Last updated on: January 6, 2017 By Ethan Green
Personal sleep trackers can provide a fascinating insight into the mysterious third of your life you spend asleep.
It might not be as accurate as a professional assessment, but a sleep tracker can give you useful information about the quality of your sleep, and then help you take steps to improve it.
I’ve tested a wide range in the last few months, and continue to do so on an on-going basis. And in this review I’ll be giving you my opinion of the most popular devices and how they compare.
Some of them are also activity trackers, and although I’ll provide an overview of the activity tracking features, the main focus will be on the sleep tracking aspect.
And if you’re unsure about how reliable they are at measuring sleep, you might find it helpful to read my article looking at how sleep trackers work.
Which type of sleep tracker to choose?
With so many activity trackers now providing sleep tracking features, and an increasing range of non-wearable sleep monitors, it can be confusing working out which one will be best for you.
Normally with top 10 lists, you’d expect that the first product would be the best overall. However, it’s a little more complex than that with sleep trackers.
I think that it’s more helpful to see this an an overview of sleep trackers, highlighting their unique pros and cons, and make your decision based on what you want from your device.
So, for example, if you like the idea of having activity tracking as well as sleep tracking, the Jawbone UP3 or one of the Fitbits could be good choices.
If you don’t want to wear a device on your wrist at night, or aren’t interested in activity tracking, you might prefer a standalone device, such as the S+ by Resmed, Beddit, Withings Aura or Sleepace Reston.
If you’re interested in finding out how factors such as noise, light and temperature affect your sleep, take a look at the S+, Sense or Withings Aura.
And if you like the idea of having a light and sound machine to help you fall asleep and wake up gently, the Sense or Withings Aura can do that.
So with those points in mind, let’s take a look at the different sleep trackers.
1) S+ By ResMed Personal Sleep Solution
The only sleep tracker that works without physical contact
Conceptually, the S+ by ResMed is a potential game changer, being the first personal sleep tracker to work without requiring any physical contact.
All other devices are either worn on the wrist or have a measuring device on your mattress or pillow. The S+ just sits on your bedside table and monitors your sleep and bedroom environment from a distance.
I’d be skeptical that this were even possible, if it weren’t for the fact that RedMed is a well-respected sleep technology company that makes sleep apnea devices. So how does it work? Well, basically by sonar. Or as the ResMed website states:
patented non-contact radio frequency technology to monitor your breathing and body movement while you sleep
Where it really shines is in gathering a wealth of information about what you did during the day, bedroom environment and sleep, and then combining all of that data to try to help you sleep better.
- Accurate tracking of light, deep, REM and wake stages.
- Compares your sleep score against the average for your age and gender.
- Measures light, noise and temperature in the bedroom.
- A nightly questionnaire about factors like alcohol, caffeine, activity and stress levels helps correlate your daily behavior with your sleep.
- Encourages you to leave a text or voice memo to clear your mind and relax before sleeping.
- Synchronizes with your breathing to play relaxing sounds through your phone.
- Smart alarm wakes you gently during a light stage of sleep.
- Provides personalized sleep coaching advice based on your sleep pattern, bedroom environment and lifestyle.
- Detailed results and sleep graphs on a very clear phone App, with even more on the website.
- Printable sleep report you can take to your doctor.
- You need to tell it when you’re physically in bed and about to try to sleep.
- Uses a lot of mobile phone battery, but does have a USB port to charge during the night.
- Needs to be paired with your phone throughout the night.
- You have to use your phone to control it.
When it came to measuring sleep, I found the S+ to be remarkably accurate on the whole. The amount of data it gives you in the morning is quite amazing, with detailed sleep graphs full of useful information.
It’s very difficult to personally confirm the amount of time you spend in different sleep stages, but the nights when I felt I slept badly and woke up feeling less alert seemed to be reflected in less overall and less REM sleep.
