Guide to Using Sleep Trackers

Guide to Using Sleep Trackers

A good night's rest helps you re-energize to face the next day. Sleep is the restorative cycle that your body needs every day, so when you don't get a full night's rest, you are operating at well below peak efficiency. Indeed, your ability to make decisions and pay attention - and even your reflexes - are compromised when you're tired. That makes getting a full night's rest a priority. Sleep trackers may be able to help you establish good nighttime habits or sleep hygiene. However, before strapping on a wristband or downloading an app to track your nightly rest, be sure to understand how they work and how to get the most accurate results.

What do sleep trackers do?

At-home sleep trackers typically use an accelerometer to determine your time spent counting sheep. That means they only track movement; when you are not moving, the sleep tracker reasons, you must be asleep. Fitness bands often do a good job of tracking when you fall asleep, but they may not be great at tracking sleep cycles and sleep disorders.

Moving at night doesn't mean you're awake

You move in your sleep. Everyone moves throughout the night. Consumer sleep trackers use periods of more vigorous movement to indicate that your sleep is restless. If you move too much, your sleep tracker might even think you have woken up. To get the best results from sleep trackers, you need to do some tracking of your own.

Keep a sleep log

Before you go to sleep each night, note down your bedtime. Then, in the morning, record your awakening. As soon as you wake up each day, write down a few words to describe how you feel about the night. If you wake up feeling refreshed and energized, you probably got a good night's rest.

Compare and contrast results

As you log your sleep, you can compare that information with the information collected from your sleep tracker. You might notice that on nights when you fall asleep at a certain time, you sleep better. You might also notice some inconsistencies between your log and your sleep tracker.

Get the most accurate results from a sleep tracker

To get the best results from a sleep tracker, you need to be sure you are wearing it properly. Most fitness wristbands should be secured tight to the skin and an inch or two above the wrist. Leaving them around the wrist makes them more prone to slipping during nighttime movements. If you use a phone app to track your sleep, you need to be willing to sleep with the phone in your bed, as it can't track motion from the nightstand. Also, keep in mind that most sleep trackers have a sleep mode. Notifying your device that it is bedtime can help it get more accurate readings.

If you often wake up or have trouble falling asleep, be sure to contact your doctor. A sleep tracker can help you notice the problem, but it will take a sleep study to diagnose the issue and get help.


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