Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that if you click and make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no additional cost to you. Also, I may earn revenue for traffic. This allows me to build free and helpful content. Thanks for your support! See the Disclaimer here.
As we get busy each day, a good night’s sleep is essential to our physical and mental health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “A third of US adults report that they usually get less than the recommended amount of sleep.” Thanks to fitness trackers and smartwatches we can learn more about our sleep quality and use this data to make the necessary adjustments. This useful and informative guide will help you achieve restful and restorative sleep.
Table of Contents
- 1 Understanding sleep stages and what they mean
- 2 How do fitness watches monitor sleep?
- 3 How to achieve optimal sleep monitoring with your fitness watch
- 4 The best way to read sleep data insights from your fitness watch
- 5 How to improve sleep quality with fitness watches insights
- 6 Adopt these sleep habits to optimize your bedtime routine
- 7 What are the challenges and limitations that fitness watches may have?
Understanding sleep stages and what they mean
A sleep cycle means that we have completed all four stages of sleep. They can vary during the night and over time as we age. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the stages of sleep are:
- non-rapid eye movement (NREM) with three stages
Stage 1. It happens when a person is falling asleep and it lasts a couple of minutes (1-7)
Stage 2. The person experiences a more relaxed state with relaxed muscles and a slowed heart rate. It may be experienced for 10-25 minutes
Stage 3. It is also called slow wave sleep, delta sleep, and deep sleep. The person’s breathing rate, pulse, and muscle tone decrease. Its length is 20-40 minutes
- REM with one stage
Stage 4. Brain activity picks up almost like you are awake. Also, temporary muscle paralysis, but the eyes and muscles that control breathing. It can happen for 10-60 minutes.
To keep improving your sleep quality, it is important to optimize your sleep cycle (sleep stage optimization). If you wish to use a fitness watch keep reading. Otherwise, you can follow our recommendations below.
How do fitness watches monitor sleep?
According to Fitbit, they use “a combination of movement and heart rate patterns.” Their watch will assume you are asleep if you are moved in one hour. Also, some Fitbit fitness watches with sleep trackers can track patterns between beats in heart rate or heart rate variability which fluctuate while you are sleeping.
However, Garmin uses movement, heart rate, body battery, Pulse Ox (oxygen levels), and respiration to estimate sleep quality. They also calculate how many hours we cycle on each stage (deep, light, REM, Awake).
Wearable sleep technology is so advanced that it can use small motion detectors (accelerometers) and gyroscopes to detect how much they move while you sleep. Then, with the help of an algorithm, they calculate sleep time and quality to ensure sleep tracking accuracy.
Although they don’t calculate your sleeping quality directly, you can get an insight into your habits based on inactivity.
How to achieve optimal sleep monitoring with your fitness watch
To improve your sleep quality with a fitness tracker or smartwatch it is essential to set it up correctly, also called wearable sleep technology calibration.
. The following guide will help you receive accurate data about your sleep habits:
- Go to your fitness watch application and make sure your watch’s heart rate monitor, pulse OX, and other fitness watch sleep settings are on.
- Always wear your device frequently and a couple of hours before falling asleep
- Your device should be comfortable on your wrist, not too tight or loose.
- Indicate the sleep time goal and sleep schedule (bedtime and wake-up time) for a better-optimizing sleep tracking
The best way to read sleep data insights from your fitness watch
Analyzing your sleep pattern can help you understand your sleep quality and patterns. Fitness trackers and smartwatches use different ways and metrics to monitor your sleep. However, these metrics can shed light on your sleep hygiene.
- Sleep score
This number represents your sleep quality based on sleep stages, duration, efficiency, and others. They can range from 0 to 100 with the high score being better sleep quality. This data is compared to the previous nights.
- Sleep duration
This data indicates how many hours you slept during the night from when you fall asleep to when you wake up. It may be compared to your goal and the average hours slept.
- Sleep stages
These are the phases of sleep that we covered in this post. Most fitness watches can show how much time you spend on each stage and how it compares to the average.
- Sleep consistency
This information shows sleep times, average bedtime, and average wake time during the night. It can show averages for the week, month, and the past year to help you find any sleeping patterns.
How to improve sleep quality with fitness watches insights
You can use your fitness tracker or smartwatch data to help you sleep better and continue tracking your sleep quality. Enhancing your sleep with fitness trackers is possible if you follow these tips on using actionable sleep data:
- Use your sleeping score to monitor your progress and determine if your sleep has improved in the long run
- The sleep and wake time shown on the fitness watch can tell if your sleep is more consistent
- Metrics such as the resting heart rate, deep sleep hours, and sleep duration can help you identify sleep issues and patterns
- Use your fitness watch to set the bedtime and waketime goals
Adopt these sleep habits to optimize your bedtime routine
To continue improving your sleep quality it is crucial to follow these easy and simple tips:
- Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day
- Avoid caffeine and other stimulants in the evening.
- Limit your use of electronic devices (TVs, smartphones, tablets) since they emit blue light which can disrupt circadian rhythm and melatonin production.
- Perform physical activity as it can help you fall asleep faster. Don’t exercise too close to bedtime.
- Try breathing exercises and relaxation techniques to help you calm your mind
- Do not nap for longer than 20 minutes or too late as it can affect your sleep quality
- If you wake up during the night, don’t look at the clock instead, try to relax by doing relaxation techniques for sleep
- Avoid heavy meals, spicy foods, and fluids before sleep, as they can cause frequent urination and indigestion.
- Optimize your sleep environment with comfortable and relaxing bedroom surroundings with minimal noise and light. You can set your bedroom temperature to 65 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit and use essential oils (mint or lavender) to help you relax
- Visit a healthcare practitioner if you have severe sleeping problems.
What are the challenges and limitations that fitness watches may have?
Like any technology, fitness watches may have some limitations and challenges, for example:
- They may not be very accurate or reliable
- They may cause anxiety or obsession over sleep data
- They may not provide personalized or actionable advice on how to improve your sleep which may require consulting a sleep specialist or other resources
It is very important to use fitness watches as a tool and not as a solution for impoving your sleep. We hope this information is helpful for you and your family.
Also, you can apply the data your device provides, you can enjoy the benefits of sleeping better and a better overall health. Do you have any experience with your sleep tracker? We invite you to share them in our comments.
B.L.A is a webmaster, content creator, researcher, and blogger who loves fitness watches and working out.
After many attempts to stick to a fitness plan, she found inspiration in fitness wearables which has helped her remain active and lead a healthy lifestyle. She is committed to encouraging individuals who need help with their motivation.
When she isn’t exploring fitness technology market trends and writing, you might find Brenda cooking delicious meals, connecting with nature, growing veggies, reading about technology, and enjoying life with her husband C. A.
Check out her other blog Breathe Out Panic Attack.