How are you sleeping these days? Scientists have been mapping our sleep patterns for years and agree that good diet, low stress and plenty of exercise can help us sleep better. But in a constantly connected world filled with deadlines, dramas, snoring loved ones and screaming children, getting a good rest can be nigh on impossible.
The insights offered by sleep monitors and fitness trackers are giving us new ways to think about how well we're resting, and offering personalised tips to help us get better sleep.
Now read: How does sleep tracking actually work?
So can connected technology come to the rescue? We've tracked down the best in sleep technology to help make your nights longer, mornings easier and even tackle snoring partners. These are the trackers that made the cut.
Best sleep tracker
There's a new boss in town. Since Apple bought Beddit and seemingly discontinued the Beddit 3 we've been on the lookout for a replacement. The SleepScore Max tracks from your bedside table using echolocation - a reflection technique similar to what bats do - firing out ultra-low power radio waves to track our breathing patterns.
Rated: SleepScore Max review
It's a little more pricey than other options like the new Nokia Sleep (still to be released), but it might be worth it for the excellent accuracy and actionable insights. Every morning you'll get a score based on the quality of your night's sleep and then told whether you're actually sleeping as well as you should be, and what you can do to get better rest.
As far as contactless sleep monitors go, the Max has delivered the best on accuracy. Our only criticisms are that it needs to be manually started each night and needs your phone to be running to work.
SleepScore Max, $149, sleepscore.com
Fitbit Alta HR / Fitbit Ionic
If you're looking for a sleep tracker that you'll actually wear, then Fitbit is your best choice right now. Fitbit is going big on sleep, and both the Fitbit Alta HR and Ionic support Sleep Stages, so they can use heart rate to track whether you're in light, deep or REM sleep and give you actionable insights the next morning. Plus, you can benchmark your results against people of a similar demographic. What we like about these trackers is that they learn your behaviour over time, and will start giving you more and more personalised feedback for getting better rest.
These actionable insights and good tracking accuracy earn this Fitbit duo second place on our list, but if you're on the lookout for a fitness tracker too, this is your winner. On the sleep front, the Ionic is built for the future. It's got a tri-wavelength sensor that'll let the device measure Sp02, which lets you track oxygen in the blood. This will eventually allow the Ionic to track sleep apnea.
The Alta HR's advantage is more immediate: it's smaller and more comfortable to wear in bed. You'll also get more detailed metrics beyond sleep, a more watch-like experience with an app store of sorts, GPS support and Relax guided breathing. These are things the Alta HR lacks, those the device is a lot simpler, slimmer and more affordable. If that's your jam, the Alta HR is where you want to be.
The best of the rest
In 2017 Polar revamped its sleep tracking software with something it calls Sleep Plus. This is just a fancy name for the refreshed platform that works on both the Ar70 tracker and M430 GPS running watch.
Rated: Polar A370 review
Next to Fibit's analysis, Polar breaks the night down into a crude binary of sleep and interruptions, but we have found it to be more accuracy than other competitors. Feedback is a bit more of a two-way street, as Polar will ask you how you feel each day and consider this when giving you feedback.
It's not the most insightful stuff, but it's simple, which will be enough for a lot of people. We hope to see Polar expand these insights over time to deliver more helpful tips for improvement.
S+ by ResMed
Like the Aura, the S+ is a pretty large device that sits on your night stand to track your sleep – but unlike the Aura, nothing sits under your mattress. Instead it uses sonar, and those ultrasonic pulses can see straight through your blanket (and PJs) to monitor the movement of your chest as your breathe your way through the different stages of sleep. Or at least that's the idea.
Rated: S+ sleep tracker review
Our testing has shown the accuracy isn't always as spot-on as we'd like when it comes to picking up movements, but where it excels is in its sleep coaching, asking you to tell the app how much caffeine you've had, how stressed you've been, and other factors that may affect your sleep. This then feeds into the sleep tracking data, helping ResMed to coach you with better context. We also like the 'Relax to Sleep' function, which synchronises a sound with your breathing pattern to help you drift off.
The S+ can also use your respiratory rhythm to match the tempo of music it plays while lulling you to sleep. However instead of using the speaker on the S+, it actually plays out of your phone so you'll need the handset nearby. That shouldn't be a problem if it's already charging on your night stand.
Nokia Steel HR
Most of the very best sleep trackers come in either band form or a device that sits on your nightstand. But what if you wanted something that looked a little more traditional, like a hybrid watch? Enter the Nokia Steel HR, formerly known as the Withings Steel HR.
Rated: Nokia Steel HR review
In our testing, accuracy hasn't been perfect, but not terribly off the mark. The data is easy to digest though sadly the insights aren't quite as meaty as we'd like. However, if you're looking for something that's good at the basics when it comes to sleep, the Steel HR is by no means a bad call.
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