Overall health means getting a good night's sleep as well as enough physical activity each day. Some research also says that successful weight loss depends on sleep. Several activity monitors also track sleep quality, and some allow you to track your diet as well. For sleep quality, some only assess how often you moved during the night, while the MotionX app and Jawbone UP also assess deep sleep vs. light sleep. Most also have alarms to wake you up.
The BodyMedia FIT system is a full-fledged lifestyle monitor -- activity, diet-tracking, and sleep, with very detailed data about each. You wear the armband monitor day and night. The LINK version of the band communicates activity data with phone apps via Bluetooth 2.0, but you have to use the USB connection to a computer to upload your sleep data.
- Sleep Recording: The armband detects when you are lying down, so you don't need to activate it for a sleep period. I had some episodes where it stopped tracking sleep in the middle of the night, perhaps I dislodged it from contact with my arm.
- Wearing it for Sleep: You wear the armband on your upper arm as the sensors must be in contact with your skin to record activity and sleep. It is fairly comfortable, but because they recommend wearing it 23 hours a day, it takes commitment to wear it consistently.
- Alarms: No wake-up alarm.
- Sleep Display: You can set a sleep duration goal and see how your sleep period performed. A bar graph shows when you were asleep vs. just lying down and times you got up, with durations for each uninterrupted period and a total for the night. You get an overall sleep efficiency percentage. It doesn't show deep sleep vs. light sleep.
- Other Data: Steps, physical activity minutes broken down into moderate-intensity and vigorous-intensity activity minutes, daily total calories burned, daily food calorie intake, calorie balance, weight tracking.
- Computer Requirement: Windows XP/Vista/7. Mac OS X v10.5, X v10.6, or X v10.7 on the Intel platform.
- Power: Recharge every two to four days via a USB cord.
- Cost: Armbands sell for $99.99 to $149.99 and use of the web site costs a monthly subscription fee (first three months free).
Fitbit One and the Fitbit Flex Wristband as well as the older Fitbit Ultra and original Fitbit Tracker can be used to track your sleep quality. The Fitbit Zip does not have that capability. The Fitbit uploads wirelessly to a computer via a USB dongle.
- Sleep Recording: You press the button on the Fitbit to start the stopwatch when you go to bed, then press it again to stop it when you get up. For the Flex, you tap it until it vibrates and flashes when you go to bed and again when you get up.
- Wearing it for Sleep: Fitbit provides a soft wristband for you place the Fitbit One in to wear to bed. As it is such a small device, I simply wear it on the waistband of my sleepwear instead, although that has greater risk of pressing the stop button accidentally. With the Flex, you just wear the wristband as you do during the day.
- Alarms: You can set up to eight vibrating silent alarms from the Dashboard or app, specifying days of week and repeating or not repeating for the One and the Flex.
- Sleep Data: Actual time asleep, total time in bed, time it took to fall asleep, number of times awakened, sleep efficiency percentage, graph. It doesn't distinguish light sleep vs. deep sleep. See 14-day graphs of time asleep and times awakened.
- Other Data: Steps, Distance, Total Daily Calories Burned. The One (but not the Flex) also tracks Floors Climbed, Time of Day, Growing Flower activity indicator. You can also use their food diary and nutrition analysis via web site or app with the One, Flex, or Zip.
- Computer Requirement: Need web browser to set up the Fitbit user account and to download sleep data. Mac OS v 10.5 or later, Windows 7 (SP1) or Windows Vista (SP2) or Windows XP (SP3) to run the Fitbit Connect software.
- Power: The Fitbit One has a rechargeable battery, so you need to plug it in every five to seven days.
- Cost: The One has a MSRP of $99.99 for the One or the Flex with no ongoing subscription cost.
- Fitbit One Review
- Fitbit Flex Wristband Review
The Withings Pulse syncs only with mobile devices, both Android and iOS, although you can view your data online as well. It tracks steps, distance, calories burned, sleep quality and has a pulse reader.
- Sleep Recording: You scroll to the heart/moon screen and press the moon for a second to start sleep recording. In the morning, you press the button twice to stop and return to day mode. I had no problems in activating and stopping the sleep recording.
- Wearing it for Sleep: The Pulse comes with a wristband to slip the sensor into for sleep tracking. But as I did with the Fitbit, I just wore it clipped to my sleepwear.
- Alarms: It has no alarms.
- Sleep Data: On the mobile app, the detail screen for each day shows total time in bed, time to fall asleep, number of wakenings, time in light sleep, time in deep sleep, and total time asleep. The color-coded graph shows light sleep vs. deep sleep vs. awake times each half hour. You can review past days and it gives you a seven-day analysis. On the web site, you can review weeks in detail for both sleep and activity.
- Other Data: Steps, Distance, Activity Calories Burned, Elevation Gained, and you can take your pulse with the LED pulse reader. It will also sync data with the Withings Wi-Fi Scale for weight readings, the Withings blood pressure machine, and the MyFitnessPal app for diet tracking.
