Sleep. At the end of the day, it’s what we crave. But for some, sleep is also a source of frustration. If you’re not getting a good night’s sleep, there are many avenues to pursue. The gold standard is the sleep study performed by a physician in a controlled setting. The silver standard, or in some cases, the complement to sleep studies, is the wearable – bands, discs and other monitors that help us track and improve our healthy habits.
Wearables have become familiar to our daily life, right along with the personal health data they record –steps taken, stairs climbed, etc. It’s empowering to know how much you’ve achieved during the day. So, it makes sense that the trackers we wear during our waking hours can also help with the hours reserved for sleep.
Says Christopher Rose, MD, a family medicine and sleep medicine physician at Covenant Health Partners in Lubbock, “While these devices provide you with a lot of information, don’t ignore the severity of long-term sleep deprivation. If you’re really having trouble getting a good night’s rest, the best tip is to see your doctor. You can use the feedback collected by these devices as a starting off point to share with your physician. Then, you and your doctor can work together on the most effective treatment plan.”
If your sleep habits need a tune up, what type of wearable should you try? Let’s look at some of the options:
Sleep Monitors: For those who want to understand their sleep patterns and the best environment for getting zzz’s
Fitbit Blaze is a Fitbit watch, which means it tracks many activities, including sleep. If you’re interested in monitoring the quality of your sleep, this device checks how much sleep you got and how restless you were, and provides several goals to improve your sleep. Another popular tracker is the Jawbone UP3, which measures heart rate, breathing rate, body temperature and galvanic skin response while sleeping.
SleepImage is a small, oval-shaped disc that sticks to the chest and has an electrode that is also attached lower on the ribs. Each morning, the user peels off the wearable and uploads the data to a HIPPA-compliant web site, where various factors are recorded – stable versus unstable sleep stages, REM sleep, snore count, position and sleep interruptions. This data may also be of interest to your doctor for determining problems such as cardio-pulmonary patterns that would indicate sleep apnea and other sleep-related breathing disorders.
Misfit Shine has a sleek modernist feel and is one of the coolest looking devices. In addition to activity tracking, it is designed to monitor REM sleep and provides extensive charts of sleep trends. It can also be worn on the wrist, attached to bedclothes or as a pendant.
S+ by ResMed isn’t really a wearable because it sits on your nightstand and monitors your sleep and bedroom environment without touching you. According to the manufacturer, it uses patented radio frequency to monitor breathing and body movements. Users receive data on the quality of their sleep, as well as the environmental factors which help them achieve the best night’s sleep. Over time, S+ takes all the gathered data to make clear and actionable suggestions for sleep improvement.
Sleep Monitors and Assistors: For those who need a little something extra to drift off
The Sense device is a bedroom environment monitoring, smart alarm and sound machine. There are two pieces –the orb that sits on your bedside table, checking your bedroom environment and a disc which clips to your table and records your nocturnal movements. The orb can also play mellow sounds to help you sleep and has light settings and effects. Also, it can be programmed to wake you during light sleep with mellow lighting and tones.
Withings Aura Smart Sleep also monitors sleep and plays music on a timer to help you sleep and wake up. It also emits light and sound to help you fall asleep or wake up, using red lights to release of the hormone melatonin into the body, according to the company. The system consists of a sensor placed under your mattress and a bedside unit which measures sleep attributes and provides the light and sound features.
The bottom line is that sleep is critical for good health and, for some people, wearables can be an effective companion for our important travels to the land of nod.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.