Are you shopping for a new fitness tracker and trying to find the best Fitbit for tracking sleep? There’s a lot on the market, and choosing between different brands can be overwhelming. Here are some of the top fitness trackers on the market right now, and how they compare for tracking sleep.
Best Fitbit for Tracking Sleep
Just a few months shy of five years ago I had a set of twins, my 4th and 5th kids. During that time I was wearing the first generation Fitbit Charge HR and sometimes I look back on the sleep tracking from those days to remind myself how much more I’m getting now.
But there’s so many more reasons to track sleep than just having evidence of how tired you are. Sleep affects so much when it comes to our physical and mental health! But it can also be tough to actually track how much, and how well you sleep. Without looking at the clock, it’s pretty tough to know if you were tossing and turning for 10 minutes or an hour, for example.
How sleep tracking works
Most advantaged fitness trackers now have an accelerometer and a heart rate monitor in them. So the accelerometer tracks movement, usually very accurately, which will tell the fitness tracker not just whether or not you’re awake and moving around but also how much you move while you’re in bed.
The second aspect, the heart rate monitor, tracks your pulse throughout the night. As you sleep, your heart rate is reflected in your sleep patterns. By combining the heart rate monitor and accelerometer, your Fitbit can pretty accurately track when you were sleeping and how you were sleeping.
What ways to fitness trackers track sleep?
So you have a general idea of what the technical aspects are involved in tracking your sleep with a Fitbit, but what about the actual tracking? How does that work?
Usually, tracking sleep involves two things: duration and quality. So how much you are sleeping, and how well you are sleeping. Those are the basics, but each fitness tracker is going to do something a little bit differently when it comes to tracking sleep. But they also present this information differently depending on the device and accompanying app.
Why sleep is important
I won’t get too technical here, but there’s a lot of research out there that poor sleep is linked to all kinds of problems, including weight gain. (source) Besides just your weight and your overall physical health, a good night’s sleep also increases your productivity and ability to focus, and can even have positive effects on your mental health. In short, enough good quality sleep is really really important.
Fitbit Charge 3
This is the quintessential fitness tracker: the Fitbit. It’s a great fitness tracker on its own, but when it comes to sleep tracking it also shines. By monitoring your heart rate 24-7, you can accurately determine your total calorie burn (because your body still burns calories while you sleep.) While you sleep, it tracks your sleep stages between awake, REM, light, and deep sleep cycles. You can then set sleep goals and look at this information charted in the app.
- Tracks your heart rate and movement during sleep for high levels of accuracy
- Monitors quality of sleep (eg. times woken up or in deeper sleep cycles)
- Good overall fitness tracker
- Not too bulky or intrusive, easy and comfortable to wear
- Has some smartwatch features but they’re very limited
- Not a lot of control over the way information is presented in the app
Best for: Someone who wants the Fitbit brand and app, or who wants a fitness tracker with some smartwatch features
Apple Watch 5
The latest model of Apple Watch, this is your best bet if you’re an iPhone user and want a device that does everything. Like other fitness trackers and smartwatches, it monitors your heart rate and movement while you’re wearing it. Unfortunately, the biggest drawback is that Apple doesn’t have a built-in sleep tracking app – you have to download a 3rd party program.
- All the bells and whistles; a smartwatch and fitness tracker in one
- Fast processor and strong design
- Looks great
- Accurate heart rate racking
- No built-in sleep tracking app (3rd party apps do work though)
- Bulky design, not as slim as other trackers
- Short battery life
Best for Dedicated Apple users.
Samsung Galaxy Fit
Apple doesn’t have an answer to fitness and sleep tracking besides the Apple Watch, but the Samsung Galaxy (their big phone competitor) sure does. This fitness watch is a great Fitbit alternative for someone who doesn’t want smartwatch features but does want great tracking technology. It has automatic sleep detection and tracks your sleep all night long.