What I really liked is the fact that it takes a holistic approach to the sleep coaching. Over time, it uses the questionnaire answers and environmental factors to make clear, logical and actionable suggestions for improving your sleep.
So you’re not just left with ambiguous sleep scores and confusing graphs, but told exactly how you can make lifestyle changes to sleep better.
If you can forgive the need to stay synced to your phone all night, it’s an excellent sleep tracker which might actually make a difference to your sleep.
2) Jawbone UP3
Accurate sleep tracker with a subtle design
The Jawbone UP3 may not look like it, but it’s in fact one of the more advanced and accurate sleep trackers. It initially received bad reviews due to some firmware issues, before a major update in September 2015 solved them. Now when it comes to the sleep side of things, it’s way ahead of most of its rivals.
Jawbone claim that it’s one of the most advanced personal sleep trackers ever made. They say it builds a picture of your sleep using a range of advanced sensors such as bioimpedance. It measures your heart rate, breathing rate, body temperature and galvanic skin response.
The idea then is that the sensors can distinguish between being awake and the light, deep and REM sleep stages. Not many devices can claim to be able to do this accurately, and although it may not be perfect, it does an impressive job of breaking your sleep down into stages.
- Very accurate and automatic sleep monitoring.
- Advanced sensors giving a detailed assessment of your sleep, including time spent awake, in light, deep and REM sleep.
- Accurate activity monitor measuring essentials like steps taken, distance traveled and calories burnt.
- Long battery life (up to 7 days).
- Stylish bracelet design.
- A great App provides detailed results and is easy to use.
- Useful and personalized sleep coaching tips to improve your sleep.
- Great price.
- No screen display to provide you with information during the day.
- Less detailed activity monitoring than many other devices.
I found the UP3 was remarkably accurate during the week I tested it. When I got up in the night, it reliably recorded it. When I had a rough idea of the time it took me to fall asleep, it was reflected in the results. And the nights when I felt like I slept badly were shown as reduced REM and total sleep time.
The UP3 may not have an impressive display like many modern wearable trackers. But where accuracy and detail are concerned, it’s one of the best sleep trackers currently available, and at a much lower price due to the lack of digital display.
Add to this the helpful sleep coaching, which is more complete and personalized than most competitors, and the UP3 is hard to beat unless you’re set on having a screen on your wrist.
3) Beddit 2.0 Smart Sleep Monitor
Bedside sleep tracker with heart rate and breathing monitoring
The Beddit Smart Sleep Monitor is a dedicated sleep tracker which consists of a simple strip which lies under your bed sheet to track your sleep, with an accompanying App to use on your smart phone.
It tracks a wide range of interesting sleep information, though not as much as the S+ by Resmed or Withings Aura. However, it does include a heart and respiration rate monitor which is especially useful for people who might have concerns about their health.
- The accuracy is generally very good if you sleep alone.
- Lots of different data tracking: your heart rate, breathing and snoring, time asleep or restless and times out of bed, time spent in light or deep sleep.
- Easy to set up and use.
- Thin measuring strip which you don’t feel when placed under a sheet or mattress protector.
- Automatically senses your heart and breathing rate to determine when you’re asleep.
- Smart alarm system wakes you up in the best part of your sleep cycle.
- Beautiful presentation of the results on the app with an overall sleep score.
- The measuring strip has to be plugged into the mains during the night to work.
- The sleep coaching is sometimes a little too generic.
- If you sleep with a partner they can disturb your results. Equally if you roll away from the strip, it will skew the results.
The Beddit sleep monitor provides lots of fascinating data about your sleep, and the accuracy overall is very good, especially compared to most wearable activity trackers. However, if you sleep with a partner, there’s a possibility they might influence the tracking if they sleep on top of the strip.
Overall, I think if you sleep alone, the Beddit is an excellent way to get a deeper insight into your sleep and health. If you share your bed though, I’d probably recommend using a wearable device.
