Best Sleep Tracker of 2023
If you’re looking to improve your sleep quality, a sleep tracker will help. With so many options available, however, it is difficult to choose a good one. To help you out, here is the list of 2023’s very best sleep trackers.
I specialise in sports and wellness tech that interacts with human physiology and have used sleep tech continuously for over 15 years. The trackers in the following article are all good or excellent sleep tools with market-leading levels of accuracy. From a personal perspective, the sleep tools I regularly use and would recommend are Eight Sleep; Whoop 4.0; Apple Watch 8; Oura Ring; and the latest Garmin (FR965) or Polar watch – take all those as recommendations!
Eight Sleep – best overall smart sleep tracker and sleep quality management tool
Eight Sleep is not a wearable and so very accurately captures separate full-body sleep info from your mattress for both you and your partner, and presents sleep insights in an easy-to-use app. The massive win for Eight Sleep is that the app then smartly controls the optimal temperature on each side of the bed minute-by-minute. It optimises temperature for comfort as well as continually adjusts it to be optimal for your and your partner’s current sleep stage. Good scientific research shows it boosts your sleep quality and recovery.
Eight Sleep has a HUGE list of celebrity and athletic users, both individuals and professional sports teams but it’s not cheap. An add-on for your existing mattress reduces the cost and Eight Sleep can save money by reducing the need for airconditioning at night.
More: Eight Sleep
Mattress Topper Costs from $2,200 + Subscription
the Oura Ring Gen 3 – the best wearable sleep tracker overall
The Oura Ring is one of the most accurate sleep-tracking devices and has an excellent app that delves deeply into every aspect of your sleep. The ring is easy and unobtrusive to wear in bed, and it logs your sleep stats fully automatically. It also doubles up as a half-decent activity tracker during the day. However, there are two downsides to consider: a) the subscription cost, and b) it is not good at tracking strenuous levels of sport.
More: Oura is a wearable sleep tracker that measures heart rate, body temperature, and blood oxygen levels to evaluate sleep and activity. It provides scores for sleep quality, physical activity, and rest, and also tracks steps and calories. It offers suggestions to improve sleep habits and includes guided meditation. The ring is uniquely lightweight and attractive among wearable rings.
Costs from $299 plus a $7 per month subscription
Whoop 4 Band – best sleep tracker for fitness
Like the Oura Ring, Whoop is easy to wear and has a great app. Whoop provides market-leading guidance for your sleep requirements. It’s fully automatic and also a pretty decent sports tracker when worn correctly. However, its biggest downside is the subscription cost.
More: Whoop 4 constantly tracks important metrics such as heart rate, respiratory rate, blood oxygen levels, and skin temperature. It has a gentle haptic alarm that wakes you up at the end of your sleep cycle, a strong battery that lasts up to five days and is water-resistant for sports. The tracker is lightweight and compact and offers various customization options for the bands. Additionally, there are special sports garments with pockets to wear the tracker during workouts.
Costs from $16/month with a free device and a free first month here.
Apple Watch Series 8, Ultra and SE (2nd Generation) – best sleep tracker and smartwatch for iPhone
The best smartwatch ever is also a pretty decent sleep tracker that is excellent for anyone with more than a passing interest in their sleep patterns. The guidance and data are generally great, but there are some question marks over how well it can identify sleep stages given the frequency it takes nightly readings. Apple’s own sleep features are great, and of course, there are numerous apps out there, one of which is almost certainly perfect for you. Apple Watches are also excellent activity trackers, and the right app can provide excellent sports tracking.
However, the biggest downsides of the Apple Watch are a) limited sleep features out-of-the-box, b) the cost of some watch models, c) sleep data sampling (techy but important), and d) it only works with an iPhone.
