Digital Sleep Trackers. Are They Worth It?

Digital sleep trackers. Are they worth it?

Modern technology can help improve virtually every aspect of our lives, including exercise habits and physical condition. However, digital tracking devices aren’t limited to monitoring walking, jogging or other daytime exercise and fitness activities. Many people who consistently have trouble sleeping are now using digital sleep trackers. The tracker lets them record the time they fall asleep as well as when and how often they wake up. Furthermore, they can see how much time they actually spend sleeping during the night.

Types of Digital Sleep Trackers and What They Detect

The most common digital sleep trackers are wearable wristbands and smartwatches. Additionally, there are standalone systems that are clipped to a pillow or are placed on or under the mattress. These trackers gather and store information related to the quality, duration and trends of the user’s sleep.

Wearable Trackers

These contain sensors, called accelerometers, that monitor the sleeper’s rest and activity cycles. However, they’re not always entirely accurate. The accelerometer might confuse lack of movement as time spent sleeping. So when a body is lying still in bed for a while, it could be recorded as sleep. Conversely, the tracker might interpret nocturnal tossing and turning as awake time.

In addition to sleep cycles, some wearable trackers also monitor the sleeper’s heart and respiratory activity. This can change during the four different levels of sleep. Most wearable sleep trackers cost between $150 and $250, depending on the number and types of features they include.

 Standalone Sleep Tracking Systems

These types of trackers don’t come into contact with the body. Most contact-free sleep trackers use thin strips of fabric with built-in infrared sensors that detect the sleep/wake cycle. They’re placed either under the mattress or on top of the mattress beneath the bottom sheet. Standalone trackers use ballistocardiography (BCG) to create graphical representations of changes in the sleeper’s heart rate. Both types of trackers connect to your smartphone or tablet to keep records of sleep activity and trends. Some trackers will also interface with Alexa and similar home automation systems.  Non-wearable trackers are less expensive than wearable trackers because they lack the technology to monitor daytime activities. Prices for basic non-wearable trackers start at less than $100.

Additional Digital Sleep Tracker Features

Both wearable and non-wearable sleep trackers monitor each phase of the nightly sleep cycle. There are four stages of sleep in each cycle. Three are Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) phases, which called quiet sleep. There is also one Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage, known as active sleep. The trackers sense and record the amount of time the sleeper spends in each of the four stages:

  • NREM Stage 1 – This is a short, 5 to 10 minute period of transition between being awake and falling asleep.
  • NREM Stage 2 – During this period which lasts about 20 minutes, the body’s temperature drops and the heart rate begins to slow. There are also sudden bursts of brain activity during Stage 2.
  • NREM Stage 3 – This is when the deepest sleep occurs. The muscles relax, blood pressure drops and the breathing rate decreases.
  • REM Sleep – During the REM stage, brain activity increases, the body is relaxed and immobilized, the eyes move rapidly and dreaming occurs.

A full sleep cycle takes about 90 minutes, after which stages 1 through 4 are repeated throughout the night, all of which are captured and recorded. Ideally, healthy adults should complete four or five sleep cycles each night.

Some of the more advanced systems come with listening technology to detect snoring or other breathing abnormalities. These could be help identify indications of sleep apnea or similar sleep disorders. Many tracking systems will also monitor the sleeper’s surroundings. These include the bedroom’s temperature, ambient noise level and air quality. Both wearable trackers and contact-free trackers typically have silent alarms that vibrate to wake the user up.

Do Sleep Trackers Actually Work?

Sleep trackers can gather lots of information about sleeping habits. However, they don’t measure sleep directly. Sometimes they’ll interpret periods of inactivity as being sleep. Futhermore, they’ll consider episodes of restlessness as being awake. But they can still be useful in helping identify specific sleep patterns. Discuss your sleep quality with your doctor, if you’re concern about your sleep.

Sleep trackers can actually hinder some people from getting a good night’s rest. In some instances, trackers actually lower sleep quality by inducing anxiety that can result in insomnia. One study describes a growing number of cases of a new sleep disorder called orthosomnia. This disorder is an unhealthy obsession with the results of a sleep tracking device’s findings. In most cases, orthosomnia ends up impairing, rather than improving, sleep quality.

Many people find sleep trackers to be both entertaining and a useful way to monitor their sleep habits. But they’re not for everyone. If the tracker’s data contradicts the way you actually feel, listen to your body rather than the device. Otherwise, you may find yourself suffering from the effects of orthosomnia.

While a digital sleep tracker can help, nothing is more important than having the right mattress. Stop by your local Sit ‘n Sleep to speak with one of our knowledgeable sleep consultants. They’ll help you find everything you need for a good night’s rest.

Improving Your Self Care. Taking care of you.

improving your self care

Let’s face it, we often neglect ourselves in order to take care of everyone and everything else. But if this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we need to take better care of our health and wellness. Here are some tips for improving your self care.