- Slim, simple design without compromising on technology
- All data is tracked in the Samsung Health app
- Tracks all 4 stages of sleep and gives you a daily report
- Not a lot of extra features if you’re looking for an all-in-one device
- Sometimes the sleep tracker thinks you’re asleep while relaxing
Best for Samsung Galaxy or Android users who want a fitness tracker that also tracks sleep
Letscom Fitness Tracker
This is one of those “budget brand” fitness trackers that don’t carry the popular brand names like Fitbit but copy some of the most loved features with a much more reasonable price tag. If you’re looking for an affordable sleep tracker on a budget, this might be for you. It still has a heart rate monitor to track sleep and sleep cycles.
- Affordable compared to other fitness trackers
- Has a lot of great features like step, heart rate, calories burned, and even displays text messages
- Automatically detects and tracks sleep
- Sometimes doesn’t work accurately (but good for the price)
- Sleep tracking doesn’t always detect/add naps
- Not as well made as other brands
Best for: Those on a budget looking for a well-rounded device
This is a high precision smartwatch with integrated GPS tracking and very high-quality heart rate sensors. If you’re looking for accurate and advanced sleep tracking, this device is the gold standard. It automatically detects sleep and each morning gives you a breakdown of your sleep results, including sleep quality. If you wake up without feeling rested in the morning, this smartwatch might give you some insights as to why.
- Comfortable to wear sleeping
- Great HR monitor which means better sleep tracking
- Gives you a sleep score as well as tracking all stages of sleep
- Accurately tracks sleep interruptions and their duration
- GPS isn’t very precise
- Battery life isn’t always great and duration is inconsistent
- Not as many apps compared to other smartwatches
Best for: Someone focusing on overall health and not just exercise
Garmin vívoactive 3
Garmin is a strong contender on the smartwatch and fitness tracker market, so it makes sense to include the Garmin vívoactive 3 on this list. Both fitness tracker and smartwatch, it has a tonne of features including a GPS and of course, sleep tracking. Like all devices on this list, it has a heart rate monitor to help track sleep stages throughout the night.
- Great as an all-around device (smartwatch, fitness tracker, and sleep tracker)
- Sleep tracking is accurate and gives some insight to sleep stages
- The battery lasts 5-7 days
- Backlight turns on when you move at night
- Sleep tracking tools/data in the app is lackluster and could use more features
Best for: Those looking for an accurate GPS fitness tracker that also has smartwatch features.
So what is the best Fitbit for tracking sleep?
I’m going, to be honest here: I hate wearing a device when I’m in bed, so comfort, especially during sleep, is a must. Also, if I want a device that is primarily for tracking sleep, that’s the feature I need to focus on, where the others are nice to have. So, as much as I want an Apple watch, for example, it just isn’t the best for tracking sleep.
In the past, the Fitbit has been my go to for all in one fitness tracker, but even it has limitations when it comes to sleep tracking. Like many of the devices listed here, it does track sleep well and reports on sleep stages, but beyond that, the reporting is pretty limited.
So, in my opinion, the best Fitbit for tracking sleep is Polar Ignite.
This might seem like a surprise given that it’s less well known than some of the other brands, but their approach to sleep tracking just can’t be ignored. The reason for this is the high-quality heart rate (HR) monitor that outshines almost every other device on the market. That means that sleep tracking is super accurate.
The app features also outshine the other wearable tech I checked out. Instead of just reporting on sleep cycles and duration, it actually assesses your sleep to determine the overall quality and how refreshing of rest it should be. This is perfect, and almost vital, for anyone trying to not only improve the duration of their sleep but also the quality of sleep.
It also has a lot of great optional features and a GPS tracker that, while not always accurate, is nice to have especially if you do a lot of outdoor workouts. The watch faces and display is very nice, and it even encourages you to get more exercise. Most of the features are centered around overall health, not just getting steps in or burning calories.
Although Polar Ignite is, in my opinion, the best Fitbit for tracking sleep, it might not be the best choice for you. If you’re looking for a smartwatch or fitness tracker with specific features that also does sleep tracking, any one of these will be a good option for you.
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