I have been using a sleep tracking watch for 2 years now and am regularly asked if tracking my sleep helps me sleep better at night?
This is a difficult question to answer because sleep tracking can actually have negative effects on some people. Some people get stressed out and may actually sleep less because they’re worried about waking up and getting a bad result on their sleep monitor!
However, some people can improve their sleep habits by analyzing the data recorded by a sleep tracking watch.
Personally, the excitement of checking my sleep score wore off after a few months, and it didn’t take long for me to feel no pressure to get a good score. This doesn’t mean that tracking your sleep has become less valuable over time, it’s just that you no longer have the anxiety that causes you to sleep less because you’re less concerned about your “score” when you wake up each morning is!
What sleep tracking watch do I use?
I use Withings Steel HR. A complete and detailed review of the Withings Steel HR can be found here.
I chose this watch because it’s simple, stylish, and doesn’t look like a traditional activity tracker. I wanted something that looked like a normal watch and could easily take me from work to the gym to the pub. It ticks all the boxes and I still love my Withings watch.
What statistics do sleep tracking watches monitor?
My Withings Steel HR watch tracks:
- my sleeping time
- Depth (deep or light sleep; mine doesn’t record REM sleep, but some sleep trackers do)
- Regularity (if you follow a regular sleep schedule – calculate your average sleep time and wake time)
- average sleep heart rate
My ‘sleep score’
The Health Mate app that connects to your Withings watch provides a sleep score based on all the stats it measures. My average score is 84. After searching the internet, I couldn’t find what a “normal” sleep score is!
Why did I start sleep tracking?
Actually, I didn’t intend to start tracking my sleep. I thought that was a little pointless because I would know how I slept when I woke up. But since I had bought a fitness tracker watch to track my steps and it had sleep tracking built in, I thought I might give it a try.
And lo and behold, I was hooked! I love waking up in the morning and checking the quality of my sleep, and I found it very interesting to think about what I could do to improve my sleep.
Sleep tracking watches for new parents
In fact, as a new parent with a young baby, I found a sleep tracking watch to be extremely helpful. I often found myself half asleep during night feedings, but the watch recorded all of that and I was able to see what time I woke up to feed my baby. Ta.
What did I find by sleep tracking?
My sleep is much better when I’ve exercised
OK, I think everyone already knows this. When he tried to exercise daily in January, his average sleep score in January was 7 points higher than in December. We all know this, but seeing the statistics in black and white is a great motivator to exercise more.
Going to bed earlier doesn’t necessarily help me sleep better
If you go to bed really early, you’ll actually sleep less. I end up reading/scrolling on my phone and feeling dazed, which makes me go to bed much later!
Reading before bed doesn’t help me sleep better
There’s a common misconception that doing something mindful and healthy, like reading before bed, will help you sleep better. In fact, reading before bed can make you go to bed much later. You’ll be up for another hour without being able to put your book down. Also, reading does not affect the depth or length of your sleep.
This doesn’t stop me from reading before bed, but I thought it was worth a look if you’re looking for advice on how to sleep better. Reading before bed doesn’t work for everyone!
Being told I slept well can make me feel better, even if I don’t feel like I did
Sometimes I wake up in the morning and think I had a terrible night’s sleep. Then I check my app and it says I slept well. Even if she felt tired and light-headed two minutes ago, she’ll feel better in no time!
I don’t sleep as well when I’m not in my own bed
This isn’t all that surprising, but it’s obvious that you don’t sleep well when you’re on vacation or staying at someone else’s house. I don’t sleep very well when I go caravanning either.
I go to sleep much later than I think I do
If someone asked me what time I go to bed, I would say 10pm. But according to the app, I rarely fall asleep before 11:15 p.m.
My sleep score doesn’t change when I’ve got up in the night with the kids
Interestingly, my sleep score didn’t change much even if I was up at night with one of my kids. This is a relief as we have three young children with her and either Sam or I are up most nights with one of them!
I spend 50% of my sleep time in a deep sleep
Now I don’t know if this is just my watch being inaccurate or if I’m just sleeping incredibly well!
The average adult only spends 1-2 hours a night in deep sleep, but for me it can be up to 4 hours. I certainly know I’m sleeping well and it takes me a while to wake up, but I won’t know how accurate this is until I try a few different sleep tracking devices. I can’t say for sure.
I’m consistent with the time I go to bed and get up
Sleep experts say consistency is key to getting a good night’s sleep. There is something called a “weekend sleep hangover,” where your weekday sleep pattern is disrupted because you slept for a long time on the weekend. It may then take a few days to return to the weekday pattern, which will break again when Saturday returns. I almost always go to bed around 11pm and wake up between 7am and him at 8am.
This is mostly due to having kids and I don’t consciously do this to help me sleep better, but I know it helps. I’m always tired by 11pm so I don’t wake up and lie in bed just because I’m not sleepy!
It’s important to look at the data and think about the bigger picture
It’s good to look at statistics, but numbers alone don’t tell you much. If you want to improve your sleep, it’s important to analyze your numbers regularly and consider all the factors that can lead to a certain outcome.
It’s more fun to track your sleep if you sleep well!
One of the reasons I’ve been tracking my sleep for so long is because I usually sleep well. It feels like I’m getting a little pat on the back every morning because the app rewards me with the fact that I’m sleeping better again.
I think if you don’t get enough quality sleep, you’ll feel pretty depressed.
Tracking your sleep can motivate you to make changes to improve your sleep, but for most of us, we already know what we need to do.
I’m addicted to tracking my sleep!
do not stop. If I take a shower before bed, I sometimes forget to turn my clock back and I’m always disappointed that I didn’t track my sleep for the night!
Final thoughts on sleep tracking
I found the sleep tracking very interesting, and overall I found that my watch represented my nights fairly accurately. Of course, it’s impossible to know how accurate a sleep tracking device is without professional equipment monitoring. Still, who can sleep well while connected to scientific equipment!?
Best of all, knowing you’re sleeping well makes you feel good, and checking your sleep score every morning feels like a little pat on the back!
If you want to know more about your sleep, I heartily recommend it. We also recommend the Withings Steel HR for a stylish sleep tracking device that’s not too sporty!