16 Tips For Improving Self Care

Drink more water

Drinking water has so many benefits. From helping you lose weight, to providing more energy, to pain relief ­– water is big help in improving self care. While drinking eight cups a day has been the longstanding rule, it tends to be more individualized than that. The amount of water you should drink depends on age, activity levels, the climate you’re in, health, and more. You’re probably drinking enough if you don’t usually feel thirsty and your urine is light yellow or colorless.

Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep a night

It’s no secret that the majority of people get way less sleep than they should. With everything that you have on your plate, it can be hard to prioritize sleep. But getting enough sleep is really important! Experts recommend around 7-9 hours each day for adults. Sleep deprivation can lead to health issues like psychological problems, heart disease, obesity, weight gain, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Meditate every day to improve your self care

Meditation has been shown to have so many positive effects on the body and mind. Benefits include reducing blood pressure, lowering anxiety, as well as improving your focus, memory and attention. Even if you just spend five minutes meditating, you’ll still be able to enjoy the benefits and improve your self care.

Schedule regular self care

If you struggle with finding time to squeeze in your self care, put it in your calendar. Make it a priority by finding the time in your busy schedule. Set a reminder in your phone to tackle at least one thing off your self-care list. Being proactive with you schedule can help force you to make it a priority, until it becomes routine.

Take time off from social media

While social media does have its benefits, spending too much time on it has been linked to stress, anxiety and depression. Give yourself an hour off a day, or even consider a regular tech-free Sunday. Even if you need to social media for work, find time to step away and clear your mind.

Look at your triggers and signs of stress

It’s no secret that stress is a killer. High stress levels have been associated with tension headaches, heart disease, high blood sugar levels, and other health issues. Take a look at what triggers your stress and the effects that it has on your body. This can help you find ways to release that stress and minimize the harm it can cause.

Improve your self care by cutting out toxic people

Everyone has at least one of those people in their life. You know the one: they make snide comments, are unsupportive, or just make you feel bad about yourself. It’s time to cut them out! Don’t waste your time with people you don’t like or who don’t make you feel good about yourself or your potential. Imagine how great it will feel to not have to deal with that toxicity anymore!

See the doctor about improving your self care

If it’s been a while since you’ve seen your doctor, now is the time! Schedule a check-up or physical exam with your primary care doctor and catch up with your recommended preventive care screenings. It’s perfectly normal to feel a little nervous, especially if it’s been a while. Even if you’re young and healthy, it’s important to see your doctor regularly to find health problems early. As a result, you’ll be able to treat them before they become serious.

Look at sleep hygiene

In addition to getting more sleep, it’s important to work on getting better quality sleep. Improving your sleep hygiene can help you get more productive and restful sleep. Try limiting caffeine and alcohol before bedtime, keeping your bedroom cool and dark, and establishing a relaxing bedtime routine.

Improving your self care with yoga

Yoga isn’t just a trendy exercise class for housewives or millennials. It’s an ancient practice with many health benefits, like reducing stress, increasing flexibility, building muscle strength, and increasing blood flow. If you’re nervous about trying an in-person class, try a video online to get started!

Take a nap

Taking the occasional 30-minute power nap can help give you more energy to get through the rest of your day. Just be mindful of napping too long as it could prevent you from getting good quality sleep during the night.

Practice gratitude

Building a gratitude practice can have profound effects on your mood and attitude. Take a few minutes each day to think about what you are thankful for. Furthermore, think about what positive things have happened that day. As a result, both your physical and psychological health can improve. It can also help to improve your sleep and build mental strength and resilience.

Let go of the diet

Many people look for the next diet fad to help them lose weight. As a result, most don’t sustain the weight loss or see results at all. Instead, focus on eating more fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins Try and cut back on the amount of sugar and processed foods that you eat. Look for healthy lifestyle habits you can build long-term, instead of what’s trendy at the time.

Spend more time outdoors

It’s easy to get sucked in to being indoors all day. Between work, commuting, family obligations and responsibilities at home, you might forget to get outside sometimes! But being outside has a number of healthy benefits. This includes increased Vitamin D levels, better focus and concentration, reduced anxiety and improved mood. Try to take a walk outdoors every day. Opt for the famers market instead of the grocery store. If you live in Southern California, take advantage of the beautiful weather we have seemingly year round.

Practice a screen free bedtime

Do you get in bed, scroll through your social media and email, and then plug it in next to your bed? Sound familiar? Research has shown that using a device right before bed can have a negative effect on your sleep quantity and quality. Try avoiding your phone for at least 30 minutes before bed and plug it into an outlet in a different room. Having a screen free bedtime is just another way to keep improving your self care.

Invest in your sleep sanctuary

Like we already discussed, getting quality sleep is important for your health and self care. However, if your bedroom isn’t properly set up, you may not be getting the sleep you need. Make sure to replace your mattress every eight years. Furthermore, make sure your mattress is the appropriate one for your sleeping position. You’ll also want to keep your mattress clean and free of dust mites and bed bugs. Even if you’re currently not in the market for a mattress, you should call or visit your local Sit ‘n Sleep. Our Sleep Consultants can help make sure your bed is set up correctly with the right mattress. This way, you’ll have a better understanding of what you need to get the best sleep possible.