The last couple of years have been anything but predictable, but there’s one clear constant: Tracking our health and wellness has become part of our way of life. Nearly half of all Americans have tried or are actively using technology to monitor their health. As fitness wearables and wellness apps become seamlessly integrated into our lives, we understand more than ever about our step counts, calorie intakes, heart rates, and more.
But how much do we know about our sleep quality?
Among the many processes going on inside our bodies, sleep is both largely misunderstood and massively important to our overall health. That combo makes sleep tracking a key addition to any wellness routine, says Elie Gottlieb, Ph.D., applied sleep scientist at SleepScore Labs.
“Sleep is notoriously difficult to precisely estimate using your memory alone,” explains Gottlieb. “As a growing body of research unravels the widespread physiological and psychological benefits of sleep, sleep tracking is providing a low-cost, objective way for consumers to understand not only how they sleep, but how that sleep can be improved. By improving your sleep, you could be creating a cascade of positive effects on a multitude of important health outcomes in both the brain and body.”
The benefits of sleep tracking
Have you already started tracking your sleep? Are you considering whether to add it to your wellness routine? No matter your stage of the sleep-improvement journey, sleep tracking can open the door to powerful wellness benefits.
1. Measuring your sleep is the first step in sleep improvement
If you’ve heard about SMART Goals, you’ll know there’s a reason why the “M” in SMART stands for “measurable.” When you want to make a change — health or otherwise — it's a lot easier to gauge your progress if you know the starting line. If your goal is to maintain a healthy weight, you start by stepping on the scale. Want to lower your blood pressure? You’ll likely begin by measuring your systolic and diastolic numbers. And when you want to improve your sleep, the first step is tracking your nightly sleep patterns.
Designed to fuel better sleep, the Sleep.com app provides the most accurate non-contact sleep analysis outside of a sleep lab. Each night, the app’s technology records your movements and breathing patterns, comparing your unique data with age and gender norms based on our algorithm’s 80 million hours of tracked sleep. The result of all this advanced technology is your SleepScore™, a satisfyingly easy-to-understand score that gives you a clear view of your daily sleep quality — and a science-backed baseline for not just understanding your sleep but improving it.
2. Tracking can help you identify which areas of sleep need improvement
Your SleepScore is calculated using six criteria — sleep duration, time to fall asleep, time in light sleep, time in deep sleep, time in REM sleep, and awake time — that help measure and identify opportunities for improvement. Once you set a baseline with your first few SleepScores, you’ll likely begin to spot trends in your sleep data. Maybe it’s taking you a long time to fall asleep most nights, or perhaps you’re waking more frequently throughout the night than is considered typical. No matter your unique sleep issue, the app’s History tab provides meaningful analytics on each of the six sleep-boosting criteria, making it easy to identify your biggest opportunities for improvement.
Not sure how to dig into the data? No problem! After you track your sleep for seven nights, the Sleep.com app will suggest a personalized goal based on your sleep trends. Once you set your goal, you’ll receive tailored advice to help you achieve it, fueled by the latest in behavioral and sleep science.
3. It can help you understand what kind of daytime behaviors most impact your nightly sleep
It’s no secret that behavior impacts sleep quality. (If you’ve ever had a late-afternoon coffee or a late-night scrolling session, you already know that your choices can keep you awake at night — literally.) But what you may not realize is that achieving healthy sleep is a 24-hour process. Consider caffeine intake, which, depending on quantity and timing, could delay your entry into slumberland. Studies also show that habits like exercise intensity and timing, blue light exposure, and stress management play critical roles in our ability to wind down peacefully and stay asleep through the night.
When you start your sleep tracking session with the Sleep.com app, you’ll see the Log Your Day feature. Simply enter data on your caffeine and alcohol intake, exercise, stress management, and overall sleepiness for that day. Then, see how your lifestyle habits impact your SleepScore by tapping the Trends icon in the History tab. Want another perk of logging your lifestyle information daily? The more information you provide, the more personalized sleep tips you’ll receive from the app.
4. It can help you prioritize spending enough time in bed to get the sleep you need
How much time do you need to spend in bed to hit that target of seven-to-nine hours of Zzz’s? If you’re in bed for nine hours, how much time are you actually spending asleep? Metrics like total sleep time and wake after sleep onset, or the amount of time spent awake at night, are difficult to understand using our memory alone — but easily trackable with the Sleep.com app.
In addition to those six criteria we mentioned earlier, your app tracks both total time in bed each night and wake after sleep onset. Why do these numbers matter? Because simply visualizing how long it takes to capture a solid eight hours of sleep can help you prioritize the right amount of time in bed. Measuring time spent awake at night can also help you understand how lifestyle changes and other factors impact your sleep quality over time. Once you know these magic numbers, you can optimize your bedtime routine so that you’re setting aside the time required to hit your nightly sleep-duration goal.
5. It can help you set and maintain a consistent sleep schedule
In a recent study, researchers found that sleep consistency, not just duration, played a key role in overall health. Once you identify a bedtime and wake-up time that help you hit your duration goal, you can use the Sleep.com app to make it a consistent habit.
When you set your bedtime in the app, you’ll receive a gentle wind-down reminder one hour before it’s time to hit the hay. You can also set a wake-up time and use the app’s Smart Alarm to eliminate grogginess. Once your wake-up window arrives, the app will wait to start the alarm until you’re experiencing light sleep — the optimal time to wake up from your slumbers.
Take your sleep tracking to the next level
Everyone deserves the mind-body benefits of high-quality sleep, so we’ve included all our essential tracking features in the free version of the Sleep.com app. But if you’re ready to supercharge your sleep improvement, the Sleep.com Premium account is designed for you.
From personalized sleep pattern reporting that spans your entire sleep history to exclusive weekly challenges that empower you to achieve your goals, a Sleep.com Premium account provides even more tools for achieving all the health benefits of better sleep.