Personal sleep trackers can provide a fascinating insight into the mysterious third of your life you spend asleep.
It might not be as accurate as a professional assessment, but a sleep tracker can give you useful information about the quality of your sleep, and then help you take steps to improve it.
I tested a wide range in 2016, and continue to do so in 2017 on an ongoing basis. And in this review I’ll be giving you my opinion of the most popular devices and how they compare.
Some of them are also activity trackers, so although I’ll provide an overview of the activity tracking features, the main focus will be on the sleep tracking aspect.
How accurate are personal sleep trackers?
Which type of sleep tracker to choose?
Non-wearable sleep trackers
S+ by Resmed
Beddit 3.0 Smart Sleep Monitor
Withings Aura Smart Sleep System
Sense with voice
Wearable sleep and fitness trackers
Fitbit charge 2
How accurate are personal sleep trackers?
As much as I’d love to tell you that you can find sleep trackers that are 100% accurate, it’s unfortunately not the case. The technology is improving at a fast pace, but there are still limitations to personal sleep tracking.
As most sleep professionals will tell you, it’s probably best to see personal sleep trackers as a way to get a broad idea of how you’re sleeping, rather than hoping to replicate the finer details of a professional sleep study in the home.
It’s also a great motivator to focus more on your sleep and try to improve it. Many sleep trackers do include useful sleep coaching on their App, encouraging you to pay more attention to your sleep patterns and lifestyle.
Sleeping or not moving?
A concern people sometimes have with trackers is the issue of mistaking lying awake and just not moving much, such as when watching TV in bed, as being asleep.
It’s not a problem if you usually fall asleep quickly, but what if you have insomnia but don’t move much, or enjoy relaxing in bed at night?
In my experience, this does happen sometimes, but can be easily fixed by manually changing the data on the App the next day. It’s also a reminder not to watch TV or surf the internet in bed, and only go to bed when you actually feel ready to sleep.
Having said that, I do find that once I’ve fallen asleep, most devices do a pretty good job of tracking when I’m restless or wake up in the night.
If you’d like to know more about this issue, you might find it helpful to read my article looking at how sleep trackers work.
Which type of sleep tracker to choose?
I think it’s more helpful to see this article as an overview of sleep trackers, highlighting their unique pros and cons. You can then make your decision based on what you want from your device.
For example, if you like the idea of having activity tracking as well as sleep tracking, a Fitbit or Jawbone could be a good choice.
If you don’t want to wear a device on your wrist at night, or aren’t interested in activity tracking, you might prefer a standalone device, such as the Emfit QS, Beddit, S+ by Resmed, Withings Aura or Sleepace Reston.
If you’re interested in finding out how factors such as noise, light and temperature affect your sleep, take a look at the S+, Beddit, Sense or Withings Aura.
And if you like the idea of having a light and sound machine to help you fall asleep and wake up gently, the Sense and Withings Aura can do that.
So with those points in mind, let’s take a look at the different sleep trackers.
Non-wearable sleep trackers
These are dedicated sleep trackers that you don’t wear on your wrist. There’s no activity tracking during the day, and they tend to provide more detailed sleep data.
They do sometimes have the same problem as wearable trackers in thinking you’re asleep when you’re in fact awake and just being very still. There’s also the issue of your partner skewing the results if they decide to snuggle up on your side of the bed.
However, I do find they tend to be more reliable than wearable devices on the whole, especially if you sleep alone.
1) S+ by ResMed Personal Sleep Solution
Sleep tracker that works without physical contact
Conceptually, the S+ by ResMed is a potential game changer, being the first personal sleep tracker to work without requiring any physical contact.
All the other devices are either worn on the wrist or have a measuring device on your mattress or pillow. The S+ just sits on your bedside table and monitors your sleep and bedroom environment from a distance.
I’d be skeptical that this were even possible, if it weren’t for the fact that RedMed is a well-respected sleep technology company that makes sleep apnea devices. So how does it work? Well, basically by sonar. Or as the ResMed website states:
patented non-contact radio frequency technology to monitor your breathing and body movement while you sleep
Where it really shines is in gathering a wealth of information about what you did during the day, bedroom environment and sleep, and then combining all of that data to try to help you sleep better.
Reasonably accurate tracking of light, deep and REM sleep stages and wakings.
