How to choose the best sleep meter for you

Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the best things you can do for your health. And yet we live in an age of Netflix binges, an endless flick of TikToks and a late night video game marathon. But if you are determined to build better sleep habits, you can always try to monitor your sleep.

Before we dive in, a brief note: sleep monitoring can be a useful tool, but there are limitations to what it can do. The jury is out on how accurate sleep measurements are and you should not treat your findings as an official diagnosis of sleep disorders, especially as these devices are not cleaned by any regulators. Instead, you should look at these devices as a way to learn about your sleeping habits to improve your sleep hygiene. If you think you may be prone to posture – or preoccupied with getting “perfect” sleep – you may also want to avoid it. With that in mind, here is how to choose the best sleep measurement method for you.

Types of sleep measurements

Broadly speaking, sleep measurements can be divided into two categories: wearable and unusable.

Sleep tracks that can be used are primarily fitness tracks and smart watches that also happen to monitor sleep. These include Apple Watches, Garmins, Fitbits and more. But there are also other niches that can carry sleep footprints that you do not use on your wrist, such as the Oura ring. At the same time, Muse S and Kokoon Nightbuds are devices that are worn on the head.

Oura ring could be a more comfortable sleep meter for people who do not like to wear a watch to sleep.
Photo: Victoria Song / The Verge

Unsustainable sleep measurements include smartphone apps, smart pads, bedside screens or even a whole smart beds. Some examples are Withings Sleep, Google Nest Hub and Sleep Number 360 Smart Bed.

The main thing is to find out if you feel comfortable wearing something while you sleep. While some people do not have any problems with getting out of bed, others do not tolerate it. A sleep meter that you rip off in the middle of the night does not help. In that case, something like the Oura ring or the unusable tracker is better. If you are not sure, try sleeping with a regular watch for a few days to see how you feel.

Neat sleep meter

These are the sleep meters you probably know best. These are good options for people who want to look at sleep as part of their overall health. There is a wide range of prices, with wearable sleeping steps ranging from $ 50 to $ 1,000. When buying a device, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I want the sleep meter to do something else?
  • What aspects of my sleep do I want to watch?
  • What is the battery life?
  • How much am I willing to spend?

This should help narrow down your choices considerably. For example, if all you want is a dedicated sleep meter that provides incredibly accurate information and can last for days on a single charge, then Oura Ring and Whoop 4.0 fit. But if you want something multi-tasking – such as monitoring your workouts, answering calls or sending notifications – a smartwatch or fitness meter is the better choice.

Screenshot of the sleep tracking screen in the Halo app

With wearables, you can view your exact sleep results in a companion program.
Photo: Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Most smartwatches and fitness equipment these days monitor sleep to some degree. However, your mileage will vary. Apple Watch, for example, introduced a native sleep monitor with watchOS 7, but it was rather straightforward. Although it allows you to easily see how long you have slept, there is no information about your sleep level or how well you have done at night. Also, with an estimated 18 hours of battery life, it is not the best thing for people who forget to charge their devices.

Fitbit offers much more accuracy and a holistic view of how your sleep affects your remaining health. You can see sleep levels, how your sleep habits compare to other people in your demographic, as well as get sleep levels. Fitbit Premium subscribers can also get a daily alert level, which assesses your sleep and other metrics to determine how much exercise you should get that day. Fitbits also get about five to seven days of battery life.

The Whoop 4.0 on someone's wrist

Whoop 4.0 is a tracker that focuses on how sleep affects sports performance.
Photo: Victoria Song / The Verge

These are just two examples. Strong sports watches from Garmin and Polar also monitor sleep, have a long battery life and give sleep points. However, the data you get from these watches tends to be much more focused on how your sleep affects your athletic performance. Whoop 4.0 is another example of a sleep meter that is primarily intended for athletes.

Each wrist sleep meter will present your sleep data differently, but you do not need to do anything special to keep your device asleep. As long as you have the device, you can just go to bed normally. Here are some tips to get you started.

  • After pairing a tracker with your phone, check the sleep settings in your device’s smartphone app. If a tracker supports it, you will find how to customize sleep monitoring settings, alarms, sleep goals and bedtime reminders.
  • Make sure your battery is at least 50 percent charged before bed.
  • Synchronize your data soon after you wake up in the morning.
  • If the sleep meter does not work, try cleaning the sensors, restarting the device and pairing again. You can also try wearing it in a slightly different position. If all else fails, check the manufacturer’s FAQ.

Smartphone applications

Screenshot of Sleep Cycle app showing sleep quality

The Sleep Cycle app is a popular option if you prefer to use your smartphone.
Photo: Sleep Cycle

Another popular method of monitoring sleep uses something you already have – your smartphone. Sleep monitoring programs generally monitor your movements and ambient sounds (eg snoring, coughing, etc.) to determine your sleep quality. Many also offer ingenious alertness, sleep insights and training tips. They can also contain digital sleep files where you can notice all the factors that could affect your sleep.

These apps will not be quite as detailed as wearables, but nonetheless, they can be useful for identifying short-term and long-term sleep patterns. They are also a good choice if you suspect snoring could keep you up, as they can also record sound. With programs, there is one thing you need to keep in mind. If you want to get the most out of it, you need to make sure you get started and stop a sleep cycle in the app, rather than letting it run.

There are hundreds of sleep apps for both iPhone and Android phones, but here are some popular options to get you started:

Contactless sleep monitoring gadgets

If neither a usable app nor a smartphone app appeals to you, consider a touchless sleep meter. These consist mainly of mattress mats, smart beds and bedside screens. These gadgets are attractive options for people who want a really inconspicuous tracker – but beware: these can be much more expensive than wearables and apps.

Mattresses are exactly as they sound – a mat with sensors that you slide under or over your mattress. One example is Withings Sleep. This particular mat is capable of measuring breathing rate, heart rate and movement. Withings also argues that snoring can be detected and can be used with IFTTT to program an ideal sleeping environment (ie dimming smart lights, lowering smart thermostats, etc.). Other examples are Temper-Pedic Sleep Tracker, Beautyrest SleepTracker and Eight Pro Cover. Keep in mind that these devices are very noticeable in price – Withings Sleep, for example, is on sale for $ 100, but the Eight Pro Cover will give you at least $ 1,600, depending on the size of the mattress.

The next step up is smart beds. These are real mattresses that often have adjustable positions, stiffness and temperature. Many also offer biometric health statistics. Some examples are Sleep Number 360 Smart Bed and Eight Sleep Pod. As you can imagine, this is not the most cost effective way to monitor your sleep – smart beds can cost thousands of dollars. However, if you have the means, you can also customize smart beds to your personal preferences for a comfortable night’s sleep.

The second generation Google Nest Hub introduced sleep monitoring.
Photo: Dan Seifert / The Verge

Finally, there are bedside screens. These are devices that sit on your bedside table and monitor your sleep. The best known example is the Google Nest Hub. The second generation center added sleep measurements via Soli radar sensors in the frame of the smart screen. It can monitor your movements, breathing patterns and snoring. It also monitors how much time you spend in bed, as well as the temperature and brightness in your room.

Another option is SleepScore Max, which monitors many of the same measurements and can create a report for your doctor. In terms of price, these are some of the most cost-effective contactless options. Nest Hub costs about $ 100, while SleepScore Max costs about $ 150.

Hopefully you now have an idea of ​​what type of sleep measurement is best for you. Sweet dreams and a happy sleep.

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