Sleep Trackers: How do they work? | Blog Colmol
It is true that the quantity of our sleep matters, but it is even more important to realize if it is done with quality. Have you ever thought about measuring your sleep? Yes, it is possible.
If you are a regular reader of our blog, you know perfectly well the importance of a good sleep night. Not only for our physical health, but also for our mental health and general well-being.
Betting on the quantity and quality of sleep can provide several health benefits, including maintaining an healthy body weight , reduce the risk of developing diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular problems, easier to maintain concentration, among others.
In fact, to live well we need sleep well. But how can we know if our sleep is really quality?! Measuring it through a sleep tracker. Or should we call it… sleep technology?!
What are sleep trackers?
Many years ago, the only way to measure sleep quality was through complex clinical examinations, using a large number of wires and machines capable of measuring sleep.
Something absolutely primitive, don't you think? Fortunately… times have changed!
Today, and thanks to technology, any of us can monitor our sleep from our cell phone or smartwatch, for example. After all, nowadays, there are few things that our cell phone doesn't allow us to do!
Through a tracker, it is possible to record sleep patterns so that their quality can be more clearly evaluated.
How do they work?
A sleep tracker monitors and follows the movement of our body while we sleep, guided by the different sleep stages/cycles.
This monitoring is possible thanks to accelerometers: Small instruments capable of detecting the acceleration of objects. Accelerometers are present inside sleep trackers and smartphones, and make the measurement of results more effective.
Some trackers also use a microphone to be able to track all kinds of sounds that may occur during the night, such as the sound of the snoring or night-talking, and these data are then crossed with the readings made by the accelerometers.
Analyzing the data collected, it is possible to see if we really sleep with quality (or not), and adopt new habits capable of improving our nights of rest.
Key data collected by sleep trackers
Depending on the brand and technology, the data that can be measured differ and each model can monitor different aspects and characteristics of sleep.
However, there are some data that are common to most trackers. Know the 3 main ones:
- Sleep Duration
The recording of the time we sleep is a common aspect of all sleep monitors.
Experts recommend an average of eight hours of quality sleep a day for adults. However, this number varies by age as well as one's developmental needs.
Discover here what is the recommended number of hours of sleep for you.
- Sleep Latency
This term may not sound familiar, but it is extremely important for proper monitoring.
Sleep latency measures the tendency to fall asleep, and is one of the data recorded by many sleep trackers. It concerns the space of time between the moment we turn off the lights and the moment we actually fall asleep.
On average, sleep latency for an adult is 10 to 30 minutes. Still, it is obvious that the type of activities we perform during the day and the level of fatigue can increase or reduce this latency time.
- Sleep Cycles
A sleep monitor also measures the amount of time we spend at each sleep stage.
Based on the movement of our body and the increase/decrease in breathing or heart rate, it is recorded what stage of sleep we are in.
You can find out more about the different sleep cycles in our blog post.
The measurement of results
After tracking these (and other) data, the results obtained can be consulted and analyzed. Usually, they are presented through graphs that show if, indeed, the sleep was of good quality… or not.
Some sleep trackers, in addition to presenting the measured results, give some interesting tips for improving nights of rest, if the results demand it.
3 Useful mobile apps to track your sleep
With the advancement of technology and the increasing ease of being able to do everything through a cell phone or smartwatch, sleep trackers also appear on these devices.
We know that the offer is immense and, therefore, we have selected the 3 best sleep trackers so you don't have to waste a lot of time looking for the best option.
Discover our recommendations:
Sleep Cycle - Sleep Tracker
This application is undoubtedly the most popular. Available for Android and IOS, the Sleep Cycle monitors sleep through the amount of night movements and sounds that can be recorded using accelerometers.
However, the most interesting feature of this application is the smart alarm. By tracking sleep phases, the alarm sounds precisely when you are in the lightest sleep phase, so that you wake up much more rested and calm.
But don't worry, you won't wake up out of hours! This application allows you to set your own wake-up time.
