, lower stress and improved reaction times which assists with easier and more efficient decision making. Healthy sleep reduces the risk of heart attacks and combats depression. Ensuring adequate sleep during all stages of your sleep cycle helps to improve your overall state of health. The light sleep stage develops your memory and learning, the deep sleep phase boosts your immune system and cellular recovery, and REM sleep assists with mental restoration.
Maximise your potential and achieve greater health
With the knowledge of what healthy sleep is on a scientific level and as a basic human experience, you can utilize sleep tracking devices and their technology to achieve greater results. The Withings Aura Smart Sleep System is an effective device that aims to simulate healthy sleep cycles in the most natural way possible. The Aura Smart Sleep System emits light to promote the production of your body’s natural hormones response. Your body interprets the Aura’s light source as the start of a new day. As the artificial light gradually increases, mimicking the sun rise, you experience a natural and more gentle process of waking. This sleep tracking device also uses the Smart WakeUP additional feature to pre-program waking times to reflect your body clock. This sleep tracker does an amazing job at recreating your body’s natural sleep phases, bringing you out of sleep without leaving you feeling startled or groggy.
Broaden your horizons and integrate!
The best thing about exploring a competitive market is that the range of high end devices are all bidding for the top spot, and are utilizing the most advanced technology to get there. This has created a huge push to design and build sleep trackers that are highly multifunctional. To keep up with consumer demands, developers are also expected to supplement their devices with extremely helpful apps. There are two ways in which you can reap greater rewards from these associated apps. The most obvious is to use them to combat your busy life by connecting your sleep tracker to your mobile device for quick and easy use on the go. But the most valuable way these apps can have a life changing effect on your health is made possible through the collaboration of major brands working together to enhance their products with cross-company app and device integration.
The power lies in your hands. Using your sleep tracker by simply reading the data it collects about your sleep is just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine the powerful potential of linking more than one amazing technological resource together through intelligent integration. Along with the Withings Aura Smart Sleep System, the Sense with Voice sleep tracking device connects to the Nest Learning Thermostat. Simply use voice activation to ask your Sense with Voice device to communicate with the Nest Learning Thermostat and set the room temperature. The two collaborate their data and adjust the temperature in your bedroom to one that is appropriate for your optimal sleeping conditions.
Sense with Voice also integrates with the Philips Hue System, making it amazingly easy to alter your exposure to various coloured lights. Whether it be to promote falling asleep, enhance your sleep experience or to gently wake you up, the correct color or intensity of light for the job can be scheduled at the touch of a button on your mobile device.
The Misfit Shine 2 wearable device measures more than just your sleep. This fitness tracker is a great example of powerful cross-company integration. It has the Misfit Link App that works to bring a wide variety of other devices’ capabilities to the touch of your beautifully designed ‘watch’. Taking advantage of the device’s water resistant capabilities, developers teamed up with Speedo to connect the Misfit Shine 2 with its in-app Lap Counting Upgrade. From your favorite music apps, to Apple Health, MyFitnessPal, Lose It! and Nest, the Misfit Shine 2 brings all the opportunities to you, maximising your data collection and helping you track and share your fitness and sleep results.
The endless possibilities of data
The greater amount of personalised information collected results in a more detailed and specific snapshot of your sleep health. Cutting edge technology allows the new sleep trackers on the market to produce immensely helpful information that can help your to understand specifically how to improve you behaviors and routine. The Sense with Voice sleep tracking device stands out with its ability to measure air quality. This unique function can test to see if the particles in the air are affecting your sleep, which can be especially helpful for those suffering from allergies, asthma or related conditions that increase breathing difficulties.
I discovered another unique function, this one a feature of the Fitbit Charge 2 wearable device. As with all other sleep trackers it presents its collected data in an easy to read format, including graphs, percentages or progressive stats. What is truly helpful with the Fitbit Charge 2 is its ability to inform you of how your sleep trends compare to others the same age and gender. They ingeniously extended the simple act of supplying you with data and used one of the world’s largest data bases to create an opportunity for you to learn how your quality of sleep measures up on a broader scale. This is such a powerful feature in terms of setting appropriate, realistic, achievable goals and maintaining your motivation to continue improving sleep behavior.
