Sleep Trackers: What Are They? How Do They Compare With Fitbit?

In 2007, Fitbit was made by James Park and Eric Friedman to aid people in measuring healthy activities through steps or sleep trackers. It was marketed as convenient because it came in the form of a sleek wristwatch.

Come 2021, a vast majority of the world live their lives in quarantine because of COVID-19. And like the pandemic, sleeping disorders are a problem for many. In March 2021, 36% of UK adults experience sleep issues. The British Broadcasting Corporation [BBC] reports about coronasomnia and the multiple studies that prove we are increasingly vulnerable to sleep disorders because of the pandemic.  

Individuals now are looking for the newest innovation that will improve their sleeping habits. In comes the sleep tracker. 

 

What is a Sleep Tracker? 

As the name suggests, sleep trackers aim to help you track your sleep. For the purposes of improving and maintaining good sleeping habits, it uses technology to measure how much time the user spends in slumber. Usually, the device will be connected to a downloadable mobile app, which allows users to note their progress like a diary. 

According to John Hopkins Medicine, while sleep trackers guess your sleeping time, it does give you insights into how well your sleep practices are. The data is actionable. 

 

Why use a non-wearable Sleep Tracker? 

As a large portion of the world is still on lockdown due to COVID-19, most people spend their time at home. This has diminished the need for technologies that contain sleep trackers alongside other features such as steps tracking.  

Non-wearable sleep trackers are for people who just want to track their sleep and nothing else. Wearable trackers have additional costs because they double as fitness devices or smartwatches. If you’re not seeking either, a wearable sleep tracker may not be something you’re open to spending money on.  

 

For the purposes of this research, the team decided to review the following non-wearable sleep trackers: 

Withings Sleep Analyzer 

Power Source: Plug and Socket 

Placement: Under the mattress 

What does it track? 

  • Sleep Phases 
  • Heart Rate 
  • Sleep Score 
  • Snoring 

Beurer SE 80 

Power Source: Plug and Socket 

Placement: Under the mattress 

What does it track? 

  • Sleep Phases 
  • Breathing Patterns 
  • Body Movement 
  • Heart Rate 
  • Sleep Score

 

Moona 

Power Source: Plug and Socket 

Placement: On/Inside the pillow 

What does it track? 

  • Body Movement 

 

Sleepace Reston Z200 

Power Source: Battery 

Placement: Under the sheets or mattress topper 

What does it track? 

  • Sleep Phases 
  • Breathing Patterns 
  • Body Movement
  • Heart Rate 
  • Sleep Score

 

How did we determine the best non-wearable sleep tracker? 

Over the course of 10 days, several members of the Sleep Science Research Team were given one Fitbit, one to two sleep trackers, and a “sleep diary”.  

They recorded information based on used four criteria: 

Accuracy: Users were asked to personally record their bedtime and compare it to the data provided by Fitbit and the sleep trackers. The same was done for the time it took for them to get up. 

User Experience: User Experience focused on the process of setting up, using it while sleeping, and reviewing the way data was visualized. It also zeroed in on the design and the amount of information provided by the sleep tracker. 

Additional Features: Beyond its common promises of tracking sleep, users also took note of other features such as temperature properties, size, and additional health metrics that were being measured by the device. 

Price Point: This criterion was put last because at the end of the day, it all depends on whether the sleep tracker’s accuracy, user experience, and additional features make it worth its price point. 

 

Criteria 1: Accuracy 

  Personal Bedtime Difference (in minutes)  Fitbit Bedtime Difference (in minutes)  Personal Wake Up Difference (in minutes)  Fitbit Wake Up Difference (in minutes)  Overall Accuracy Rate 
Withings  22  31  15  14  88% 
Beurer  78  79  98  105  69% 
Moona  54  43  53  55  88% 
Sleepace  26  48  7  24  91% 

 

In the context of this article, accuracy refers to the amount a user got from subtracting the recorded times from either their personal timer or a Fitbit to a sleep tracker.  

For example, “Personal Bedtime Difference” subtracts the user’s recorded sleep time to the sleep tracker’s recorded sleep time. “Fitbit Wake Up Difference” refers to subtracting Fitbit’s recorded wake-up time to a sleep tracker’s recorded wake-up time.  

