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Innovation and improvements in sleep tracking technology

Photo Credit: Konstantin Yuganov

People who want to gain a better understanding of their sleep patterns have turned to sleep trackers in large numbers. Whether it’s a wearable sleep tracker, a smartphone application, or a standalone monitor, the interest in obtaining this information is strong. However, it’s important for consumers to weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks of any sleep tracker before investing in it. While the benefits can be significant, the limitations can be as well.

What Can Most Fitness Trackers Monitor?

While the monitoring capabilities of fitness trackers differ by brand and type, most monitor these functions at a minimum:

  • The time a person went to bed and got up in the morning. It does this by determining when the sleeper is active vs. inactive.
  • The quality of sleep during the hours rested. The device determines this by recording sleep interruptions such as tossing and turning or getting up to use the bathroom.
  • Consistent tracking by the device saves people from the trouble of having to write down sleep and wake times as well as gathers information they wouldn’t know due to being asleep.
  • The fitness tracking device that comes along with most sleep trackers makes it simple for someone to track their overall level of fitness and health.
  • Some sleep trackers can record environmental factors that can impact sleep such as the amount of light in the room.
  • Some trackers can also record a person’s stress level, how much caffeine he or she has consumed in the hours before bed, and other lifestyle factors that can affect the quality and quantity of sleep.

Potential Drawbacks to Consider

As helpful as the above benefits can be, the current offerings of sleep trackers are not without issues. For example, non-wearable devices may not give as accurate results if another person or a pet is also in the bed. Affording a sleep tracking device can also be a problem since prices can run a wide range. Other things to consider include:

  • It may not be comfortable to try to sleep using a wearable device.
  • No wearable or non-wearable sleep tracking device can currently diagnose a sleep disorder. People should buy them with the understanding they can’t act as a substitute for qualified medical care.
  • Current sleep trackers don’t provide information about the various stages of sleep.

Promising New Technology in Sleep Tracking

According to some researchers in the sleep disorders industry, the most accurate way to measure nightly sleep is by attaching a small sleep sensor to the forehead. This location of the body is optimal because it provides the best available data regarding heart rate and oxygen levels.

The forehead also offers the best perfusion and ability not to respond to hot or cold as strongly as other parts of the body do. The locations of a sleep tracking device on the forehead makes it possible for people to see how often they stop breathing during the night if they have sleep apnea and how sleep position affects breathing. It’s a highly effective tool for treating sleep apnea naturally at home. This is just one new technology that addresses issues with current sleep trackers. People interested in learning more about these devices should speak to a sleep specialist.

Article by Andrew Armstrong