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Should you use sleep trackers (Fitbit, Oura ring, Apple watch, etc.)?

Updated: Mar 23

Many of my clients will ask me, "Should I track my sleep while we work together?" Maybe they've looked into getting a Fitbit or an Oura Ring or an Apple watch.

Here is my take on it.

I think that for someone who isn't sleeping well, tracking your sleep can cause more anxiety and stress because you're already worried about not sleeping. Let's say that the sleep tracker said that you got 4 ½ hours of sleep. You thought that you got 5 hours of sleep and so then you're upset because it shows that you actually got less than you thought. That's going to impact how you feel that day.

What is most important (and what I really want my clients to do) is to get in tune with their bodies. Instead of looking at how long you're sleeping and how long you're in this stage versus that stage of sleep, the most important thing is how you feel the next day. What can happen is that if you're tracking your sleep, then you're letting what that tracker told you affect how you feel and affect what you think about your sleep the night before.

Another problem with sleep trackers is that they can also be inaccurate. From what I've read, Oura Ring tends to be the most accurate, but some of the others might not be accurate in either direction. So I'll have people say, "Oh, I thought that I was asleep for all this time, but it showed that I was awake." Or vice versa: “I know that I was just lying there in bed awake and it's saying I was asleep.” None of them are going to be a hundred percent accurate. Again, if you're basing how you're feeling and what you're thinking the next day on what the sleep tracker said, then it's not helpful.

So this is what I think applies to anything: If something makes you feel more anxious and worried, then it's not helpful. I have some clients who research everything that I tell them and all of their results. They spend all this time emailing me about this supplement and that supplement that they read online after I've already given them supplement recommendations. I ask them how that's making them feel. Is this making you feel better? Like you're taking charge of your health? Then that's great. Or if this is making you feel anxious and worried that you aren't going to get better and coming from that fear, then it's not helpful.

So it's the same with sleep trackers. Some of my clients love data and they are really science minded. So they can easily track their sleep and not let it get to their head. They use it as facts and don't make it mean anything. So I think that if this describes you, then tracking your sleep can be helpful. It just kind of depends on your personality and how it's going to make you feel.

I used to recommend that my clients don't track their sleep and use these trackers. But then I had a client who once we finished our time working together she decided to get the Oura Ring and she was amazed that she was sleeping better than she thought. She was still waking up in the night sometimes and thought that she was awake for hours. She found out from the tracker that it was for only five or ten minutes. So then she felt so much better about her sleep and all that anxiety about her sleep went away and she felt more rested during the day.

A lot of her worry about sleep was in her head. She was thinking, “I'm awake for hours in the middle of the night. I didn't get any sleep.” And that affected how she felt the next day. Once she saw that she was getting way more sleep than she thought, whether it was a hundred percent accurate or not, that totally changed her perception. She realized she was sleeping more. And guess what? She felt better the next day.

It’s interesting how much our mind is intertwined with our sleep and what we do with the knowledge that the tracker shows.

Because of this client's experience I recommended a tracker for another client who said he was still waking up for a long time in the middle of the night. The same thing happened. He found out he was not awake for very long at all in the middle of the night and it changed everything for him.

If you can’t sleep, tracking your sleep may help you analyze data about what factors affect your sleep. Or it can affect your sleep ever more by causing more anxiety and stress. It’s different for everyone!

Whether you’ve tracked your sleep or not, if you can’t sleep we can help you find out what imbalances in your body are keeping you from sleeping normally. And we help with worry and anxiety about sleep, too. Book a free consultation to talk about your sleep and how the Complete Sleep Solution works so you can decide if this program is right for you.

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