One third of your life is spent sleeping—at least, it should be anyway. This vital restorative process affects every facet of your daily life from how you think and feel to the way you perform at work. Sleep trackers are devices that can help you get a handle on what’s happening as you try to catch some Z’s, measuring your sleep effectiveness and identifying disruptions during the night in your breathing, temperature, and heart rate. The trackers record and then translate this insight into simple but data-rich reports complete with recommendations to get a better night’s rest.
More time spent sleeping correlates to a higher quality of everyday life. Unfortunately, according to the CDC, one in three American adults are sleep deprived. People suffering from sleep deprivation experience hampered concentration, poor mood regulation, and a weakened immune system. A sleep tracker can help you identify nighttime disturbances in addition to providing advice on how to improve your rest. Even if you catch your recommended hours of shuteye, sleep tracking is important for being more mindful of your nighttime patterns and stressors. If you want to boost your daily productivity, happiness, and wellness, read on for our evaluations of the best sleep trackers.
Check out quick info below on the top five sleep trackers from our testing, then keep scrolling for helpful buying advice and full reviews of these and other high-performing options.
Things to Consider
A sleep tracker like a smartwatch or ring is called a wearable because, well, you wear it. Since these trackers sit directly on your body, they can gather biometric data like temperature or blood oxygen levels. Non-wearable sleep trackers, like a smart display or sensor pad, accurately measure your sleep patterns and listen for breathing disturbances using microphones and radar. This makes them much less intrusive, but the lack of vital sensors means you won’t see overnight internal body changes such as heart rate or temperature variability. If you already have trouble sleeping, introducing a new item into the mix may be counterintuitive. You’ll want a sleep tracker that comfortably fits into your lifestyle.
Speaking of comfort, I noted how each gadget sat against the skin and if the material trapped sweat. To keep this metric simple, I used a basic five-point comfort scale, with a score of one being unbearably uncomfortable and a five signifying that I didn’t notice I was wearing the device. While non-wearables don’t cause any physical discomfort, not everyone will want to put an internet-connected device with multiple sensors like a smart display within arm’s distance of where they sleep.
Result Accuracy and Information Thoroughness
I took a look at each device’s measurements and compared them to the results of my professional sleep study and rival sleep trackers. It’s up to you to decide if you want a basic overview of how often you wake up during the night versus a detailed chart of blood pressure, breathing volume, and REM sleep cycle variations over time. If you want essential information, only wearable technology will be able to provide the level of detail you’re looking for.
How We Tested
As a lifelong insomniac, I often restlessly lay in bed for hours until the sun comes up. It’s at times been so bad that I’ve had trouble driving, struggled to think clearly, and experienced mood issues. On the quest to improve my health, I’ve spent hours mulling over the most popular sleep tracker options on retail sites and user forums even before starting my testing. With my selections based on measurement capabilities, accuracy, and value, I curated a diverse testing pool of wearable and non-wearable products to evaluate over the course of one month. To create a baseline of my sleep patterns, I underwent a professional sleep study. I was hooked up to various sensors placed on my head, chest, and back to see breathing patterns, nighttime disturbances, and quality of sleep. Using this data as my reference point for the data provided by each tracker. I also cross-checked each device’s data readings to gauge accuracy and spot any discrepancies. Specifically, I wanted to check my sleep for nightly interruptions and periods of restlessness. On the final three nights of testing, I wore or used each of the top five performers simultaneously to confirm both the accuracy and consistency of each tracker’s readings throughout the night.
Withings Sleep Tracking Pad
Type: Non-wearable (sensor) | Comfort: 5/5 | Features: Sleep stages, interruptions, heart rate, and smart home control
Simple, affordable, and unobtrusive, the Sleep Tracking Pad is hands down the best way for most people to evaluate their sleep quality. Instead of altering your bedroom or forcing itself onto your body, this sleep analyzer is a pressure pad that sits below your mattress so you don’t even realize it’s there. You get detailed insights like your average resting heart rate, sleep stages with REM depth, and breathing disturbances from a mat that you simply set and forget. Getting started is so simple that the hardest part of my setup process was finding an open outlet to plug the cord into. With the pad plugged in and slid under my mattress just below where my chest rests during sleep, I opened the Withings Healthmate app to pair the sensor over Wi-Fi.
After the initial ten-minute automated pressure adjustment, I was able to lay on my bed like normal. While I was worried the tracker would get incorrect data as I laid in bed playing video games or watching TikTok videos, the pad accurately captured my actual time spent asleep concurrent with the Fitbit and Oura trackers. While you don’t get the biometric data these options provide—such as oxygen saturation or skin temperature—the daily report generated right inside of the app offers a vast amount of information. The mat itself can listen for snoring, breathing interruptions, and average resting heart rate—giving you an accurate look at your sleep disturbances and patterns. While I found these measurements to be consistent with other trackers, it’s important to note that I activated the increased sensitivity mode from the start for the best possible accuracy. Withings’ sleep improvement suggestions are brief but helpful. The category I struggled the most with was interruptions, often with five or more events resetting my sleep cycle per night. The app noticed this and provided ways to create a better sleeping environment such as mitigating external factors such as the distracting noise of my air conditioner while also stressing the importance of a consistent schedule.
