Sleep trackers have become a popular way for interested users to gain an insight into their sleeping pattern, and access metrics previously unavailable to them. Thanks to popular fitness tracker manufacturers like Misfit, Fitbit and others offering sleep tracking with their products, the market has gained significant traction over the past few years – and it’s still growing.
With a number of sleep trackers now on the market, we explain the various features to look out for, along with our choice of the best on the market right now.
Sleep tracker buying advice
Before we go any further and explain the kind of things to consider when buying a sleep tracker, it’s first noting the different kinds available. Most sleep trackers double up as fitness trackers, as the two functions require a similar set of sensors – although not all do. These sleep trackers will more than likely have to be worn when asleep, which may be an issue for some people.
For that portion of the market, there are other options available; Beddit and Emfit QS are essentially strips of fabric embedded with sensors that are laid on your bed under your mattress, and tracks your sleep as you lay on it.
So, what do you need to consider when buying a sleep tracker? Well…
Design: The first, and possibly the most important element to consider when buying a sleep tracker is design. The sleep tracker has to be comfortable to wear over long periods, as well as when asleep, although what classes as comfortable changes from person to person so only you know what feels good to you.
Most sleep trackers are fairly understated in design and are covered in a soft material as to not cause skin irritation over long periods, although it may be worth reading user reviews of the tracker you want before buying in case of any comfort issues.
As mentioned above, you don’t have to wear all sleep trackers, although you’ll more than likely have to pay more money for a bed monitor when compared to its wearable counterpart. If you do opt for a wearable, be conscious of displays – while having a display is helpful for operation, screens can get snagged when moving your arms during your sleep, which can wake you up. Not ideal.
Battery life: Another element to consider when looking to buy a sleep tracker is battery life. It’s worth investing in a tracker that lasts more than 2 days on a charge, as there will more than likely be situations where you’re either away from your charger, or you forget to charge it, and the battery of the tracker will run out during the night.
There’s also a choice between types of battery as rechargeable batteries are more convenient but don’t last as long, while some sleep trackers like the Misfit Ray boast a six-month battery life due to the use of a traditional watch battery. Of course, it’s worth noting that once it runs out, you’ll have to hunt down a replacement watch battery yourself.
Advanced tracking: Depending on the price and design of the sleep tracker, it may be able to offer more advanced tracking capabilities than its counterparts. While most will offer bog-standard sleep and wake times along with the various stages of sleep you were at during the night, others can track much more.
You can find trackers that’ll track your resting heartrate throughout the night, some that’ll track the quality of the air and ambient noise, and some that’ll even notify you if you’ve been snoring during the night. This will help you determine if there’s an environmental factor affecting your sleep.
What you need to ask yourself is whether you really need the advanced functionality, as there’s a direct relationship between the number of tracking features offered and the price tag.
App design: Of course, the hardware is only half of the product – without a decent app to back it up and delve into your recorded stats, there’s not much point in tracking your sleep. Always try to look at previews of the sleep tracker’s accompanying app before purchasing one if possible, and as recommended above, it’s worth taking a look at user reviews.
It’s also worth mentioning that it’s usually cheaper trackers that have bad quality apps, as it’s likely that the company has skimped on the development of the app and focused on making the hardware as cheap as possible. If you’re an iOS user, look out for trackers that integrate with Apple’s Health app for a better overall look at your personal health (when combined with fitness tracking, eating habits, etc).
So, without further ado, we present a selection of the best sleep trackers that you can buy in the UK right now.
Best sleep trackers 2018 UK
The Emfit QS (short for Quantified Sleep) isn't a wearable like the Misfit Ray or Fitbit Charge 2; instead, it comes in the form of a soft, flexible material embedded with a plethora of sensors that help to track your sleep. The QS is put under the mattress, meaning that you won't feel, hear or accidentally move it when you're asleep. For light sleepers that can't wear wearables, it's the ideal solution.
