The 5 Best Sleep Trackers for Finding Your Insomnia’s Causes
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Many people look for the best sleep trackers to measure sleep activity at night. The Fitbit is one of the most popular sleep trackers, but there are many others on the market.

However, is nighttime activity enough to help you cure your insomnia?

We’ll explore how doctors normally uncover the cause of your insomnia, whether wearable sleep trackers are a good DIY option, and which are the best sleep trackers to help you find the cause of your own insomnia.

How Doctors Diagnose Insomnia

According to WebMD, there are several sleep tests that specialists use to determine why you aren’t sleeping as well as you should.

  • How sleepy you are during the day
  • The hours you go to sleep and wake up every day
  • How much you move (activity) while you’re sleeping
  • How many times you wake up during the night
  • Your alcohol and caffeine consumption
  • Medications that you take
  • Mental health or psychological conditions

By taking all this data into account, sleep specialists can put together a treatment plan that’ll help you get not only more sleep, but better sleep.

Just about every wearable sleep tracker lets you measure the depth of your sleep by logging every movement you make during the night. Even popular sleep tracking mobile apps do this How Is Your Sleep App Actually Tracking You at Night? How Is Your Sleep App Actually Tracking You at Night? A good nights sleep is vital to a productive day -- but how often are you left tossing and turning? A sleep app could help you... but what do they actually do and how do... Read More . The question is, how many of the other data points do wearable sleep trackers collect from the above?

Best Fitbit Sleep Tracker: Fitbit Ionic

Fitbit Ionic

Fitbit Ionic GPS Smart Watch, Charcoal/Smoke Gray, One Size (S & L Bands Included) Fitbit Ionic GPS Smart Watch, Charcoal/Smoke Gray, One Size (S & L Bands Included) Buy Now At Amazon $149.99

Fitbit tracking technology is fairly advanced and the Fitbit Ionic is no exception, which explains why it’s a favorite among people who want to track their sleep quality.

What it tracks:

  • Your sleep schedule
  • How often you go in and out of REM sleep during the night
  • Your heart rate while sleeping
  • Physical activity throughout the night (awake time)
  • Caffeine and alcohol intake (as part of the food tracker)
  • Water intake log
  • Exercise log

What it doesn’t track:

  • No sleep journal (but you can export data to an external journal)

A sleep journal (a log of how you’re feeling both emotionally and physically every day) is a critical piece of information sleep specialists usually ask of patients. This is because psychological state plays such a powerful role in quality of sleep.

Coffee and alcohol logging on the Ionic isn’t as convenient as other trackers. You need to search through the food log to find it, but it is possible.

The lack of journaling in the Fitbit app is a big downside, but the depth of data collected every night and the ability to export (and analyze) that data gives it high marks.

Be sure to read our Fitbit Ionic review to decide if the device is right for you. Ionic is reviewed by most experts as the best Fitbit sleep tracker available.

Apple Watch

apple watch

Apple Smart Watch 38mm Watch Series 3 - GPS - Space Gray Aluminum Case with Black Sport Band (OLD MODEL) Apple Smart Watch 38mm Watch Series 3 - GPS - Space Gray Aluminum Case with Black Sport Band (OLD MODEL) Buy Now At Amazon $273.64

The Apple Watch is by far the most popular smartwatch on the market. It doesn’t come with a native sleep tracker app, but there are countless third-party apps available.

What it tracks:

  • Your sleep schedule
  • How often you go in and out of REM sleep during the night
  • Your heart rate
  • Physical activity throughout the night (awake time)
  • Water intake log
  • Exercise log
  • Caffeine and alcohol intake log
  • Diary apps (with a third-party download)

The sheer volume of available apps for the Apple Watch make it king of logging everything you need to know to identify the source of your insomnia. While most other sleep trackers lack the critical journaling ability, there are apps on the Apple Watch that even give you the convenience of voice-to-text journaling.

When we compared the Apple Watch and Fitbit Charge, we found that Fitbit is the better choice for tracking sleep.

Samsung Gear

samsung gear smartwatch

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Smartwatch (Bluetooth), SM-R760NDAAXAR – US Version with Warranty Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Smartwatch (Bluetooth), SM-R760NDAAXAR – US Version with Warranty Buy Now At Amazon $204.00

The Samsung Gear has a lot of cool uses, but it’s also a surprisingly versatile wearable sleep tracker. It doesn’t have the user base that Fitbit and the Apple Watch enjoy, but the apps for tracking sleep help it to compete in this area.