Lastly, you can program the Sleep Tracking Mat with IFTT (If This Then That) automation software. You can automate things like thermostat changes or lights when the mat senses pressure. While you can control these things with voice or touch from the Google Nest Hub (below), it’s convenient to hop into bed and automatically turn off the lights and cool down the room. If the prospect of wearables or a hub turn you off, Withings’s Sleep Tracking Mat ensures your nightly routine remains the same but with the benefit of helpful automations and a morning sleep report to wake up to.
—BEST FITNESS BAND—
Fitbit Charge 5 Band
Type: Wearable (band) | Comfort: 5/5 | Features: Blood oxygen, interruptions, and stress management tools
Fitbit’s Charge 5 is a low-profile activity band with onboard GPS, advanced health sensors, and smart notifications. Since it’s a band and not a watch, the face isn’t large and doesn’t press against your wrist bone whether you’re working out or rolling around in your sleep. The thinner body and cool backing make the Charge 5 the most comfortable wearable sleep tracker I tested because it doesn’t create any pressure or trap sweat. Without setting the display to always-on mode, I got six nights of battery life. If you want to use the always-on color display, you can keep the bright screen going for about two full days.
After pairing the device to the Fitbit app, you can log real-time readings, food intake, and journal your stress. While rival sleep trackers give advice on how to minimize stress, Fitbit includes stress management tools such as Calm and an electrodermal activity (EDA) sensor to help you actually make and measure lifestyle and stress changes. You can set a smart alarm that will wake you within a half hour of your set time as you exit deep REM sleep. In my testing I found this to be my favorite alarm as the vibration was strong but woke me up naturally so I didn’t start my day groggy. In the morning, sleep results like time asleep, time awake, REM cycles, and sleeping heart rate appear directly in the app, accompanied by a sleep score. The Charge 5 excels over its rivals in restoration breakdown, showing oxygen variation, restlessness measurement, and a graph sleeping heart rate over time.
As for the value you get for what you pay, it’s a bit ridiculous that the Charge 5 shipped without a smart assistant, especially when other Fitbit devices include both Google and Alexa smart assistants. Even the budget $40 Amazfit Band 5 has Alexa. Despite this glaring omission, the Fitbit Charge 5 provides a best-in-class sleep tracking experience in an activity band that can guide you with health improvements throughout the day and night.
—BEST SMART RING—
Oura Heritage Ring
Type: Wearable (ring) | Comfort: 4/5 | Features: Temperature changes, heart rate variability, and interruptions
Oura is a smart ring that tracks your sleep and daily activity to give you a bird’s eye view of your overall health, like the Fitbit above. However, the use of infrared light and NTC skin sensors on the bottom of the ring produce more accurate biometric data than wrist-based alternatives. This is because the infrared light penetrates deeper than the green light other devices use while reading vitals such as heart rate and temperature from your finger artery instead of a wrist capillary.
My first few hours with the device were a bit annoying as I wasn’t used to the sensation of a ring, no less wearing one all day and night. While my finger felt sweaty and a bit constrained on the first day of use, this wore off by bedtime, and the rest of the month was smooth sailing. Outside of the comfort of not having to wear anything on the wrist, I was very impressed by the titanium material and colorways the ring comes in. The Oura unit I received was silver and happened to perfectly coordinate with my cuban chain and bracelet. While it is stylish, I noticed that the body held onto fingerprints and scuffs, so if you want it to look its best you’ll have to baby the device.
The Oura’s light weight and placement makes it easy to forget you have it on, so you feel ready for a good nights sleep without the fear of cutting off blood circulation. At night, the Oura’s body didn’t snag onto my sheets or partner’s hair, sleeping cool and loose. In the morning, my nighttime activity is sent to my phone as a detailed reading with tailored guidance to aid recovery, sleep, and daytime activities. Google Fit and Apple Health both integrate with Oura’s information so you can easily assess your sleep health over time. Heart rate and variability, respiratory rate, body temperature, and a recovery index are all easily visible and come together to indicate whether you’re ready to tackle the day head on or should take it easy. A tap easily switches you between stats and ways to make improvements in the selected area.
We wish the Oura had blood oxygen tracking of the Fitbit or the Apple Watch, as that is an important metric if you think or know you suffer from sleep apnea. I would also love to see an integrated smart assistant like Amazon’s Smart Ring in the next iteration of devices. Regardless, this is an intricate sleep tracker full of detail that gives you a comprehensive analysis of your day and nighttime vitals.
Apple Watch Series 6
Type: Wearable (watch) | Comfort: 3/5 | Features: Third-party sleep-tracking app support, blood oxygen, interruptions, and sleep regulation
With a wider band than the Fitbit Charge 5 and a larger display to match, the Apple Watch is an enticing wrist-based alternative with more smart features and app options. I didn’t need to grab my phone in the morning as I woke up to all of my sleep data, notifications, and social media posts directly on my wrist. As far as wearables go, the Apple Watch has more capabilities and the smoothest performance at the cost of comfort and exclusivity to iPhone users.
