Do you have an Apple Watch, Garmin, Polar, Fitbit… you name it, on your wrist?
If so, then you’ve probably tried the sleep tracking feature on your smartwatch. Even if you don’t have any of these wearables, you may still have experimented with sleep tracking – using your smartphone or perhaps even a fancy Oura ring!
You get a wearable, they get a wearable, everyone gets a wearable!
Over the past few years, the wearables market has skyrocketed into the stratosphere, and sleep tracking has grown alongside this trend!
While specialist-prescribed sleep tests (costing hundreds to thousands of dollars) are still available to those who truly need precise measurements for medical purposes, for the rest of us, tracking our sleep via an affordable wearable feels like it should certainly be “good enough”.
Or is it?
Getting to the truth of sleep tracking
Most people who’ve tried sleep tracking, inevitably reach a point where they ask themselves, “Is my sleep trackers really worth my time, effort and investment?” and “How much can I trust the results I’m getting from it?”
Most importantly, you need to know, “How can I best use my sleep tracker to improve my sleep?”
How sleep trackers work, what do they measure?
To decide whether a sleep tracker can help to improve your sleep, it’s necessary to first understand how they work. First, let’s break a myth surrounding sleep trackers – no, they don’t (can’t) actually measure your sleep directly.
Instead, sleep trackers measure multiple factors, such as your movement, breathing, heart rate, environmental sounds, etc. This data is then analysed as a collective, and used to determine your:
- Sleep duration: The total amount of time you spent sleeping.
- Sleep quality: How restful your sleep was, and how recharged your body will be. (Note: Higher quality sleep will mean your body and energy levels will be recharged more, even with less sleep. Which is why the length of time you sleep, may not always directly correspond with how refreshed you feel the next morning.)
- Sleep stages: How much time you spent in light sleep, deep sleep, REM sleep, etc.
- Expected energy levels: An estimation of your energy levels for the day ahead. This figure can be impacted by sleep duration, sleep quality and other factors like alcohol, diet, medication, an uncomfortable sleeping environment, and more. While your sleep tracker can’t tell what food or medication you took, these other factors may affect other readings, which is how sleep trackers can tell that you may not be sleeping as well on a particular night.
- Anticipated sleep surplus/debt: Been sleeping late a few nights in a row? Some sleep trackers will show the amount of extra sleep you should catch up on to recover fully.
Limitations of sleep trackers
Now that you know most wearable sleep trackers can’t measure sleep directly, and you understand how they calculate the results they offer, we can discuss the biggest limitation of these devices – you shouldn’t expect most of these devices to be extremely accurate.
That is why some owners of sleep trackers report watching YouTube videos in bed for an hour before sleeping, only to find that their device measuring all this as “sleeping time”. Similarly, individuals with insomnia often find their sleeping duration being shown as much higher than their actual sleeping hours, simply because they were lying on the bed the entire night.
On this note, better sleep trackers will certainly offer you better – although still far from 100% accurate – results. For example, a sleep tracker that speaks to your phone intelligently, will know that you’ve been watching Netflix in bed and won’t count that time as sleeping hours.
Making the most of your sleep tracker
Feeling pessimistic about your sleep tracking data now? Don’t be.
The figures may not be 100% accurate, but your sleep trends don’t lie. That’s why it’s important to make sleep tracking a habit, so you can build a database of your sleeping trends, and use these insights to improve the quality of your sleep, health and energy levels.
For example, if you constantly feel tired at work but energetic at night, what could the issue be? Looking at your sleeping trends, you may realise that you’re frequently sleeping past midnight and waking up at 6am. With this knowledge, you could experiment with either extending your sleep duration, or shifting your sleep schedule so you sleep earlier – but also wake up earlier (or vice versa).
Or perhaps you realise from the data that every time you have coffee in the afternoon, you inevitably sleep at 2am that night? And you find that this results in a shorter sleep duration and interrupted sleep cycles, which leads to feeling sleepy and unproductive the next day? Knowing this, you could try having coffee earlier in the day, then checking back in after a week to see if your sleep tracking data shows different trends because of your modified coffee timing.
Small shifts in your daily habits, when viewed alongside your sleep tracking insights, can result in big positive changes to your health and lifestyle.
Sleep tracking is one part of the “better sleep” formula
Want better sleep and more restful nights? Sleep tracking can certainly give you insights into the quality of your sleep, but to make improvements in this area, you’ll need to take action – and one of the best ways to ensure more blissful nights is with a quality latex mattress.
Explore our wide range of latex mattresses, suitable for singles, couples, kids and infants. But don’t buy your mattress on a whim (or simply because you read an online article or saw an advertisement), visit a Sofzsleep showroom and try our mattresses in real life!
Complete your “better sleep” formula with sleep tracking and a high-quality Sofzsleep latex mattress.