What success look like - Evidence and results
As we have seen, all sleep tracking devices collect data about your sleeping patterns in a variety of ways. These results are then presented to you in the form of beautifully displayed graphs, charts and projections. The more measuring methods the device recruits to collect data, the more numerous and detailed the graphs will be. Most gadgets use comparisons across various types of charts to display meaningful information successfully. The Beddit 3.0 Smart Sleep Monitor has mastered the act of providing and displaying extremely helpful data. This Beddit enables you to add in you own notes that describe more specific personalized information such as the various conditions, actions and behaviours you experienced on any given day. Not only does the sleep monitor interpret data collected from the device itself, but it analyzes and correlates your personal notes to complete a more comprehensive analysis of the circumstances surrounding your sleep patterns.
Transforming data into action!
A pretty graph is all well and good, but it isn't going to help you if the information just sits there on the screen of your device. It is what you DO with that data that makes a sleep tracker a health boosting, sleep enhancing gadget! As described, the Fitbit Charge 2 supports that first step to changing your behaviour by comparing your results with others. In addition to this the Fitbit Charge 2 invites you to make actionable changes. By analyzing your sleep habits it will work with you to set a sleep schedule that modifies the time you go to bed and wake in the morning, in the aim of enhancing your duration and quality of sleep.
The Fitbit Charge 2 also uses information gathered about your heart and breathing rate to suggest moments where you need to stop and focus on eliminating stress using its Guided Breathing Sessions. This alert feature is a magnificent feature that interprets real-time data to encourage actionable results through the adjustment of your immediate behavior.
The Sense with Voice sleep tracker provides a very human-like experience. The conversational relationship you establish with the stylish spherical gadget enhances your connection, and therefore your commitment to using it. The associated Sense App goes one step further than the Fitbit Charge 2. Where the Fitbit provides comparable information with which you can interpret and determine your progress and goals, the Sense App provides more specific insights and information. It uses your personal data to present you with specific actions you can take to improve your sleep. Individualized goals created with personalised data collection and research backed advice... it truly is amazing what technology can do!
Rest easy using sleep tracker technology
The plethora of amazing and innovative features the most current sleep trackers provide is mind blowing. But of course it is only worth manufacturing devices with these capabilities if buyers enjoy the experience of engaging with the product. Amongst all the high tech capabilities of these devices, developers still need to ensure they are easy and simple to use. The creators of the Beddit 3.0 Smart Sleep Monitor made a point in their marketing campaigns to highlight that their sleep tracking device..
“...does not require you to open an app and press a button every night. It measures fully automatically - the only thing you need to do is sleep”.
As mentioned, the Sense with Voice is completely voice activated. You do not even need to lift a finger to ask for your sleep score, explain which of your favorite Sleep Sounds you’d like to listen to or to request set your Smart Alarm. You can do it all from the comfort of your own bed!
The Fitbit Charge 2 promotes ease of use by creating your schedule with friendly reminders, as does the Misfit Shine 2 which does so using light vibrations and an animated light display on the device’s interface. The Misfit is a sleek and simple tracker with a minimalist design that can be worn in various additional places on the body including your pocket, belt or shoe.
So why my surprise?
Before my investigation I made great assumptions about sleep trackers and their limited abilities, but as I initiated my research I was more than surprised! I was astounded not only at the height of advanced technology that is included in these tiny devices, but the innovative ways the developers and companies behind these gadgets have created ways their technology can be integrated seamlessly into everyday life. It has become so easy to experience the benefits of health boosting sleep. With the ability to link one device with several others, sleep trackers can easily enhance the efficiency and success of taking care of your own health. With less headaches, greater concentration and more physical energy under my belt, I am definitely an advocate of utilizing sleep tracking technology and becoming empowered to take a proactive approach to improving your sleep, and therefore your overall quality of life.