Approximately 83 million Americans suffer from sleep deprivation. This shocking number indicates that we have a serious problem on our hands. Sleep deprivation has serious negative impacts on your health and wellbeing.
Today’s busy lifestyles and our reliance on electronics for work and entertainment all but ensure that most of us will suffer from sleep disturbances.
What if there was a way to keep track of our sleeping patterns to ensure that we’re getting the quality shuteye that we need? With a sleep tracker, that possibility becomes a reality.
If you want to properly track your sleep patterns; you’ll need a device that can keep track of all of your movements and your sleep cycle, which then reports on how much sleep you got and whether or not it was high quality.
When you do this consistently over a long period of time, you’ll have a treasure trove of data that will help you see patterns in your sleep cycle. You’ll know what situations cause you to lose sleep, and under what circumstances you get the best quality shuteye.
How sleep tracking works
Actigraphy is just a fancy way of saying that your device measures your movement. In general, most sleep trackers will measure this by using a device that attaches to your body – most commonly your wrist.
While this isn’t as accurate as the sophisticated methods that doctors use in clinical situations, the cheapness of the technology makes it extremely accessible for most people.
The accelerometer is the part of the device that makes the actigraphy work. A group of miniature sensors – Micro-Electrical-Mechanical Systems (MEMS for short) convert the measured mechanical symbols into electrical ones.
These tiny chips are present in a wide variety of common, everyday items. Your smartphone contains several of them, as do many of your household appliances.
Since accelerometers are relatively inexpensive, they are widely used in commercially available sleep trackers. There are newer emerging technologies – such as heart rate monitoring – that can provide a much more accurate picture of your sleep patterns.
Are personal sleep monitors accurate?
Nothing is going to be as accurate as professional sleep monitoring, but commercially available trackers are surprisingly precise.
Older versions of these sleep trackers simply measured your movement and could lead to false readings. For example, if you were lying in bed wide awake the monitor would record that as sleeping time due to the fact that you weren’t moving.
Modern sleep trackers have eliminated that as a problem with their complex suite of sensors that track other aspects of your body – such as your heart rate – rather than relying upon lack of movement as the sole indicator that you’re asleep.