Image source: Fitbit

Study shows Fitbit sleep stages data is reasonably accurate

Fitbit activity trackers monitor light, deep and REM sleep stages to a reasonable degree of accuracy says a new independent report.

The results of the study, which was commissioned by Fitbit but scored independently by polysomnography technicians, found that when it comes to sleep stages, Fitbit data was not all too different from results you would get tracking sleep in a laboratory. The findings are being presented at the SLEEP 2017 conference of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, which runs from June 3-6.

“With our sleep tracking tools, Fitbit has transformed what people can learn about their sleep habits by taking the ability to track sleep stages out of a lab and putting it on the wrist,” said Dr. Heneghan.

“The ability to easily track your sleep not only helps individuals better understand their own sleep, it also unlocks significant potential for us to better understand population health and gain new insights into the mysteries of sleep and its connection to a variety of health conditions.”

Fitbit introduced new sleep features a couple of months ago.‘Sleep Stages’ uses accelerometer and heart rate data to more  estimate how long you spend in Light, Deep, and REM sleep stages each night. The values are calculated by combining accelerometer data, heart rate variability (the time between beats), and Fitbit’s proprietary algorithms.

Image source: Fitbit

The other new sleep feature provides you with advice on ways to improve your kip time. 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.

Essential reading: Fitbit’s new sleep tracking feature explained

Getting enough kip time is important because at night, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health. The San Francisco outfit recently tapped into more than 4 billion nights of the new Fitbit sleep data to bring us some interesting insights.

It seems that sleeping 7-8 hours gives you the most REM and deep sleep time. For normal adult sleepers, anything less than 5 hours is not nearly enough, as they will get little deep sleep. Deep sleep is important for maintaining body functions and waking up feeling refreshed. Waking up earlier than usual also reduces the amount of REM sleep.

Age and gender has an impact on your sleep cycle. Gen Z, or those aged 13-22, sleep nearly 7 hours per night. As you get older, the amount of sleep decreases. Baby Boomers (age 52-71) sleep the least, on average 6 hours and 33 minutes. Women sleep 25 minutes more than men per night, and have a higher percentage of REM sleep.

Source: Sleep Research Society

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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.

3 thoughts on “Study shows Fitbit sleep stages data is reasonably accurate

  • Where are the references to the study?
    Also, missing the reference in the table of results.

    • You’re right. I’ve added a link to a summary and references of the paper. The table in the article comes from the Fitbit study.

  • The “Study” compared a Fitbit to an “Type III home sleep testing device” which does NOT track brainwaves (EEG) and is NOT used to evaluate sleep stages. This is outright deceptive. Its like asking a cop to measure a cars speed with a microphone instead of a radar gun. You need to use an Sleep Lab with an EEG to record brain waves to assess sleep stage accuracy. The design of the study indicates FitBit had something to hide in my option.


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