Sleep trackers have become a popular way for interested users to gain insight into their sleeping pattern, and access metrics previously unavailable to them, but there's a lot to think about. Some fitness wearables from the likes of Misfit and Fitbit will track sleep from your wrist, but you can also buy dedicated sleep tech including high-end sleep trackers that fit under your mattress.
Here's everything you need to know about both kinds - and the other sleep tech on the market - along with our recommendations after testing the tech with as many lie-ins as we could. It's a rough job, but someone's got to do it.
And while we're on the topic of quality sleep, don't forget to check out our ultimate guide to choosing a mattress.
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 the Beautyrest Sleeptracker are essentially 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…
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.
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.
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 heart rate 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.
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 right now.
Best sleep trackers of 2020
It may be pricier than other sleep trackers in our roundup, but if you’re looking to ditch the wearable but still want in-depth sleep tracking and tips to improve sleep, the Beautyrest Sleeptracker is the ideal option. It offers all the sleep tracking features you'd expect - REM cycle, heart- and breathing rates, interruptions - and more.
It boasts unique features when compared to similar products on the market, like being able to track two sleepers in the same bed at the same time – ideal for couples – and the personal tips from the built-in AI are both personal and helpful.
Read our full Beautyrest Sleeptracker review
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.
Read our full Misfit Ray review
Fitbit Charge 3
The Fitbit Charge 3 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.
Read our full Fitbit Charge 3 review
The Dreem 2 headset offers an impressive sleep tracking experience with a range of advanced sensors including an EEG that measures your brainwaves when you sleep alongside a well-built and user-friendly app and a variety of bespoke CBT-focused programs to actively help improve your sleep and fight bad sleep habits.
There are hurdles to get over – mainly having to wear the tracker on your head – but it’s something that most users will get over within a couple of nights. The main point to consider is that it’s a fair bit more expensive than any other sleep tracker we’ve seen, so make sure that you’re going to get the most out of the programs available if you pick one up.
Read our full Dreem 2 review
Xiaomi Mi Band 2
With full waterproofing, a heart-rate sensor, and sleep tracking, the Xiaomi Mi Band 3 offers better value than ever. We’d like to see better integration with third-party apps, but at this price the Mi Band 3 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.
Read our full Xiaomi Mi Band 3 review
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.
Read our full Misfit Shine 2 review
Withings Steel HR Sport
The Withings Steel HR Sport is the perfect marriage of analogue and digital, featuring an analogue watchface with all kinds of built-in smart tech. It’s thanks to this design that the Steel HR Sport looks at home when worn in the office or at the gym, and that’s not something that can be said about most fitness-focused smartwatches.
It’s capable of tracking over 30 activities, from running to swimming and even yoga or ping pong (not to mention sleeping, of course), and the 25-day battery life means you never need to worry about charging it. Couple that with an app that provides meaningful insight into the data collected by the smartwatch, and you’ve got the perfect fitness companion.
Read our full Withings Steel HR Sport review
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.
Read our full Moov Now review
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.
Read our full Fitbit Flex 2 review
Kokoon Sleep Tracking Headphones
There’s a lot to love about the EEG-enabled Kokoon headphones; the low-profile design is ideal for sleeping and commuting alike, and despite weighing 350g, they feel weightless when worn.
The earcups are huge, reaching beyond your ears and resting on your skull for extra comfort, and the soft inner earcups perfect the experience with a cool, soft touch. The accompanying Kokoon app for iOS and Android is well built and easy to use, and offers a suite of soundscapes to use to fall asleep – some of which are even customisable. You’ll also find CBT-inspired breathing exercises and multi-day programs to help improve the quality of your sleep, along with a breakdown of your previous night's sleep.
The issue is that it’s just not comfortable for side-sleepers – the plastic swivel joints dig into the side of your head, causing enough discomfort to distract you from the main aim; getting to sleep.
Read our full Kokoon Sleep review
Beddit is slightly expensive 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.
Read our full Beddit review