Are sleep trackers safe and accurate?
Today I want to talk about whether sleep trackers are safe and accurate. This is a big topic. There's been an article in June 2019 that has made a lot of the headlines about sleep trackers and how sleep trackers can actually cause your insomnia or make your insomnia worse.
I'm being asked that question all of the time so want to elaborate a little bit on it.
Sleep trackers are designed in so many different ways. You have FitBit, you have head bands, you have things that you can put under your mattress, you have the Oura Ring... There are so many different ways of doing this, which is in itself an issue (!), because everyone claims to have found THE one way of measuring how you sleep. In the end the most accurate way of actually measuring your sleep is by really looking at your brainwaves and see how they are reacting, because every sleep phase has a different pattern, and even each phase has a different pattern in each sleep cycle.
Your REM sleep looks different in the beginning of the night than in the middle of the night. Your deep sleep looks different in the beginning of the night than at the end of the night. So to really make an analysis you need to go to a sleep lab. There is no way that a FitBit can track that.
The way these gadgets work, is that they look at movement most of the time. Here’s the thing: We all sleep very differently. Some of us go to bed and lay super still all night long, while others are restless sleepers. It also depends on the temperature. In the summer you're most likely moving a little bit more, because you're hotter than in the winter. In the winter your covers are too hot and then you move a lot. It really depends on so many different factors. For a woman it also depends on whether you are on your period or not, because that's when your hormones fluctuate.
There are so many different elements to this, that I find it very dangerous to design or to determine your sleep by looking at a sleep tracker. On top of that, there is a new term that has been called Orthosomnia. It's based on Orthorexia, which means you have a preoccupation with healthy eating to an extent that it becomes an obsession. And I find that to be very true. I find people to be very harsh with themselves, because they say, "Look I've just had that little sleep, but I'm not actually feeling that tired." Especially people who tend to be on the perfectionist side. A lot of my clients get really, really harsh with themselves, because they are really harsh with themselves all the time anyway. So they put themselves under a lot of pressure, which doesn't help, especially when you already have issues with your sleep.
Putting that pressure on top of it is really detrimental and that is why sleep trackers can cause insomnia. You are already so anxious because you didn't perform well the nights before, according to your sleep trackers, although you probably slept just fine.
Just remember we often sleep much more than we think we did. We're very subjective when it comes to interpreting how much sleep we got. Multiple studies in sleep labs have shown that when they asked people how much they sleep, they completely under interpreted it. They thought it was just a couple of hours, when they actually slept four to five hours.
Make sure that you don't get anxiety over this. I'd never rely on a sleep tracker. I'd really rely on how I feel, how I fall asleep, how often I wake up and whether I feel tired in the morning or not. That's how I'd go about it. Having said that, if you do have sleep issues and wake up multiple times a night and have tried everything and still don't sleep, then get in touch with me. I'll help you get your sleep back!
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