The Best Sleep Trackers To Quantify The Quality Of Your Rest – Forbes

We spend about a third of our lives conked out on a mattress. But almost everyone has questions about what happens after we go to bed. Are we sleeping well and waking refreshed? Does the sleep we get keep us healthy and alert during the day? Until the last decade or so, there were few tools available to measure the quality of your nightly rest short of spending the night in a sleep laboratory.
Sleep trackers can give you insight into how well you’re sleeping, and even the ambient conditions … [+] of your space.
Now, though, sleep tracking is built into all sorts of gadgets and gizmos—and the best sleep trackers can generate detailed reports about the length and quality of your sleep, and in some cases make recommendations for improving it. There’s no doubt the world of health tracking has matured a lot in the last few years. No longer a novelty, sleep tracking features are now built into most smart watches and fitness bands.
There are also stand-alone sleep trackers, such as sensors you place under the your mattress. What these devices can measure has improved substantially, right down to when you were in REM sleep. Just about the only thing they can’t do is record your dreams, though we wouldn’t bet against that in the future, either.
We’ve rounded up the six best sleep trackers you can buy today. Read on to find the device that’s right for you.

Amazon
Type: Wearable | Accompanying app: Yes
Fitbit pioneered an entire genre of wearable fitness trackers and was among the first companies to offer sleep tracking on consumer devices. The Fitbit Sense 2 is the brand’s most advanced fitness watch, and it’s brimming with sensors that can measure heart rate, temperature, stress, blood oxygen levels and sleep quality. (It can even perform electrocardiograms now.) The Sense 2 is designed to collect all this information for a comprehensive picture not just of your fitness, but also your overall wellness.
The Fitbit Sense 2 delivers detailed sleep reporting with a nightly “Sleep Score,” which is calculated based on your heart rate, time spent in light versus heavy sleep and your sleep stages. It combines all that information with other data that’s not found on many other sleep trackers—including your stress level, which the device measures throughout the night using 10 different factors related to responsiveness, exertion, sleep patterns and blood oxygen levels. You can view some of these stats on the watch itself, and get more detailed info on the accompanying mobile app. There, your Sleep Profile breaks down your monthly sleep data and highlights ways to improve your sleep based on specific metrics, such as “time before sound sleep,” “nights with long awakenings” and “deep sleep.” 
What the reviews say: There are over 1,600 reviews for the Sense 2, and customers have great things to say about its for sleep tracking. As one customer puts it, “Fitbit excels at sleep tracking.” Another writes, “I had no idea how sleep deprived I truly was until I started wearing the FitBit Sense 2.”
Amazon
Type: Wearable | Accompanying app: Yes
Sleep tracking on the Apple Watch has come a long way. The company waited years before adding sleep tracking to the device, in part because of the watch’s previously abysmal battery life. Now, the watch has a longer battery life—though it’s still on the short end—and reminds you when it needs to be charged in advance of bedtime to work through the night.
Battery limitations aside, Apple’s sleep tracking software is quite good, if a little less detailed than what you’ll find on other sleep trackers. Apple’s Sleep app gives you the freedom to create multiple schedules (weekends and weekdays, for example). You can also customize a handful of sleep-related settings, like sleep goals, bedtimes and wake-up times. Overnight, it provides estimates of time spent in different sleep stages (core sleep, REM and deep sleep), plus it notes when you may have woken up in the night. The watch also tracks your nighttime breathing rate, which can be an insight into your health as a whole. Abnormal respiratory rates can give you a clue when it’s time to seek professional care, as they sometimes indicate sleep apnea.
The Sleep app shows your total sleep for the previous night and sleep trends for two weeks. Of course, any smart watch runs the risk of disrupting your sleep by notifying you of messages or calls—fortunately, Apple thought of that. Simply turn on Sleep Focus, and it will limit distractions overnight.
What the reviews say: The Apple Watch is a fan favorite, and for good reason. Many customers speak highly about its sleep-tracking function in particular. “The watch itself isn’t causing me to sleep better, but I can identify the times I’m awake during the night and make adjustments with my sleep schedule to get more sleep,” says one. Another writes, “the sleep tracking is spot on; so good that I know how long it takes me to get out of bed in the middle of the night to concede to the obvious fact that I need to pee.”