4) Withings Aura Smart Sleep System
Bedside sleep tracker with light and music to help you sleep
The Withings Aura Smart Sleep System isn’t exactly a subtle addition to the bedroom, but it makes up for that with its wide range of features. As well as monitoring your sleep, it includes a light and sound unit to help you relax and fall asleep, and then wake you up gently in the morning.
It consists of three main elements: a strap which you sleep on top of to monitor your movement, a bedside unit which measures environmental factors and also creates light and sound, with a mobile phone App where you’ll get your results.
Really it’s more than that though, combing a range of bedroom devices; it’s an all-in-one sleep tracker, alarm clock, reading lamp, sleep machine and wake-up light.
- The bedside unit plays music on a timer to help you sleep and wake up.
- The unit emits a fading glowing light on a timer. The specific red wavelengths are designed to help trigger melatonin production, the hormone that tells your body clock it’s time to sleep.
- The smart alarm function can wake you up slowly during light sleep.
- It tracks your time awake, time restless, time it took to fall asleep, time spent in light, deep and REM sleep.
- Monitors your heart and breathing rate, as well as movement during the night to give a better picture of your sleep.
- Environmental sensors monitor room temperature, light and noise. The App then tells you if these factors disturbed your sleep.
- Complex App with no sleep coaching telling you what to do with all the potentially useful data.
- Limited choice of music input. You can use the in-built sounds or Spotify premium, but not iTunes, your mp3 or mobile phone music database.
- The instructions, touch interface and data interpretation are confusing.
- It’s very expensive compared to other sleep trackers.
The Withings Aura Smart Sleep System is a complete sleep system which aims to do so much more than most other devices. The fading light and sound features might also help you fall asleep quicker and rise peacefully.
Similarly to the Beddit and Sleepace, the accuracy of some elements of the sleep monitoring can be questionable if a partner rolls onto the strip. And the many results that you do get leave you to work out for yourself what you should do about them.
But you do get a wealth of fascinating data about your sleep, so for those with money to spend and a keen interest in their sleep, it can give you a deep insight into your nightly slumber.
Detailed bedroom environment monitoring and smart alarm
The Sense deviates from the normal sleep tracker path, with an elegant sci-fi design and interesting features. With sleep tracking, environmental sensors, smart alarm and sound machine, it’s a unique take on home sleep monitoring tech.
Sense comes with two pieces to monitor different factors. A futuristic little orb sits on your bedside table, checking your bedroom environment is right for sleep. Then you have a tiny disc which clips onto your pillow and records your movement during the night.
It can also play a range of mellow sounds to help you sleep if you like. And it can be programmed to wake you during light sleep with mellow lighting and tones. You can control some functions with a wave of your hand, putting the finishing touches to its modern appeal.
- Beautiful design which is small and unobtrusive. Available in white or charcoal.
- Measures and advises you on bedroom temperature, humidity, ambient light, noise and air quality.
- Measures time asleep, time to fall asleep, wakings, times restless, and time spent in deep, medium and light sleep.
- Fun and colorful glow features. Wave your hand over it to see a green glow for ideal bedroom conditions, red for bad and orange needing improvement.
- Great smart alarm feature. You set an ideal wake time and it will wake you at the best point in the 30 mins before to ensure you wake happily.
- Good App with overall sleep score, sleep timings and interruptions due to factors like noise.
- Helpful Sleep coaching, even comparing your sleep to other Sense users.
- The sleep tracking isn’t the most accurate. Can mistake being still for being asleep. Sometimes needs the wake up time manually adjusting.
- The microphone doesn’t record noise – it just tells you that there was noise.
- No snooze function on the alarm.
I liked the Sense for its environmental monitoring features, motion controls and wide range of light settings and effects. I think the slow wake-up light alarm is a great feature, and found it helped me wake up more calmly than the usual mobile phone ringtone.
I didn’t find it was the most accurate at detailed sleep tracking though. I think there are sleep trackers which do that better, and give you a more detailed breakdown of what went on during the night.