Know all the features of Sleep Cycle here.
The app Better Sleep - previously called Relax Memories - is also widely used by those who do not need a sleep tracker.
In addition to, like other applications, tracking sleep cycles and calculating their efficiency, it has a series of very interesting features that are ideal for those who suffer from insomnia!
This sleep tracker allows you to select various types of sounds and melodies - such as White Noise and ASMR - able to relax body and mind. In addition, it also includes a series of meditation and breathing exercises that help you sleep better and faster!
Available for IOS and Android. Get to know Better Sleep here.
Sleep Monitor is also a great suggestion for anyone looking for a good (and complete) sleep tracker.
This application not only records, but also records all kinds of night sounds so you can hear them the next morning (and be surprised!).
For now, the Sleep Monitor application is only available for Android operating systems. find out more here.
Are sleep trackers reliable?
First of all, it is important to safeguard that none of these devices or applications replaces a visit to a clinic/health professional specializing in sleep.
However, sleep trackers are good indicators of what actually happens during the time you are sleeping.
One search published by the magazine Sleep from the University of Oxford in May 2021, showed that some sleep trackers popular results even show more accurate results than actigraphy: the clinical examination performed to monitor the cycles of activity and rest over several days or weeks.
However, there is one aspect that fail on sleep trackers.
There are studies who argue that tracking based on accelerometers - motion detection - may not be 100% effective, since this indicator may have flaws capable of confusing the total sleep time presented in the results.
If you sleep with your partner or your pet, their movements will be detected and recorded on your tracker. And, of course, these will not be exact and rigorous results tailored to your sleep.
But still, combined with an in-depth clinical history and specialized follow-up, the data recorded by the sleep trackers
Can be very useful for a better evaluation and change of habits with a single purpose: the improvement of sleep quality.
Factors that influence sleep quality
One thing is for sure: quality is always better than quantity! When it comes to sleep, it is even more important to ensure that it is done, above all, with quality.
In order to improve your sleep hygiene and, consequently, its quality, it is essential to understand what you should do... but also what you shouldn't!
Sleeping less than we need and waking up with the feeling that sleep has not been restorative has several harmful consequences for our body. Some of these may not become obvious right away, but the stakes are high.
The quality of your sleep can be strongly influenced by several factors.
Here are our recommendations for better nights of sleep:
- Bet on a regular sleep schedule
Establishing a specific time to sleep and wake up works miracles, believe me!
If you do, your brain will assimilate that information and make it a habit. In addition, your body will be able to rest and the metabolic processes will be done correctly.
Ensuring a regular sleep schedule is also a great way to avoid the risk of insomnia and sleep apnea.
- Your bedroom environment matters
The environment in which your bedroom is located is another crucial point at bedtime, and directly affects the quality of sleep.
The room should be dark, quiet and at a mild temperature. If you don't like absolute darkness, opt for a soft yellow light.
- Feed yourself properly
The truth is that sleep and food are two concepts that are directly linked.
For your body to function correctly, and this translates into better nights of sleep, you should focus on foods low in calories and rich in nutrients, such as milk, fish, eggs and vegetables.
The worse your food choices, the more likely you are to spend more sleepless nights.
- Watch out for naps!
Calm! sleep one nap mid-afternoon is not a problem! Quite the contrary, as it can bring many benefits to your health, but also to your productivity throughout the day.
However, you must ensure that the duration of your nap does not exceed the recommended maximum time of 20 minutes, so as not to run the risk of disrupting your sleep cycle.
- Avoid working at night
The way and when we work says a lot about what our quality of sleep can be. To work at night you can mess with it all!
Working at night is bad and can even have negative consequences in our lives, such as increased risk of work accidents, decreased productivity, anxiety and depression, among others.
This practice can also influence the production of melatonin. Therefore, it should be avoided as much as possible!
The most important thing is to really sleep well, to have more health and quality of life. If technology is here to help us, we must count on it and put it to good use!
Did you already know about sleep trackers? Tell us everything! 🧡