Hack Your Sleep With Sleep Tracking
We’ve talked about quite a few ways to improve your sleep. Ways to get to sleep faster, increase your quality of sleep and things to avoid to get better sleep are great things to know.
But how do you know what things you are doing that make your sleep better and what is making it worse?
This is where the world of sleep tracking comes in.
Sleep tracking is quite a big area of self quantification, for which the quantified self movement is well known.
Self quantification is basically recording any data about your life in an effort to understand and ultimately improve it.
When I first started exploring different ways to track things related to my health, it involved rigorous note taking, spreadsheets and measuring various metrics. Then I compared various numbers to find things that were having an effect on things I was interested in. If these correlations weren’t what I wanted, I had to make adjustments and run a new experiment going through the whole process over and over again.
Thankfully things have gotten much easier in the last few years with the rise of fitness trackers and all different types of wearable technology.
Now, all it takes for many aspects of self quantification is to just slap on a wearable or switch on an app on your phone and let the technology do the work.
The possibilities are endless
Many activity trackers available today have the ability to track your sleep. Most of them do this by monitoring your movement to determine if you are awake, or in the REM or deep phases of sleep. I have used the sleep tracking function of my FitBit quite a few times and it seems fairly accurate. The reason I don’t use it more often is that I don’t like having extra RF signals from the Bluetooth around me as I sleep.
The only wearable that seems to address this issue is the OURA Ring. You can leave this ring on airplane mode while you sleep so that you don’t have to deal with these issues. Not only will it monitor your sleep, but also monitor your heart rate (HR) and count your steps.
Here are a few of the wearable activity trackers that also track sleep:
- Fitbit- One, Charge, ChargeHR, Surge, Blaze
- Misfit Shine
- Jawbone UP3- Heard bad reviews on this one
- Polar A300
- Basis Peak
Sleep tracking apps and “smart” alarm clock apps are popping up everywhere. With so many out there, it is hard to determine which one to go with. The biggest features that most of them have in common is to track your sleep cycles, track when you wake up and are restless and a smart alarm clock that wakes you up when you are in the lightest phase of sleep. Below are 3 of the best I have found.
This is the app that I personally use. This app provides you with so much data.
It also has a function called sleep notes. In here you can add things that may effect you sleep in negative or positive ways. Things like supplements, food, exercise, sleep hacking devices and anything you can think of. You add them to the sleep notes, then when you turn it on at night, you have the option to check off any of the notes that may be useful that night.
This app also syncs up with many different apps and devices. I recommend anyone interested in tracking and hacking their sleep to try this one. Just remember to get a baseline before you start adding in different sleep notes so you can really tell what effect they are having on your sleep.
Keep an eye out for a more complete review of this app soon, including what I have learned about my own sleep from using this app for the past year.
I used this for a short period of time when I had an Android phone. It seemed to work quite well back then, and looks to have many more features now than when I used it.
It now seems to have the same type of features as Sleep Cycle, including the sleep notes, which they call tags. I may have to find an old android phone and try this app out again because it looks a lot better than it used to be.
Some of the new features include jet lag prevention, lucid dreaming, sleep mask compatibility and the sleep tags.
To check out all the features, go to their documentation page.
This app is only available on Android
I have not personally tried this app, but it has some pretty good ratings.
Sleepbot doesn’t have nearly as many features as the other two, but they still have the ability to track your times awake and light sleep, smart alarm clock and a notes function which isn’t as user friendly as in the other two apps, but it gets the job done.
It also has the ability to rate your sleep from one to five stars which is a cool feature. In my opinion, one of the best ways to gain insights on anything is to be in tune with your own body and record how you are feeling, so this one is a big plus.
Beddit has been around for quite a while now and is the favorite stand alone tracker among many people. It includes many of the features of the apps, but also measures your breathing and heart rate.
Beddit consists of a thin strip of material with sensors in it that lays across your bed and an app for your phone that syncs with the device.
I have heard many good things about this device and would love the ability to test one out. The main issue I have with this device is the same I have with the wearables. I am assuming that the Beddit device sends out Bluetooth signals the whole time you are sleeping. The reason I use the apps above anything else is that you can put your phone on airplane mode so you are not bombarded by RF while you are sleeping. Maybe they have an option in the app to shut this off, but I have not been able to find anything about it.
In my opinion, this is by far one of the most advanced products for tracking your sleep on the market today. I would love to try this one out.
This uses advanced sensors to monitor the temperature, humidity, light, noise and air quality along with your movement to give you a much greater look at things that may be effecting your sleep quality.
This device consists of the base unit that sits on your nightstand and also what they call the “pill” which clips to your pill to monitor your movement. You can also buy another pill which allows you an easy way for your partner to track their sleep without buying a whole new unit.
Withings Aura Sleep System
This is kind of like a more advanced version of the Beddit that also comes with an alarm clock.
The sensor par for your bed monitors heart rate, breathing and movement just like the Beddit.
The interesting feature of this system is the Aura alarm clock/light which syncs with the sensor pad. This monitors sound, temperature and light levels and provides insight on how these variables are effecting your sleep. The Aura also changes colors at night to help promote the release of certain sleep hormones to enhance your sleep. When it is time to wake up, it even brightens the light to simulate the sunrise. It will also stream music or allow you to play included sounds to fall asleep to and wake you up.
I hope this gives you some ideas for ways to track and hack your sleep. Remember, you have to be able to track something before you can really hope to change it.
If you can’t track it, you can’t hack it.