Overall, If you really need a detailed insight into your current sleep, you might benefit more from one of the previous trackers. But if you’re interested in a cool piece of tech which gives you useful advice about setting up your bedroom each night, and an excellent alarm, you’ll probably find the Sense surprisingly helpful.
In some ways I can see it having helpful and positive long-term potential. It’s great to get a nightly picture of how much you sleep, but it’s not always clear how that information will help improve your sleep.
The sense, on the other hand, actively sets out to help you sleep better. So if you’re a sensitive sleeper like me, I think it’s potentially really useful to have an easy way to check that your bedroom environment is right each night. And with the wake-up light, it doesn’t just help you fall asleep better, but also wake up more gently.
The 2nd generation is now available, and includes voice commands. Because of this, the 1st generation is being sold at a much higher price, presumably to encourage an uptake of the 2nd Generation. So if you shop online, do be aware that the new version is the one for the prices quoted above.
6) Fitbit Charge 2
Great all-rounder with sleep and activity tracking
The Fitbit Charge 2 is an interesting and fun hybrid of wearable tech. Part activity monitor, part sleep tracker and with some smart watch functions, it does a bit of everything.
I was a fan of the original Charge HR, and the latest version has even more to like. There are some new and improved features, but what struck me most were the visible elements.
I thought the previous model’s display was somewhat lacking, so it’s good to see a bigger and more elegant touchscreen. And it now has stylish steel sides to the body, along with different strap options.
It doesn’t attempt to tell you about your sleep stages as some other trackers claim to be able to do, but the key sleep tracking it does provide is reasonably accurate.
Additionally, a constant heart rate monitor gives you an extra measurement which sets it apart from a lot of the competition.
- Tells you your total sleep time, along with how many times and for how long you were either restless or completely awake.
- The heart rate monitor is accurate – I’ve compared it to my pulse rate and it’s spot on.
- The digital display allows you to choose your preferred time format, along with one or two extra tracking options such as pulse, distance or steps on the home screen.
- Accurately measures steps, distance, floors climbed and calories burnt.
- Modern design and comfortable to wear.
- Can sync with your phone to give you incoming call, text and appointment alerts.
- Silent vibrating alarm to wake you, but not your partner.
- Relaxation function teaches you a mindfulness breathing exercise.
- Easy to use, along with a good App interface with interesting graph displays.
- Steel body and interchangeable wrist bands.
- No GPS feature for activity tracking.
- Not waterproof. No shower or swimming, but rain and sweat are ok.
The Fitbit Charge 2 is a sleek-looking activity and sleep tracker which has just the right amount of functions to make you want to use it day after day.
The heart rate monitor is accurate, helping to provide you with more accurate sleep data. It’s also useful for activity tracking and keeping an eye on your heart rate throughout the day.
I like the fact that it keeps the sleep monitoring to the important basics, without trying to do things which wearable sleep trackers aren’t particularly reliable at.
As with most sleep trackers, I did find it sometimes confuses lying in bed reading with sleeping. But the Fitbit App allows you to change the time you fell asleep manually, ensuring your results are as accurate as possible.
Once I actually do go to sleep though, I find it’s good at recording my total sleep time and wakings. In the week I tested it, it accurately recorded every toilet trip.
Overall, this is a great all-rounder either as an entry into wearable devices or an upgrade to a previous model. If you’re interested in having a bit of everything, with activity and sleep tracking as well as smart watch functions, it ticks a lot of boxes.
7) Fitbit Blaze
Advanced activity and sleep tracking smart watch
What makes the Fitbit Blaze interesting is that it’s the first Fitbit which feels like a smart watch, yet still maintains the excellent activity tracking functions that the company is so well known for.
Like the Fitbit Charge 2 and the Surge, it covers a wide range of tracking functions, presented beautifully on the easy to use Fitbit mobile phone App.
