The pros and cons of tracking your sleep

The pros and cons of tracking your sleep

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SANDY — Until recent years, the only way to thoroughly assess your shut-eye was in a clinical setting, wired-up in a laboratory under the watchful eye of people in white lab coats. Not exactly the most restful of situations.

Fortunately, along with the wearable activity-tracker revolution came inactivity trackers. These apps are designed to monitor you while your eyes are closed — blissfully unaware — tracking your overnight sleep patterns. They can listen to your heart rate, and detect movements and sounds you’re making (like snoring), to help you determine bedtime behavioral changes that could improve your night’s sleep.

At the very least, they can remind you of the importance of being aware of your sleep.

“The bottom line is that any device on your wrist that makes you think twice about staying up too late is a good thing," sleep specialist Dr. Christopher Winter told the Huffington Post.

However, sleep trackers aren't always the stuff dreams are made of; there can be downsides to tracking your sleeping self. Here are some of the pros and cons of introducing monitoring tech into your slumber.

Cons:

  • That little band on your wrist is barely noticeable when walking or exercising, but it can be uncomfortable to wear in bed, which could interfere with the very sleep it’s meant to monitor. And what if it emits noise or light? A sleep tracker could cause as many problems as it solves, especially if you're already having trouble getting some shut-eye.

  • The accuracy of wearable sleep trackers is still no match for that of a lab. “There haven’t been studies to show these devices do what they promise,” Richard Schwab, co-director of the Penn Sleep Center, told Philadelphia Magazine. “This is a case of technology outpacing the science.”

  • You’ll have to wear your sleep tracker for many, many nights before detecting any actionable trends and then many, many more nights after that to see if the steps you’ve taken toward addressing potential problems have any effect. It’ll likely be a long process, and, in the meantime, you won’t be sleeping any better.

Related:

Pros:

  • Using a personal wearable sleep tracker can keep you out of a clinic, tethered to data-collection machines in an unfamiliar locale. The do-it-yourself approach in your own home and bed is more likely to provide an accurate representation of how you sleep.

  • The information is recorded digitally, meaning you don’t have to struggle to write down details of your night’s sleep upon waking up — if you can recall any, that is. A sleep diary is only as good as the data you capture when you actually remember to write it down immediately after you wake up. Data gleaned from a groggy morning brain probably isn’t the best, either.

  • Digital info can be analyzed and implemented to find sleep solutions quickly. “In the morning, our app sends the data to Stanford University for analysis,” says Uli Gaz-Oz, CEO of sleep tracker company Sleep Rate. “After which, you receive a personalized report with recommendations about improving your slumber."
A sleep tracker can at least give you an idea of the amount of sleep you’re getting and how often you’re waking throughout the night. The relatively new tech of non-wearable devices is expanding fast, including bedside gadgets like the Hello Sense and ResMed’s S+. There are also under-the-mattress sleep trackers from Beddit and Beautyrest that are helping move do-it-yourself sleep monitoring closer to the science of the lab.

Those with serious sleep issues requiring immediate attention, however, should see a physician.

Ultimately, more information is better than no information, even if the sleep tracker info doesn’t present an automatic solution. What do you have to lose? Besides sleep, that is.


Sarah Brown

About the Author: Sarah Brown

Sarah Brown is a business student with a love of outdoor adventures. Contact her at sarahdeneim@gmail.com.

Pros:

  • Using a personal wearable sleep tracker can keep you out of a clinic, tethered to data-collection machines in an unfamiliar locale. The do-it-yourself approach in your own home and bed is more likely to provide an accurate representation of how you sleep.

  • The information is recorded digitally, meaning you don’t have to struggle to write down details of your night’s sleep upon waking up — if you can recall any, that is. A sleep diary is only as good as the data you capture when you actually remember to write it down immediately after you wake up. Data gleaned from a groggy morning brain probably isn’t the best, either.

  • Digital info can be analyzed and implemented to find sleep solutions quickly. “In the morning, our app sends the data to Stanford University for analysis,” says Uli Gaz-Oz, CEO of sleep tracker company Sleep Rate. “After which, you receive a personalized report with recommendations about improving your slumber."
A sleep tracker can at least give you an idea of the amount of sleep you’re getting and how often you’re waking throughout the night. The relatively new tech of non-wearable devices is expanding fast, including bedside gadgets like the Hello Sense and ResMed’s S+. There are also under-the-mattress sleep trackers from Beddit and Beautyrest that are helping move do-it-yourself sleep monitoring closer to the science of the lab.

Those with serious sleep issues requiring immediate attention, however, should see a physician.

Ultimately, more information is better than no information, even if the sleep tracker info doesn’t present an automatic solution. What do you have to lose? Besides sleep, that is.


![Sarah Brown](http://img.ksl.com/slc/2583/258377/25837707\.jpg?filter=ksl/65x65)
About the Author: Sarah Brown -----------------------------

Sarah Brown is a business student with a love of outdoor adventures. Contact her at sarahdeneim@gmail.com.

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