Best sleep trackers to buy in 2018: 8 gadgets to record your beauty sleep

A woman wearing the fitbit alta hr

You can eat well, exercise, find a great job and read all the self help books you like, but if you're not getting enough sleep all the good habits and routines you try to stick to in the day won't have the same effect. 

Over the past few years everyone from health professionals to celebs have been obsessed with the magical superpowers of sleep. And it makes sense. Lack of sleep can impact your mood, your energy levels, your skin and a long-term lack of sleep can have serious mood and health consequences. 

But the sad truth is many of us just aren't getting enough shut eye. Luckily, there are plenty of devices on the market designed to provide us with a better night's sleep, whether that's through wake-up lamps, devices that track your sleep and even apps that recommend what you can do to rest more effectively. 

Most top fitness trackers monitor movement and heart rate during sleep, while a growing range of non-wearables sit above or below your mattress and even on your bedside table. These help you track your breathing, snoring, temperature and allow you to follow those trends over time.

Leading the way are traditional wearable providers like Polar, Nokia/Withings and Fitbit, who have all added powerful sleep tracking to their devices, while there’s also an abundance of excellent non-contact options from sleep specialists ResMed, Beddit and Emfit.

We've collected together 8 of our favourite sleep tracking devices designed to keep tabs on how you sleep, provide you with data about how much you toss and turn in the night and hopefully equip you with enough insights to shake up your routine and finally get some rest. 

1. Nokia Steel / Withings Steel

Long-lasting sleep tracker with bundles of style

8-month battery life
Stylish analog design
No heart rate tracking
Need to manually change battery

It's been an interesting time for Withings. Nokia bought the health and wellness firm last year, but has since sold it back to Withings co-founder Éric Carreel. That means that the Withings trackers, which became Nokia trackers, are now Withings trackers again. Confused? Us too. It's just worth scrubbing up on the basics so you don't fret if you get yourself a Nokia Steel, it's the same thing. 

Both the Nokia Steel and Nokia Steel HR fitness watches are able to track your sleep, but here we're going to focus on the less capable but cheaper watch of the two.

This analog watch is perfect for minimalists who want access to reams of insightful data without an additional screen bombarding them with endless smartphone notifications. You get the time, and a 0-100% dial for your daily activity. All other insights, including sleep, are synced back to the Nokia Health Mate app.

The major advantage of this approach is the six month plus battery life (slightly tempered by the need to replace rather than recharge).  In our experience of fitness trackers, all it can take is one missed recharge to get you out of the habit of wearing.

There’s automatic sleep tracking with detailed insights into sleep cycles, time awake and sleep duration. 

The app tells you when you went to bed and how long it took you to fall asleep. The watch’s silent alarm will also wake you gently at the optimum point of your sleep cycle.

2. Nokia Sleep (Now called Withings Sleep)

An easy way to track your sleep without wearing a fitness tracker

Don't have to wear a tracker
Lots of data
Only works for one person
Difficult to find on sale

More specialist than the Nokia/Withings Steel above, the Nokia/Withings Sleep is a pad you can slip under your mattress to keep a track of your sleep quality without having to wear anything on your wrist.

It means you can just jump into bed and you don't have to worry about putting on an extra tracker, and if you do own a fitness tracker or smartwatch you can rest assured that it'll be possible to charge it while you sleep.

The Nokia Sleep will monitor lots of stats too including your sleep phases, your heart rate, the amount of time you've been snoring and the duration of your sleep too.

If you just want to crawl into bed and have all of your sleep quality recorded and ready for you to digest in an easy to use app, the Nokia Sleep is the perfect device for you.

3. Beddit 3 Sleep Monitor

Non-contact tracker is perfect for naked sleepers

No need to wear anything, just sleep
Works with one or two people in bed
Hidden beneath the sheet, but you can feel it
Can move around under the sheet

Beddit is an unobtrusive sleep monitor that sits on top of your mattress, beneath the sheets. You don’t have to wear anything, you don’t have to meddle with an app; all you need to do is focus on sleeping.

In the morning, the powerful app delivers you a detailed breakdown of the quality and quantity of sleep, heart rate data and breaths per minute. If the well-placed kicks from your partner don’t do it, Beddit tells you if you’ve been snoring, which is a serious contributor to poor sleep.

The Beddit app also offers feedback on the temperature and humidity in bed, helping you to optimize the sleep environment. All of the information is displayed in easy-to-read graphs, making it ideal for analyzing trends over time.

Although it’s designed to track the movements of only one person, we found the data wasn’t skewed by presence of a sleeping partner. Despite the lack of direct contact with the body it also produces surprisingly accurate data in line with the fitness trackers we were wearing during use.

Apple purchased Beddit in 2017. The company often shuts down products from firms it acquires, but it kept Beddit around. That has to be a good sign, right?

4. S+ by ResMed

Deep sleep metrics that keep your body free of tech

Bedside monitor, requires no contact
Deeper feedback and tips to improve sleep
Easily confused if you share a bed with someone
Must be perfectly placed

However unobtrusive they feel during the day, wearing a fitness band at night is often uncomfortable. Some dig into your skin or get twisted and clammy, which actually ends up impeding sleep.