It does a reasonable job of sleep tracking in my experience, providing a detailed insight into your sleep quality through the combination of movement sensors and constant heart rate monitor.
Like the Charge 2, it keeps things simple where sleep tracking is concerned, checking how much sleep you got and how restless you were, and providing a couple of goals to improve your sleep.
- Wide, 1.66 inch LCD color touchscreen.
- Automatic sleep tracking.
- Records the total time asleep, number of times restless or awake and total time restless.
- Accurate activity tracking, measuring steps, distance, calories, floors and heart rate.
- Accurate and continuous heart rate monitor.
- Dedicated activity tracking modes, such as running, cycling, weights and cross-training.
- ‘Fitstar’ App on the watch shows you exercise routines you can do.
- Smartwatch features including calls, texts, calendar alerts, music control and range of sleek-looking watch face displays.
- Wide range of colors, strap materials and styles.
- Excellent battery life.
- Easy to use App, presenting the results in a fun and engaging visual way.
- No built-in GPS. You can sync it with a mobile phone to track your route if required.
- It’s not waterproof, so can’t be used in the swimming pool or shower. It can withstand light rain and sweat though.
- Even though it’s thin, it does look wide on the wrist.
- As with most wearable devices, it might mistake resting in bed for sleeping. You can manually change the time you fell asleep though.
I wore the Blaze for 2 weeks and was pleasantly surprised by the accuracy of both the sleep and activity tracking. On most nights, it reliably recorded when I fell asleep and woke up, as well as when I got up in the night.
And when I had an uncomfortably restless night, the results seemed to reflect that with large numbers of restless activity showing up on the graph the next day. As is often the case though, if I lay in bed reading or just not falling asleep, it didn’t always pick that up, so I occasionally had to adjust the time in the morning.
The Fitbit App is great, not just because it’s easy to understand and interpret the data, but also because it gives you goals, challenges and awards. And that’s a good motivation to improve both your activity levels and sleep.
I can tolerate the lack of GPS and waterproofing, even though I know for some people that might be disappointing. My main concern is the size of the Blaze – it’s remarkably thin, but very wide. So if you’re looking for a subtle wearable device, this isn’t the one for you.
Overall, the Fitbit Blaze is a tracker that you can rely on, with a range of interesting features. I was impressed by both the accuracy and quantity of data, as well as how clearly it encourages you to improve your fitness and sleep with goals you can work towards.
8) Basis Peak
Accurate smartwatch sleep tracker
The Basis Peak is loaded with a wide array of sensors and smartwatch functions. It’s an impressive piece of tech and looks modern and stylish on the wrist.
It’s also one of the more robustly designed activity trackers which still manages to remain slim. If you spend a lot of time in water or have a tendency to knock and scratch anything worn on your wrist, it can definitely withstand a beating.
- Accurate and automatic sleep monitoring.
- Measures light, deep and REM sleep, as well as time asleep and time restless.
- Accurate constant heart rate monitoring. Also tracks your galvanic skin response and temperature to provide more accurate tracking.
- Automatic activity tracking, able to recognize walking, running and cycling.
- Waterproof and can be used when swimming or diving up to 40 meters depth.
- Massive amount of tracking data available on an impressive mobile phone App, and even more on a separate online App.
- Smartwatch alerts give you phone calls, texts, emails and pre-set alerts.
- Tough and scratch-resistant display screen.
- Excellent battery life – up to a week.
- No GPS to track your routes. If you stop while running, when you start again it’s logged as a new session.
- Doesn’t register other forms of exercise. So gym sessions don’t trigger the exercise mode to show you your heart rate and calories burnt.
- Lack of useful coaching information to explain what all the data actually means for you.
The Basis Peak is arguably one of the best wearable sleep monitors out there, giving you more information about your sleep than you’ll know what to do with.
Whether it’s better or worse than the Jawbone UP3 or Fitbit Blaze is hard to say. However, it does measure sleep with impressive reliability and accuracy. But it doesn’t match up to the Jawbone where sleep coaching is concerned.