Compares your sleep score against the average for your age and gender.
Measures light, noise and temperature in the bedroom.
A nightly questionnaire about factors like alcohol, caffeine, activity and stress levels helps correlate your daily behavior with your sleep.
Encourages you to leave a text or voice memo to clear your mind and relax before sleeping.
Synchronizes with your breathing to play relaxing sounds through your phone.
Smart alarm wakes you gently during a light stage of sleep.
Provides personalized sleep coaching advice based on your sleep pattern, bedroom environment and lifestyle.
Detailed results and sleep graphs on a very clear phone App, with even more on the website.
Printable sleep report you can take to your doctor.
You need to tell it when you’re physically in bed and about to try to sleep.
Uses a lot of mobile phone battery, but does have a USB port to charge during the night.
Needs to be paired with your phone throughout the night.
You have to use your phone to control it.
When it came to measuring sleep, I found the S+ to be respectably accurate. The amount of data it gives you in the morning is fascinating, with detailed sleep graphs full of useful information.
It’s difficult to personally confirm the amount of time you spend in different sleep stages. But the nights when I felt I slept badly, and woke up feeling less alert, seemed to be reflected in less overall or REM sleep.
What I really liked is the fact that it takes a holistic approach to the sleep coaching. Over time, it uses the questionnaire answers and environmental factors to make clear, logical and actionable suggestions for improving your sleep.
So you’re not just left with ambiguous sleep scores and confusing graphs, but told exactly how you can make lifestyle changes to sleep better.
If you can forgive the need to stay synced to your phone all night, it’s an excellent sleep tracker which might actually make a difference to your sleep.
2) Beddit 3.0 Smart Sleep Monitor
Non-wearable sleep tracker with heart rate, breathing and snoring monitoring
The Beddit 3.0 Smart Sleep Monitor is a dedicated sleep tracker which consists of an unobtrusive thin strip which lies under your bed sheet to track your sleep, with an accompanying App to use on your smart phone.
It tracks a wide range of interesting sleep information, with some useful additions in this latest version 3, such as snoring, bedroom temperature and humidity.
It also monitors heart and respiration rate, which is especially useful if you’re worried about your health or suspect you have a sleep disorder such as apnea.
The accuracy is generally good, especially if you sleep alone.
Lots of different tracking data: your heart rate, breathing and snoring, time asleep or restless and times out of bed, bedroom humidity and temperature.
Easy to set up and use.
Thin measuring strip which you don’t feel when placed under a sheet or mattress protector.
Automatically senses when you go to bed and try to sleep.
Smart alarm system wakes you up at the best point in your sleep cycle.
Great App with a wide range of sleep data to inspect, with an overall sleep score and tips to help you improve your sleep.
The measuring strip has to be plugged into the mains during the night to work.
If you sleep with a partner they can disturb your results. Equally, if you roll away from the strip to the other side of a wide bed, it might affect the results.
The Beddit sleep monitor provides lots of fascinating data about your sleep, and the accuracy overall is good, especially compared to most wearable activity trackers.
However, if you sleep with a partner, there’s a possibility they might influence the tracking if they end up on top of the measuring strip.
Overall, I think if you sleep alone, the Beddit is an excellent way to get a deeper insight into your sleep and health. If you share your bed though, I’d recommend using a wearable device instead.
3) Emfit QS
Ideal sleep tracker for sports people
Made by the Finnish company EMFIT, the QS is one of their 3 under-mattress sleep monitors. It’s designed to be used by athletes specifically, though anyone with a keen interest in their sleep and health can benefit from the extra details it provides.
Like the S+ by Resmed, it’s completely contactless. A measuring strip goes under your side of the mattress (not the bedsheet) and takes readings using ballistocardiography, with a highly sensitive compression sensor.
You get a vast amount of data, including the standard sleep tracker measurements such as heart beat, breathing rate, restlessness in bed, time spent in light, deep and REM sleep.
However, it then goes several steps further, providing measurements that athletes will find invaluable, such as whole night heart rate variability (HRV), total recovery and recovery efficiency.
The HRV measurements can help you decide which days to train, train harder or rest. And helpfully, the trends over the weeks and months can help prevent overtraining.
Very sensitive measuring device provides accurate data, especially heart and breathing rate.