ResMed takes a different approach with a non-contact sleep monitor. Despite sitting on the bedside table, it claims it can accurately monitor breathing, heart rate, movement and overall sleep quality. 

This is all while keeping tabs on noise, light and temperature levels to deliver feedback on how you can improve your environment.

The powerful companion app guides you through breathing exercises to help you nod off and plays sounds that match the cadence of your breathing. The app even encourages you to clear your head by jotting down tomorrow’s to-do list.

The resulting sleep score, which is based upon age and gender, also offers feedback and suggestions on how you can improve.

This is where ResMed’s years in the field really pays off compared to general fitness trackers. For example, it’ll tell you to try sleeping on your left side if stomach problems or heartburn is a factor, which is something you won't get from other trackers in this list.

5. Polar M430

Built-in smarts for sleep-obsessed runners

Superb battery life
Accurate heart rate data
Not very comfortable to sleep in
Hardly a looker

One of the best running watches of 2018, the Polar M430 has the sleep smarts to keep it on our wrists around the clock.

The Polar Sleep Plus system uses the watch’s accelerometer to deliver highly insightful feedback, and itt gives you actual sleep time (not just the time spent in bed), tracks your interruptions and delivers data on continuous sleep periods.

You can even rate your sleep and measure it over time against workouts and changes to your training schedule. 

All of the insights provided are laid out clearly within the Polar companion app, enabling you to track sleep quality over time, and it fuses well with the rest of your active day, which can become rather addictive (in a good way).

6. Emfit QS HRV Sleep Monitor

The deepest insights for serious athletes

Hides under the mattress
Unique approach to recovery
Expensive
Not designed for recreational fitness

The Emfit QS is so subtle that it hides under your mattress. The no-contact solution is primarily designed for athletes and uses the rapidly emerging metric of heart rate variability (HRV) to determine sleep-based recovery.

HRV is based upon the time between your individual heartbeats while resting. Research suggests the higher the HRV, the better your body has recovered from strain and the more equipped athletes are to perform at a high level the next day without risking injury.

The way Emfit’s approach differs dramatically from all of the other sleep trackers we’ve listed is the ability to see the scale of your body’s recovery throughout the night. You get a score when you get into bed and another in the morning.

If your score is high the next day, your body is ready to attack the day. If it’s low, you probably shouldn’t push yourself too hard.

Beyond HRV, the QS (QS stands for Quantified Sleep) goes seriously deep into sleep stats. It also tracks sleep stages (Light, Deep, REM), movement and breathing rates over the course of 360 days.

If you’ve targeted better sleep as the key to unlocking your performance potential in 2018, this could be the sleep tracker for you.

An image of a woman wearing the fitbit versa

(Image: © Fitbit)

7. Fitbit Versa

A smartwatch that doesn’t need to rest overnight

Sleep Stages data is awesome
Comfy
More advanced data to come
Not everyone wants to wear a watch all night

We previously had the Fitbit Ionic in this list, but we've replaced it with the more aesthetically-pleasing (and slightly more comfortable) Fitbit Versa. 

The Fitbit Versa is the brand's latest smartwatch, which has a slightly rounded design, customisable straps, plenty of apps and features, as well as a fantastic battery life that'll last more than 4 days. 

Thanks to its sensors, particularly its gyroscope and optical heart rate sensor, the Versa is a really great option if sleep tracking is just as important to you as fitness tracking or getting notifications sent to your wrist. 

After sleep, open up the Fitbit app and you won't just see the duration of your sleep, but the different sleep stages you went through throughout the night, from light and REM to deep. Fitbit also attempts to make sense of this data and give you personalised insights about your sleep, but sometimes they're a bit generic. 

It's also worth mentioning that the slimmer (and cheaper) Fitbit Alta HR and the newly-launched Fitbit Charge 3 also have Fitbit's advanced sleep tech built-in. So if you're looking for a more fitness-focused, slimmer or cheaper option, we'd recommend you check out Fitbit's full range to see which is best for you. 

A photo of the Oura smart ring

(Image: © Oura)

8. Oura Ring

A sleep tracker that lives on your finger

Super accurate
'Readiness' score
Fantastic graphs
Expensive
Rings might not appeal to everyone

If you don't fancy the idea of putting a gadget in your bed or wearing one on your wrist that might be uncomfortable, it might be time for you to try a smart ring instead.

Smart rings were tipped to be a huge tech trend a few years ago, but loads never made it past the crowdfunding or initial prototype phase. Luckily, the Oura ring did. It's an activity, wellness and sleep tracking rolled into one tiny, slim package that's about the size of a standard wedding band.

Although it can track your activity, the Oura is focused on wellness and particularly sleep. It provides you with a simple sleep score each day, but you can delve deeper into your stats to find out all kinds of information about the quality of your rest, from your resting heart rate to how much you moved, all presented on a series of bar charts and graphs. It's crack for sleep and data nerds.