Amazon
Type: Under-mattress pad | Accompanying app: Yes
Not everyone wants to wear a fitness watch or fitness band—especially to bed. If you’d rather de-gadget yourself at bedtime, perhaps you’d rather try the Withings Sleep Tracking Pad, which plugs into the wall and slips under your mattress. It doesn’t require you to wear or recharge anything for it to do its magic.
The pad has sensors that can detect heart rate, snoring and sleep cycles, so it creates graphic displays of you your light, heavy and REM sleep cycles, and also notes when you wake or are disturbed during the night. All the results are sent to the Withings app on your phone.
It’s also compatible with the IFTTT (If This Then That) automation app, so you can configure it to automatically turn off the bedroom light when you climb into bed or change the thermostat when you wake up in the morning.
What the reviews say: Customers are generally pleased with the Withings tracking pad—many note that it does its job nicely. One says it’s a “good device for tracking [my] sleep duration, stages, quality, etc. [It] also provides a quick analysis of each night’s/week’s sleep and tips and articles on how to maintain good sleep habits, and improve not so good ones.” Another says, simply, “this sleeping mat really impressed me.”
Oura Ring
Type: Wearable ring | Accompanying app: Yes
The Oura Ring is a tiny tracker that’s packed with just about as many sensors as the fitness bands that wrap around your wrist. It’s tangible proof that big tech is getting smaller, more discreet and fading into the background. The Gen3 version of this undeniably stylish wearable (which really does look like jewelry!) is the company’s most advanced yet. The ring is chock-full of sensors that track anything and everything, including body temperature trends, respiration, sleep, activity, recovery and stress. It combines these factors for powerful fitness and sleep tracking and insights.
Its small, light and unobtrusive form means you might find it much more comfortable to sleep with than a smart watch or fitness band. And it does well when it comes to sleep. The ring tracks your sleep cycles and gives you a sleep score based on data for total sleep time, duration of each sleep stage and other metrics. It even has an automatic nap detection feature that records naps and adjusts your daily sleep score based on them. After a nap, the device’s bedtime guidance, which is designed to help improve your sleep, is also adjusted accordingly. New to this generation of Oura Ring is blood oxygen sensing—which can identify breathing disturbances in the night, which can reveal illness, or physical changes, such as being at high altitude. The small size comes with a slight compromise: It doesn’t have an on-device interface, so you’ll need to refer to your smartphone for everything it tracks.
With an impressive seven-day battery life and full charges in 20 to 80 minutes, it’s always ready for action. Just slip it over your knuckle and forget about it for days on end—it’ll take care of the rest.
What the reviews say: “Oura has changed the wellness game for me, and it gives me oodles of data to improve my overall health,” says a person in one of Oura’s highlighted reviews. “This thing has taught me more about sleep than I ever thought I needed to know,” another writes.
Amazon
Type: Wearable | Accompanying app: Yes
Garmin’s Vivosmart 4 is made for people who don’t want to wear a large fitness watch or smart watch on their wrist. It’s much more discreet than these options (though not nearly as discreet as the Oura ring), and is a full-featured, accurate fitness tracker with a small touchscreen display and long battery life. Garmin takes workout tracking seriously, so this band has a full suite of sensors—heart rate, barometer, accelerometer, blood oxygen and more—and it can connect to gym equipment wirelessly with ANT+. That’s pretty rare among fitness bands.
Garmin doesn’t mess around when it comes to sleep tracking, either. The Vivosmart 4 measures your sleep cycle, blood oxygen level, stress level and body recovery from workouts, and even features Garmin’s “body battery” dashboard that estimates how much energy you have left as the day goes on based on your workload and exercise. If one could level a criticism at Garmin’s detailed sleep reporting, though, it might just be that there’s not much analysis done for you, so you’ll need to interpret everything yourself.
What the reviews say: There are over 9,000 reviews for the Vivosmart 4, and customers are generally quite pleased with how well it works—not just for sleep, either. “Whether you want it for the gym, running/walking, swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving [or] tracking sleep, this little wearable is an excellent choice,” says one.
Best Buy
Type: Bedside device | Accompanying app: Yes
The Nest Hub from Google is a smart home platform designed for busy households, according to the company. You might be surprised that a screen on your nightstand is able to track sleep, but one of the device’s newest features is automatic sleep tracking that kicks in the second you hit the hay. Sensors are built right into the display, so you just need to aim it toward you from a bedside table. It uses motion and sound to monitor your sleep—no wearables required. The Nest Hub detects your respiratory rate and picks up nighttime disturbances, like sneezing or coughing. When you wake up, it generates a sleep summary with personalized insights that can help you adjust things like temperature, ambient light and noise for a better night’s sleep. It also has weekly suggestions to help you move toward more consistent sleep habits.