Apple’s streamlined the sleep routine experience. You set the time you wish to go to sleep and wake up in the morning and the system works to help you achieve this with notifications when it’s time for bed. This ensures you don’t stay up too late and can retain a natural schedule. During the night, the watch uses sensors to track motion, snoring, and heart rate, then relays that information directly to both your phone and wrist. This data is not as in-depth as the Fitbit, but it’s a cohesive experience that breaks down duration and quality. The Apple Watch is the only tracker in the pool that offers the ability to download third-party tracking apps such as AutoSleep and Pillow from the App Store for even more detailed statistics.
The Apple Watch trains your body to sleep on time and wake on schedule with strong haptics to wake you up silently without also rousing a partner. Your data automatically integrates into the Health app so you can monitor trends are share them with doctors easily. My biggest problem with the Apple Watch is its comfort level. For me the band can get a bit sweaty, and the wider head sits on my wrist bone, causing a slight pressure. If you’re an iPhone user, the Apple Watch is a great sleep tracker with the most functionality around making it a versatile tool for tracking sleep, exercise, and daily tasks. But if you want to maximize your comfort, you might want to look at the Oura or Fitbit options instead.
—BEST SMART DISPLAY—
Google Nest Hub 2nd Gen
Type: Non-wearable (smart hub) | Comfort: 4/5 | Features: Sleep stages, room temperature fluctuations, lighting changes, and respiratory disturbances
Google’s second-generation Nest Hub is a smart speaker, display, and sleep tracker all combined into one device. That means you can control and automate your smart lights, thermostat, and door locks directly from the hub for bedtime and morning routines. There’s no camera on the device, but there are microphones that sit on your bedside, which I’m always wary of. The sleep-tracking feature, called Sleep Sense, uses the display’s position an arm’s length away from you to monitor your sleep and environmental conditions, as well as time in bed, via radar and sound.
Pointed at your torso, the Nest is able to break down your sleep quality by measuring your sleep periods, in addition to giving you a unique respiratory rate summary, snore detection, and coughing using microphones. It can detect environmental conditions like light changes throughout the night while also monitoring room temperature. I was disappointed that there wasn’t a REM cycle breakdown, but without the ability to see your heart rate, the concession makes sense. While the device was dead accurate 95 percent of the time, it logged extra sleep tracking time at an average of 15 minutes from my actual. When you wake up, you get a concise briefing with these specs and some ways to make improvements to your environment or schedule.
The data was accurate as any of the wearable solutions I’ve used apart from the extra time counted as sleep that was spent winding down, and the advanced respiratory listening detects sleep apnea symptoms. Google has announced that Sleep Sense will become a subscription service in 2022 as it integrates into a Nest health subscription. If you simply want to gauge symptoms, we’d advise you buy a Nest Hub before the new year. With that said, it’s a bummer that this unique feature will soon be locked behind a paywall.
Other Great Options
Withings Steel HR Hybrid Smartwatch
Type: Wearable (watch) | Comfort: 4/5 | Features: Timeless analog display, 24/7 heart rate, and sleep stages
While the Withings Sleep Pad was our favorite sleep tracker overall, the company’s Steel HR smartwatch is a premium option for those who like the look of a classic analog timepiece. Blending contemporary with modern, the clock’s physical hands are wound directly from the app. Unlike a Fitbit or Apple Watch, there’s not much digital screen space, just a tiny circle that can cycle through information like notifications and daily physical activity stats. This concession allows for a 25-day battery life, which I found was accurate during testing.
Sitting somewhere between the maximum comfort of the Fitbit Charge 5 and medium comfort of the Apple Watch, the Steel HR sits on the wrist for extensive periods with ease. The rounded steel head and breathable band have a much more premium feel than other wrist-based alternatives. As impressive as the craftsmanship is, the sleep-tracking data is limited to duration, REM cycles, and an average heart rate with little that stands out. Light sleepers will appreciate the gentle rain drop-like vibration pattern of the built-in alarm, but it will fail to wake deep sleepers as effectively as the jolt of the haptics on our top choices. Overall, the Steel HR is an easy way to get into sleep tracking; you simply set the watch and wear it all day. But if you want a more detailed analysis of what’s interrupting your sleep or are a deep sleeper who needs a stronger alarm, you’re better off with one of our picks above.
Amazfit Band 5 Fitness Tracker
Type: Wearable (band) | Comfort: 4/5 | Features: Blood oxygen, stress monitoring, sleep cycle depth, Alexa bullt-in
At under $50, Amazfit’s Band 5 is one of the best-performing budget sleep-tracker options, with capability that rivals those quadruple the price. Its colorful and bright AMOLED display is easy to see and use throughout the day, even in the sun. At night, the band relays information like your current blood oxygen and stress levels, recording sleep cycle, heart rate, and breathing automatically. Amazon’s Alexa assistant is built-in for controlling your smart home, setting reminders, and getting quick answers to your burning questions. The Amazfit offers the most bang for your buck, at the cost of measurement accuracy, often coming a percentage or two off per statistic. If you have a passing interest in sleep tracking, this Amazfit will meet your needs. For clinical-level accuracy, stick with our top choices above.