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Sleep Sensors and Smart Watches

By Randi Morse

Everyday I see more and more people wearing smart watches, and smart watches can be absolutely amazing. They are a great way to track your steps, and a great way to have access to information from your phone without having to actually look at your phone. One feature that many people like about smart watches is that they can track your sleep. But how accurate are watches when it comes to sleep tracking?

Different Algorithms

Just as every clothing company has a different idea as to what a size medium is, every smart watch company has a different algorithm for how their sleep tracking works. One company might consider 10 movements in a minute you being awake while another company may consider only one movement a minute a sign that you are not sleeping. The accelerometer on some smart watches are extremely sensitive while the accelerometer on other smart watches are not. There is no industry standard when it comes to accelerometers and algorithms, making it difficult to determine if the smart watch you are wearing is accurately tracking your sleep.

No Sleep Studies

As of this blog post there are no sleep studies that have proven the effectiveness of a smart watch at tracking your sleep schedule. Healthcare providers often use wrist based products in order to track their patients' sleep, but these products are called actigraphs. Unlike smart watches, actigraphs have been extensively studied so healthcare providers have a good idea as to how effective they are at tracking sleep.

Medical Conditions

There's some medical conditions that make sleeping more difficult. A patient who has a problem sleeping may find themselves meditating in order to help drift off into dreamland. A smart watch may translate stillness into quality sleep. Other medical conditions see patients moving around a great deal when they are sleeping, which means a smart watch is likely to translate that movement into the person being awake when they are not.

Does this mean that we shouldn't trust smart watches when it comes to tracking sleep? A good rule of thumb is to take any information you get from a smart watch about your sleep schedule with a grain of salt. While they are not necessarily incorrect, there is currently no data or studies that prove how accurate these watches are at tracking sleep cycles.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Boulder, Colo.

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