Last updated: November 18, 2018 by Ethan Green
If you’re interested in finding out more about your sleep, a personal sleep tracker can provide a useful overview of your nightly slumber, and even help you improve it.
I’ve tested many different sleep trackers in the last few years and continue to do so in 2018. And in this review, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the devices that have most impressed me.
I’ll explain what kind of sleep data you’ll get, how accurate I found them, and how they might help you sleep better. Some of them are also activity trackers, and although I’ll look at those features, the main focus will be on the sleep tracking aspect.
Here’s an overview of the sleep trackers I’ll be discussing to give you an idea of the different devices.
|Fitbit Alta HR||Amazon|
|S+ by ResMed Personal Sleep Solution||Amazon|
|Beddit 3 Smart Sleep Monitor||Amazon|
|Fitbit Charge 2||Amazon|
- How accurate are personal sleep trackers?
- Which type of sleep tracker to choose?
- Emfit QS
- S+ by ResMed
- Beddit 3.0 Smart Sleep Monitor
- Fitbit Versa
- Fitbit Charge 2
- Fitbit Alta HR
If you don’t have time to read what has evolved over the years into a long article, here’s a summary of three that I recommend.
Best overall smartwatch with sleep tracking
The Fitbit Versa is an impressive smartwatch that does a great job of both fitness and sleep tracking. It provides a detailed breakdown of your sleep stages, neatly presented in clear graphs on the App.
It has constant heart rate monitoring, visible on a crisp and bright screen. It’s the sleep tracker I’m personally using, as I’ve been very impressed by the accuracy – both for sports and sleep.
I regularly test it for accuracy against a manual sleep diary and other sleep trackers, and it consistently proves to be the most reliable.
Like all personal sleep trackers, you’ll never know how good the sleep stage tracking is. But the benchmarking against other people in your demographic is fascinating, and even reassuring to see your sleep stages are in the normal range.Buy from Amazon
Reliable sleep tracking, with excellent sleep coaching
The Beautyrest uses a small sensor and processor that sit under your mattress. It tracks your movement in bed, along with your heart and respiration rates, and combines them to work out your sleep stages.
It’s generally very good at getting the basics right – the time you fell asleep and woke up, total sleep time and wakings in the night. So that gives room for optimism that the sleep stage calculations might also be reasonable.
The App is easy to understand, with useful graphs and visual summaries. It also helps you understand the sleep data, and provides personalized sleep coaching.
It really shines in this way, with daily suggestions for improving your sleep based on your sleep history, and not just generic advice.
Overall, it’s a decent personal sleep tracker and one that actually attempts to help you sleep better. And if you share a bed, there are two measuring pads included so you can both track your sleep separately.Buy from Amazon
3. Fitbit Alta HR
Slim and affordable wearable that tracks sleep well
If you don’t want to spend too much on a sleep tracker, and prefer one that’s as unobtrusive as possible, the Fitbit Alta HR is a good option. It has an elegant design that looks great during the day, and is slim enough to feel comfortable when you wear it in bed.
Despite its small size, it still offers the same as the more expensive models where sleep tracking is concerned, such as sleep stages, sleep routine reminders and sleep coaching.
The constant heart rate monitor struggles a bit to keep up during intense exercise. But for sleep, it does a reliable job, with enough features to make it a useful little tracker.Buy from Amazon
How accurate are personal sleep trackers?
A concern people sometimes have with sleep trackers is the issue of mistaking lying still as being asleep. In my experience, this is one of the key factors that separate the reliable ones from the not so reliable.
An increasing number of devices now use your heart and breathing rate to monitor your sleep, not just movement. And even though they still aren’t perfect, I’ve found these to be considerably more accurate, so prefer the ones that offer that feature.
When it comes to detailed sleep stage tracking, they aren’t as accurate as a professional sleep study in a lab. However, it’s definitely interesting to look at the graphs, and the technology is improving at a fast pace.
Importantly, many trackers have helpful features, such as sleep coaching and reminders to stick to a good sleep routine. And at the end of the day, those are important points that can make a real difference.
