How to track sleep with your Fitbit

Keep an eye on your sleep

How to track sleep with your Fitbit

There are few things more important than a good night’s sleep - most of us will need at least six hours of kip to stand a chance at making it through the next day.

But sleeping longer doesn’t always mean sleeping better - and thanks to the likes of Fitbit we have more options than ever to track what is disturbing our slumber.

Luckily, tracking sleeping patterns with the Fitbit is as simple as leaving it on while drifting to dozy-land. Each device has a built-in accelerometer and gyroscope to detect movement, and uses these to do the needful.

Seeing how you slept is then as simple as firing up the Fitbit app the morning after, syncing the band with your smartphone, swiping up from the clock face to ‘Fitbit Today’, checking the ‘Sleep’ tile and then letting the data do the talking. 

Information presented is broken down into: time spent awake, restless, and sleep. The first is self-explanatory, while the other two periods are activated with drops in heart-rate etc, following the natural circadian rhythm of the body as it first rests and then prepares to rise. 

Restless is where there is movement but no steps, while sleep is everything from REM sleep to full, deep sleep. The total time asleep is calculated by subtracting your time awake or restless from the overall tracked time.

The Fitbit Versa line up

The Fitbit Versa line up

(Image credit: Fitbit)

Though each Fitbit device will do its best to give an accurate picture, it should be remembered that none which exist are medical-grade, and as such results should be taken with a pinch of salt. Those really looking for the nitty-gritty should activate the ‘Sensitive’ tracking mode - though this entails a slight hit to battery life it will also mean a more accurate picture of whatever problem may be emerging. 

To enable this setting, Android users need to first navigate to fitbit.com, where they will find the option in their settings menu, for others it is in the Settings menu of their app (Windows 10 and iOS).

Based on what data you provide to it, the Fitbit app will provide personalized sleep recommendations - these will become more accurate with the more sleep data logged. Recommendations will sometimes be obvious (go to bed earlier) or often more subtle (avoid too much blue light before bedtime), and the app can help you follow these through. 

By going into the ‘Sleep Goals’ section of the app you can log further activity, and can perform further actions in particular such as setting a ‘Bedtime Reminder’.

Particularly for those extended sessions on a particularly intense videogame, or with your favorite boxset, this can be a useful (if nanny-ish) way to break the schedule and instill a little rationality to your binges.

There is a whole world of options beyond this, those who take a data-centric approach to improving their lives and fitness will find much to love with Fitbit - as will those who simply wish to track their post-sponge cake Sunday nap with the cat.