Best Sleep Monitoring Devices 2016

When fitness trackers first came out a few years ago, they were, essentially glorified pedometers. Over the years, however they have become more sophisticated. Today, people want more and more advanced features packed into their devices.

Introduction

Most adults in the United States are sleep deprived. We stay up too late, get up too early and toss and turn in the hours between. As a result, many of us struggle through the day in a constant state of lethargy. Fitness band sleep trackers are designed to do something about that.

The quantity and quality of our sleep is being recognized as an integral part of overall health and wellness. Fitness and activity tracker manufacturers have acknowledged this by incorporating sleep tracking capabilities into their devices. In this article we will discover which is the best sleep tracking device on the market today. We will also consider just how sleep tracker bracelets work and find out how accurate your wrist based sleep monitor device really is.

How Do Sleep Trackers Work?

The main way that your sleep cycle watch measures your sleep activity is through actigraphy. Actigraphy uses movement, as measured through an accelerometer to measure your sleep. This is based on the idea that the period when you are awake you are moving more than when you are asleep.

​Even though polysomnography is the most accurate measure of sleep activity, it has its problems. It involves hooking a person to a whole lot of measuring machines before they fall asleep. This, in itself, is bound to ensure that the person does not have a normal sleep; it is far too invasive. As a result actigraphy has been used by researchers as a less invasive method of recording sleep activity for decades.

How Accurate Are Sleep Trackers?

Sleeptracker watches provide relatively little data when compared to the gold standard for measuring the quality of sleep - polysomnography. This is a collection of different physiological measures that can be used to define and characterize sleep. Patients stay overnight for these sophisticated sleep studies which require a slew of equipment, from muscle monitors to EKG machines.

Fitness monitors use accelerometers to measure actigraphy. Rather than actually measuring sleep, they are measuring an indirect approximation of sleep through movement. In order to make estimations of deep or light sleep, they use an algorithm that takes into account the relative amount of your bodily movement over the course of the night.

So, how accurate is actigraphy as a method of measuring sleep? A study was conducted in 2011 by Martin and Hakim which looked at that very question. Their conclusion was as follows:

​Although actigraphy should not be viewed as a substitute for clinical interviews, sleep diaries, or overnight polysomnography when indicated, it can provide useful information about sleep in the natural sleep environment and/or when extended monitoring is clinically indicated.

Sleep tracking wristbands are unable to record sleep latency, which is the time it takes to fall asleep. Neither are they very good at telling how long you are awake in the middle of the night or your total sleep time relative to the time you are in bed.

Sleep monitor devices do encourage you to pay more attention to your sleep habits. This is a very good thing. A lack of sleep can affect mood, ability to concentrate and stay tuned in to our day. Fitness band sleep trackers not only help us to get our steps in. They also help us to get our zzz’s in.

Sleep Tracker Reviews

The Best Sleep Monitor

JawBone UP3 Heart Rate, Activity and Sleep Tracker

JawBone UP3 Sleep Tracker

The JawBone UP3 catapulted itself into our number one spot as the best sleep tracking device on the 2016 market because it is packed with advanced sleep metrics - and it is the most comfortable device to wear on your wrist at night.

The UP3 tracker uses multi sensor technology to capture both your resting heart rate and you passive heart rate. Resting heart rate is measured once per day, while passive heart rate is measured throughout the course of the day, when you body is still.

The UP3 provides advanced activity tracking to give you a complete picture of your day’s activity. You also get nutritional tracking of your food, drink, calories and nutrients. The Smart Coach feature will deliver personalized insights based upon your activity.

​The UP3 will give you seven days of battery life off a one hour charge, using JawBone’s proprietary charger. For accurate readings you need the device to neither be too tight or too light. It should be positioned about three finger widths down your wrist.

​The JawBone app is in depth with a lot of cool features that you can delve into. The Smart Coach feature gives you personalized advice on your fitness, sleep and overall health goals. You can manually log and track a whole host of different workouts, exercises and food and drink.

​The device uses a lot of sensors to track your sleep activity, including heart rate, body temperature, and accelerometer to give you high accuracy readings. To start sleep tracking, you can either use the app or just tap on the band a couple of times. The device will vibrate and glow the blue moon icon when you are in sleep mode.

The JawBone UP3 will detect you four main stages of sleep: wake, light sleep, deep sleep and REM. The device will also automatically track your resting heart rate moments after waking up. This is regarded as the purest and most consistent signal of your heart health. The summary screen of all of your sleep analytics is very detailed and easy to follow.

​The UP3 also features a smart alarm. In the app you are able to set an alarm time and a smart sleep window. This will identify the best moment of the sleep cycle to wake you up. It will gently and silently vibrate on your wrist at that time. The silent buzzing won’t wake up your partner as a noisy alarm would.