If you’d like to know more about the accuracy, you might find it helpful to read my article about how sleep trackers work.
Which type to choose?
If you’d prefer not to wear anything on your wrist at night, you might prefer one of the non-wearables like the Beautyrest, Emfit QS, Withings or ResMed.
These either use a sensor that needs to be placed under your mattress or a device on your bedside table. You’ll get the sleep data in a smartphone App or the company website on your computer.
If you’re an active person, or think you’d benefit from motivation to be more active, one of the wearables could be a good choice. There’s an increasing number of wearables, and keeping on top of the constant developments is no easy task.
Although some people might not agree, I’ve chosen to focus on Fitbit in the wearables section for the time being, for two main reasons.
Firstly, they’ve made major changes to the way they track sleep. And since then, I’ve found the latest devices to be much more accurate on the whole. And the data is presented nicely on easy to understand graphs.
Secondly, they have an excellent battery life. Whereas many wearables need charging every day or two, Fitbits last for four to seven days. And that means they are less likely to run out of charge during the night, leaving you with no sleep data.
So with those points in mind, let’s take a look at my recommendations.
Reliable sleep tracking and excellent sleep coaching
The Beautyrest is a non-wearable sleep tracker that consists of a measuring pad that sits under any mattress. You then have a small data processor connected, and a smartphone App where you’ll receive the sleep data.
It’s easy enough to set up, with videos on the App that walk you through the process. After that, you can leave it switched on and it will track your sleep automatically when you get into bed.
It was designed to be useful to the average person with an interest in their sleep. And to provide helpful interpretations of the sleep data, along with advice for improving your sleep. So it doesn’t leave you scratching your head and wondering what the graphs actually mean.
I recently tested the Beautyrest alongside the Emfit, Fitbit and my manual sleep diary. And I found it was consistently accurate for the measurements I could check myself, such as when I fell asleep and woke up, and the exact time of wakings in the night.
- Easy set up and nothing to wear in bed.
- Automatic sleep tracking – you can leave it switched on permanently or turn it on at night.
- Reasonably accurate tracking of total sleep time, time fell asleep and woke up, and wakings
- Measures 4 sleep stages – awake, light, deep and REM.
- Tracks heart rate and breathing rate.
- Gives a total sleep score, based on how much sleep you say you need.
- Asks you lifestyle questions, like stress and activity, and then tells you how these are impacting your sleep.
- Easy to use smartphone App with useful graphs and pretty visual results.
- Daily sleep coaching advice based on your results, not just generic tips.
- As with all trackers, you can’t be sure if the sleep stages are truly accurate.
- You need to keep it connected to your home Wifi.
- Small annual subscription for more detailed interpretation of the data. I didn’t use this though, as the initial data is more than enough.
What particularly impressed me was that the Beautyrest didn’t mistake relaxing in bed as being asleep. During a week long careful test, it only made one small error with this in the morning. And compared to most trackers, that’s a good result.
It was also good at spotting my significant wakings in the night, getting them almost spot on every time. So all that gives me hope that the sleep stage data, while still an estimate of course, is an estimate that might be in the right ballpark at least.
But regardless of the sleep stage data, the Beautyrest excels in one department – the sleep coaching. Unlike many devices, including Fitbit, that are either skimpy on the coaching or too generic, this one bases its advice on your results.
And the more information you give it, the better the coaching. So if you answer the daily lifestyle questionnaire, you’ll get helpful advice like how much worse you sleep after no exercise or a stressful day.
And with the addition of a second measuring pad for a bed partner, it’s currently the sleep tracker that I’d recommend for most people.Buy from Amazon
2. Emfit QS
A sleep tracker for sports people with heart rate variability & recovery
Made by the Finnish company EMFIT, the QS was originally intended to be used by athletes. But anyone with a keen interest in their sleep and health might benefit from the extra details it provides.
Like the Beautyrest, the Emfit works without any contact with your body. A measuring strip goes under your side of the mattress (not the bed sheet) and takes readings using ballistocardiography, with a sensitive compression sensor.