- Computer Requirement: No computer needed, but you need an iOS or Android mobile device to use the Withings app to view the sleep quality data. The sensor transmits the data via Bluetooth only to a mobile device. You can use any computer to view your data on the Withings web site in full detail.
- Power: The Pulse has a rechargeable battery, so you need to plug it in to a USB power connection approximately every 14 days.
- Cost: The Withings Pulse has a MSRP of $99.95.
- Withings Pulse Review
4. Jawbone UP
Jawbone UP integrates the excellent MotionX sleep detection technology. It's a wristband activity monitor that plugs into the headphone jack of your iOS device to upload data to an app.
- Sleep Recording: You press the button on the Jawbone UP until the green moon glows when you go to bed, then press it again to stop it and return to the green flower when you get up.
- Wearing it for Sleep: You wear the wristband day and night.
- Alarms: The UP has a Smart Alarm setting. You set your preferred wake-up time and will vibrate when you are in a period of light sleep up to 30 minutes before that time.
- Power Nap: UP will suggest a nap time of 27 to 45 minutes depending on how your sleep quality has been, or you can define your own nap length. Press the button in the right sequence to activate the nap function and it will vibrate when it's time to wake up.
- Sleep Data: Actual time asleep, total time in bed, time it took to fall asleep, number of times awakened, minutes of light sleep, minutes of deep sleep, minutes awake in bed, sleep efficiency percentage, graph showing periods of deep sleep, light sleep and time awake. At times the app stopped recording my sleep period, but you can manually record a sleep period to add to the total if that happens.
- Other Data: Steps, distance, total calorie burn, active calorie burn, resting calorie burn, active minutes, longest active time, longest idle time, meal tracking with nutrition analysis, Idle Alerts (set it to vibrate when you've been sitting for a period of time).
- Device Requirement: iOS 5.1 or greater, iPhone 3GS or later, iPod Touch 3Gen or later, iPad.
- Power: Recharge via a USB dongle every seven to 10 days.
- Cost: $129.99
- Jawbone UP Review
larklife is a wristband activity monitor that has a day band and a soft night band. You don't need a computer as it relies only on transmitting to an iPhone app via Bluetooth.
- Sleep Recording: Activate the sleep function within the iPhone app and press a button on the larklife wristband to start a sleep period. When you wake up, you stop the sleep period in the app.
- Wearing it for Sleep: larklife has a soft wristband to transfer the monitor to for wearing at night. You need to recharge the day band overnight anyway, and remember to plug in the night band to recharge during the day.
- Alarms: You can set a wake-up alarm from within the app and the wristband will vibrate to wake you up. It has a snooze-alarm function, just press the button to get five minutes snooze time.
- Sleep Data: Actual time asleep, time it took to fall asleep, number of times awakened, sleep quality rating, graph. It doesn't distinguish light sleep vs. deep sleep.
- Other Data: Daily total calories burned, active minutes, steps, active periods. You can note your meals, but there is no meal calorie or nutrition tracking.
- Apps: iOS 6.0 and higher.
- Cost: larklife has a MSRP of $149.95.
- larklife Review
This practically-free app might be all you need, if you have an iPhone and you carry it with you all day and are willing to sleep with it at night. It provides the brains behind the Jawbone UP's sleep analysis, and you can use it as an all-day pedometer and track individual workouts.
- Sleep Recording: Open the app and tell it to Start Sleep. End it when you get up.
- Wearing it for Sleep: You can set the phone on your bed or wear it attached to your body. You tell the app which you are doing so it uses a different sensitivity setting for each. You can set a sleep goal.
- Alarms: You can set a definite alarm time, or use the Smart Alarm setting to wake you when you are in light sleep within your chosen time period before that time. You can schedule alarms by day of the week, set the volume, choose sounds or songs from your playlist, set vibration, and set snooze alarm settings. You can set multiple alarms.
- Power Nap: You can set a power nap alert and it will wake you after your chosen time (from 15 minutes to 180 minutes).
- Sleep Data: Actual time asleep, total time in bed, time it took to fall asleep, number of times awakened, minutes of light sleep, minutes of deep sleep, minutes awake in bed, sleep efficiency percentage, graph showing periods of deep sleep, light sleep and time awake. You also see a 7-day average and have an ongoing sleep log.
- Other Data: You can use this app as an always-on pedometer by turning on the 24/7 Step Count, although that will use up your battery time faster. You can also record individual walks with steps, distance, step calories, and cadence. It has a voice coach and you can get audio feedback for a timed walk, steps, or calories, choosing the interval and volume. To reduce your sitting time, you can set Get Active Alerts. You can also measure your resting heart rate.
- Device Requirement: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 4.3 or later.
- Cost: $2.99
- MotionX Sleep App Review