Sleep Trackers: Which Information Matters Most?

If you’re trying to improve your sleep, these are the numbers you should focus on.

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation

If you didn’t know already, sleep trackers are trending in the world of tech. These trackers reveal a myriad of information about your sleep, but some of this information is more useful than others. For instance, data on when you hit each REM stage of sleep, your respiration rate, and body temperature may be interesting, but less useful when it comes to improving your shut-eye quality. On the other hand, certain behaviors have been shown to aid in better sleep quality: Nixing the TV and computer before bed, sticking to a regular tuck-in schedule, and sleeping in a cool, dark room all have positive effects on your sleep. If your sleep tracker or app helps keep tabs on these smart habits, you’re headed in the right direction. Beyond these behaviors, the three data points below play a crucial role in measuring how well you sleep.

Sleep Time in Bed

It can be tempting to bring your laptop between the sheets to do work or catch up on email. But to get the best sleep, reserve the bed for shut-eye only. In fact, a good indicator of quality sleep is spending at least 85 percent of the total time you’re in bed asleep. A tracker can tell you if you’re hitting this goal.

Falling Asleep Quickly

Are you able to drop off to sleep soon after your head hits the pillow? A sleep tracker can show how long it takes for you to fall asleep. Ideally, you’ll be out cold in 30 minutes or less from the time when you tucked in.

Waking Briefly, Only Once

Most people stir during the night. Waking once for a short period of time is usually fine, especially if you can fall back to sleep quickly. A sleep tracker can note whether you’re having a restless night as it can detect movement in the bed. If your sleep is high quality, you’ll awaken just once each night and will be back to sleep in under 20 minutes.

Once you are armed with this information from your sleep tracker, you’ll have a better sense of whether your sleep quality is good, and if not, where you can improve. If you find yourself fighting fatigue during the daytime, consider purchasing a tracker or app, and sharing the data with your doctor.