Huge amount of tracking data, helpful for everyday use and sports people interested in maximizing their recovery and training schedule.
Choice of either uploading results to your smartphone or computer via WiFi, reducing the chance of Bluetooth connectivity problems.
Measuring strip sits under your mattress, so you have 100% contactless sleep monitoring.
Unobtrusive with no manual interaction needed. Just set it and go, and check the data in the morning.
Some people may not want a WiFi device on next to their bed all night.
If you sleep with a partner, they can affect the results if they roll over your measuring strip.
Huge amount of data and not enough sleep coaching advice. You need to be proactive to understand the data and take action based on it.
The Emfit QS is one of the most accurate sleep trackers available, doing a great job of monitoring your total sleep time, restlessness and wakings. It also seems to be remarkably accurate at measuring heart and breathing rates.
It’s potentially a very helpful tool if you’re a sports person, capable of helping you take those all important decisions around training intensity and rest days.
But I do wonder how helpful it is for the average person who won’t want to check every morning to see if they can do an intense workout that day or not.
Having said that, it could be useful if you suspect you have a sleep-related breathing or movement disorder, or major changes in heart rate during the night. The results it provides could be helpful to present to a doctor for discussion.
Overall, if you’re the proactive type who enjoys working through complex data to get a detailed understanding of your sleep and health, this could be a great choice.
But if you’re just looking for simple sleep tracking and some helpful tips to improve your sleep, this tracker could be a bit overwhelming.
4) Withings Aura Smart Sleep System
Bedside sleep tracker with light and music to help you sleep
The Withings Aura Smart Sleep System isn’t exactly a subtle addition to the bedroom, but it makes up for that with its wide range of features. As well as monitoring your sleep, it includes a light and sound unit to help you relax and fall asleep, and then wake you up gently in the morning.
It consists of three main elements: a strap which you sleep on top of to monitor your movement, a bedside unit which measures environmental factors and also creates light and sound, with a mobile phone App where you’ll get your results.
Really it’s more than that though, combing a range of bedroom devices; it’s an all-in-one sleep tracker, alarm clock, reading lamp, sleep machine and wake-up light.
The bedside unit plays music on a timer to help you sleep and wake up.
The unit emits a fading glowing light on a timer. The specific red wavelengths are designed to help trigger melatonin production, the hormone that tells your body clock it’s time to sleep.
The smart alarm function can wake you up slowly during light sleep.
It tracks your time awake, time restless, time it took to fall asleep, time spent in light, deep and REM sleep.
Monitors your heart and breathing rate, as well as movement during the night to give a better picture of your sleep.
Environmental sensors monitor room temperature, light and noise. The App then tells you if these factors disturbed your sleep.
Complex App with no sleep coaching telling you what to do with all the potentially useful data.
Limited choice of music input. You can use the in-built sounds or Spotify premium, but not iTunes, your mp3 or mobile phone music database.
The instructions, touch interface and data interpretation are confusing.
It’s expensive compared to other sleep trackers.
The Withings Aura Smart Sleep System is a complete sleep system which aims to do so much more than most other devices. The fading light and sound features might also help you fall asleep quicker and rise peacefully.
Similarly to the Beddit and Sleepace, the accuracy of some elements of the sleep monitoring can be questionable if a partner rolls onto the strip. And the many results that you do get leave you to work out for yourself what you should do about them.
But you do get a wealth of fascinating data about your sleep, so for those with money to spend and a keen interest in their sleep, it can give you a deep insight into your nightly slumber.
5) Sleepace Reston
Dedicated bedroom sleep tracker – ideal if you sleep alone
The Sleepace Reston is one of only a few dedicated sleep trackers. Considering that’s its sole purpose, you would understandably have high expectations of its accuracy. Especially as the company says they use medical grade sensors in the device.
Instead of wearing the tracker on your wrist or around your chest, it has a long, flat belt which sits underneath your sheet or mattress protector. The end piece, which houses the technical bits, neatly clips out of the way onto your sheets using magnets.
Measures your sleep in far more detail than activity trackers: time asleep, time awake, number of wakings, times turned over in bed or got out of bed, quantity of light, mid and deep sleep.
Measures your heart and breathing rate, monitoring for sleep apnea and heart pauses.