You get a staggering amount of data, including the standard sleep tracker measurements such as heart rate, breathing rate, restlessness in bed, time spent in light, deep and REM sleep.
It then goes several steps further than standard sleep trackers. It provides measurements that athletes will find useful, such as whole night heart rate variability (HRV), total recovery and recovery efficiency.
- Measures all the usual sleep points, including sleep stages, along with heart and breathing rate.
- Huge amount of data, which is potentially helpful for sports people in particular.
- The data is neatly presented in a series of graphs on the Emfit website, which you can log into on your computer, tablet or phone.
- Measuring strip sits under your mattress, so you have 100% contactless sleep monitoring.
- No manual interaction needed. Just set it and go, and check the data in the morning.
- If you sleep with a partner, they can affect the results if they roll over your measuring strip.
- The data is very complex, and it’s a steep learning curve working out what it all means.
- No sleep coaching at all. So you need to be proactive in working out what the data means for you personally.
When I tested the Emfit QS alongside other trackers, I found it was good at picking up some of the basics, like time asleep and wakings in the night.
However, it struggled to differentiate between relaxing in bed and sleeping. Admittedly, this is an issue that many devices face, and it’s often a case of accepting an estimation rather than perfection.
But I couldn’t help be disappointed by some of the major mistakes – showing some REM and deep sleep when I was actually reading a book quietly.
And that makes me question the reliability of all the other results, which at first glance look amazing. I was very impressed by the visual representation of the data in multiple graphs, if a little overwhelmed.
From sleep stages to respiration and heart rate variability, it appears to do it all. But with no sleep coaching, you’re left to sift through the data and graphs and try to work out what it means. And that’s no easy task.
My feeling is that this isn’t the right tracker for the average home user who just wants clear information about their sleep patterns and a friendly nudge in the right direction to improve their sleep.
But if you’re a sports person, or intrigued to find out more about what goes on in your sleep than the average tracker will tell you, perhaps you’ll enjoy all that data.Buy from Amazon
3. Withings / Nokia
A focus on sleep schedules, measures snoring, home integration with IFTTT
The Withings sleep tracker has had an interesting evolution. Withings originally produced the Aura, on the back of which the technology was bought by Nokia, who rebranded with this newer device. But they then sold it back to Withings – hence the confusion around the exact name.
Like the Beautyrest and Emfit, the tracking device is a contactless mat which you place under your mattress. You’ll then receive your sleep data on your smartphone – there’s currently no desktop version.
They appear to have a particular focus on improving your sleep schedule. Soon after registering, the Health Mate App asked me if I wanted to join a social jet lag program, to improve my sleep routine consistency 7 days a week.
It also has the interesting option to integrate with smart home devices via IFTTT. So you can turn the lights on and off or adjust the thermostat automatically when you get into bed, for example.
As far as sleep tracking itself is concerned, it attempts to track sleep stages and give you detailed graphs in the morning on the App. However, like so many devices, I found that the more time I spent in bed reading, the harder it became for the Withings to tell if I was awake or asleep.
- Easy to set up the tracker and App
- Automatic and contactless sleep tracking – just plug in and leave on
- Easy to use and clean App interface
- Presents the sleep data in visual graphs
- Shows key points like overall sleep score, time to fall asleep, interruptions and sleep depth
- Measures sleep stages – light, deep and REM, telling you total time in each and percentages
- Records snoring and heart rate
- Useful and personalized sleep coaching, especially for sleep schedule
- Integrates with smart home via IFTTT and Alexa compatible
- Sometimes mistakes relaxing in bed as sleep
- Doesn’t always record bed exits if they don’t last long
- Hard to see the exact times that sleep stages occurred on the graphs, and requires careful tapping on the graph to bring up more data
- No alarm function
I had fairly high expectations from a sleep tracker that had been worked on in partnership with Nokia. The features it offers certainly sounded promising, and I was hoping the accuracy would be an improvement on similar under mattress trackers.