More: Apple / Amazon
Costs from $279
Withings Sleep Analyzer/Tracking Pad
The Withings Sleep Analyzer/Tracking Pad is a product that looks similar to the EMFIT QS in that you sleep on it. It’s a tad cheaper, and the app is more consumer-focused. Most people will prefer Withings to EMFIT because of its superior app experience, where you can glean insights on sleep cycles, heart rate, and sleep apnea.
More: Withings / Amazon
Costs from £129
EMFIT QS Gen 2
The EMFIT QS is a surprisingly accurate way to track your sleep data with a mains-powered sensor pad that slips under your mattress. This is the best option if you want LOTS of sleep stats. While it collects the data automatically, you’ll have to make a bit of an effort to analyze the data on the app, and that’s not for everyone. Its biggest downside is the lack of insights and feedback; it’s up to you to do the analysis, albeit on excellent data.
Best Sleep Tracker Watch for Android – Polar Ignite 3
Polar offers comprehensive sleep insights and guidance packed into a sports watch that’s also full of sports and wellness features, but it lacks deep integration with your Android or Apple phones. If you are also looking for sporty features and have an Android phone, then I’d consider Ignite 3 instead of a Garmin. However, I wouldn’t recommend Ignite 3 over an Apple Watch for those with an iPhone.
Garmin Venu 2+ (Venu 3 in Q3.2023)
The Garmin Venu 2+ costs 30% more than the Polar, and yet it still does not contain all of Garmin’s top-end sleep features, like the excellent Morning Report. However, you will get information about sleep scores, sleep duration, sleep interruptions, and more. You also get a boatload of sports and wellness features, but I still wouldn’t recommend it over the Apple Watch. If you are on an Android smartphone, then Garmin’s confusing product range is always worth exploring for more sporty alternatives to Venu.
While it is a good sports tracker and decent sleep tracker, the downsides are that a) you compromise on sleep features, b) you compromise on Garmin’s sports feature, c) you compromise on deep smartwatch features, and d) you still pay a premium price.
I would NOT recommend a Garmin unless you are already invested in its ecosystem or need more advanced sports tools.
Fitbit Versa 4 & Sense 2
The Fitbit Versa 4 & Sense 2 both offer good sleep features, including sleep stages, a sleep score, a smart wake alarm, and a good level of accuracy. They also offer guided breathing exercises and stress monitoring to help you relax and fall asleep faster. However, Fitbits are simply not better than the Apple Watch, for example, because the app store is woefully sparse and the sports tracking compares poorly. Furthermore, there is some confusion about where Google is taking the Fitbit brand. Matters are made worse by the fact that features you probably want, like Sleep Stages, require a premium subscription as well as a watch quickly making Fitbit a much more expensive option than it at first appears.
I would not recommend buying a Fitbit in 2023.
More: Fitbit / Amazon
Costs from $180 plus $10/month for the optional premium sleep features
The SleepScore Max is a bedside device that uses sonar technology to measure your breathing and movement patterns. Although I doubt its accuracy, it is attractive due to its inexpensive one-off cost with no subscription, and it still provides sleep stages, score, duration, and latency.
The EEM 2 is a head-worn EEG sleep tracker that measures brain activity and it has medical-grade levels of accuracy. It probably is the most accurate detector of sleep stages of all the products mentioned here.
Cost $499 (medical grade, no longer available to buy as a consumer)
How to Choose A Sleep Tracker
Often, how you use your sleep sensor is more important than just buying whichever piece of tech has every last feature.
These are the kinds of features to expect from the trackers, and most watches are good at basic sleep data, but we all seem to want more and for most people that usually means Sleep Stages.
- Basics: Time in bed, time asleep, the time it took to get to sleep (latency), disturbances
- Medium: Environment monitoring (temperature, humidity, noise levels) and physiological metrics including body temperature and breathing rate.
- Advanced: Sleep Stages, recovery through in-sleep HRV, wake-up notifications based on sleep stage, sleep coaching (suggested bedtime and required hours of sleep)
Pause and consider how likely you are to use the format of the product you buy. Ask yourself, “Will I really wear a watch every night, all night?” Do you want to analyze your sleep data, or do you want an app to highlight the key trends and changes? Will you spend five minutes each morning taking manual readings, or do you want everything completely automated?
