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Untrack your sleep

About 20 years back, there was no such thing as trackers.

We lived our lives without feeling the need to track anything.

The advent of apps began the craze of people wanting to track everything.

It began with fitness. People began to track their workouts and began posting them on social media.

When people began to find carrying their phones around annoying, fitness trackers came to their rescue.

Sleep, which hadn’t been given much importance, was also recognized as an important aspect of good health. This gave rise to people tracking their sleep.

A fitness tracker tells you how much you have exercised and how many calories you have burned. A sleep tracker is designed to give you data on the quality of your sleep.

While we see many people eager to share their workouts, we don’t see people share how well they have slept. In fact, getting by with less sleep is seen as an accomplishment in some quarters.

If you feel the need to track your sleep, you might be facing one of these issues:

  1. You are waking up tired
  2. Your sleep is restless, and you toss and turn a lot
  3. You are unable to get the sleep you require
  4. You are feeling tired through the day and feel it’s because of a lack of sleep

If you are sleeping well, you don’t really feel the need for a sleep tracker. It’s only when you’re facing some sort of an issue, mild or major, that you feel the need to track your sleep.

Since their inception, there has been a lot of debate on how accurate sleep trackers are.

The most basic ones track how much you sleep.

The slightly advanced ones track the quality of your sleep.

But here’s the thing:

To get an accurate assessment of your sleep, you need to visit a sleep clinic.

Why?

In sleep clinics, advanced methods are used to study your sleep patterns, the most important one being Electroencephalography (EEG).

An EEG monitors your brain waves during the different stages of sleep and gives you an accurate interpretation of the quality of your sleep.

But this poses a question – can a sleep tracker perform the role of an EEG?

Sleep trackers measure the quality of sleep using actigraphy which is basically a non-invasive method of measuring human rest and activity cycles.

To really know the quality of your sleep, you need to visit a sleep lab that is equipped with all the equipment to give you an accurate scientific assessment.

If you’re struggling to sleep well, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Are you fighting sleep using a device like a smartphone or tab?
  2. Are you consuming alcohol/caffeine a few hours before sleeping?
  3. Are you stressed?
  4. Are the lighting and noise levels in your room conducive for a good night’s sleep?
  5. Is your mattress comfortable?

All of these are issues that many people don’t address. That is, a sleep tracker won’t help much if you’re doing the basics wrong – it will just tell you what you already know.

Most sleep trackers give you an accurate picture of how much time you’re sleeping. They might not be 100% accurate scientifically but they aren’t totally wrong either. That is, they might help you make minor modifications in your sleep pattern once you have the data. ­­­­If you realize that you’re getting an average of six hours of sleep a night, you might be able to take some steps to sleep a little earlier (most studies recommend that you get at least 7 hours of sleep a night).

Before you get a sleep tracker, ask yourself why you need one. If you have a serious problem with sleep, you might need to see a doctor, not buy a tracker. And take steps before going to bed to ensure you get a good night’s sleep.