Best Sleep Trackers 2018

Amelia Willson

If you’ve spent any time outdoors in the past few years, chances are you’ve encountered a person wearing a fitness tracker. Fitness trackers are everywhere these days, smart wristbands that help people meet their fitness goals, eat better, and improve their overall health.

But devices like these aren’t just helpful during your waking hours. Sleep tracking functionality often goes overlooked among fitness trackers, and yet sleep is a critical part of your overall health. Without sufficient sleep, you’ll be less motivated to meet your fitness goals, have cravings for junk foods and sugar, and increase your risk of illness.

Sleep trackers, both standalone bed systems and as part of wearable fitness trackers, are powerful tools for tracking your fitness needs – both during the day and at night.

The good news is there are dozens of sleep trackers today. That’s also the bad news. With so many sleep trackers available, it can be overwhelming to weed through your options to find the best sleep tracker for your needs.

We’ve written this guide to help you. We’ll review how sleep trackers work, common design features, and important shopping tips to consider. Then, we’ll share our top picks for the best sleep trackers of 2018.

How Do Sleep Trackers Work?

There are two main kinds of sleep trackers: wearable devices that double as fitness trackers (like smartwatches or wristbands), and standalone no-contact systems that are designed to stay with your bed (typically via a thin fabric strip you place under the mattress or a cover that lies under your sheets on top of the mattress). Sleep trackers are also available as smartphone apps, but you’ll find the more advanced technology in the physical products.

At a minimum, sleep trackers track when you fall asleep, when you wake up, and how much time you spend asleep. How are they able to do this?

In the case of wearable sleep trackers, they monitor your sleep using actigraphy. Actigraphy monitors movement through the accelerometer in the wearable device. Just like the accelerometer in your smartphone, it’s able to sense when you’re moving and calculate how many steps you take. If you’re lying still for an extended period of time, as one does when you’re asleep, the accelerometer notes that lack of movement, and translates it into total sleep time.

Since contact-free sleep trackers are tied to your bed, they can’t sense when you start walking around. Instead, these devices rely on infrared technology and movement sensors in the fabric strip to determine when you wake up. They also use ballistocardiography to measure changes in your heart rate.

Many wearable sleep trackers also include heart rate tracking capability. While its primary purpose with those devices is to assess your cardio fitness level, your heart rate does lower as you sleep and changes during the different stages of sleep.

Advanced sleep trackers asses your sleep quality by revealing the amount of time you spend in each stage of sleep. Each night, we cycle through four stages of sleep, from light to deep to REM, before repeating the cycle again. Based on your total sleep time and changes in your heart rate, sleep trackers will estimate how much time you spent in each stage of sleep.

Whether sleep trackers are effective is still somewhat up for debate within the scientific community. Generally, scientists agree that sleep trackers are reasonably accurate at detecting whether you are asleep or not. However, they’re less bullish on their ability to determine the time spent in individual stages of sleep. Either way, if you want help sticking to a regular sleep schedule and ensuring you get enough sleep each night, monitoring your sleep with a sleep tracker can be a smart way to do it.

To use your sleep tracker, you simply keep wearing the device as normal when you go to bed, or, in the case of no-contact sleep tracking systems, hop into bed.

Common Design Features of Sleep Trackers

Below is an overview of the common features available with sleep trackers. If any stand out to you as especially exciting, make a note to look for that feature as you start shopping.

Advanced sleep tracking

More advanced sleep trackers offer more than just sleep time and sleep stage analysis. They may also include smart listening technology, in order to detect signs of snoring or breathing irregularities.

Contactless sleep tracking systems usually monitor your bedroom environment as well. They’ll track ambient noise from your bedroom, air quality and temperature, and darkness level. For the most restful sleep possible, you need a bedroom that’s dark, quiet, and cool. Contact-free sleep trackers can reveal whether your bedroom is set up for restful sleep, and they’ll provide tips for improvement, such as lowering the temperature.

