A Guide to Sleep Tracking
It’s normal to wake up tired and groggy from time to time, but, for some, daytime sleepiness is an everyday occurrence. If you’re wondering if you are really getting the rest that you need, you may be able to gain more clarity at home, using the latest sleep tracking technology.
Just as smart phones and tablets have become more accessible and budget-friendly, so have gadgets and software that allow you to track how much and how well you sleep.
Reasons to Track Your Sleep
Lack of sleep is more than just a nuisance. In fact, the CDC classifies insufficient sleep as a public health problem. Sleepiness has been shown to increase the risk of accidents and occupational errors. It’s also tied to health concerns, like high blood pressure, diabetes and depression.
New sleep technology helps users document how many hours they sleep each night, how deep their sleep is and how often it is interrupted. Proponents of at-home sleep tracking say that this helps them to identify problems and seek help so that they can get more sleep.
How well does personal sleep tracking equipment work? Well, a recent survey by the National Sleep Foundation and the Consumer Electronics Association found that nearly 60% of sleep technology owners say that they are more aware of their sleep patterns because of their tracking.
At Home Sleep Tracking
As the use of mobile devices increases so does access to at-home sleep tracking. One of the quickest and least expensive ways to start tracking sleep is by downloading an app. For no more than a few dollars, you can download one of hundreds of sleep-related apps, directly to your smart phone or tablet.
The principal behind these apps is that you’ll turn them on when you go to sleep and place your mobile device under your pillow so that your body movements can be tracked while you rest. Though these apps can give you a better feel for your sleep patterns, their lack of sophisticated hardware can lead to inconsistent accuracy.
Another at-home tracking option is wearable technology. Most of today’s “wearables” are wrist devices that are also used to track fitness and heart rate. Most of these devices utilize actigraphy technology. This non-evasive approach records bodily motion through the wearable device.
Though not as widely used, in-bed options are now available for at-home sleep tracking. By attaching a sensor device to your mattress your sleep can be monitored. There are even features that allow you to customize the device for use with a specialty bed.
Professional Sleep Tracking
At-home sleep tracking is certainly convenient, but it still lacks the level of accuracy and detail provided during a professional sleep study, or polysomnogram. This is partly because the sophisticated equipment used by during polysomnograms is designed to gather more than just movement data. Tests generally track things like brainwaves, heart rate, eye movement, oxygen levels, muscle tension and air flow.
These types of data provide professionals with the information they need to see the whole picture, which allows them to make a clinical diagnosis. Serious conditions, such as obstructive sleep apnea, cannot be identified by movement alone. Having access to a medical professional who can interpret your sleep data, diagnose medical disorders and recommend appropriate treatment is another benefit of a professional sleep study.
While at-home sleep tracking options can give users a heads-up to sleeping concerns, there is still no substitute for a professional sleep consultation.
If you are worried about the quality of your sleep, or think that you might be suffering from a sleep-related disorder, a board-certified sleep specialist can discuss this with you and help to ease your mind. Schedule your appointment to find out more about sleep and how it’s impacting your well-being.