But after using it for 2 weeks and comparing the data with my own notes, there were more inaccuracies than I was hoping for. All trackers have a hard time distinguishing between sleep and quiet relaxation time, and the Withings seemed to really struggle with this as much as the Emfit QS.
It was pretty good on the nights when I tried to sleep straight away, and when I got up as soon as I woke. But for more complicated nights, with multiple wakings, the accuracy was questionable.
Where it did impress me, however, was some of the sleep coaching App functions. I liked the social jet lag program, and think that’s a genuinely useful feature. I also liked the clean interface, even if the graphs are a little fiddly to dissect.
One final positive is that assuming the Withings is correct, I only snored once in the last 2 weeks. And I was very happy to find that out!Buy from Amazon
4. S+ by ResMed Personal Sleep Solution
Sleep tracker that works without physical contact
The S+ by ResMed sits on your bedside table and monitors your sleep and bedroom environment from a distance.
I’d be skeptical that this was 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 help you sleep better.
When it came to measuring sleep, I found the S+ to be reaonsably accurate most, but not all, of the time. The amount of data it gives you in the morning is fascinating, with detailed sleep graphs full of useful information.
It’s 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 refreshed, seemed to be reflected in less deep or REM sleep.
- Detailed tracking of light, deep and REM sleep stages and wakings.
- 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 App, with even more on the website.
- 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.
What I liked about the S+ is the fact that it takes a holistic approach to sleep coaching. Over time, it uses the questionnaire answers, environmental factors, and your sleep data to make personal and practical 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.
But like so many sleep trackers, especially those that seem to work by the magic of sonar, the results can be questionable. I didn’t find it always knew when I was sleeping or in bed reading. And that, as always, makes me somewhat skeptical that I can trust the more complex data it attempts to uncover.
Having said that, I do like that it takes into account environmental factors. So perhaps if you’re worried about how the world around you is impacting on your sleep, it might be worth trying.Buy from Amazon
5. Beddit 3 Smart Sleep Monitor
Sleep tracker with heart rate, breathing and snoring monitoring
The Beddit Smart Sleep Monitor is a dedicated sleep tracker which consists of an unobtrusive thin strip that lies under your bed sheet to track your sleep, with an accompanying App to use on your smartphone.
It tracks a wide range of interesting sleep information, with some useful additions to this latest version 3, such as snoring, bedroom temperature and humidity.
It also monitors heart and respiration rate, which could be useful if you’re worried about your health, or suspect you have a sleep disorder such as apnea.
You can’t use it to self-diagnose, of course. But the results could be worth presenting to your doctor for discussion.
- The accuracy is reasonably good, especially if you sleep alone.
- Lots of different tracking data: your heart rate, breathing and snoring, time asleep or restless and times out of bed, bedroom humidity and temperature.
- Easy to set up and use.
- Thin measuring strip which you don’t feel when placed under a sheet or mattress protector.
- Automatically senses when you go to bed and try to sleep.
- Smart alarm system wakes you up at the best point in your sleep cycle.
- Good App with a wide range of sleep data to inspect. Provides an overall sleep score and tips to help you improve your sleep.
- The measuring strip has to be plugged into the mains during the night to work.
- If you sleep with a partner they can disturb your results. Equally, if you roll away from the strip to the other side of a wide bed, it might affect the results.
The Beddit sleep monitor provides lots of fascinating data about your sleep, and the accuracy overall is quite good. However, if you sleep with a partner, there’s a possibility they might affect the tracking if they move onto your measuring strip in the night.
Overall, I think if you sleep alone, the Beddit is a good way to get a deeper insight into your sleep and health. If you share your bed though, I’d recommend using a wearable device instead.
In 2017, Beddit was purchased by Apple. So it will be interesting to see how much they invest in the future of the technology. For now, I don’t know of any major changed that have been implemented.Buy from Amazon
1. Fitbit Versa
Best wearable sleep tracker, with reliable accuracy and great App
The Fitbit Versa is currently my personal favorite for both sleep and fitness tracking. It’s very similar to the Ionic, which was my previous number 1. But the sleeker design and lower price have made the Versa more attractive.
