By Elizabeth Yuko, PhD / March 31, 2021
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Withings Sleep Tracking Pad at Amazon
“Simply place the pad under the mattress, and find out data like your sleep cycles, breathing disturbances, and heart rate.”
Best Wearable: Fitbit Sense Smartwatch at Amazon
“In addition to its wide range of wellness functions, it offers personalized insights and tips to improve your sleep quality.”
Best Splurge: Oura Ring at ouraring.com
“Ideal if you appreciate a more compact accessory than a watch, this smart ring uses an infrared LED sensor to track your sleep.”
Best Budget Wearable: Sleepon Go2Sleep Wearable Sleeping Monitor at Amazon
“Especially helpful for those with respiratory conditions, it measures blood oxygen levels, sleep debt, and sleep quality.”
Best for Couples: Tempur-Pedic Sleeptracker at tempurpedic.com
“Compatible with any kind of mattress, it connects to an app to provide users with an AI sleep coach that offers feedback.”
Best Battery Life: Amazfit GTS 2 Mini Smartwatch at Amazon
“If you appreciate versatility, the smartwatch tracks both daytime naps and daily sleep while also offering over 70 sports modes.”
Best for Heavy Sleepers: Beautyrest Sleeptracker Monitor at Amazon
“Complete with Alexa to help you round out your smart home, it uses an app to offer personalized tips on improving sleep.”
If you’re someone who reliably gets restful nights of sleep, then you may not fully realize how detrimental insomnia or disrupted sleep can be for your physical and mental health. And it’s not just a lack of sleep: poor sleep hygiene—including not sticking to some type of sleep schedule—can also make us feel worse.
There are also situations where a person might think they’re sleeping well, but, following observation, find out that their sleep is disturbed regularly by everything from nightmares, temperature fluctuations, or conditions like sleep apnea. Whatever the cause, it can be helpful to be able to track your sleep to see what you get up to at night, and what adjustments you can make to improve your overall sleep quality, and potentially even your mental health.
Fortunately, you no longer have to spend the night in a sleep lab to get data like that, because there are a variety of sleep trackers available, either as wearables or other forms of the technology. But if you’re new to these products, it can be difficult to know which one to choose.
To help make that task easier, we spoke with the experts to find the best sleep trackers on the market.
What to Look for in a Sleep Tracker
Wearable sleep trackers typically come in the form of watches or rings. Dr. Stacie J. Stephenson, a physician and expert in functional medicine, recommends a sleep tracker that “will interfere with your actual sleep the least.” And that can mean different things for different people. Before investing, think about whether you’d be comfortable wearing something on your wrist or finger all night, every night. If not, you may want to opt for the kind placed under the mattress.
Number of people
Some under-the-mattress sleep trackers come with two sensors, recording data for two people sleeping in the same bed.
While all sleep trackers will provide you with the same basic information on sleep length and movement, others take other factors into account, including sound and temperature.
Do you want a device that is designed specifically to be a sleep tracker, or are you looking for something that can perform other health-related functions? Other features can include a pedometer, a pulse oximeter, and/or menstrual cycle tracking.
How do sleep trackers work?
While there are many types of sleep trackers, in general, they work by sensing some combination of your movement, heart rate, respiration rate, and body temperature, and then use the data collected to determine when you are asleep or awake, according to Dr. Stephenson. The data the sleep tracker collects is then analyzed to examine sleep latency, duration, phases and quality, Dr. Leela R. Magavi, M.D., a psychiatrist and the regional medical director for Community Psychiatry in California explains.
How accurate are sleep trackers?
Sleep trackers measure our movement patterns and heart rate quite accurately, but still rely on prediction models to build assessments, so they aren’t 100 percent accurate. For example, Dr. Doescher says that you can fool a tracker by lying quietly while awake. “Think of your sleep tracker as if it’s a person, asking you: ‘It seems like you sleep well and with normal proportions, does this seem accurate?” he advises.
It’s important to keep in mind that these commercially available sleep trackers aren’t tested or regulated for accuracy, Dr. Magavi explains, noting that they’re not as accurate as sleep studies. “For individuals with chronic insomnia or parasomnias, I recommend they schedule a sleep study to learn whether they have sleep apnea or any other sleep disorder,” she says.
What Experts Say
“While sleep trackers are not diagnostic, their monitoring capabilities can detect snoring and demonstrate patterns of restless sleep cycles. Those measurements alone won’t solve the problem—but, importantly, they can raise awareness and suggest important conversations with our doctors to screen for sleep apnea and other sleep-related concerns, or even added stress, anxiety, or other mental health concerns, that could be indicative of larger health problems.” —Dr. Doescher
Why Trust Verywell Mind?
As a seasoned health writer and editor with a special focus on mental health and well-being, Elizabeth Yuko understands how powerful stress-relieving activities can be for many people — as well as the fact that they’re not one-size-fits all. With decades of first-hand experience dealing with anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, she’s always on the lookout for new (and research-backed) products, techniques, and services that can help people cope with stress and other mental health challenges.