How We Rate Sleep Trackers

Last updated: April 30, 2019

Overview & Methodology

Sleep trackers are judged by 8 standards: 

  1. Accuracy
  2. Ease of Use
  3. Functionality
  4. Reliability
  5. Data Accessibility
  6. Aesthetic Design (wearable only)
  7. Comfort (wearable only)
  8. Battery Life (wearable only)

Learn more about how each of these qualities impact the overall usefulness of the tracker you choose and help you build better habits to get a good night’s sleep.

Accuracy

In order to really know how much sleep you are getting you must first have accurate data points to look at. This will allow you to make informed decisions.

Sleep clinics started back in 1953 when Aserinsky and Kleitman discovered REM or Rapid Eye Movement. An advanced sleep study, also called Polysomnograms, may cost from $600 to $5,000 (or more) per night. During the test itself, there will be flat microphones taped to your neck, sticky pads on your chest and stomach to measure your breathing and you will be closely monitored and observed by a sleep technician. They do have a cheaper sleep study alternative that will costs $200 to $600 per night by renting a machine. For some that is advisable but not for everyone.

In the recent years, there are a lot of sleep trackers that have been introduced to the market. The trackers are for primarily for people who want to know how much restful sleep they get and how they can improve their sleep. 

Accurate trackers will tell you how long it takes you to fall asleep, your sleep stages, amount of REM sleep, amount of deep sleep, the movement during sleep, your heart rate and much more. These trackers are a far cheaper and more comfortable than being observed in a clinic, but one has to make sure they are accurate. Sleep quality is important and this is why accuracy falls number 1 on our list

Ease of Use

Ease of use is a close second to accuracy.  Not many people have the know how to go through setting up a device or a tracker for that matter. People are stressed enough with other responsibilities in their life. They are looking for something effective and something that they can set up and use without calling for extra help.

When choosing a sleep tracker you have to ask yourself these questions:

  • Will I be able to set it up on my own?
  • Is it safe to use?
  • Does it come with an easy to understand manual to help me?
  • Will it hinder my usual movement when sleeping?
  • For those who have children, is it safe to have around?

Functionality

Sleep trackers can never be a replacement for actual tests done in laboratories or clinics but it can be a big help in determining what’s causing you not to have your much needed sleep every night.

If you’re in the market for sleep trackers what exactly do you intend to measure with it? Some sleep trackers measures breathing, can prevent or alert you when snoring, some even claim that they can track sleep cycles.  These things are important to determine what is the best sleep tracker for you. There are sleep trackers that have a sleek design which you can wear it on your wrist.  Some sensor trackers looks like speakers you have to keep on your bedside, while others are like mats with nodes that you have to put on your mattress when you sleep. Most importantly, does it do what they say it does?  

We ask these questions when determining the functionality of a tracker:

  • Is deep sleep being measured?
  • Is REM sleep measured?
  • Is light sleep measured?
  • Does it accurately show and track the stages of sleep?
  • Does it have a accelerometer / gyroscope built in?
  • Does it measure HRV (heart rate variability)?
  • Does it measure your sleep time accurately?
  • Does it need to be connected to a phone app to work?
  • Does it fit your lifestyle or sleeping habit?
  • Does it have a vibrating alarm clock to wake you up?

Reliability

No one should purchase anything from a company unless they are reputable and reliable. There are a lot of things that needs be considered:

  • Is the company who manufactured it reputable?
  • Does the company have good reviews from those who purchased their products?
  • Aside from our own experience with the tracker, does it have reviews from reputable websites, entities and companies?
  • Aside from tracking your sleep, does it come with other functions like tips on how to have a better sleep or also track your activities that may have a direct correlation to your sleep pattern?
  • Does it come with a warranty?
  • Can the product measure or track sleep even if you have a partner or will it affect the results? (For non wearable trackers)

Data Accessibility

Aside from sleep trackers being way more economical than going to sleep clinics, one of the other main reason why people opt for these is the fact that data is accessible and they are not limited to when they are sleeping. This data can be useful in terms of day in and day out activities and sleep cycle tracking. You can finally determine how many hours of sleep you actually need to live a productive life. This can also be used to let your doctors know where you’re at with your sleeping pattern. Some sleep trackers are linked to an mobile app but there are those that requires you to log on to a website to access your data.  

Being that we have a wide variety of demographics that needs or purchases sleep trackers, one thing is for certain, almost 90% of the time people would go for something that they can access without having to turn on or log on to a computer. That’s where sleep trackers that are linked to an iPhone or Android app come in. Easily accessible data is easier to monitor, compare and see how your sleep habits may be affecting other areas of your life.

Aesthetic Design

Whether it’s a sleep monitor that you keep at your bedside like the Sleepscore Max or a tracker that you wear (mostly trackers that are wearable), aesthetic design is important. 

According to an article by a digital designer, aesthetics always goes hand in hand with the product usability. People perceive products with pleasing design as something of more value and function. Not to mention the better the design, the nicer it will look in your sleeping environment.

This especially pertains to wearable devices.  Those who opt for this kind of tracker do not just use them when they sleep.  They often wear it the whole day at the office or when they go out or even when they hit the gym. Many of these also track your activities as well during the day, though we are not grading them on that. Digging deeper into the aesthetics, some trackers have sleek design and are not manufactured as bulky as the other products because they claim that since it is nearer your skin it can read or track more than the bulky ones.  It is our believe that a sleep tracker should be as visually appealing as it is reliable and accurate.

Comfort

When we say comfort we’re not just talking about it being soft to the touch or feeling good under your mattress. Here are some questions you should ask yourself with regard to comfort:

  • Is the wristband made of hypoallergenic material?
  • Does wearing it make you feel uncomfortable when doing your usual activities?
  • Does it hinder you from being productive during the day?
  • Does it hinder your movements when you sleep?
  • Will it actually hurt your sleep due to discomfort?
  • Does it feel heavy when it’s worn?
  • Is it comfortable enough to wear daily or nightly?

These trackers do not come cheap, so it is important for us to consider every little detail about them before you purchase one to improve your sleep.

Battery Life

Connectivity and battery life is at the top of the totem pole these days.  Everything is connected through everyone’s phones, tablets or device. But whatever device you got, it will be rendered useless unless it has power.  Same goes with sleep trackers, although they are rechargeable you need them to be able to power through the night.

For you to get data that you need for you or for your doctor, the gadget that you choose for sleep tracking should be able to remain turned on the whole time you were sleeping. There are some trackers that live up to the hype but not all. It is vital that the battery life should always be considered before purchasing anything. Anything wearable should last for at least 5 days time if not more to be considered anything of value.

See our picks for the best sleep tracker. View tracker information, guides and reviews here.

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