These sensors on my nightstand, under my mattress and on my wrists automatically capture all kinds of information overnight. I swim in a sea of data — time in bed, time asleep, time taken to sleep, amount of distraction, percentage in light and deep sleep, sneezing conditions, heart rate, moderate breathing per minute. The purpose of all this: fix the groggy my morning.
The plague has left me feeling guilty over my sleep and, obviously, not alone. Are there any of these rings, watches, pads or smart bedside displays that can help me wake up feeling relaxed and refreshed?
Sleep tracking has long been offered on portable devices like Fitbit but, more recently, more gadget makers are entering the bedroom. Last September, Apple Watch received a sleep tracking app with WatchOS 7. Google recently announced the next-generation Nest Hub, which first launched Tuesday, has a radar sensor designed to measure night movement and even breathing patterns.
Trackers draw attention to a feature that is often overlooked, yet important in our lives, sleep experts have told me it is a good thing. But the doctors and psychiatrists I spoke to also cast doubt on the capabilities of certain data capture devices, such as sleep categories, precisely, and say that people can easily become overwhelmed by a flood of data — leading to more sleep-deprived stress.
Most sleep tracking devices take basics: when you fall asleep, when you wake up and how much time between those events you used to snooze. That sleep data is almost identical to the devices in the research field, says Eric Prather, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, who treats insomnia. Other than that, every device has its own method and perspective on sleep tracking, including the five devices I tested.
The Apple Watch ($ 199 and above) takes a little longer. Emphasis is placed on setting your sleep goal and time and sleep plan, and then sticking to it. The iPhone’s Health app, which shows normal sleep over time, does not provide an analysis of the quality or duration of your sleep. However, it will move you when it’s time to blow the whistle and go to sleep.
Google’s Nest Hub ($ 100) is a smart display that can get movement and breath. No camera – only radar sensor for taking your time asleep, rest periods, sniffing distractions and other data. Nest Hub can track one-person sleepers, which means that if you have sex with someone, you will also need their own. And if it collects odors, it may not know that it is your partner (as it is with me), not you, who is doing it.
The Withings Sleep Mat ($ 80) is a mattress under the mattress that can detect tossing and turning, as well as respiratory disturbances, such as snoring or long breaks. It resembles the sound of retreat and your breathing patterns, so it can distinguish your snoring from that of your partner. Every morning, the Health Mate companion app gives you sleep tips, depending on how well you think you slept. You can also go into other metrics, including how much time you spend on deep and easy sleep sections.
While all Fitbit devices were able to track sleep, I tried the Sense smartwatch ($ 280). The app displays sleep category data and scores your sleep points, such as Withings mat. A $ 10-a-month Premium subscription opens up a lot of details to earn sleep points. For example, how your nighttime heart rate goes into range.
Whoop ($ 18 per month and more) bracelet, included in the subscription price, with a heart vision sensor and accelerometer. The app uses heart breaks and heart rate variations (time difference between heart rate) taken during sleep to determine how hard you should train each day to prevent injury and illness.
There are many other fans, including the NBA-approved Oura ring, in which my fellow technical writer Joanna was tested on its Covid-19 predictive ability. But, frankly, there is only enough data I can handle this week. Also, there is something like the fullness of sleep data.
The official medical name is orthosomnia. “Basically, insomnia from sleep-monitoring devices,” said Drs. Prather.
Susel Patil, a clinical physician with the Johns Hopkins Pulmonary Sleep Medicine Program, had an insomnia patient who treated his insomnia by removing his Fitbit every night. “It could be so much data, and we don’t know what to do with it. Connecting can be very helpful, “says Dr. Patil.
Also, results that appear “bad” may be meaningless. If your tracker says your sleep is broken, but you feel fine, it’s not something you can worry about, add.
Another concern is the accuracy of the devices. “The gold standard is a polysomnogram with an EEG signature, and everything else is measurable,” said Kelly Baron, director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the University of Utah. An electroencephalogram (aka EEG) test, usually performed in a lab, detects electrical activity in your brain using nodes attached to your head.
I wanted to see how my data could be compared to a polysomnogram test, so I sent Dr. Baron My data is captured overnight by different devices. Looking at the sleep category data from Whoop and Fitbit, he said, “Display data is very different from the categories we will see in the sleep lesson.” (Apple Watch and Google’s Nest Hub are not trying to understand the various categories, and I have not yet begun to test the Withings Mat, which shows the length of the sleep cycle.) Baron pointed to a record of REM long-term exercise – rapid eye movement – towards the end of sleep, and a short period of deep sleep as abnormal, even on the worst night of sleep.
Fitbit’s leading lead scientist, Conor Heneghan, said its devices, which use heart rate to track sleep stages, comply with clinical sleep patterns as defined by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and are certified in labs against sleep studies. However, he said wearing Fitbit “is not the same as going to the gym, but it helps to track sleep in the real world, and to track trends over time.” Dr. Heneghan added that wearing the most loose at night would reduce the quality of the signal.
Whoop’s vice president of data science and research, Emily Capodilupo, said the length of sleep time is presented to users who may be interested in data, but it does not include school acquisition calculations. He pointed to a peer-reviewed study, completed at the University of Arizona and sponsored by Whoop, which covered Whoop’s sleep-static analytics compared with the results of polysomnography tests.
Of particular importance is the ability of followers to detect the symptoms of sleep apnea, “which is a major component of the medical system,” says Drs. Prather. and other serious health problems.Smaking and sleeping separately are two symptoms that can be seen in sleep details.
Both the Withings Mat and the Google Nest Hub got a seizure and a Fitbit chief executive said the apnea detection came from his clothes. Google Nest Hub has revealed how much my husband’s snoring is like my leisure time. (I’ve been wearing ear plugs ever since.)
I found Whoop to be a very interesting thing, because the app isn’t just about sleep. It uses my last night’s sleep to make recommendations for the next day: whether I should ride a heavier bike or go for a walk in the park. But it goes too far for people who are not interested in increasing sports performance.
The biggest advantage of these fans in general is that I now prioritize my sleep, instead of just thinking about keeping books in my day. And honestly, you don’t need fans to do the same, and then follow the two main goals of the sleep professionals I’ve talked to:
Set fixed bedtime and wake-up times – even on weekends.
Sleep for seven to eight hours a night.
“Most of the doctors, we are a little under surveillance,” said Dr. Patil. “But at least it gives people a chance to think about sleep.”