Sleep tracking has become my ultimate morning comfort


A good deal of our fears just so happen to occur around bed time. It’s dark, and those creeks and bumps in the night take on added menace. Open closets somehow turn into portals to the underworld, the oddest shadow turns into a gremlin, and suddenly we remember all the stupid things we’ve ever done and said.

Then we lie on our back, unaware of our surroundings, for the next seven to eight hours. It’s a weird thing, to not have any awareness of what’s happening around you for that large of a time frame. Sleep tracking, however, makes it all feel better.

Read this: The best sleep trackers

I started getting into sleep tracking in an effort to improve my health. The better I sleep, the better I feel, the more energy I have to workout, the more healthy I am. Seems like a pretty simple formula, but I’ve quickly found that it’s not about making me better, it’s making me feel better.

There are a number of good sleep trackers out there, but it’s hard to know what a good sleep tracker actually is. That’s because, according to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep is a deeply complicated thing. The most accurate way to check out how you’re sleeping is still a sleep lab that uses a number of advanced devices that record brain waves, eye movement, muscle tone, breathing and more.

A simple wrist-based tracker can’t go up against all that data. Bed-based sleep trackers can’t either, largely because they have a difficult time telling between whether you’re actually sleeping or just being lazy. I’ve encountered this with my Sleep Number bed, although I will say that wrist-based trackers are better at this. It’s bizarre how well my Fitbit can tell between binge watching The Americans in bed and actually snoozing.

We can only measure up sleep trackers to each other, and how accurate they feel. Is that the time I slept? Did I wake up at that time? Is that really when I woke up? We can sometimes accurately gauge those things, but all that sleeping in between is a total mystery to us.

That’s why I can’t look at my sleep tracking metrics and see them as indicators of health anymore; I can only look at them as a soft pat on the back, telling me I had a good night of sleep. When I wake up now, the first thing I do is check to see how Fitbit or Sleep Number says I slept. If it’s good, I feel accomplished. Good job me, I’m ready for the day!

But if I didn’t sleep well. If I see that I only slept for about five hours, or that I was extra restless, or that my Sleep Number Sleep IQ score was low, I can feel myself a little bummed. I already start making plans for a late afternoon nap after work. Or maybe getting to bed a little earlier than usual.

I don’t know what’s going on while I sleep. I could be snoring up a storm as a demon emerges from my open closet and looms over my bed wondering why the Fitbit Ionic on my wrist looks the way it does. But in the morning, when I wake up and open those companion apps and look at my sleep data, none of it will matter. It was a good night – at least it felt like one.

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