Wearing an Oura ring only at night is a great idea, as that is when it can provide the most valuable insights into your sleep. However, if you do this, you may not be getting the full value from the product and end up paying the subscription fee just for sleep analysis.
How Accurate Are Sleep Trackers?
For the basics, they are all more than accurate enough. You also need to have realistic expectations, if you can lay perfectly still in bed for an hour reading an article on a smartphone then don’t expect the tracker to know you are awake.
Consumer-grade sleep stage trackers have a limitation in accuracy, with the highest accuracy being around 80% compared to gold-standard lab sleep trackers (polysomnograph). Oura has published scientific evidence of being the most accurate, but Apple, Whoop, and Fitbit are also close to Oura’s accuracy. Choosing between them should be based on which non-sleep features best fit your lifestyle, rather than solely on accuracy. It’s important to note that there is no technology that offers higher accuracy than 80% for sleep stages, and this limitation also affects the ability of these trackers to wake you up during light sleep stages. Simply put it’s impossible for YOU to reliably track sleep stages with off the shelf gadgets
Q: How do smartwatches track sleep?
Smartwatches use built-in sensors and algorithms to track sleep, primarily through movement and heart rate. However, advanced sleep trackers go beyond this and can also measure body temperature, blood oxygen levels, heart rate variability, breathing rates, and other aspects of physiology. By cross-referencing this data with scientific study data and an individual’s normal ranges, sleep trackers can provide insights into sleep stages, ovulation, sleep apnea, stress, illness, and more. This technology is based on sound scientific principles, and when used correctly, sleep trackers can provide scientifically valid estimates of many aspects of sleep (except for sleep stages).
Complementary Products or other products to help sleep
This article does not aim to solve your sleep problems solely through the purchase of technology. However, it is important to understand your sleep patterns even if simply to ensure a good day ahead. For athletes, sleep quality and quantity play a crucial part in recovery.
However, if you want some ideas to sleep better these should help
- Good sleep hygiene involves following a routine, sleeping in a cool, quiet, and dark room, and sleeping alone.
- QuietOn 3.1 – Noise cancelling earbuds that simply make everything quiet. Nothing else.
- Hapbee Sleep Mat – Emits super low-frequency waves that stimulate the production of sleep hormones. It does work…you’ll need convincing, so read this review!
- Zopiclone – prescription medication. A sleeping tablet that becomes addictive. Not recommended and definitely not without seeing a doctor.
- Kalms – A Natural sleeping tablet.
- Memory foam toppers are a cheap way to test if you benefit from sleeping on memory foam, I have one. They cost around $/£/Eu50 and can be placed on top of your existing mattress. (Try: Amazon)
- A noisy fan that produces a constant drone – perhaps not so great in winter but fine in summer
- You can use Google Home, Amazon Echo, or Apple products to play sleep-assisting sounds such as by saying, ‘OK Google, play the sound of rain.’ Easier still, add this instruction to your GOODNIGHT routine and say ‘OK Google, Goodnight‘ to perform a series of home automation events. (Try: Amazon)
Take Out – for the best sleep tracker
For iPhone users, the Apple Watch is a great choice as it has good sleep features and impressive link-ups with the iPhone. Third-party apps can provide even more insights, and it also offers great fitness features.
For a non-wearable sleep-tracking device, Eight Sleep is an awesome option. When it comes to smartwatches, the Apple Watch is the top choice, but Garmin, Fitbit, and Polar are also good options, especially if you prefer their platforms for their coverage of other wellness and sports features.
Lastly, serious athletes should consider the impact of sleep on training readiness. Whoop covers this, as do more expensive Polar and Garmin Watches. The Apple Watch doesn’t offer readiness out of the box, but third-party Apple apps do.
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