Home sleep tracking devices have been around for a while in the shape of mattress pads, bed devices, and even apps. But with the evolution of modern technology and its continual evolution, now you can simply wear a small device on your wrist and wake up with a plethora of information that tells you about your quality of sleep.
But, many people are concerned that a device that offers a continual reading may be a hazard to your health in the long run. Let’s explore this question and help you weigh the pros and cons of sleep tracking devices so you can decide what is best for you.
What Are Sleep Trackers and What Do They Track?
There are two types of trackers, wearable and non-wearable, and both offer some quality information you can put to good use concerning your own sleep habits. Depending on the type of tracker you are using, you can take advantage of a huge amount of variables that provide insight into your sleep patterns.
Heart rate, respiration, oxygen levels, sleep cycle lengths, movement, body temperature, and even snoring are recorded and graphed to provide you a visual of where problems may arise through the night. Or to confirm if you are, in fact, getting the sleep you deserve.
Most devices tie into an app for you to review your data, and store information in graphs so you can download it and use it at a doctor’s appointment if you have concerns you want them to pay particular attention to.
Some devices even offer coaching advice through an app to provide you insight and suggestions to get a better night’s sleep.
You might want to check this out: The Best Sleep Trackers
Are Sleep Trackers Bad?
Despite the benefits that seem obvious concerning sleep tracker wear, there are studies that suggest the need to be wary about their use. Most of these concerns stem from the fact that they are not 100% accurate, and are tied to apps that offer a lot of information that may seem alarming. Take a look at why concerns exist:
— Anxiety Concerns
It’s important to take sleep tracker information with a grain of salt. Although great insight into sleep habits can be observed, the data is subject to many variables that can create errors or inaccurate readings. They are best used for trends over time and to give some basic information rather.
Unfortunately, the viewing of the many measurements sleep trackers picks up on can become a point of obsession for users. Some people see it as a challenge to get the perfect amount of rest or enter longer phases of sleep – things that will vary from person to person regardless of what experts say. This can become obsessive and create worry or anxiety when the data or numbers don’t match the suggested “healthy” parameters.
There is even a term used to describe this type of behavior: Orthosomnia. It means to have an obsession, or compulsion to get “correct sleep”.
You might be interested: What is Sleep Anxiety and How Do I Beat It?
— Increase in Insomnia
Not only can sleep tracker data obsession create anxiety, anxiety often feeds into insomnia – the very thing sleep trackers are supposed to help you with. In short, constant tracking of sleep, checking your app and being exposed to more blue light, and being worried about what the numbers are telling you feeds into sleep troubles.
The more information a sleep tracker provides, the more concerns many people have as they try to watch them all and tie them to sleep patterns.
The important thing to consider when you do choose to use a tracker is that data is relative, differs from person to person, and is subject to many factors – including the surrounding environment that you may have no control over.
They provide a baseline of information only and are best used when data is averaged over longer periods of time to recognize possible trends.
You might want to read this: Every Little Thing You Need to Know about Insomnia
Benefits of a Sleep Tracker
Despite the ominous tone of the concerns sleep tracking can create, the issue remains – YOU decide if the data is a concern or not. Since this is not clinical, and if you keep in mind there are many factors and variables that can change data, then you should view your sleep tracking information as a jumping-off point for positive change.
Sleep trackers provide some excellent information to provide a foundation of knowledge about what sleep habits you may have, and if there are any markers you can speak with a healthcare professional about. The data given may be riddled with understandable errors, but it also can provide you some insight into the habits you have that may create a less than ideal sleep situation – such as high sugar and caffeine intake, staggered bedtime or rising routines, or even body temperature.
Dos and Donts of Sleep Tracker Wear
There are a few basic things to keep in mind concerning sleep trackers in order to use them in a healthy manner and to get the results you are looking for.
Choose the tracker that is best for your needs and lifestyle. This includes wearables, bedside devices, or bed sensors. If you are concerned with overall health and habits, a wearable may be right for you. But if you only want to provide insight to nighttime snoring and noises, a sensor may be better.
Use the device to help determine overall sleep and sleep goals, and use the data to help provide insight to your overall sleep habits.
Expect the data to be a measurement of sleep quality or expect it to be perfect. Don’t use it use it as a personal challenge. This can lead to unhealthy choices that are not based on wholly realistic results.
Use the data to open up a conversation with a healthcare professional if you have any concerns.
Wrapping It Up
Sleep trackers are truly a benefit when used correctly, and can provide a lot of insight into your own habits that you can work with to promote healthy change. If you find yourself obsessed with the data, or are stressed over what it is telling you, you may need to take a break.
Use your tracker as a means to collect data over time to help average what your sleep may be telling you. If concerns do exist, speak with your doctor to determine the next steps.
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