In an era where we can track everything from our calorie intake to how many steps we take in a day, tracking our activities has become a part of our daily lives. So many wearable products and apps for our phones have been debuting that claim to track many different activities.
These days tracking our sleep patterns has been getting more and more popular. When did we begin to track our sleep and why?
The first activity trackers called the FitBit came out in the early 2000s and have been advancing with the technology of the day and now offer a sleep tracker. Around the same time, Nokia and Nike partnered up and made the Nike fitness trackers for workouts that tracked activity through the movements in the shoes. It connected to the iPod Nano and was trackable there.
Once technology caught up a bit, many different activities were trackable. So, with better technology and higher demand, companies began developing and creating trackers for practically anything. Menstrual cycles, calorie intakes, sleep patterns, running speeds, cardio activities, blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and many more are able to be tracked now with one simple phone app or smart accessory.
But when all this technology was starting to get popular, the questions asked then became: Is it worth tracking everything? Why should we track all our activity? How can we benefit from this? Of course, the answers have varied depending on the field of research, and thus a solid conclusion has not been established. But, when it comes to tracking your sleep, we’d like to answer these questions for you.
Is Buying a Sleep Tracker Worth It?
First of all, what is a sleep tracker? It is a device or app that is able to tell what kind of sleep your body goes through during its sleep cycle. They track sleep through things like breathing and heart rhythms and body temperature during the night.
They then send the information to whichever device they are connected to, and archive it to form a full sleep diary. The sleep diary shows the whole sleep cycle: when you fall asleep, the overall sleep quality, the type of sleep you experienced, and some even show the length of each cycle.
Having a sleep diary can be convenient if you think you may have a sleep disorder since you can present it to a sleep specialist for them to analyze it. But if the sleep specialist does find anything abnormal about your sleep patterns, they are still likely to submit the person to a sleep monitoring session in the local sleep lab or hospital.
Some claim that having a sleep tracker helps them know how well they slept that night. But many contradict this by stating that we wake up knowing how well or how poorly we slept just by the way we feel. This is not entirely false since many people know how it feels to have a good night sleep and how it feels when they didn’t sleep well.
Others claim it helps them to improve your sleep since you know when to go to sleep and when it is optimal to wake up. This may be true since one can track the best hours to sleep and wake using the sleep data tracked on the sleep tracker.
Does it make a difference to know how long each sleep stage lasted? Not in everyday life. Of course, it is nice to know how much REM sleep your body is getting for activities such as athlete training and activities of high intensity; but on a day-to-day basis, it becomes almost unnecessary to know this sleep data.
Many people prefer to just keep a sleep journal and jot down when they went to bed and when they woke up. One can customize the journal by also adding how they feel when waking up, if they feel they slept well, if and when they woke up during the night, etc. That way they know how many hours of sleep they get each night, and can look back as far as the journal goes and track certain things like how much sleep they got when they did a certain workout or got sick.
On the other hand, people claim that sleep trackers have helped them realize that they may not have been feeling very well recently due to a sleep disorder or troubles sleeping. They additionally claim that it has been helpful for their doctors to see their sleep activity.
Sleep trackers can get to be a bit costly, depending on the services they offer and the way they monitor your sleep activities. The Emfit QS retails for around 320 Euros and offers all equipment needed, sleep data archive availability of up to one year, and much more. The Nokia Sleep is a pad that monitors your sleep through receptors and offers similar features, except one sleeps on it instead of wearing it and it has additional features like music, voice control, and automatic lighting to make sleeping easier; it retails for around 290 USD.
Sleep score Max is another sleep tracking company that offers products from pillows with features like music, mouth guards for teeth grinding, and the Sleep score Max sleep tracking system (apparatus and phone app) that monitors your sleep through sensors. It retails for around 150 USD on their website.
So, as you can see, they are a bit of an investment. One can choose which product suits them best in terms of pricing and methodology. But whether or not the sleep data will be useful on a day-to-day basis we cannot guarantee.
How Can You Benefit From Tracking Your Sleep?
There is a fact that states that humans are most likely to change a habit if it is tracked and they see the results firsthand. For example: if you are experiencing weight problems or cigarette addiction, tracking these habits is going to show you the reality of what you may otherwise not have wanted to accept.
You see, if we have indisputable proof of our habits it may help us realize just how often we carry them out and whether or not it is good or bad for our health.
Tracking exercise usually motivates the person to stay on track and do it more often, since they are able to see the calories burned, the amount of time they exercised for, the amount of days they have done it each week, etc. and makes it so they want to do it more often and not skip days.
Sleep scores are like that in a way because when a person gets a bad sleep score (meaning they did not get good sleep that night) they are more likely to put more effort into making time to sleep more and better the next night.
Sleep is something we should be making part of our daily lists and not just something that we do naturally. It is not something we should be putting off, but something we should be preparing for and marking down on our to-do lists. It is essential to our bodies in so many ways and the lack of it is definitely something to be careful of.
So, if tracking your sleep sounds like something that might motivate you to sleep better and make more time for sleeping at night, then, by all means, track your sleep! But if you don’t think that it will help you more than simply creating your own sleep journal (you can even create your own sleep score system), we don’t think it is absolutely necessary for you to buy one.
On the other hand, if you have a sleep disorder or a condition such as sleep apnea, there are some sleep specialists that may suggest tracking your sleep with a sleep tracker in order to obtain information without submitting you to a sleep lab for months on end.
We do recommend speaking to your doctor and asking them which sleep tracker they think will benefit you (and their studied) most, and maybe even asking them about their opinion.
In addition to this, remember that there are many kinds of sleep trackers that come in all different shapes and sizes. So if you are thinking about buying one we recommend doing your research in order to find one that will be best for you.
If you think that sleeping with a little apparatus (such as the Emfit QS) is not going to disturb your sleep then buy it for sure! But if you feel like this may not be the best option for you, we recommend trying to find one that operates through sensors or through monitoring your capillaries (like a sleep tracking ring or watch), that way you’re not tracking poor sleep caused by the tracker itself. Other than that we hope that you sleep well and are able to achieve your sleeping goals.