The tracking goes much deeper than what is provided by other trackers; in addition to tracking your stages of sleep, you'll also find info on your HRV (heart rate variability), ANS Balance, Heart Rate, Breathing Rate and more, making it a great option for those that really want to get to grip with their sleeping habits, and learn to improve in areas that affect how you perform during waking hours.
It's not perfect though; there is no app for iOS and Android. Instead, everything is handled by a browser-based dashboard, offering no integration for popular Health apps like Apple Health, although it does offer integration with Under Armor, Wellmo, Training Peaks and Validic. It's fairly expensive too, at over £200.
We'd recommend the Misfit Ray for anybody looking for a great sleep- and fitness tracker. It's really good-looking and the choice of colours makes it even more stylish to suit each individual, haptic feedback is a real boon and it compares really well with rivals in the same price range. Battery life is excellent and the app is intuitive too. The sleep tracking provides a plethora of statistics, including total time, a sleep cycle breakdown and more. You'll find that you're motivated to get out there and get fit in no time.
Fitbit Charge 2
The Fitbit Charge 2 appeals to both the casual get-fit user and the more serious fitness freaks, although runners might prefer a tracker with built-in GPS. Users will love the larger display and interchangeable wristbands, plus the updated fitness features. In terms of sleep tracking, it offers stats including sleep duration and quality of sleep, whilst also boasting an auto-sleep mode that'll automatically recognise when you're asleep - no need to set it to a 'sleep' mode like with other trackers.
Xiaomi Mi Band 2
With a new OLED screen, the Xiaomi Mi Band 2 offers better value than ever. We’d like to see better integration with third-party apps, but at this price the Mi Band 2 is impossible to fault. If you're on the market for a cheap sleep tracker that'll track sleep quality and length, you can't go wrong with the Mi Band 2.
The Jawbone UP3 adds a few extra features over and above the UP2, namely the ability to track resting heart rate and all stages of sleep, including REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. The UP3 is a good tracker, made better by the recent hardware and software updates, adding auto-sleep capabilities as well as resting heart rate tracking. The accompanying app is of a decent quality, giving you a breakdown of your sleep the following day.
Misfit Shine 2
Overall, we'd recommend the Misfit Shine 2. It's an all-rounder with some added perks including the haptic feedback for notifications and calls, which we've found enormously useful. Comparing it with rival Fitbit we think it's been priced well, and not having to think about the battery life too often is a huge boon, meaning you'll rarely have to take it off.
The Withings Activité is a stunning watch, the most attractive we've seen by a long shot. The design and build is exquisite and you can quickly glance at your daily steps progress. Other information is provided by the app and we like the sound of an eight month battery life. It will track sleep automatically and you'll get details on time it takes to fall asleep, duration, cycles and interruptions. It does lack features when compared to its competitors though, including a heart rate monitor and any form of backlight.
Beddit is slightly expensive at over £100, but is a great option for those that can't sleep when wearing standard sleep trackers on the wrist, as it slides between the mattress and bedsheet. While it offers fairly advanced tracking features including the ability to alert you if you've snored during the night, design flaws like the requirement of a plug near the bed and a one-time-use attachment system let down an otherwise impressive sleep tracking system.
The Moov Now is one of the most interesting trackers we've tried. It puts workouts and coaching first and the basic activity and sleep tracking second, with a built-in virtual coach giving you tips on your workout. The sleep tracking capabilities are a little basic but if you’re looking for a cheap, unique fitness tracker that boasts limited sleep tracking capabilities, the Moov Now is a solid option.
Fitbit Flex 2
The Fitbit Flex 2 is a chic and slim, lightweight wristband (with bangle and pendant accessories) that tracks and monitors your daily activity and sleep patterns, offering figures on the number of hours slept and quality of sleep, along with a discreet vibrating alarm. You can compete with Fitbit-using friends too. It’s addictive and fun, and has the most accessories of any Fitbit – making it, of course, the most flexible Fitbit ever.