Are you paying too much attention to your sleep tracker?
You wake up feeling – shock – rested, actually. Your eyes don’t feel gritty. Your temples aren’t throbbing. Then comes the mortal sin – checking the sleep info on your tracker to find out how well you actually slept. The stats show red. Oh. So maybe you didn’t snooze so soundly after all? Wearable tech is fast making its way into the bedroom, which is changing the way we think and talk about sleep. But in the case of monitoring your shut-eye, knowledge isn’t necessarily power. The problem is, according to Nick Littlehales, an elite sports sleep coach and author of Sleep*, getting hung up on digits and graphs rather than how your body feels after rest can be counterproductive. Clocking in with your tracker before even starting your day can play havoc with your body’s natural sleep patterns (thanks to the HEV light emitted from your device) and won’t do your cortisol levels any favours when you find the numbers don’t add up with how you feel.‘there’s no better sounding board for the quality of sleep than your own body, so it pays to listen to it,’ says Littlehales. There’s another reason why tracking your sleep may not be aiding your health goals as much as keeping tabs on your heart rate or monitoring your macros does – yet. ‘Most sleep trackers use motion sensors or heart monitors – or a combination of both,’ adds Littlehales. ‘But to get an insight into the different phases of sleep, you’d need to record brain activity, and the tech simply isn’t there yet.’ It’s also worth noting that generic tracking apps don’t consider that the amount of sleep the body requires varies from person to person. Your internal body clock, how much sleep you require to function effectively, as well as the best time to snatch those ZZZS (the concept of early risers and night owls is an actual thing) are different for everyone. So, when it comes to tracking – as with your avocado obsession and sportswear spending habits – it’s all about #balance. Get too caught up in the stats and the stress of worrying whether you’re clocking up enough sleep will keep you awake. ‘Stress is a huge cause of insomnia,’ says Littlehales. ‘So putting pressure on yourself to get the perfect eight hours is likely to lead to less sleep, not more.’ But if you use your results positively, it can be totally worth it. ‘Sometimes, seeing the stats in black and white can prompt people to make helpful tweaks to their habits,’ says Dr Vikki Revell, a researcher from the University of Surrey’s Sleep Research Centre†. ‘Whether it’s setting a reminder to go to bed at a decent hour, or investing in a blackout blind, these changes can help protect you from the damaging effects of poor sleep.’ So turn out the light, turn off the app and get some sleep. Dreamy.