So far, I’ve found it to be accurate when it comes to the measurements I can verify myself. For example, when I was lying in bed reading or sleeping, wakings in the night, how restless the night was, and the time I woke up.
And when it comes to fitness tracking, it also seems impressively reliable. The step count is spot on, as is my pulse at different intensity levels of training, and automatic movement tracking.
So the accuracy of the basic sleep data, heart rate, and movement provide some optimism that the sleep stage tracking is a decent enough estimate.
The Fitbit App is excellent, presenting each of your sleep stages in a clear and detailed graph. And I really like how it compares the time you spend in sleep stages to your demographic.
It’s helpful information that either provides reassurance or might offer a clue that something isn’t quite right.
And I also like that you can set reminders to stick to a sleep schedule and to stay active every hour of the day. These are things that might actually help improve your sleep.
As an activity tracker, it’s a useful companion in the gym. It’s great to have your pulse, calories burned and timer on your wrist, and on-screen workouts if you desire. You can also take it for a swim as it’s water resistant up to 50 meters.
You can store up to 300 songs for Bluetooth listening, use it for contactless payment, receive notifications, and explore a growing number of Apps.
And that leads me to the final point – the overall look, screen and battery life. The Versa looks great, feels light, has a beautiful bright and sharp screen, with an excellent 4 day battery life.
- Automatic and reasonably accurate sleep tracking.
- The App gives you a breakdown of 4 sleep stages: awake, light, deep and REM. With time spent in each stage, wakings and total sleep time.
- Benchmarking against your own 30 day average sleep, and also people your age and gender.
- Can set a target for total sleep and sleep schedule, with vibrating reminders to improve your sleep pattern.
- Sleep insights to help improve your sleep.
- Excellent fitness tracking, with constant pulse, and specific exercise tracking. Monitors resting heart rate, heart rate trends over time, and cardio fitness.
- Water resistant up to 50 meters.
- Beautiful gorilla glass touchscreen, with brightness up to 1000 nits.
- Many different clock and display options to choose from.
- Great 4 day battery life.
- Occasional slow syncing which requires some patience.
- As with all sleep trackers, it’s hard to say how accurate the sleep stage tracking really is.
- No inbuilt GPS like the Ionic, if you use it for distance sports.
- Music transfer is slow.
The Versa has a few key points that for me make it the clear winner of the wearable sleep trackers. The sleep tracking is accurate for the points I can easily confirm myself. The heart rate and movement tracking is reliable, and it has an excellent battery life.
The Fitbit App provides an interesting breakdown of your sleep stages. And there are several useful features that can help improve your sleep, like reminders to keep to a stable sleep routine, and encouragement to stay active during the day.
If you’re into fitness, sleep tracking, and like the idea of a smartwatch with a growing number of Apps and features, this is an excellent choice of wearable sleep tracker.Buy from Amazon
2. Fitbit Charge 2
Great all-rounder with accurate sleep and activity tracking
The Fitbit Charge 2 is a decent fitness and sleep tracker, especially if you don’t want to spend too much, and you’d prefer a more slender design.
It has just enough features to make you want to keep using it, and not forget about it when it’s charging one day. And it looks lovely, with the steel sides and bright OLED tap display screen.
Where sleep tracking is concerned, it does the same as the Versa and the Alta HR, and provides the same information on the accompanying App.
It has a constant heart rate monitor, which appears accurate, and helps determine your sleep stages. The App will give you a breakdown of your sleep stages, and you can dive down into detailed graphs to see at what points in the night you were in each stage.
The Fitbit App doesn’t currently tell you if your sleep stage pattern is healthy. But I do like being able to compare the percentage time spent in each stage to other people, as it gives you some reassurance that your sleep might be normal.
And as with other models, the vibrating reminders are great, both to stick to your bedtime and to stay active. Working at the computer all day, I really benefit from my chosen hourly reminder to complete 250 steps. Little changes like that can make all the difference to your health and well-being.
The Charge 2 was also the first one to include the guided breathing App. It’s nice to take the occasional 5 minute time out, focus on your breathing, and keep those stress levels down.
