You continually hear about the need for sleep and the fact that most are not getting enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation released a study on how much sleep you really need according to your age. For the average adult, the recommended amount of sleep is 7-9 hours. The average leader gets around 6.5 hours of sleep according to a study by CMOE. It may be close enough, but the quality of sleep matters just as much as the amount.

You can track and record your sleep patterns using several different devices and apps. These devices can help you to know your sleeping patterns and adjust different variables to get a better night's rest. However, you want to get the most reliable data to really improve.

My friends at conducted a sleep study to test the accuracy of some of the more popular sleep tracking devices on the market today. They compared the Fitbit Flex (wearable device), the Jawbone UP (wearable device), the Pebble (wearable device) watch paired with Sleep by Andriod app, the Sleep Cycle iOS app, and Sleepbot Android app.

The participant wore each wearable device and rested the phones next to him on the bed each night. These devices and apps tracked his sleep and then they also recorded each night of sleep with a video camera and analyzed and compared the movement to the sleep tracking devices.

You can see the comparison of data in the interactive graph below. Click on the devices you want to compare in the legend, and then compare this to the video-observed movement notated by the gray dots on the horizontal axis.


Most of the devices do a decent job at tracking sleep patterns. However, according to the data and actual observations from the recordings, the most accurate device seems to be the Pebble Watch paired with the Sleep by Android app. The best part is, that this is the only one of the devices/apps that reported the REM sleep cycle, which is vital in determining sleep quality. It also lets you compare multiple nights to gain better insights in your quality of sleep.

The Pillows team does note that the Jawbone UP bracelet and technology provides one of the better user interfaces. It provides a graph that is interactive. You can select different phases of the recorded sleep graph to get more detailed reporting. They also reported that the iOS Sleep Cycle app provides the most detailed reports.

Each app/device seems to have its perks and quirks, but all of them can help you better understand your sleeping patterns. It's also important to track your foods and exercise each day. Tracking these items will help you to know if what you are eating is affecting how you sleep.

In this study, the Pillows team merely wanted to test the accuracy of the sleep tracking devices. Thus, they only tracked 3 nights of sleep to gather this data. Some devices might adjust and learn over time to become more accurate, although I doubt that is the case. Although, for any sleep tracking device or app, it's important to note that it does take time to determine how different variables and can affect sleep. Do not rely on only a few nights of tracking. Use these devices regularly and develop a history to compare and adjust foods, nightly routines, and other factors such as not using your tablet or phone.

What device or app do you use?