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The best sleep trackers do not only monitor sleep; they also track a range of other metrics, including heart rate, breathing rate, and even nightly blood oxygen saturation.

Using a sleep tracker may help a person understand their sleeping behavior and detect trends in waking. They can also share these data with a doctor.

This article will discuss the accuracy of sleep trackers and how their data may help doctors monitor certain health conditions. It will also review four sleep trackers.

Sleep trackers work by tracking metrics such as heart rate and movement.

These products often use a process that includes accelerometers and bioelectrical impedance sensors. These processes are what track heart rate and movement, and they are very similar to actigraphy.

Actigraphy is a noninvasive technique that healthcare professionals use to assess cycles of activity and rest over several days to several weeks through measurements of light and movement. They may use actigraphy for a period of time to get an objective measurement of a person’s sleep schedule.

This differs from the traditional sleep study that researchers use. Indeed, studies that focus on sleep tend to use polysomnography.

Vs. polysomnography

Polysomnography, also called a sleep study, is a comprehensive test that healthcare professionals use to diagnose sleep disorders. It records a person’s brain waves, the oxygen levels in their blood, their heart rate and breathing, and their eye and leg movements.

In addition to helping diagnose sleep disorders, polysomnography may also help initiate or adjust a treatment plan if the person already has a diagnosis of a sleep disorder.

A 2018 study suggests that sleep trackers are accurate at tracking total sleep time and time spent in bed, but that they were not as accurate as polysomnography at detecting when people wake up.

The researchers conclude that sleep trackers are a valid way for people to track their sleeping habits. They also note that, as technology advances, sleep trackers may become more accurate.

However, although sleep trackers can collect a lot of information about a person’s sleep habits, they do not measure sleep directly. Instead, they often measure inactivity as a surrogate for estimating sleep.

Therefore, sleep trackers could be a useful way for people to collect data on their sleeping behavior and share it with their doctor — especially if they have a condition that disturbs their sleep. Such conditions could be physical or neurological in nature. Mental health conditions such as depression may also affect someone’s sleep.

Using a sleep tracker may help identify trends in sleep behavior and what a person can do to prevent nighttime waking.

Some physical conditions for which it could be useful to collect data on nighttime waking include chronic conditions that can manifest as frequent arousals and awakenings if a person does not appropriately manage them.

These include:

Some mental health conditions may disturb sleep and, in turn, make other symptoms a person has worse.

Therefore, a person may want to track how many sleep disturbances they have and share this information with a doctor. The amount and quality of sleep can affect the following mental health conditions:

Tracking sleep behavior may give a doctor more insight into how often a person wakes and the quality of sleep they are getting.

Certain neurological conditions may cause disturbances in sleeping habits. Tracking sleep behavior trends may help a doctor monitor the underlying condition in more detail.

Some neurological conditions that affect sleep include:

When someone is looking to buy a sleep tracker, they should first work out what they need and then find a sleep tracker that is suitable for them. Typically, the more features that sleep trackers have, the more expensive they tend to be.

Alongside using a tracker and app to gauge different sleep behaviors, a person could also use other sleep apps, such as those that focus on meditation, to help themselves get to sleep.

Learn more about sleep meditation apps here.

Here are four sleep trackers that a person may want to consider purchasing.

Please note that no one at Medical News today, including the writer, has tried these sleep trackers. All information presented here is purely research-based.

Beautyrest Sleeptracker

The Beautyrest Sleeptracker sits underneath the mattress. This product uses artificial intelligence that analyzes and monitors a person’s breathing and heart rate, body movement, and wakefulness.

A person can review their sleep data on the app. The app includes individual sleep coaching and detects the optimal time for a person to wake up.

The Beautyrest Sleeptracker is available for purchase online.

Withings Sleep Tracking Mat

A person places the Sleep Tracking Mat underneath their mattress, on the side they sleep on. It detects breathing disturbances, analyzes the sleep cycle, tracks heart rate, and detects whether or not a person is snoring.

People can review their sleep data in the Health Mate app, which is available on both iOS and Android.

The Withings Sleep Tracking Mat is available for purchase online.

Garmin Vivosmart 4

This Garmin Vivosmart 4 is a fitness tracker that also monitors REM sleep and nightly blood oxygen saturation levels. The device records the data on the app, which helps people conveniently monitor their sleep patterns and fitness levels.

The manufacturers state that this activity tracker is safe for use in water and has up to 7 days of battery life.

The Garmin Vivosmart 4 is available for purchase online.

Fitbit Versa 3

This activity tracker monitors a person’s heart rate and nightly blood oxygen saturation levels. A person can view their sleep data on the watch itself, but there is a more detailed overview on the Fitbit app.

The Fitbit Versa 3 scores people’s sleep quality, so they can identify a relationship between what they were doing and the effect it had on their sleep. The manufacturers state this product has a battery life of up to 6 days.

The Fitbit Versa 3 is available for purchase online.

It is important for a person to contact a doctor if they are not getting enough sleep or good enough quality sleep. Sleep disturbances could indicate an underlying health condition or exacerbate other symptoms a person may have.

If a person uses a sleep tracker, they may find it helpful to bring the data to their doctor’s appointment, as this may help the doctor decide which tests to run or which treatments to suggest.

All sleep data should be available on the relevant app on the person’s phone.

Sleep trackers are devices that people can wear or put underneath their mattress to track their sleep behavior.

Research suggests that sleep trackers, though not as accurate as polysomnography, could be a valid tool for recording sleep behavior. It may be useful for people to consider bringing their sleep data to a doctor’s appointment; all they would need to do is open the app on their phone.

There are many different types of sleep tracker available, including both wearable and nonwearable options, and an individual should be able to find one that fits their needs.