​Another useful feature of the UP3 is the idle alert feature. If you have been sitting at your desk for too long without movement, the device will give you a gentle buzz to get moving again. The UP3 syncs wirelessly over Bluetooth 4.0. It is water resistant against sweat and rain (you can even wear it in the shower). The design is very clean, being minimal and light weight. It doesn’t have a screen to tell you the time or how many steps you have traveled, but that adds to the simplistic, minimalistic look and feel of the UP3.

​Overall, the UP3 is a very durable device with accurate tracking and lots of features.

PROS

  • Advanced activity system
  • Advanced sleep tracking system
  • 7 days of battery life

CONS

  • You need JawBone’s charging device to charge the UP3
  • Attaching the device to your wrist is a little tricky

The Best of the Rest

Garmin VivoFit

Garmin Vivofit

The VivoFit by Garmin is a smart activity tracker. It will learn your current activity level and then set attainable daily goals based upon what you are currently doing. As you meet your milestones, VivoFit will adjust your goal for the next day, gradually nudging you towards a healthier lifestyle.

The Garmin VivoFit has a hugely impressive one year of battery life. It displays steps, distance, calories burned and sleep.

PROS

  • Water resistant
  • Stylish and comfortable to wear
  • One year battery life

CONS

  • Band clasp is fidgety

JawBone UP2 Activity and Sleep Tracker

JawBone UP2

The UP2 is more than simply an activity tracker. It is a sophisticated integrated system that incorporates advanced hardware, sophisticated algorithms and data science to better understand your behaviors and habits.

Through an in-depth analysis of your eating, activity and sleeping patterns UP2 is able to intelligently help make better choices and achieve your goals smarter and faster. It allows you to automatically track your sleep activity, so you don’t have to manually set the device before going to bed.

​JawBone UP2 also provides you with personalized coaching via their Smart Coach feature. The device syncs wirelessly and it provides you with 10 days of battery life.

PROS

  • Smart activity tracking system
  • 10 days battery life 
  • Food tracking system

CONS

  • Smart Coach doesn’t provide personalized guidance

Find out which are the best fitness and activity trackers for running by reading our in-depth review of the top 5 of 2016 here.

FitBit One

FitBit One Activity Plus Sleep Tracker

The FitBit One is powered by a rechargeable built-in battery. This device will monitor how long and how well you sleep. It will set goals, view goals and it will award you with badges. It will also track steps, goals, distance, calories burned and stairs climbed.

PROS

  • Syncs automatically to your computer
  • Water resistant
  • Smart silent alarm

CONS

  • Not a very user friendly design

MisFit Shine 2 Activity Tracker and Sleep Monitor

MisFit Shine 2

The MisFit Shine 2 will analyse your light, moderate and REM sleep and provide you with advanced graphing.

The great thing about the Shine 2 is that it so comfortable that you literally forget that you are wearing it. In fact, you ever have to take it off. You can sleep with it, swim with it and shower with it. This is in line with Misfit’s mission to make their gadgets both fashionable and functional.

When you set up the Shine 2 to pair with your mobile phone, you choose a goal for yourself, which is either easy, moderate or hard. The tracker will then tell you at any point how far through your daily goal you are. There is no actual word or digit display on the device. Rather, there are 12 dots that light up around the perimeter of the face of the tracker. When all 12 light up, you have reached your goal.

The device will track, walking, running, swimming, tennis, yoga and many other activities. In terms of being a sleep monitor, the device feeds back how light or how restful your sleep was to the mobile app. You can then analyse this data by way of graphs and other analysis to work out what you did or didn’t do that affected the quality of your sleep. The device also features a silent alarm. However, the vibration alert is quite minimal. It will wake you up during a light part of your sleep cycle within 20 minutes of when you set the alarm. The vibrate technology means that you won’t wake your partner.

The Shine 2 also has a movement alarm. This will vibrate to let you know that you haven’t been moving enough and will give you the little push you need to get you off the couch and active.

​The Shine 2 also doubles as a watch. If you are a watch wearer, however, you are best to keep it and wear both. It is quite difficult to tell the time using the lighted dots system of the Shine 2.

PROS

  • Tracks light, moderate and REM sleep
  • Very comfortable to wear
  • Water resistant to 50 m
  • Movement alarm
  • Silent alarm

CONS

  • Hard to tell the time
  • Minimal vibration alert

Conclusion

Monitoring your sleep activity was once an almost impossible task. Now it is as easy as choosing and wearing the best fitness band sleep tracker device on the market. Our review has revealed that product to the JawBone UP3. Also producing excellent sleep tracking watches are Garmin, Misfit and FitBit.

ITek are a technology company that are making a name for themselves as a quality fitness tracking manufacturer. Get up close and personal with their ITek fitness tracker here. Click here if you want to have an overall look of the top fitness trackers currently in the market today.