By now, we’ve already long-established how vitally important a good night’s sleep is to one’s health and overall well-being.  And like everything else nowadays, technology has entered Mr. Sandman’s realm in order to help one optimize this precious commodity.  While technology has historically proven disruptive to peaceful repose (think of the incessant beeping notifications and artificial blue light wreaking havoc on circadian rhythms), these new devices are now specifically conceived to encourage and facilitate ideal sleeping habits. They’re not only for people with chronic or disruptive sleep issues but also ordinary people who just want to get some better zzz’s than they might experience without…. or even just what exactly is going on behind those closed eyelids.

Sleep trackers basically come in two different formats: wearables and bedside units.  Wearables can be in the form of adhesive patches or the well-known bracelets so many already sport.  Like their fitness tracking predecessors, Nike Fuelbands and FitBits, these specialized sleep-tracking cuffs are now explicitly honed to analyze and progressively ameliorate sleeping conditions.  Both formats present the best choice for accurate analysis of vital signs and physiological indications, as they sit directly against your skin.  Precision technology gives them the capability of measuring your heart and respiratory rate, body temperature, sleep cycles, and body position.  Like Somnofy Sleep Assistant, some even monitor leg and eye movements, brain waves, breathing dynamics, and oxygen levels, so they can get pretty personal.  Many devices offer links to virtual consultations with sleep specialists or tips from experts in light of the data collected to help you make sense of what all that feedback means.

The other option, bedside units, has the benefit of assessing bedroom conditions like temperature and humidity.  Some even include time-lapse animation of your nightly unconscious wrigglings.  Google Nest Hub, which many already use to coordinate the numerous devices within their homes, uses radar sleep tracking via smart display.  But don’t worry, this instrument is without a camera for those conscientious of privacy issues.

Some products combine the two.  You can pair a Withings Sleep Tracking Mat with a compatible HR Hybrid Smartwatch and glean everything from vital stats to sleep duration and even the amount of time you spent snoring!  This device is actually the only one currently out there that can detect sleep apnea if that’s a concern of yours.  All these facts and figures give you a better idea of your nocturnal behavior.  They can be used to identify and diagnose problems and ultimately guide you towards a more healthful and restorative sleep session.

These choices can be pretty pricey, as most new tech does, but they do run the gamut.  Less and more affordable options are available, though.   A less complex product like the Xiami Mi Band 4 can be found for under fifty bucks, whereas the Withing system mentioned above can run upwards of $500.  Remember, these need not be lifelong companions like medicines for chronic conditions or devices like CPAP machines, so they are a one-time investment.  Use and learn about your sleep patterns to figure out where you need improvement.  Ideally, those behaviors will become part of your body’s natural operations.  With the help of the information they provide, you should eventually be able to sleep undisturbed without them.

Ultimately, sleep tracking devices can be helpful tools to detect sleep abnormalities or any hiccups in your hours of repose.  If you already suspect you have issues, they’re a great way to figure out what’s going wrong.  In the least, they can be a fascinating mechanism to learn the inner workings of your biology.