Not getting the sleep you need? The key to improving your sleep habits is a mix of good sleep habits and understanding the things that keep you from getting the best sleep you possibly can. That's where sleep tracking gadgets that you wear, and smartphone apps that monitor your sleep cycles, come into play. This week, we're looking at five of the best sleep tracking tools, based on your nominations.
Title photo by groenmen
Sleep tracking is just one of the features of the FitBit One. Clip it on your pocket (or somewhere else on your person) and it will keep track of the steps you take over the course of the day and how active you are overall. It also generates great-looking reports and feedback on your activity levels. When it comes time to sleep, just slip your FitBit One into the included wristband and set it to sleep mode. It will track your movements overnight, including the times you get up and move around, or when you're awake tossing and turning in bed. Turn it off in the morning, and after you sync it with the FitBit web site or app, you'll get a complete report of how well you slept, along with how many times you woke up and what times during the night you were active. It won't diagnose sleep issues, but if you're worried you're tossing and turning a lot, or if your partner is the root of your sleep ailments, this gadget will tell you. iOS and Android apps complete the picture and give you access to all the data the FitBit collects from your smartphone. The FitBit One costs around $119.95, while the supporting apps are free.
Sleep As Android is (as the name implies) Android only, and does a great job of watching your sleep cycles. Originally it was intended to just wake you gently at the best point in your sleep cucle, but the app has come a long way since then. The app will track your sleep and shows you graphs of your sleep habits overnight, and warn you if you're running on a sleep deficit and you should get back into a regular sleeping pattern. The app even pays attention to the sound in the room while you're sleeping to catch you snoring, and can record you talking in your sleep if that's a problem you have. As well as selecting the optimum time to wake you, Sleep As Android offers a choice of alarm styles, including nature sounds, soothing music, CAPTCHA or puzzle alarms, or your own choice of music. You can snag a 2 week trial free, after which you'll have to pay $3 for an unlock code.
After a bit of a rocky start with the original Jawbone, the Jawbone Up has come a long way and addressed a number of the concerns raised by the original. Like most activity and fitness trackers, sleep is only one thing the Up pays attention to. It will also track your steps and your activity level, and makes it easy to log food and drink to keep track of your diet. It can even remind you if you've been idle too long and tell you to get up and move around. When it comes to sleep, the Up can track how many hours you've slept, and pays attention to your activity overnight, including when you toss and turn and when you're sleeping deeply versus sleeping lightly. The Up will show you everything it has recorded in a report the next day on its web site or through the Jawbone Up iOS or Android mobile apps, so you can start trying to figure out what the root cause of your sleep issues may be, and work your way to a better night's rest. The Jawbone Up will set you back $149.95, while the supporting mobile apps are free.
Sleep Cycle is an iOS app that watches your sleep habits from your nightstand in order to help wake you up at the best possible time of the morning. We discussed it back in 2010, but the app has grown a good bit since then. For your $0.99 you get motion monitoring (it even advises you on where you should place your iPhone while you sleep so it can make use of its accelerometer) so the app will know when you toss and turn and when you wake in the middle of the night. The app collects its data and then presents it to you in easy-to-understand graphs. The app also functions as an alarm clock, and will wake you to your own music or any one of over a dozen soothing alarm melodies for a gentle start to the day. Plus, the app runs in the background so you can set your regular alarm and go about your business.
SleepBot for Android is another useful Android utility for tracking your sleep patterns and measuring how well you sleep over the course of several nights. We covered it three years ago, but the app has grown and added a wealth of new features since then. As well as your sleep patterns, it tracks movement overnight, auto-recording so you can hear whether you snore or if you're having breathing problems overnight. It's also packed with tips to help improve your sleep hygiene and fall asleep faster (and stay deeply asleep). The app has an easy-to-use widget that lets you "clock in" and "clock out" when you go to bed and when you wake up to start and stop the app from tracking your activity, and it supports a number of other Android alarm clocks, so you don't have to give up the app you love to use Sleepbot to track your sleep. Best of all, the app is completely free, and pairs with the Sleepbot webapp for even more detailed analysis.
An honourable mention this week goes to Sleep Time for Android and iOS, which has similar features to many of the others apps in this round up: it keeps track of your movements and your sleep cycles, and wakes you up gradually at the optimum time during your sleep cycle. For more information on Sleep Time, check out our article about it. It's free for Android users, and $1.99 for iOS users.
For more insights into how sleep gadgets and apps can work for you, check out how Lifehacker's Adam Dachis achieved a better night's sleep with the help of technology.
Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to make the case for your personal favourite, even if it wasn't included in the list? Tell us, and tell us why, in the comments.