The Nest Hub’s Sleep Sensing feature was designed for convenience and privacy—there’s nothing to wear, and your data doesn’t leave the device, either (as in: It’s not sent back to Google). You can also review and delete it whenever you want. All in all, the Nest Hub is a robust device. Just know that data and insights may not be quite as detailed as some other options, which track things like blood oxygen and heart rate. 
What reviews say: “I upgraded to the new version for the sleep tracking option. It does a great job tracking my sleep and pinpointing problems,” one reviewer writes on Best Buy. “It has helped me make adjustments to my sleeping habits.”
We looked at sleep trackers from brands we love and have personally tried, and considered features, sensors included, battery life, reputability and more in making our selections. Most of the brands on this list have released multiple iterations of their sleep trackers, which means that the products here have progressed and improved since their inception. To make the cut, the sleep trackers needed to be well-reviewed by customers like you.
The products in this list run the gamut from mattress pads you can tuck away beneath the bed and completely forget about to watches that require regular charging to rings that last for days that you’ll hardly notice. That’s by design: We know that no two people’s sleep is the same, and we want everyone to find something that fits their needs when they consult Forbes Vetted’s sleep coverage.
We frequently update this story to ensure accuracy and it was last edited in September 2023.
There’s something to be said for learning more about your sleep habits, and the right sleep tracker can tell you a lot. But there can be a risk in both the accuracy and self-interpretation of all that data. As the authors of one research study point out, a growing number of people are self-diagnosing sleep disturbances, including insufficient sleep duration and insomnia, all based on personal sleep tracker data. The data will reveal light or restless sleep—which may or may not be accurate. At-home sleep trackers should not, and really cannot, compare to medical sleep studies. The propensity to self-diagnose and obsess over sleep issues based on trackers is known as orthosomnia. Professionals define it as the obsessive pursuit of optimal sleep metrics based on tracker data. It can even lead to insomnia-like symptoms.
Ideally, people should use sleep trackers to monitor their nocturnal patterns so they can make connections to their health as a whole. Some people may find that a sleep tracker is a great addition to otherwise healthy sleep habits, but don’t mistake them for the missing link to a perfect night’s sleep. If you have consistent issues with your sleep, or wake up feeling tired frequently, it’s best to consult your healthcare provider.
According to a 2020 study that compared seven popular sleep tracking devices to polysomnography, the gold standard in sleep assessment, they’re pretty darn accurate—but only for certain metrics. The authors concluded that consumer sleep-tracking devices perform reasonably well in detecting sleep. If, however, you’re lying in bed relaxing, but not sleeping, a sleep tracker’s accuracy drops. Sometimes the trackers log this time as sleep, when it’s really not. Plus, they don’t work as well on nights when you have poor or disrupted sleep–your sleep data may say you had a great night, for example, but you spent half of it tossing and turning.
A study from 2021 concluded that most wearable sleep trackers overestimated or underestimated metrics like total sleep time, total wake time and sleep efficiency, and they weren’t able to accurately quantify sleep stages. Researchers said their findings showed a remarkably high degree of variability in accuracy of these sleep technologies, and that more research is warranted. It’s also worth keeping in mind that these devices have likely become more sophisticated since the study was first published, and new versions may well supply more accurate data.
Wearable sleep trackers use multiple sensors to gather a mix of data, such as heart and breathing rate, skin temperature and movement to track sleep cycles. Sleep trackers that go on your bedside table or under the mattress, like the Withings and Google Nest Hub on our list, track your sleep by monitoring breath and body movements, along with environmental factors like light, temperament and ambient sound.
So which is better? Studies find that the accuracy of wearable and non-wearable sleep trackers in general is mixed, with most performing quite well in terms of measuring “sleep,” reasonably well at determining “wake,” and not well for measuring sleep stage. If you’re debating between a wearable or a non-wearable sleep tracker, go with the one you personally prefer, and whichever one will be the most comfortable for you. Some people won’t sleep comfortably wearing something on their wrist or finger, and a sleep tracker isn’t doing you any good if you can’t let it do its job all night. Others might like a tracker that they can wear and use during their waking hours, and may find that more appealing. At the end of the day, it boils down to what’s best for your lifestyle.

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