Health and Fitness

How does a Sleep Tracker actually work?


Everyone seems to be struggling to get more and better sleep these days. Almost half of American adults (44%) report feeling sleepy 2-4 days a week, while 28% report feeling sleepy 5-7 days a week, according to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2020 Sleep in America Poll. Four in ten adults say sleepiness interferes with their daily activities at least occasionally. Furthermore, getting insufficient sleep can lead to a host of illnesses, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, blood pressure problems, heart disease, strokes, depression, and other mental disorders.

Types of Trackers

Sleep tracking devices can be divided into two main categories: wearables and non-wearables. The wearable devices can be watches, bracelets, rings, chest straps, or even headbands and masks, while non-wearable devices are generally thin devices that you place next to your bed or slide under your sheet. You can even get smart mattresses that monitor your sleeping habits.

Non-wearable devices mainly fall under two categories. They are Bedside Devices & Bedside Sensors.

Let’s see about each of these devices,

Wearable Devices: 

These devices are worn on the wrist or finger while sleeping. These devices usually record data about your movements and heart rate. They may also monitor your breathing patterns. Many of them are multifunctional. In addition to your food and activity logs, you can track your footsteps, heart rate, and calories burned.

Bedside Devices:

These devices are placed near your bed. Most of the data they collect is related to your movements and breathing during your sleep. Furthermore, they may store information about the environment of your room, such as temperature, humidity, ambient noise, and light.

Bed Sensors:

These devices are placed under the sheets or mattresses. They measure the movement and heart rate of the person. Some of these devices measure the room environment as well, such as temperature and humidity. Smart beds can also be used to track there is also a type of mattresses in which sensors will be integrated into them.

How do they Track?

First, let’s understand the Data we collect from this Sleep Tracker.

Normally we used to collect the below data from a Sleep Tracker.

  • Your Heart Rate & Rhythm
  • Your Breathing Patterns
  • Time Awake & Time Sleeping
  • Snoring
  • Body Temperature
  • Room Temperature & Humidity
  • Light & Noise Level

Now let’s explore a few ways in which these sleep tracking devices track your sleep.

  • Accelerometers
  • Heart Rate
  • Respiratory Rate
  • Environmental Factors


Accelerometers are nothing but small motion detectors that are present inside your Sleep Tracker. In your sleep, these motion detectors will monitor & record your movements. All these recorded activities will be analyzed with an algorithm that helps to estimate the sleep time & quality.

These Accelerometers can only track your sleep stages to an extent. For in-depth analysis, you need to visit a sleep lab where they will track your sleep patterns & stages accurately. But these Motion Detectors are handy to carry & they help us to track our health & sleep to some extent.

Heart Rate

Normally our Heart Rate will vary on two conditions. The first one is when we are Physically active & the second one is when we are resting.

As you might know already, our Heart Rate will go high when we are physically active and it will become low when we are resting.

For example, A well-trained athlete while running his Heart Rate will increase more than 100 Beats Per Minute. At the same time while resting his Heart Rate can become as low as 45 Beats Per Minute.

Respiratory Rate 

During sleep, our Heart Rate & Respiratory Rate mostly will not be in sync. But both these rates help us to determine the sleep stages because these rates have a close relationship with each sleep stage. As both these systems are controlled by our Autonomic Nervous System. As the most reliable metric for determining sleep disorders like snoring and sleep apnea, respiration is considered the most important physiological measure.

Environmental Factors

Each Sleep Trackers have their own unique sensors & algorithms to monitor environmental factors. Among them let’s see a few common factors.

Some Sleep Trackers use microphones. These microphones are exactly like the ones that we have on our mobile phones. You will place these devices close to your bed to capture noise from the room also from the movements you make in your sleep.

This feature will come in very handy if you are having difficulty getting sleep and making more movements (like changing your sleeping position frequently to fall asleep)

Dos & Don’ts of Sleep Tracker

Like every other Health Gadget, Sleep Tracker is also an electronic gadget. Before using any gadget we need to understand the dos & don’ts of that gadget it will help us to use the gadget appropriately and avoid doing activities that will harm the gadget. First, let’s start with dos.


  • Monitor your total Sleep Time
  • To follow your sleep schedule or goal
  • Show the Data to your physician

Consumer Sleep Trackers are good & mostly accurate when it comes to calculating total sleep time. These Sleep Trackers help to improve & regulate your sleep habits.


  • Completely rely on your tracker for Sleep Quality
  • Lose Sleep over your sleep tracker

According to the algorithm, your Sleep Tracker evaluates & measures your sleep. In this, your quality of sleep will also be measured. But this can be accurate only up to 70 to 80%. The Sensors in the wearable devices can track up to this much accuracy only. Don’t start losing or reducing your sleep with this data.


Technology is getting better every day. This Sleep Tracker will help professionals to plan their sleep schedules on their busy workdays. In case you have any significant issues like sleep apnea or chronic insomnia collect the data you collected from the sleep tracker & show it to your doctor.

Sleep tracking data cannot be used to diagnose sleep problems. The Sleep Tracking devices are not FDA-approved for diagnostic purposes.

However, the information from these sleep tracking devices can help point your doctor in the right direction for diagnosing the underlying cause of your sleep problems.

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