Provides you with lots of technical data, sleep coaching advice and tips.
Fantastic App interface.
Excellent battery life.
Made from a soft, flat felt casing that you shouldn’t feel underneath you.
May slip out of place if you move about a lot in bed.
Doesn’t automatically sense when you go to sleep or wake up, so you have to manually start and stop the recording session.
If your partner rolls onto the recording belt, it might skew the results.
The Sleepace Reston provides a serious level of depth of sleep assessment in the home. The range of results, graphical representations and recommendations for improving your sleep are quite impressive.
There’s one potentially major problem, which many of the bed systems share: if your partner rolls onto the belt or you roll off it, it might affect the results.
I think if you sleep alone though, you’ll get a detailed view of what’s happening in your sleep with the Sleepace. For those who love analyzing details, facts and graphs the excellent App will definitely keep you busy the next morning.
6) Sense with voice sleep system
Detailed bedroom environment monitoring with voice commands
The Sense is quite a unique sleep tracker, with a stylish design that looks much better on the bedside table than some of the clunkier standalone devices.
With sleep tracking, environmental sensors, smart alarm and sound machine, it’s a unique take on home sleep monitoring tech.
Sense comes with two pieces to monitor different factors. A futuristic little orb sits on your bedside table, checking your bedroom environment is right for sleep. Then you have a small disc which clips onto your pillow and records your movement during the night.
It can also play a range of mellow sounds to help you sleep. And it can be programmed to wake you during light sleep with mellow lighting and tones.
This second generation version now has voice commands to add to the hand wave commands. So you can speak to access functions such as the alarm or get feedback on your night’s sleep.
Beautiful design, small and unobtrusive on a bedside table.
Measures and gives recommendations for bedroom temperature, humidity, ambient light, noise and air quality.
Measures time asleep, time to fall asleep, wakings, times restless, and time spent in deep, medium and light sleep.
Fun and colorful glow features. Wave your hand over it to see a green glow for ideal bedroom conditions, red for bad and orange needing improvement.
Good smart alarm feature. You set an ideal wake time and it will wake you at the best point in the 30 mins before to ensure you wake happily.
Good App with overall sleep score, sleep timings and interruptions due to factors like noise.
Helpful Sleep coaching, even comparing your sleep to other Sense users.
The microphone doesn’t record noise – it just tells you that there was noise.
No snooze function on the alarm.
Not the most reliable sleep tracking.
I liked the Sense for its environmental monitoring features, voice commands and motion controls, and wide range of light settings and effects. I think the slow wake-up light alarm is a great feature, and found it helped me wake up calmly.
The sense actively sets out to help you sleep better. So if you’re a sensitive sleeper like me, I think it’s potentially really useful to have an easy way to check that your bedroom environment is right each night.
Overall, if you’re interested in a cool piece of tech which gives you useful advice about setting up your bedroom each night, and an excellent alarm, you might find the Sense surprisingly helpful.
However, if you’re looking for the most accurate sleep tracking possible, I think there are better options, even if they don’t have all the cool feautures the Sense does.
Wearable sleep and activity trackers
Wearable sleep trackers have had some bad press because of accuracy concerns. The main problem is that they primarily work by actigraphy.
This means that if you don’t move, they have to rely on other measurements, such as your heart rate, and in-built algorithms to decide if you’re asleep or not. And they don’t always get this right, especially at the start of the night.
For me though, the main plus is having a combined activity and sleep tracking device that looks great on your wrist, and probably has other useful or fun features too.
I think it’s about managing your expectations. If you’re an active person, and just want an overview of your sleep along with some coaching advice, it’s a better option than a bedside sleep tracker.
But if you’re not interested in activity tracking, or how activity can improve your sleep, don’t want anything on your wrist in bed or really want to ensure you get the most accurate readings, it’s perhaps best to stick to one of the standalone devices.
1) Fitbit Charge 2
Great all-rounder with sleep and activity tracking
The Fitbit Charge 2 is an interesting and fun hybrid of wearable tech. Part activity monitor, part sleep tracker and with some smart watch functions, it does a bit of everything.
I was a fan of the original Charge HR, and the latest version has even more to like. There are some new and improved features, but what struck me most were the visible elements.
