The Best Way To Use Your Sleep Tracker

If you check your Fitbit or Apple watch every morning to see how well you slept, I humbly submit that you should stop that right now. There is a better way to use that data, and it involves ignoring it for a little bit.

There are two problems with checking your sleep data every day. First, sleep trackers aren’t as accurate as you’d think. They can roughly give the correct number of hours you were motionless in bed, but they can’t tell you how “deep” or “high quality” your sleep is. And they don’t know how much sleep you, personally, needed that day.

Second, we have an emotional reaction to seeing a number on an app. If you think you didn’t sleep well, you may convince yourself that you feel tired or lazy — even if your sleep was actually fine. Why not wait and see how you actually feel?

Instead, as sleep science researcher Raphael Vallat told the New York Times, the best way to use your sleep tracker is weekly. Look for trends — are you getting seven to nine hours, on average, most nights?

Are you so sleep deprived during the week that you crash on the weekends? Are there certain parts of the week that make it particularly tough to get a full night’s sleep?

That weekly overview is best because the information is actionable. When you check your tracker in the morning, it’s not like there’s anything you can do with that information. But after looking over the week’s data, you can plan ahead to change your schedule or bedtime routine for the next week.


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