And as a fitness tracker, I like that you can select and start one of several exercise types, receiving a breakdown of how you did during the session. You’ll then get all the useful and detailed fitness data fed into the App that Fitbit excel at.
- Automatic sleep tracking.
- Measures your total sleep time, and time spent in REM, deep and light sleep, along with wakings during the night.
- Bedtime reminders encourage you to stick to your sleep routine.
- Provides benchmarks against your age so you can see if your sleep pattern is relatively normal.
- The heart rate monitor seems accurate.
- Accurately measures steps, distance, floors climbed and calories burnt.
- Can sync with your phone to give you incoming call, text and appointment alerts.
- Silent vibrating alarm to wake you, but not your partner.
- Guided breathing exercise on screen.
- Excellent App interface, with interesting and detailed graph displays.
- Modern design and comfortable to wear.
- Great battery life of 5 days.
- No GPS feature for activity tracking, unless connected to your phone.
- It’s not waterproof, so no shower or swimming, but it can handle rain and sweat.
- Black and white screen only.
Overall, the Charge 2 is a great all-rounder, either as an entry into wearable devices or an upgrade to a previous model. The sleep tracking seems mostly accurate, with only the occasional mistake, as most trackers can be guilty of at times.
Unless you want to have all the latest fitness tracking features, it’s a useful fitness tracker with accurate constant heart rate monitoring, and step counting you can rely on.
And with a great battery life of up to 5 days, it will outlast many other wearables.Buy from Amazon
3. Fitbit Alta HR
The slimmest Fitbit, great for wearing regularly in bed
In many ways, the Fitbit Alta HR looks and feels like a downsized version of the Charge 2. The main benefit to the thinner, sleeker and unobtrusive design is that you don’t notice it so much when you’re in bed.
That slender design does have a downside though – less Apps, features and activity tracking. But not having those options does result in one impressive benefit – a huge battery life of up to 7 days.
I wore the Alta HR for a month to test Fitbit’s new sleep tracking software and algorithm, and was generally very impressed by its accuracy.
Compared to many trackers, there were only a couple of occasions when it mistook resting in bed for sleep. And it was very reliable when it came to recording the times I got up in the night.
I’m also a fan of the new sleep breakdown on the App. As I mentioned with the Versa and Charge 2, it’s great to have such a detailed breakdown of your sleep and benchmarking with your age.
And I really like the vibrating reminders to stay active each hour of the day, and to help me stick to my target bedtime. I personally choose a 30 minute wind-down period, which I’ll often ignore if I’m watching a movie.
But the little vibration does remind me that it’s a bedtime I’ve chosen to try and stick to. And since having a regular sleep routine is key to good sleep, this is the kind of thing that can really make a difference.
- Automatic and accurate sleep tracking.
- Measures total sleep time, time spent awake, in light, deep and REM sleep stages.
- Constant heart rate monitor.
- Vibrating alerts to stick to your selected sleep schedule.
- Vibrating reminders to get up and move if sitting or inactive for long periods.
- Like the Charge 2, the excellent App shows your sleep in a detailed breakdown, with benchmarks for your age and gender.
- Tracks steps, distance, calories burned and active minutes.
- You can select call, text and calendar alerts on the device.
- Customizable display, such as clock, heart rate and steps.
- Interchangeable straps to further customize the look.
- It sometimes struggles with heart rate monitoring during heavy exercise.
- The touch screen is low on features.
- No built-in GPS, so you have to sync with your phone to track and records routes.
- It’s not waterproof, though is resistant to sweat and light rain.
If you’re a fan of wearables with beautiful screens, and a vast range of features, you might find it difficult to downsize to the Alta HR. I also don’t think it’s the most accurate when it comes to intense exercise, which isn’t ideal if fitness tracking is important to you.
But if you don’t regularly do intense exercise, and it’s the sleep tracking that most interests you, there’s a lot to like about the Alta HR. Especially if you want a subtle wearable that looks great on the wrist and feels comfortable to wear in bed at night.Buy from Amazon