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Are sleep trackers worth it

For most individuals, a majority of their lives are usually spent sleeping. And the quality and amount of sleep gotten by every individual has a tremendous effect on the remainder of their lives.

This has caused most individuals to be inquisitive as to the precise amount of sleep they are getting and if they are getting sleep of great quality without dealing with any sleep disorders. Options for finding out how much sleep you had as an individual was a bit constrained before as sleep tracking was done by asking your spouse how long you slept or keeping the records yourself.

Then, paying a visit to a specialist sleep clinic was the most precise way to determine how much sleep you were getting. But in recent times, another means of accurately accessing your sleep has been innovated and it is known as the personal sleep trackers.

But most individuals are skeptical about these devices as they do not really know how they operate and they keep asking the same question, are sleep trackers worth it? In this article, we shall be learning all about sleep trackers and if they are worth having around or not.

Benefits of adequate sleep

When you get enough sleep, the following are some of the benefits you enjoy;

  • Enhanced concentration, memory and reaction time
  • Better creativity patterns and moods
  • An immune system which is stronger and averts infections and cold

What is a Sleep Tracker?

A sleep tracker is a device used to monitor sleep patterns and assess the quality and the amount of sleep an individual gets.

With the boost in the number of users of sleep trackers, there have been lots of questions as to whether sleep trackers are actually worth it.

While there may be a lot of limitations regarding the use of sleep trackers, there are also some very important functions which sleep trackers are able to achieve.

Sleep tracking is done using either a Polysomnography (PSG) or a personal sleep tracker. A Polysomnography (PSG) is used by professionals and is not a very convenient way to track sleep. It involves putting electrodes on the head of the individual in a lab. This inconvenience makes it very difficult to have a proper sleep.

For this reason, advancements have been made in other methods of tracking sleep. One of such is the use of sleep trackers.

Sleep trackers makes use of an Actigraphy in analyzing and tracking sleep patterns of an individual.

This is achieved through the use of sensors called accelerometers to record the motion of the body during sleep. The Actigraphy is incorporated into devices which are worn on the wrist.

The Actigraphy indicates any period where there is significant motion of the body as a period when the individual is awake and when the individual is not moving is recoded as a period where the individual is asleep.

While a Polysomnography may be used as the benchmark when measuring sleep, having an individual in a lab for up to two days with machines connected to the individual is not very welcoming.

This gives sleep trackers using actigraphy a major advantage over Polysomnography. A sleep tracker can be used at any time by the individual and it does not cause any discomfort during sleep.

This makes the analysis from the actigraphy an insight into the natural sleep habits of an individual. Using actigraphy is also a cheaper means of measuring sleep patterns.

Accuracy of sleep trackers

Various research has been carried out to verify the accuracy of sleep trackers in use.

According to a research by Terri Blackwell in 2008, the use of sleep trackers with actigraphy proved to have an increased accuracy when used within the home. The research was carried out with a comparison of Polysomnography and actigraphy.

Another research by Martin and Hakim published in 2011 showed that the use of actigraph sleep trackers in recording time spent asleep and sleep percentage was reasonably accurate.

The only problems they encountered is that even if an individual is awake but does not move, this is recorded as the individual being asleep.

As a solution to this problem, most sleep trackers allow you to manually set when you want to go to sleep.

Sleep trackers which come with heart rate monitors have a higher chance of giving better sleep data. This is because the use of sleep trackers which measure motion alone have lower accuracy as simply rolling in your sleep may be recorded as being awake and laying still may be recorded as being asleep.

With an accurate monitor, it is possible to estimate the time during which you experienced the different stages of sleep. During the light and deep stages of sleep, the rate at which the heart beats decreases. During the REM stage on the other hand, which is the time when you are dreaming, the heart rate increases.

The quality of the heart rate data a sleep tracker can get depends on the quality of the heart rate monitor used in its fabrication.The combination of a quality heart rate data and data on your movement during the night can give a better output on your sleep pattern.

It is important to note that sleep trackers cannot serve as a replacement to medical lab built specially to monitor sleep.

Although most of the important vitals which are necessary for measuring sleep patterns are captured, there are still some missing aspects which cannot be captured and as such it is not fully possible to assess the quality of sleep.

Regardless of these minor issues, sleep trackers offer a cheaper means to get information on your sleep patterns as well as habits.

By combining heart rate and movement during the night, a lot of sleep trackers give an idea of how deep you sleep, the duration of your sleep, how much you tossed and turned during your sleep, and so on.

For those who are interested in these information, this can provide a means for them to set goals as well as make improvements to their routine.



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