Sleepace performed the best with an accuracy rate of 91% while Beurer scored the lowest at 69%. Its high difference score is due to the device’s sensitivity settings that make them record even the slightest of movements such as sitting or accidentally hitting the bed.  

Note that none of the sleep trackers scored a negative difference. This means that none of them will underestimate the amount of sleep you get, but they may overestimate it. 

 

Criteria 2: User Experience 

  Set-Up Process  Usability 
Withings  Average. Users reported that connecting to the Wi-Fi was difficult while others said that it did not work at all.  The easy-to-follow and sleek design makes the presented data more readable.  

 

Sleep scores tend to be lower compared to Fitbit because it does not record micro-movements as frequently. 

 

Beurer  Easy. It was positioned under the mattress and easily forgotten.  Recognizes sitting on the bed as sleeping time, which affected its overall accuracy.  

 

Several nights were split into multiple recordings. 

Moona  Easy. It was slightly more inconvenient due to the size of its Moona Pod.  Data recorded by the sleep tracker is minimal and incomplete as it only records movement.  

 

Additionally, the noise became an issue over time. 

Sleepace  Very Easy. Users stated that based on its sheer convenience, they would purchase this sleep tracker.  While it does not record sleep stages, it allows the user to include sleep duration. 

 

One concern is that the band tends to slide off the bed. 

 

Each device had its own pros and cons when it came to its user experience. Moona is held back by its size with regards to setting up, while Withings is held back by the lack of ease when it comes to connecting the device to the users’ Wi-Fi.  

Based on usability, both Withings and Sleepace present good qualities. The former does not track micro-movements, which is an improvement from the Fitbit that has a history of receiving complaints for tracking too much movement.  

As seen in the table above, this device has the most inconvenient set-up of all. Sleepace, however, is reported to be the exact opposite. The only flaw would be that the band tends to slip off the bed. 

 

Criteria 3: Additional Features

  Features 
Withings 
  • Extra audio sensitivity to detect snoring and sleep apnea 
  • Heart rate tracker throughout all sleep phases 
Beurer 
  • Discrete and unobtrusive 
  • Fits all bed sizes 
Moona 
  • Adjustable temperature for a cooling pillow or a warm pillow 
  • Pillow pad that fits all sorts of pillows 
Sleepace 
  • Adjustable alarms based on where you are in your sleep phase 
  • Recorded sleep tracker data that users can share with others 

 

Each sleep tracker can be the best depending on what you need. For example, Withings’ ability to detect snoring and sleep apnea may not be value-adding to people who don’t experience those conditions. Similarly, Moona’s temperature-changing abilities may not be appealing to you if you already prefer the temperature of your sleeping environment. 

The sleep phase refers to the different degrees of sleep. They are named differently from device to device, but they are often categorized into light sleep, deep sleep, and REM sleep (the lightest form of sleep). 

 

Criteria 4: Price Point

  Price 
Withings  99.96 GBP (on Withings’ site) 
Beurer  49.99 GBP (on Amazon) 
Moona  283.39 GBP (on Moona’s site) 
Sleepace  106.46 GBP (on Amazon and Sleepace’s site) 

 

All four sleep trackers are at four drastically different price points, ranging from the cheapest (Beurer) to the most expensive (Moona). This is because of additional features, such as Moona’s temperature-changing abilities and additional sensors. 

Unless you’re really on a budget, the team would not suggest choosing which sleep tracker to purchase based on this criterion alone. It would be wise to compare these prices to the features that they provide as well. 

 

 

Conclusion

The research done by the Sleep Science Research Team makes it clear that sleep trackers can have all sorts of features. The best device is the one that suits your wants and needs. Using the data found in this article, reflect on what you think would improve your sleep and choose accordingly. This is especially true if you’re choosing mainly based on user experience and additional features. 

As our sleeping habits continue to affect our daily lives, it is crucial that we make sure we’re getting both a good quantity and quality of sleep. While sleep trackers are one way to assess what improvements can be made to your sleeping practices, never forget that so many other aspects of your life (e.g. diet, exercise, social media usage) can also make a great impact. 

Improve your sleep further by reading our articles on sleep cycles and sleeping habitsboth of which were scientifically fact-checked by our resident Neuroscientist to ensure maximum credibility.