Counting sheep: The best sleep trackers and monitors

Take control of your sleep with our pick of the top slumber supervisors

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

SleepScore Max

Counting sheep: The best sleep trackers and monitors

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.

Big test: Fitness trackers go head-to-head on sleep

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

Highly commended

Fitbit Alta HR / Fitbit Ionic

Counting sheep: The best sleep trackers and monitors

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.

Rated: Fitbit Ionic review | Alta HR review

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.

Fitbit Alta HR, $129.95 , fitbit.com | Amazon

Fitbit Ionic, $299.95, fitbit.com | Amazon

The best of the rest

Polar A370

Counting sheep: The best sleep trackers and monitors

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.

$179.95 polar.com | Amazon

S+ by ResMed

Counting sheep: The best sleep trackers and monitors

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.

$64.99, splus.resmed.com | Amazon

Nokia Steel HR

Counting sheep: The best sleep trackers and monitors

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.

$179.95, health.nokia.com | Amazon


Shop for recommended sleep trackers on Amazon

Fitbit Alta HR
Fitbit Alta HR
$147.90
Withings Aura
Withings Aura
$139.95
Nokia Steel HR
Nokia Steel HR
$179.95
Polar A370
Polar A370
$149.95

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26 Comments

  • tbeachly says:

    fitbit has a windows phone app now too.

  • Joes says:

    UPBand doesn't last and has horrible customer service!

    • Amn608 says:

      Yes! We bought two Jawbone Ups and they were both dead within a year. 

    • danno says:

      Agreed!

    • racheller says:

      Yes, I've tried to get ahold of customer service 6 times now! My bad isn't even close to accurate! All I get is their automated reply, and then nothing. It's been almost two months now. I just quit.

  • Nickel says:

    The Jawbone Up I have has a setting to vibrate when you are in light sleep up to 30 minutes before your wakeup time. It worked for a while, now it doesn't (I think this is the original UP that got recalled.) So now I need a new band. Which ones offer that same functionality (not just a vibration alarm, but one that goes off when you are in light sleep)?

  • whillas says:

    This is a listing not a review. I can google "sleep monitors" myself :-/

    • Kobos21 says:

      It doesn't say it is supposed to be a review. I'm going to have to request that you stop wasting our time.

  • jjgrage says:

    Yes! I've got my Neuroon couple of weeks ago and it's much more accurate then my Jawbone. This is the only "real" EEG sleep tracker at the market since Zeo went bankrupt...

  • jgalea says:

    The Amazon link in the Res-Med takes you to Withings Aura. Right now it looks like it is not available in North America. 

  • Dragondrop says:

    Nice article, I bought an Up3 a few days ago and so far, so good - ish. I don't doubt it's accuracy and detail, I'm just not sure what to do with it! Hoping the apps built in 'coach' feature with make some suggestions as time goes on! 

  • NA0 says:

    "Features were slim - there's no REM tracking...There are also timed sleep sounds and a smart alarm."

    Huh?  A smart alarm tracks your REM cycle and wakes you up based on it.  How can there be a smart alarm and no REM tracking?

    • Kennethcomer says:

      Biorythms? They might be bogus, but at least they're easy to calculate.

  • AmandaWill says:

    I agree with Kent. The Remfit band is the best sleep tracker I have ever used. 

  • Daga says:

    I think you forgot about Neuroon sleep mask in this article. Major mistake because if I remember correctly this is the only PROPER sleep tracker that tracks sleep using EEG sensors - only real monitoring. I've been using it since May and I am very pleased with the quality and analysis - 4.5/5

  • GOEBOC says:

    The best is your mobile, you shake it before going to sleep and shake it again when you wake up, and then it tracks.

    By tracking, you are not going to sleep better obviously

  • jakedefinitely says:

    Overall best of sleep trackers is not in this list at all. Emfit QS has been in use by athletes for some time now, and has sleep quality, stress level, and progression of recovery tracking, all is done automatically when you sleep and only needs to be connected to your home wifi. Though due to higher cost it is not considered as a "gadget", more like professional equipment. It is also very durable so they give you good warranty (2yrs).

    Beddit and others tend to wear very quickly or even break and does not maintain their properties throughout the years. QS has a sensor placed below your mattress (like Beddit), so no attachments to your body is needed. The sensor itself is SUPER sensitive, that is why it can be placed under the most thick mattressess.

  • jonoj says:

    Just weighing in on the Beddit here. I bought that and tried using it for ages, putting up with their inability to create a functional application. Unfortunately, that one is a complete loser and I would recommend anyone not to buy it.

  • racheller says:

    the Jawbone up3 is a terrible tracker and is NOT accurate! Do not buy it! I mean, it even gives measurements for when you're not wearing it. It has my heartrate beating at about 20 bpm lower than what I really am, and does not record even half the times I get out of bed!

  • mapoisson says:

    Beddit is not a bad product  (quite accurate), but two things are quite irritating : the impossibility of using a bluetooth speaker during its use, and most importantly the way they manage this product by discontinuating each version of it after around 2 years. I bought version 1 4-5 years ago, and it broke (cable just melt, and Beddit overheated). I bought version 2 a couple years ago (at a 50% rebate Beddit provided me), and less than a week ago, they discontinued version 2. The software simply doesn't work with it anymore.  Even though they provided me a refund for it (weird strategy), my level of confidence that they will not do the same with the version 3 is pretty low. To the point that I will probably not buy the version 3.

  • colduser says:

    Be careful. I ordered one, they charged me and said it had been sent with the expected delivery day past by several days.  No response to queries.

  • ichthyosaurus says:

    Fitbit is pretty fantastic all around, but surprisingly does that have smart alarm. And they don't seem to pay attention to their customers asking for one, for the past 3-4 years...

  • welshman45 says:

    I have just purchased a Fitness Tracker Watch, HuiHeng I5 Plus Sports Bracelet Wireless Pedometer Wristband IP65 Waterproof Sport Wristband Smart Bracelet Watch (Amazon description) with Zerona Health (free app) from Amazon for only £11.98 - Ideal if one wants to take a look at this type of device before shelling out loads of money. I am very interested in the sleep results I am getting!

  • kothea says:

    nice article

    Beddit seems to no longer be generally available.

    I guess Apple have canned it after putting the features in the watch

    either that or they are about to release a new version

  • Zetura says:

    And still no smart alarm on any of the band ? Fitbit still haven't developed this functionality while customers ask for it since a few years, and open source code is available for it...

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