How to evaluate your sleep with a fitness tracker?

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Table of Content

Have you been worrying about the upcoming project which shortens your sleeping time? Are you stressful and facing general sleep disruptions? Do you feel tired after waking up and have you ever wondered what is happening to your mind during your snoring time? Having a successful sleep is not measured by the time you spend in bed, but the actual calculated time asleep.

The quality of sleep is one of the principle factors that directly affects human behaviors and daily activities, both mentally and physically. People can easily measure their height or weight, however, it used to be impossible to have some precise figures of their sleep, about how long and how well they sleep.

A great news is that the impossible task turns out to be possible with a fitness tracker. Normally, most fitness trackers share the mutual function of counting steps and tracking the calories burn during the workout process. Lately, some manufacturers have introduced new functions of monitoring heart rate and GPS navigation. On top of that, tracking users’ sleeping time is the most highly evaluated. Well-known branches in this domain include Garmin Vivosmart, Fitbit Charge HR, Jawbone UP3, Microsoft Band 2, Fitbit Flex, etc.

Why should I track my sleep with a fitness tracker?

The majority of patients suffering sleep deprivation are not comfortable with any machinery (like a PSG tracking) at the clinic. They are obsessed with the mess of strings, giant machines, or the smell of the lab, not to mention the frequency of their visit to see the doctor. Put away these scary thought as you now have a wearable watch which considerably simplifies the process of tracking your sleeping data. As simple as it may sound, you just need to wear the tracker during your sleep and get the result after waking up. Tracking data is sent to your health consultant without being presented in person.

How does a sleep tracker work?

During sleeping mode, your body completely rests and till, your tracker starts performing its duty. When you are sleeping still without any movements, in an hour for example, algorithms automatically assume that you start sleeping. Recorded data is based on your respiration rate, your body temperature and even galvanic skin response. The final data represents the timeline from the time you stop interacting with the surrounding, till you wake up in the morning. The quality of your sleep is recorded by a fluctuated line (or columns). Normally, it ranges from deep, light, and awake mode (these messages are conveyed in separate colors), which can be easily seen from the graph. 


Your restless state, such as turning over or scratching, sends a signal to the tracker. This does not mean that you are recorded fully awake, your tracker might indicate that you are not sleeping restfully at that time. Being in an unconscious state during sleep, you can hardly control your movements. This problem partly stems from how you use your sleep sensitive setting. Double check whether it is too sensitive, then you should change to a normal setting if you are expecting for a general overview of your sleep.

When your tracker indicates that you are moving so much during your sleeping time, then data is recorded as you are fully awake.Insomniac patients and people with sleep disorders usually face this issue. If you are not moving but not as sleep for a long period of time, it seems that your tracker might falsely record your sleep. In this case, you can delete this sleep log on your dashboard.

According to Michael Scullin, a post-doctoral fellow at Emory University School of Medicine’s Department of Neurology, he believed that users should not expect that the devices will be able to distinguish between sleep stages as fitness trackers rely on movements, whereas sleep stages are defined primarily by brain activities. Personally, I am no sleep expert, but based on the benefits that a tracker can create, I can put my trust on its performance. Although, the accuracy might be the main concern as it relies on external environment, your general result still presents what you are expecting.

Useful tips to use a sleep-tracking device

Should you start using a sleeping tracker, these following reminders are promised to come in handy at some time.

  • Barring Fitbit One, most trackers automatically log your sleep if you wear it to bed. However, if you wear a tracker but forget to switch to sleep mode, your sleep data is still there.
  • The tracker must be worn tightly and comfortably around your wrist. A loosing tracker might fall out of your wristband during sleep.
  • You can clip a tracker to your waistband or wear it on your ankle, which are less affected by movements.
  • In order to achieve a better sleep time, you can set up your own goal, normally 8 hours per night. For specific product, please follow the instructions in the manual or visit its website to change your goal or examine other functions.
  • If you set the mode of tracking sleep automatically, all naps during the day are recorded as well. Later when you sync data, your nap will also appear on your sleep log.


Many fitness trackers keep on tracking your well-beings even after you work out all day long. It is aiming at recording the length and overall quality of your sleep, how many times you woke up during the night. The tracker will monitor your movements which are transferred to sleep data later. Remember that some trackers perform this task automatically, while others need to be switched into sleep mode before you start snoring. Therefore, having a look at instruction guides is a wise choice, not only of a fitness tracker, but also of any electric devices.

Last but not least, wearing a fitness tracker does not make you lose weight or sleep better. The data you get reveals the current condition of your body functions. It is the right time to consult your doctor if you receive a low evaluation for 3 successive nights.


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