I thought the previous model’s display was somewhat lacking, so it’s good to see a bigger and more elegant touchscreen. And it now has stylish steel sides to the body, along with different strap options.
It doesn’t attempt to tell you about your sleep stages as some other trackers claim to be able to do, but the key sleep tracking it does provide is reasonably accurate.
Additionally, a constant heart rate monitor gives you an extra measurement which sets it apart from a lot of the competition.
Tells you your total sleep time, along with how many times and for how long you were either restless or completely awake.
The heart rate monitor is accurate – I’ve compared it to my pulse rate and it’s spot on.
The digital display allows you to choose your preferred time format, along with one or two extra tracking options such as pulse, distance or steps on the home screen.
Accurately measures steps, distance, floors climbed and calories burnt.
Modern design and comfortable to wear.
Can sync with your phone to give you incoming call, text and appointment alerts.
Silent vibrating alarm to wake you, but not your partner.
Relaxation function teaches you a mindfulness breathing exercise.
Easy to use, along with a good App interface with interesting graph displays.
Steel body and interchangeable wrist bands.
No GPS feature for activity tracking.
Not waterproof. No shower or swimming, but rain and sweat are ok.
The Fitbit Charge 2 is a sleek-looking activity and sleep tracker which has just the right amount of functions to make you want to use it day after day.
The heart rate monitor is accurate, helping to provide you with more accurate sleep data. It’s also useful for activity tracking and keeping an eye on your heart rate throughout the day.
I like the fact that it keeps the sleep monitoring to the important basics, without trying to do things which wearable sleep trackers aren’t particularly reliable at.
As with most sleep trackers, I did find it sometimes confuses lying in bed reading with sleeping. But the Fitbit App allows you to change the time you fell asleep manually, ensuring your results are as accurate as possible.
Once I actually do go to sleep though, I find it’s good at recording my total sleep time and wakings. In the week I tested it, it accurately recorded every time I got out of bed.
Overall, this is a great all-rounder either as an entry into wearable devices or an upgrade to a previous model. If you’re interested in having a bit of everything, with activity and sleep tracking as well as smart watch functions, it ticks a lot of boxes.
2) Fitbit Blaze
Advanced activity and sleep tracking smart watch
What makes the Fitbit Blaze interesting is that it’s the first Fitbit which feels like a smart watch, yet still maintains the excellent activity tracking functions that the company is so well known for.
Like the Fitbit Charge 2 and the Surge, it covers a wide range of tracking functions, presented beautifully on the easy to use Fitbit mobile phone App.
It does a reasonable job of sleep tracking in my experience, providing a detailed insight into your sleep quality through the combination of movement sensors and constant heart rate monitor.
Like the Charge 2, it keeps things simple where sleep tracking is concerned, checking how much sleep you got and how restless you were, and providing a couple of goals to improve your sleep.
Wide, 1.66 inch LCD color touchscreen.
Automatic sleep tracking.
Records the total time asleep, number of times restless or awake and total time restless.
Accurate activity tracking, measuring steps, distance, calories, floors and heart rate.
Accurate and continuous heart rate monitor.
Dedicated activity tracking modes, such as running, cycling, weights and cross-training.
‘Fitstar’ App on the watch shows you exercise routines you can do.
Smartwatch features including calls, texts, calendar alerts, music control and range of sleek-looking watch face displays.
Breathing App to help you relax.
Wide range of colors, strap materials and styles.
Excellent battery life.
Easy to use App, presenting the results in a fun and engaging visual way.
No built-in GPS. You can sync it with a mobile phone to track your route if required.
It’s not waterproof, so can’t be used in the swimming pool or shower. It can withstand light rain and sweat though.
Even though it’s thin, it does look wide on the wrist.
I wore the Blaze for 2 weeks and was pleasantly surprised by the accuracy of the activity tracking. And on most nights, it reliably recorded when I fell asleep and woke up, as well as when I got up in the night.
As is often the case though, if I lay in bed reading or just not falling asleep, it didn’t always pick that up, so I occasionally had to adjust the time in the morning.
The Fitbit App is great, not just because it’s easy to understand and interpret the data, but also because it gives you goals, challenges and awards. And that’s a good motivation to improve both your activity levels and sleep.
My main concern is the size of the Blaze – it’s thin, but very wide and the spaces between the metal casing and the body seem a waste of space. So if you’re looking for a subtle wearable device, this isn’t the one for you.
