How Accurate is Fitbit Sleep Tracking: Here’s What Studies Show

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Sleep trackers are revolutionizing the way people sleep. They present users with a lot of important data which is vital for optimal health benefits. However, many sleep trackers struggle with accuracy, which brings a dark shadow onto the very promising gadgets.

Fitbit is defying all odds in this industry and continues to research and unveil new wearables with sleep tracking capability. Besides telling its users the amount of time they slept, Fitbit’s devices also breakdown the whole sleep cycle into four stages. Their gadgets then break down the amount of time that was spent in each sleep stage.

While several sleep tracker manufacturers have left the market after failing to work on their wearable’s accuracy, Fitbit has been resilient as ever. They have researched and introduced new technologies to their devices since their inception – with the biggest overhaul introduced in 2017. The revamp of their sleep tracker technology has restored hope to us all.

Due to the complex nature of sleep, Fitbit trackers are not 100% accurate. Additionally, sleep tracking is done through arm movement and an accelerometer. For a detailed sleep study, one can visit a sleep laboratory.

In a sleep center, a lot of factors are taken into consideration and thus a clearer picture can emerge. Such factors include muscle tone, heart rhythm, breathing, eye movement, and brain activity, all which create the difference. Nonetheless, Fitbit sleep tracking gives great insights into the sleeping patterns, which are helpful to a certain extent.

In the wave of mounting criticism to sleep tracking manufacturers, we’ll see how accurate is Fitbit sleep tracking. The improvements by Fitbit are available on several devices, namely Charge 2HR, Altra HR and Blaze

Features of Fitbit Sleep Trackers

Sleep Modes

To determine the various sleep stages, Fitbit tracks heart rate variability (HRV), also known as beat-to-beat changes. The sleep trackers classify sleep in different stages of sleep which are Awake, REM, Light, and Deep Sleep.

Sleep Insights

Fitbit sleep trackers have an amazing feature known as Sleep Insights. The sleep Insights tool takes data collected by a user and compares it against 3 billion nights’ sleep data collected by other Fitbit devices.

This tool helps users to know whether their sleep cycles are normal and give necessary recommendations if any. The tool also factors in the age and gender of the users.

What affects the accuracy of Fitbit sleep data?

Accuracy of other data being recorded

To gain trust with sleep tracking, Fitbit devices are without a doubt near perfect in this aspect. While the heart rate and movement sensors work excellently, so do the sleep sensors.

Bad Sleeping Positions

There may be cases when you might doubt how accurate is Fitbit sleep tracking. In most cases, doubts creep in when you seem to disagree with the data recorded by the sleep trackers. One reason that may hinder the Fitbit sleep tracker from recording the correct data is a sleeping position. The manufacturer also admits that this factor could limit the accuracy of the data recorded.

Some individuals sleep facing north and wake up facing east or south. These individuals have bad sleeping positions, and they are the most likely to have them question the accuracy of sleep trackers. For this reason, other sensors need to work correctly during the day so that individuals can trust their devices.

Natural Body Factors

It’s tough to determine the exact amount of sleep that you need for a given day. Naturally, the body has sleep variations every day. For this reason, the accuracy of Fitbit sleep trackers is compromised because you cannot account for the exact sleep quantity for any given day.

Algorithm Ambiguity

Determining the real accuracy of Fitbit sleep trackers is usually faced by one major hurdle. The manufacturer fails to reveal the algorithm used in determining and analyzing arm movement and data from the body. This makes the accuracy tests to be determined only in various features of the trackers.

The General Accuracy of Fitbit Sleep Trackers

In a general view, the various attributes that Fitbit sleep trackers take into account are considered accurate and thus dependable to a given degree.  According to a survey from users, the falling asleep time and waking time did not lag over most days. For example, the Fitbit Altra HR records no mistakes in cases when a user decides to use the bathroom or grab a glass of water at night. You can rely on this data as it is proven to be almost perfect.

It’s hard to determine the accuracy of the sleep stages by yourself. The fact that you can only compare Fitbit’s data with data captured in a sleep center gives us the benefit of doubt. The Sleep Insights tool allows you to compare your sleep data alongside your past 30 days and other users. This is the point where you have to rely on the manufacturer’s claims on accuracy.

While Fitbit themselves has never stated 100% accuracy on their devices, in April 2017, an interesting report was published in the Sleep Journal. Data published in this report was pooled from sleep trackers which measure heart rate and movement and sleep lab tests. The report suggested that sleep trackers can be relied on to improve sleep behaviors. Fitbit has backed this report, too.

Looking closely at data from the sleep insights, a lot of users reported that their sleep cycle rhymed with data of other users within their age bracket and gender. The accuracy concerning sleep patterns of people of different ages and genders is highly accurate and consistent.

Conclusion

It is crucial to draw a line between pre-2017 and post-2017 Fitbit sleep tracking. The reason for this is because Fitbit improved sleep tracking mechanisms in 2017. New Fitbit devices that were rolled out on and after 2017 have major fixes proved to improve their accuracy.

While the previous devices would add an hour to the sleep time, such mistakes are not being witnessed in the new devices such as the Fitbit Alta HR. This is one reason to trust the accuracy of current models of Fitbit sleep trackers. By now, you know how accurate Fitbit sleep tracking is in various divisions.

While many people discredit sleep trackers, we’ll all agree that – ever since their introduction – they have played a significant role in personal habits. Some features such as sleep goal setting are transforming how a lot of people sleep. Even though you may fail to hit the sleep goal, you will find yourself striving to hit it every day.

 

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