As an activity tracker it’s unfortunately not as good as it could be for the price. It’s a very accurate pedometer for walking, but any other exercise and problems start to creep in.
As a smartwatch it has a wide range of alerts and functions, with a nice looking touch screen display. Overall, I think if sleep monitoring and smart watch functions are your main interest, it’s a good option.
9) Fitbit Surge
Advanced sports watch with a wide range of features
The Fitbit Surge is the most powerful in the Fitbit activity tracker line. It’s bigger, packed with more features and of course more expensive than previous Fitbits.
While the Fitbit Charge has a couple of smartwatch features, the Surge (like the Blaze) goes a few steps further with a touchscreen display giving more control of your phone on your wrist.
The inclusion of a constant heart rate monitor and GPS tracking gives you a lot of information about your daily activity levels, even charting your routes on google maps. In fact, the GPS is the main feature which makes it more of a sports watch than the Blaze, even though the Blaze is a newer model.
- High-tech hybrid of a smart watch and activity tracker with a huge range of features.
- Choice of manual or automatic sleep tracking. If you disagree with the time you fell asleep or woke up, you can manually correct it on the App.
- Tells you the time spent asleep, awake or restless.
- Get in-coming phone caller IDs, read text messages and control music from your wrist.
- Customizable and modern digital display unit with touch screen and side buttons.
- Continuous heart rate monitor.
- GPS tracking to accurately measure distance.
- Great for runners as it measures distance, steps, pace, splits, elevation and route.
- You can specify the activity you’re doing and it will calculate calories burnt accordingly.
- It’s a large device, so if you have a small wrist it might look a quite big.
- The battery drains quickly if you have GPS enabled. It will last about 5-7 days without, and about 5 hours with GPS.
The Fitbit Surge is ideal for runners and anyone interested in the fine details of their activity tracking. However, if sleep tracking is more than just a side note to you it doesn’t quite measure up to some of the more complex sleep trackers I’ve looked at.
If you want a piece of wearable tech which does a bit of everything though, then the Surge is definitely up there among the best when it comes to the range of features and options it has.
It’s one of the only devices which can claim to incorporate smart watch, heart rate, activity and sleep tracking, and GPS capabilities.
10) Sleepace Reston
Dedicated bedroom sleep tracker – ideal if you sleep alone
The Sleepace Reston is one of only a few dedicated sleep trackers. Considering that’s its sole purpose, you would understandably have high expectations of its accuracy. Especially as the company says they use medical grade sensors in the device.
Instead of wearing the tracker on your wrist or around your chest, it has a long, flat belt which sits underneath your sheet or mattress protector. The end piece, which houses the technical bits, neatly clips out of the way onto your sheets using magnets.
- Measures your sleep in far more detail than activity trackers: time asleep, time awake, number of wakings, times turned over in bed or got out of bed, quantity of light, mid and deep sleep.
- Measures your heart and breathing rate, monitoring for sleep apnea and heart pauses.
- Provides you with lots of technical data, sleep coaching advice and tips.
- Fantastic App interface.
- Excellent battery life.
- Made from a soft, flat felt casing that you shouldn’t feel underneath you.
- May slip out of place if you move about a lot in bed.
- Doesn’t automatically sense when you go to sleep or wake up, so you have to manually start and stop the recording session.
- If your partner rolls onto the recording belt, it will skew the results.
The Sleepace Reston provides a serious level of depth of sleep assessment in the home. The range of results, graphical representations and recommendations for improving your sleep are staggering.
There’s one potentially major problem though, which all the bed systems share: if your partner rolls onto the belt or you roll off it, then it’s going to skew the results.
I think if you sleep alone though, you’ll get a detailed view of what’s happening in your sleep with the Sleepace. For those who love analyzing details, facts and graphs the excellent App will definitely keep you busy the next morning.