Overall, the Fitbit Blaze is an activity tracker that you can rely on, with a range of interesting features. The sleep tracking isn’t bad, with the great Fitbit App alongside, but you do need to keep an eye on the data if you don’t fall asleep straight away.
3) Jawbone UP3
A low cost, light-weight and subtle tracker
It may not look like it, but Jawbone claim that the up3 is one of the most advanced personal sleep trackers. They say it builds a picture of your sleep using a range of advanced sensors, such as bioimpedance. It measures your heart rate, breathing rate, body temperature and galvanic skin response.
The idea then is that the sensors can distinguish between being awake and the light, deep and REM sleep stages. Not many devices can claim to be able to do this accurately, and although it may not be perfect, it appears to do a reasonable job when you check the App in the morning.
However, just like the Fitbits, it sometimes thinks you’re asleep when you’re just not moving. But considering the light-weight design and apparent lack of features, it’s impressive that it provides you with as much data as it does.
Automatic sleep monitoring.
Advanced sensors giving a detailed assessment of your sleep, including time spent awake, in light, deep and REM sleep.
Accurate activity monitor measuring essentials like steps taken, distance traveled and calories burnt.
Long battery life (up to 7 days).
Stylish and light-weight bracelet design.
A great App provides detailed results and is easy to use.
Useful and personalized sleep coaching tips to improve your sleep.
No screen display to provide you with information during the day.
Less detailed activity monitoring than many other devices.
I found the UP3 was of mixed accuracy during the week I tested it. When I got up in the night, it reliably recorded it every time. And the nights when I felt like I slept badly were shown as being more restless and with less total sleep time.
However, there were a couple of times when I know I was awake for long periods in the middle of the night, but this wasn’t reflected in the data. The App only seemed to suggest lots of restlessness, rather than the fact that I was wide awake for at least an hour.
The activity tracking did seem accurate though. I wore it alongside 2 Fitbits one day, finding they were all pretty much in line for measurements such as steps and heart rate.
Where the UP3 does shine is with the impressive sleep coaching, which is more complete and personalized than most competitors. Even though I had to manually change some of the sleep data on occasions, I think the App and sleep coaching is more engaging and meaningful than the Fitbit App.
The UP3 is also the lowest priced of all the trackers in this review, so if you’re looking for a starter device rather than a high-end tracker, it’s worth considering.
4) Fitbit Surge
Sports watch with plenty of features
The Fitbit Surge is one of the most powerful in the Fitbit activity tracker line. It’s bigger, packed with more features and of course more expensive than many other wearables.
While the Fitbit Charge 2 has a couple of smartwatch features, the Surge (like the Blaze) goes a few steps further with a large touchscreen display, along with some control of your phone on your wrist.
The inclusion of a constant heart rate monitor and GPS tracking gives you a lot of information about your daily activity levels, even charting your routes on google maps. Really, the GPS is the main feature which makes it more of a sports watch than the Blaze, even though the Blaze is a newer model.
High-tech hybrid of a smart watch and activity tracker with lots of features.
Choice of manual or automatic sleep tracking. If you disagree with the time you fell asleep or woke up, you can manually correct it on the App.
Tells you the time spent asleep, awake or restless.
Get in-coming phone caller IDs, read text messages and control music from your wrist.
Customizable and modern digital display unit with touch screen and side buttons.
Continuous heart rate monitor.
GPS tracking to accurately measure distance.
Great for runners as it measures distance, steps, pace, splits, elevation and route.
You can specify the activity you’re doing and it will calculate calories burnt accordingly.
It’s a large device, so if you have a small wrist it might look a quite big.
The battery drains quickly if you have GPS enabled. It will last about 5-7 days without, and about 5 hours with GPS.
The Fitbit Surge is ideal for runners and anyone interested in the fine details of their activity tracking. However, if sleep tracking is more than just a side note to you it doesn’t quite measure up to some of the more complex sleep trackers I’ve looked at.
If you want a piece of wearable tech which does a bit of everything though, then the Surge is definitely up there among the best when it comes to the range of features and options it has.
It’s one of the only devices which can claim to incorporate smart watch, heart rate, activity and sleep tracking, and GPS capabilities.