Detailed analytics

Many sleep trackers include advanced analytics, so you can gain a better picture of your overall health. You can track your bed- and wake-times from the past few days, weeks, or months, and see how your overall sleep time is affected. Advanced sleep trackers will overlay snoring and sleep stage metrics, too. Some trackers will give you a Sleep Score based on these metrics, giving you a goal to work towards with suggestions on achieving better sleep.

With wearable sleep trackers, you can view your activity level alongside your sleep patterns, allowing you to better understand how your sleep affects your daily life, and vice versa.

Smart alarms

Because it is easier for us to wake from light sleep than deep sleep, many sleep trackers also offer “smart alarm” capabilities. You specify a time frame in the morning that you want to wake up (say between 7 and 7:30am). Then the device uses your total sleep time to make an educated guess on when, during that time frame, you’ve entered light sleep, in order to wake you up at the ideal moment (such as 7:22am).

Both wearable sleep trackers and contact-free bed systems usually offer “silent” alarm technology, waking you up through vibration instead of a noisy alarm clock.

Smartphone app

Nearly all sleep trackers come with an accompanying smartphone app. Since wearable devices have a small LED screen, and bed monitors have no screen at all, the smartphone app is an easier way to view all of your metrics.

You’ll also sync your phone with the sleep tracker via Bluetooth or a wireless connection, in order to view your analytics on the app. With wearable devices, this sync technology enables you to receive smartphone notifications, like texts and phone calls, on the device itself.

Material design

Wearable sleep trackers are designed to be comfortable to wear 24/7. They typically feature a minimal design in a variety of colors, to suit different preferences. They’ll come with adjustable wristbands in a few sizes so you get one that matches your wrist size.

However, some people may find the fabric irritating, or that the displays snag on bedding when you move during sleep, waking you up. Read online reviews before purchasing to see how other customers’ experiences are to ensure you find a good fit.

No-contact sleep trackers are usually made from a thin strip, fabric pad, or thin cover that lies on your mattress.

Battery life

Contact-free sleep trackers must stay plugged into the wall in order to work, although some may also offer USB charging.

Wearable sleep trackers boast long battery lives, lasting several days. This way, you can take it with you on long trips, forget your charger, and not be out of luck. However, you will need to take it off periodically in order to let it charge. Most people do this while they shower or get ready in the morning.

Important Tips for Sleep Tracker Shoppers

Before you shop for a sleep tracker, review the following questions. Your answers will narrow your search significantly.

  • Which kind of sleep tracker do you want? If you’ll find it uncomfortable to sleep wearing a wristband at night, you’ll be better served with a sleep tracker designed to work with your mattress.
  • Do you want to track more than just sleep? If you’re interested in tracking your activity level, nutrition, and more, a dual fitness/sleep wearable is the right choice.
  • What’s your budget? Depending on the type and model, the price of a sleep tracker can range from $50 to $300. The more features and analytics included, the higher the price tag. Contact-free sleep tracking systems tend to be more expensive than wearable sleep trackers.
  • What kind of phone do you have? Your sleep tracker won’t do you much good if you can’t actually see what it’s tracking. Most high-quality sleep trackers have apps for both iOS and Android, but double-check to make sure your phone is compatible before buying.
  • Do you like the app? Speaking of the app, check to see if you actually like how it works, as you’ll be using it often to view your analytics and get sleep tips. Watch preview videos on the manufacturer’s website, look at screenshots in the app store, and read the online reviews .
  • How do I clean my sleep tracker? With contactless sleep trackers, you can typically wipe down the fabric with a damp cloth and let it dry before placing it back on your mattress. If the sensor lives within a removable fabric cover, that cover may be machine washable, provided you remove the sensor first and unplug it. Even with waterproof sleep tracker wearables, most manufacturers recommend a quick rinse with a soap-free cleanser after you’ve worn it while sweating, or wearing heavy lotion or sunscreen.
  • What color and size do you want? You’ll be wearing your sleep tracker if you choose one that’s part of a fitness tracker, so make sure you like how it looks! Typically they’re available in a variety of fashionable colors and different band sizes, so you can choose one that looks good on your wrist.

