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Should you get a wearable sleep tracker?

Posted September 17, 2018

Sleep Tracker

Deep, consistent, quality sleep can not only make you feel great during the day; it can also improve your health. Sleep can boost your mood, help you maintain a healthy body weight and help your heart and mind function at tip-top levels.

But, for some of us, a solid night's sleep may seem like a dream. Lack of sleep can affect our brain's ability to react properly; so much so, that our body’s overall health can be at risk.

A few health benefits from a solid sleep schedule:

  • Improved memory: Your mind is actually very active while your body is sleeping. It’s strengthening your memories and thoughts collected during your waking hours. If you’re trying to learn a new skill or language, a good night’s sleep can help you achieve those goals sooner than without one.
  • General mood booster: A well-rested body won't necessarily make you a more positive person. However, when our body/mind feels tired, we may be more quick to lash out or get cranky over situations that may not be as stressful as we think.
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight: Good sleep is good for the waistline! You are less likely to make healthy choices (physical activity and healthy, home-cooked meals) when you are tired. When you don’t get enough sleep, leptin levels drop. Leptin is a hormone that helps regulate energy balance by combating hunger. Tired people actually feel hungrier.
  • Higher immunity: Sleep cannot prevent you from getting the common cold; but research suggests that those of us who get, on average, less than 7 hours of sleep are almost three times as likely to get sick.
  • Safer lifestyle: It’s estimated that one out of five auto accidents in the U.S. results from drowsy driving. The CDC associates drowsiness with: an inability to pay attention to the road, a slower reaction time and the driver’s ability to make good decisions. 

The only way to thoroughly assess sleep is to visit a specialist sleep clinic. But, if you are just generally interested in learning more about your sleep patterns, maybe it’s time to try out some tech. In our there’s an app for that lifestyle, “self-tracking” devices and apps range from exercise, food and water intake, heart-rate and of course, sleep.

How do they work?

Technological advances in microelectronics, like the tiny components in smartphones, can be adapted to monitor a range of our body’s activities, like motion, resting time, location and heart rate.

Actigraphy and accelerometers are what make wearable sleep trackers possible. Actigraphy records your body’s movement, looking for activity that correlates with being awake or asleep. Accelerometers used to cost a fortune to produce. These tiny devices act as sensors, converting movement into electrical signals. Now, with the advances in technology and smartphones, they can be manufactured for less than a dollar. Accelerometers are found in almost all “smart” devices like your washing machine and refrigerator.

One thing to look for in a sleep tracker is the ability to track the body’s movement (using actigraphy and accelerometers) AND heart rate. To get the most thorough self-evaluation, the tracker must monitor more than just body stillness.

If you are concerned about serious sleep-related health concerns, like sleep apnea, a professional sleep study may be required. Summa Health offers patients a sleep medicine comprehensive program, including diagnostic testing through sleep studies, to determine the causes of sleep disorder. Untreated disorders can lead to serious health problems.

For more information, or to make an appointment with a sleep specialist, call 234.867.7965. For a sleep study appointment, call 330.996.7711. A physician referral is required.



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