Image source: Fitbit

Fitbit’s new sleep tracking feature explained

Fitbit wants to help you better understand your sleep patterns and quality. With its latest software update, you will be able to find out exactly how much REM, Deep and Light sleep you are getting each night.

Your kip time plays a vital role in good health and well-being throughout your life. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety.

Essential reading: Ten gadgets for advanced sleep monitoring

During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health. The way you feel while you’re awake depends in part on what happens while you’re sleeping. Better sleep starts by knowing what’s happening at night.

Its fair to say, Fitbit’s sleep statistics are not its strong point right now. They will tell you how long you slept, how many times you woke up and the number of times you were restless during the night.

Some models also feature a silent alarm function which does a fairly good job of waking you up by vibrating at a set time. Having said that, if you are a heavy sleeper, its probably not a good idea just to rely on the vibrating alarm.

The San Francisco outfit is now taking all this to the next level with a couple of new features. The first of these are Sleep Stages. For the first time on a Fitbit device, they will enable you to see how much Light, Deep and REM sleep you are getting each night. The values are calculated by combining accelerometer data, heart rate variability (the time between beats), and Fitbit’s proprietary algorithms.

Each stage is important, but for different reasons. Light sleep typically accounts for over a half of your kip time. It is important for memory, learning, and letting your body recover from the day. The remainder is split relatively equally between Deep sleep and Rapid Eye Movement (REM). The first promotes a healthy immune system and muscle growth, while the second is important for mental recovery and memory formation. REM is when most dreaming occurs. Fitbit picks up on awake times as well – they are a normal part of any sleep cycle.

The other new feature is called Sleep Insights. This is essentially advice on ways to improve your sleep. Fitbit is using all your activity and diet statistics to discover trends and then dish up personalized guidance on how to improve sleep. The more you wear your tracker to bed, the more personalized insights you may receive.

The new features are building on a recent software update which introduced personalized sleep goals; customized bedtime and wake-up target; reminders to stay on schedule, and a sleep schedule history to chart your progress.

It is worth noting, Fitbit still won’t automatically keep track of naps shorter than one hour, since that’s the default resting period that will activate the automated readings. If you’re adept of short naps, you will have to remember to activate sleep mode manually whenever you lie down.

Sleep Stages will be available for the Charge 2, Blaze and upcoming Alta HR fitness trackers. Sleep Insights will work with all Fitbit devices except Zip, which does not track sleep. Both features are set to roll out later this month via an over-the-air software update.

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Ivan Jovin

Ivan has been a tech journalist for over 7 years now, covering all kinds of technology issues. He is the guy who gets to dive deep into the latest wearable tech news.

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