Best Sleep Trackers: Brands and Models

Based on customer reviews, we’ve hand-picked the following list of both wearable sleep trackers and no-contact sleep tracking systems for your bed. You can purchase any of these through either the manufacturer website or on Amazon.

Best Wearable Sleep Trackers

ModelAlta HRCharge 2UP3
BrandFitbitFitbitJawbone
Cost (est.)$146.99-$179.95$148.95-$179.95$59.99-$99.99
Sleep FeaturesSleep stage analysis
Sleep time
Silent smart alarm
Sleep stage analysis
Sleep time
Silent smart alarm
Sleep stage analysis
Sleep time
Silent smart alarm
AnalyticsSleep quality
Heart rate tracking
Activity/fitness level
Sleep quality
Heart rate tracking
Activity/fitness level
GPS integration
Sleep quality
Heart rate tracking
Activity/fitness level
Food log
NotificationsSmartphone notifications
Fitness reminders
Personal health coach
Smartphone notifications
Fitness reminders
Personal health coach
Fitness reminders
Personal health coach
AppiOS, Android, WindowsiOS, Android, WindowsiOS, Android
SyncBluetooth/WiFiWiFiWiFi
Battery life7 days/2 hour charge time5 days/2 hour charge time7 days/1.5 hour charge time
DesignStainless steel/rubber
3 sizes: small, large, XL
Stainless steel/rubber
3 sizes: small, large, XL
Aluminum/rubber
3 sizes: small, medium, large
Color options5 colors: black, blue grey, fuchsia, gunmetal, rose gold6 colors: black, plum, blue, teal, gunmetal, rose gold5 colors: black, ruby, sand, silver, teal
CleaningWaterproof. Rinse with waterSplashproof. Rinse with waterSplashproof. Wipe down with damp cloth
Return/warranty policy1-year limited warranty1-year limited warranty1-year limited warranty
AvailableAmazonAmazonAmazon
Tuck Customer Satisfaction Rating89% (5,021 customer reviews)86% (16,673 customer reviews)70% (5,286 customer reviews)

 

Best No-Contact Sleep Trackers

ModelSleepEmfit QS Sleep TrackerS+ by Resmed
BrandNokiaEmfitResmed
Cost (est.)$99.95$229-$299$49.99
Sleep FeaturesSleep stage analysis
Sleep time
Snoring detection
Light/air/noise quality
Temperature/light auto-control
Sleep stage analysis
Sleep time
Light/air/noise quality
Sleep stage analysis
Sleep time
Light/air/noise quality
Smart alarm
White noise machine
To-do list recording
AnalyticsSleep quality
Heart rate tracking
Bedroom environment
Sleep quality
Nervous system health
Heart rate tracking
Breathing
Physical recovery
Bedroom environment
Sleep quality
Breathing
Bedroom environment
NotificationsPersonal health coachPersonal health coachPersonal health coach
AppiOS, Android, AlexaResponsive website appiOS, Android, Apple Watch
SyncBluetooth/WiFiWiFiBluetooth/WiFi
Battery lifePower adaptor or USBPower adaptorPower adaptor
DesignFabric strip lies underneath mattressFabric strip lies underneath mattressNightstand monitor
Color optionsGrayWhiteSilver
CleaningRemove sensor from fabric cover, machine washableWipe down with damp clothWipe down or dust
Return/warranty policy1-year limited warranty2-year limited warranty1-year limited warranty
AvailableAmazonAmazonAmazon
Tuck Customer Satisfaction Rating74% (69 customer reviews)85% (26 customer reviews)76% (302 customer reviews)

Additional Tuck Resources

Tracking your sleep is step one to enjoying more restful sleep. Discover more ways to improve your sleep with the articles below.