So What Does All This Mean?

How does your fitness tracker know when you’re asleep? Sleep monitoring is a big part of what we do at Exist. We sync rest data from Fitbit presently, Jawbone UP, Misfit, Nokia Health, Apple Health, and Google Fit. I dived into some research to work out what’s going on when you set your Jawbone UP or Fitbit to rest mode. Both devices use accelerometers to track your movements, including the speed and path of your movement. Throughout the day This is how they track your activity, and exactly how they tell when you’re asleep. When you established your Fitbit or Jawbone UP device to “sleep mode,” it screens your actions.

When you sync your device another morning, the software translates those movements into sleep data. This technique of utilizing a device to track movements in order to measure sleep is called actigraphy. Actigraphy is often done in rest studies using an “actigraph” device-similar to a Fitbit or Jawbone UP, it is almost always a tool worn on the wrist that monitors movement while you’re sleeping. Software translates those motions into periods of rest and wake then. For people with sleep disorders or general sleep disruptions, actigraphy is a convenient way to have their sleep patterns studied by a clinic without having to sleep in the lab.

An autograph can also be worn 24/7 and monitor sleepiness throughout the day, based on movement. Thus, actigraphy may be used for sleep studies where convenience is important. Generally, sleep researchers use polysomnography, or PSG, to study sleep in a lab. That is known as the “gold standard” for calculating sleep.

This means that sleep researchers have agreed that PSG is the definitive way to measure sleep, and most studies on the accuracy of actigraphy compare it to PSG data. A PSG test involves sleeping in a lab where the human brain waves can be supervised by an EEG test, where electrodes on your scalp to measure your brain waves.

This can be inconvenient but is more accurate. Cool reality: PSG tracking is actually inconvenient in space, so actigraphy is sometimes used to easily track the sleep of astronauts! Most research into actigraphy has used a purpose-built autograph device, rather than Fitbit or Jawbone UP (although a Fitbit was one of them study) and has been focused on measuring the accuracy against a PSG test.

Study results have varied, but also for the most part the consensus is that actigraphy is normally accurate enough to monitor rest in healthy adults with “normal” rest patterns. Problems occur when your rest is disrupted-for example, if you have a sleep disorder or you have disrupted rest frequently just. The greater disrupted your sleep, the less accurate actigraphy will be at tracking it.

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Mostly this is because actigraphy just monitors a very important factor: movement. Sleep researchers know that there surely is a lot more to accurate sleep data-most importantly brain-eye and waves movements are required to assess sleep phases. Consumers should not expect that these devices can distinguish between sleep stages because these devices rely on movements, whereas sleep stages are defined by brain activity primarily.

Which means if you’re using a fitness tracker that claims to tell you how long you may spend in each rest stage, it’s most likely not very accurate after all. As far as time asleep and sleep quality, actigraphy devices generally have a high margin of mistake. They either under- or overestimate the time asleep.