What it tracks:

  • Your sleep schedule
  • How often you go in and out of REM sleep during the night
  • Your heart rate, blood glucose, and blood pressure while sleeping
  • Physical activity throughout the night (awake time)
  • Water intake log
  • Exercise log
  • Caffeine intake log
  • Diary app (with a third-party download)

What it doesn’t track:

  • Alcohol intake

Not having a journaling app built into the Samsung Health app is a negative mark for the Samsung Gear.

However, you can download a third-party app that lets you add “diary” notes every day. The fact that the Gear can track all biological markers the Fitbit can, plus the ability to log caffeine, is a huge bonus.

EverSleep Sleep Tracker

eversleep sleep tracker

EverSleep - 5-in-1 Sleep Tracker - Home Sleep Improvement System - Monitor Blood Oxygen, Movement, Snoring, Pulse Rate, Insomnia - Wake Up Refreshed EverSleep - 5-in-1 Sleep Tracker - Home Sleep Improvement System - Monitor Blood Oxygen, Movement, Snoring, Pulse Rate, Insomnia - Wake Up Refreshed Buy Now At Amazon $249.99

If you’re serious about monitoring your body while you’re sleeping, the EverSleep sleep tracker is a powerhouse. The company touts “hospital-grade technology” for monitoring sleep movements, breathing, blood oxygen, heart rate, sleep schedule, and even monitoring and helping cure snoring.

What it tracks:

  • Your sleep schedule
  • Your heart rate and blood oxygen while sleeping
  • Snoring patterns
  • Physical activity throughout the night (awake time)

What it doesn’t track:

  • How often you go in and out of REM sleep during the night
  • Water intake log
  • Exercise log
  • Caffeine and alcohol intake log
  • Diary app

EverSleep requires that you wear a device on both your wrist and your finger. Because of this, it can measure heart rate and blood oxygen data far more accurately than other sleep trackers.

However, EverSleep is built primarily for sleep tracking, so there are no third-party apps you can download for activities like exercise, fluid intake, or journaling. But while it lacks in that regard, it shines in its “coaching” feature. This is where the app automatically analyzes your sleep data and provides specific, immediate advice on how you can make changes to reduce your snoring, intermittent heart rate, and more.

Nokia Steel

nokia steel smartwatch

Nokia Steel – Activity & Sleep Watch, white Nokia Steel – Activity & Sleep Watch, white Buy Now At Amazon $115.00

Nokia Steel is a stylish and popular, waterproof activity tracker. It automatically tracks sleep if you leave it on at night, and is just as effective at tracking most of the same biological sleep markers as other wearable sleep trackers.

What it tracks:

  • Your sleep schedule
  • Your heart rate and blood oxygen while sleeping
  • Physical activity throughout the night (awake time)
  • How often you go in and out of REM sleep during the night

What it doesn’t track:

  • Water intake log
  • Exercise log
  • Caffeine and alcohol intake log
  • Diary app

Nokia Steel is a little cheaper than the Samsung Gear and Apple Watch listed above, but that’s because it isn’t a full smartwatch. It competes more with the Fitbit, but the health app lacks the food and liquid logging features that the Fitbit app has. This also means there’s no journaling capability.

On the upside, it is easier to export sleep data with the Nokia Sleep than it is with the Fitbit. So if doing your own data analysis is important to you, this may be a deciding factor.

Choosing the Best Sleep Tracker

Choosing the sleep tracker that’s perfect for your situation isn’t easy, but if you want to work on your insomnia, it’s important to look for the factors discussed here.

As you can see, the Apple Watch and Samsung Gear are the ideal wearables for collecting all the data you need. You can either analyze the data yourself, or pass it to your sleep specialist. The Fitbit is a close third best option, at a much more affordable price.

If journaling doesn’t matter as much to you, opt for the Fitbit for more accurate sleep tracking. The Nokia Steel and EverSleep are solid options as well, but won’t give you as much data as the other choices.

If you don’t own a sleep tracker, and can’t afford to buy one, there are plenty of awesome mobile sleep tracking apps The Best Sleep Apps for Tracking and Improving Sleep The Best Sleep Apps for Tracking and Improving Sleep Learn how to improve your sleep quality using sleep tracker apps, blue light filter apps, and sleep meditation apps. Read More to choose from as well.

Image Credit: AndreyPopov/Depositphotos

Explore more about: Fitbit, Fitness, Health, Sleep Health, Smartwatch.

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  1. dragonmouth
    September 24, 2018 at 6:41 pm

    I know what the cause of my insomnia is - it's worrying about not being able to get to sleep. Once I accept the fact that it will be hard for me to fall asleep, perversely I go out like the proverbial light.