GadFit’s Picks: Sleep Trackers

March 20, 2014

I have to admit, I lack sleep. I make time for work, for overtime, for loved ones, for acquaintances, but i make little effort to ensure the body gets enough sleep. Late nights and early mornings during the week, sleeping in late on the weekends is the norm. A double shot coffee is a quick fix for the lethargy in the morning after a late night.  That is pretty much my lifestyle, something you might be familiar with.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) has a detailed fact sheet on the importance of sleep. Personally, i can’t stress enough how great i feel when i get my 7-8 hours worth of shut-eye; the clarity of the mind to focus, the boundless well of energy. Usually i get about 5 hr 30 mins of sleep in the week and about 7-8 hours during the weekend. How do i know? Fitness trackers with sleep tracking functions.

There are numerous fitness trackers with sleep tracking functions on the market. While all offer a myriad of features, how does the sleep related tracking functions compare? Here’s the rundown on the sleep tracking functions of 7 notable fitness trackers that double up as sleep trackers.

Jawbone UP24

combined colours

Jawbone sleep


Sleep tracking is activated by a long press and another long press to cease sleep tracking. If you forget, you can always add the sleep from the app. You get a sleep score which is the total time slept out of a targeted duration. For me it’s 7 hours and 30 mins. So sleeping for 7 hours and 15 mins would net me 96%.

What i like about the sleep function is the analysis of my sleep data. For example, i may be notified that I’ve slept for an average of 5 hours this week and i should sleep early to hit my goals. The vibration alert is a bonus. No more of that waking up with heart racing feeling.

Tracked data is categorised into sound sleep, light sleep, total sleep duration, awake duration, number of times woken up and how long it took to fall asleep. Chart is easy to understand. Weekly and even monthly cumulative sleep scores is easily seen from the app.

Fitbit One

fitbit one sleep

A long press activates the Fitbit One to track sleep or any activity for the matter. There is no sleep score. Only how long i was awake or how restless I’ve been. The time i slept and the time i wake up is clearly displayed with a crescent and a sun.

There’s vibrating alarm so that’s a good thing. You can manually log sleep but there’ll be no sleep graph.

You’ll have to place the Fitbit One unit into a provided wrist band for sleep tracking.

Misfit Shine

misfit sleep

Sleep tracking is automatic with the latest update. Previously the wearer had to set activity tracking to sleep and triple tap the Shine activity tracker. Now you just go to sleep and the Misfit Shine takes over.

So far it’s been pretty accurate with the sleep duration. The sleep graph and data presented is spartan and other than deep sleep and total sleep duration, there’s not much. If you’re afraid Misfit Shine might miss out on sleep tracker, the manual option of triple tapping is still functional. Just make sure you set it to sleep instead of swim.

Nike+ Fuelband SE

NFB SE sleep

Nike+ Fuelband SE tracks your sleep as if it was an activity session. You’ll have to manually tag the data as “Sleep”. A long press followed by a short press to commence session/sleep tracking. Another long press followed by short press to end tracking. It can be tedious when you’re groggy.

The tracked data is presented in Nike Fuel points whereas the sporadic lines are assumed to be periods when i’m restless. Point to note, the LED lights do brighten up the room somewhat.

Withings Pulse

pulse sleep

Withings Pulse is hip worn so it’s necessary to place it in a wrist band and wear it before sleep. Sleep tracking is activated by scrolling to the sleep tracking panel, a touch of the “sleep” icon; a crescent moon, followed by a tap. The Pulse tracker supposedly knows when you’ve woken and ceases sleep tracking.

Percentage of sleep is based on actual sleep out of sleep goal. In my case, i clocked 6 hours 47 mins out of a targeted 8 hours, netting me 84%. There’s further indication of light sleep, deep sleep, duration awake and even how long it took to fall asleep.

Basis Band

basis sleep

Basis Band is the only fitness tracker to feature Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep data. This is probably as detailed as you can get for a fitness tracker that functions as a sleep tracker. Basis worked with researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), Veterans Administration (VA) and the Northern California Institute of Research and Education (NCIRE) to develop the Advanced Sleep Analysis. Read more here.

Sleep tracking is automatic. Wear the band, go to sleep, wake up to data. There were times when i found the sleep session split into two but that doesn’t happen too often.

basis sleep A

Sleep is categorised into REM, light, deep and Basis took pains to explain what each category means.  There’s also interruptions and toss data. Cessation of sleep tracking is automatic as well. 

Polar Loop

polar sleep A

polar sleep B

The newest tracker among the rest. Polar Loop was released barely 6 months ago and is the only tracker that also pairs with a heart rate monitor strap to provide real time heart rate tracking. Just in case you’re into tight sleep wear…

Sleep tracking is automatic. The daily activity graph shows the sleep duration as a complete white portion. Sleep is further categorised as restful or restless. The numerical percentage is merely the duration of restful sleep out of total sleep duration. There’s no need to cease tracking. Just wake and go.

Comparison chart

 Fitness tracker Automatic Sleep tracking Vibrating alarm REM sleep tracking
Jawbone UP24 No Yes No
Fitbit Force No Yes No
Misfit Shine Yes No No
Nike+ Fuelband SE No No No
Withings Pulse No No No
Basis Band Yes No Yes
Polar Loop Yes No No

Once i made sense of my sleep trend, i made efforts to improve my sleep quality. No caffeinated drinks after 4pm, shutting off smart devices, waking up with vibrating fitness band instead of audio alarm. Basically making sure the body rests and wakes up well.  I am aware i could use more sleep in the week and i consciously work towards that.

If you’re looking out for a sleep tracker, why not consider a fitness tracker that doubles up as one.

Echoing the words of Dr Christopher Winter who was featured on Huffpost, “any device on your wrist that makes you think twice about staying up too late is a good thing.” Sleep your way to a healthier you.

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