Guide to Tracking Your Sleep with Apps and Wearables

sleep tracker app

When we were younger, our parents used to let us take naps every single day so that we would grow tall, or simply rest after coming home from school. A scientific explanation of this would be better growth and development.

Sleep is an essential part of a person’s life because it is when the brain is engaged with a lot of activities which are closely linked to the quality of life. All throughout your sleep, the body undergoes REM and non-REM sleep. What happens during this sleep cycle?

The sleep cycle

The first part is called non-REM sleep and occurs in four different stages. The first stage takes place between being awake and falling asleep. The second stage is light sleep and the third and fourth stages fall under a deep sleep. According to newer and present data, non-REM sleep is more important for learning and memory. This is also the more restorative and restful phase of sleep.

As the body reaches REM sleep, breathing increases and the eyes move rapidly behind closed lids and the brain waves are more active. The body becomes “paralyzed” when we experience dreams. This cycle of non-REM and REM sleep repeats itself and on a typical night, the body usually cycles four to five times.

What makes you sleep?

There are a lot of factors which puts your body ready for sleeping and that is because there is an internal “body clock” responsible for this. The compound adenosine is one factor linked to that drive to sleep. When a person is awake, there is a continuing increase in adenosine levels in the brain. A shift then occurs toward sleep and when one is already sleeping, adenosine is broken down by the body.

Aside from the compound, the internal body clock is in sync with some cues in the environment. Darkness and light, as well as the other cues, help determine if you are sleepy or not.  The body releases chemicals such as melatonin when it gets dark signaling your body to be drowsy and sleepy. And melatonin peaks in the bloodstream as the night wears on. Exposure to bright light can actually disrupt the process and sleeping will be hard to achieve again.

As the sun rises, the human body releases cortisol, and it is responsible to prepare your body to stop sleeping and wake up. As such, the amount of sleep varies across different age ranges. Newborns need 16 hours of sleep while preschoolers take naps. Adults usually need 8 hours of sleep to be able to rest their bodies before working the next day.

Not only is sleep different for everyone, but it can also change a lot from day to day (or night to night). For example, each night of sleep isn’t a clean slate—it’s affected by how well or how long we have slept the night before.

So, if we missed a full nights sleep or had it cut a bit short, we’ll sleep longer the next night. In turn, we’ll have more slow wave sleep, which adjusts to compensate for any sleep we have missed the night before. Every time we fall asleep, we tend to take a different amount of time.

If you routinely lose some sleeping time, sleep loss adds up. Bad sleep habits and long term sleep loss will eventually affect your overall health status. When your body needs or is ready to take a rest, sleeping is very important. People who have sleep that is not in sync with the body clock might need to take action to their sleep needs.

One suggestion would be to have a sleep diary or journal to keep track every day. CareClinic has integrations with Fitbit in which sleep may be tracked efficiently. The app is the best companion which does not need to be strapped to the wrist or clipped to the body.

How Important is Sleep?

Sleeping is not just about completing the body’s request for rest. A healthy amount of sleep is actually needed for brain plasticity or the brain’s ability to absorb input. Not enough sleep makes the brain unable to process well and has trouble remembering in the future. Good sleep can improve concentration, cognition, productivity, and performance.

According to research, good sleep has been seen to improve problem-solving skills among children and adults alike. Aside from that, sleeping well is linked to maximizing athletic performance and positive emotional well-being.

According to researchers, sleep promotes the removal of waste or toxic substances from neurons. The body needs sleep because health risks rise if your immune system is down. Migraines, seizures, depression and other illnesses worsen if the body does not get enough sleep. Sleep also has a major role in metabolism making it very vital to a person’s overall health status.

Aside from that, poor sleep can be linked with weight gain and those who have good sleep tend to eat fewer calories. Sleep-deprived individuals have a bigger appetite and are most likely to gain weight. Sleep deprivation’s effect on brain function is also similar with that of alcohol intoxication.

Recording your sleep with an app

Since sleep is an essential part of living, CareClinic is one of the top health apps linked with Fitbit. Fitbit has features that automatically measures time asleep, restless and awake. The creators of Fitbit believe that sleep greatly affects the mood as well as overall health status. That’s why it has major features such as :

  • Auto sleep tracking and alarms: this records the entire duration of a person’s sleep and a silent alarm may be set to allow more peaceful mornings
  • Sleep stages: light, deep and REM sleep may be tracked to understand a person’s sleep quality
  • Sleep schedule: this creates a consistent routine and reminders are given to always stay on track
  • Sleep insights: this shows how sleep has fared and a basis for best rest

This app records how well your sleep is through the night. Fitbit uses the power of PurePulse heart rate and sensitive motion detectors in measuring the time spent in each sleep stage as well as the time when you are wide awake. Aside from that, you will also fully appreciate and understand the benefits of having each sleep stage:

  • Awake: a normal part of sleep
  • Light sleep: this makes up one half of your night and perfect for memory and learning
  • Deep sleep: the restorative phase which is important for the immune system and physical workout recovery
  • REM: this primarily helps with mental restoration

With this phone sleep app, a sleep schedule may have adhered properly. Keeping a consistent bedtime and waking time leads to better sleep quality. Since people have different lives, a personalized sleep schedule may be created based on your sleep goal. Another great feature of the app for iOS and Android is that you get friendly bedtime reminders.

Fitbit has one of the largest sleep databases so learning from your stats is very doable. You can also compare your trends to other people of the same age and gender.

Tips and techniques are also given to improve your sleep routine and quality based on the data recorded. Fitbit, unlike other apps, uses the latest technology in capturing only the most authentic data. That’s why when using the app, you are assured of quality and accurate sleep results. If you continue to struggle with Insomnia read this article.

Managing Your Sleep Health with CareClinic

Once you have recorded your sleeping patterns and trends via Fitbit, everything is then integrated with CareClinic in which everything is stored in a sleep journal. The app then converts the data into a monthly report which you can share with your specialist on the next health clinic visit.

You can also input other health measurements (weight, height, age), diagnostic results and personalize the diary for your body. Upon recording all the information, you will then be able to talk with the doctor, your sleeping problems or concerns. Not all people have the same conditions, that’s why CareClinic is important because it accurately records and tracks the body’s symptoms and sleeping patterns.

Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day is made possible when you use CareClinic. Following the same sleep schedule on weeknights and weekends helps your body clock’s sleep-wake rhythm. Keeping yourself healthy by only eating a balanced diet also helps with sleep. You can also jot down in the app the kind of diet you have as well as your body workout schedule.

The app sends notifications when it is time for you to hit the gym, do yoga or any fitness activity. Napping, even in adults is important to have a sudden bolt of energy after a tiring day at work. But keeping it only to 20 minutes to avoid a sluggish outlook.

Health apps are created to aid people in understanding their health condition or for medical professionals in devising the appropriate treatment option for their patients. However, that does not mean everyone puts their full dependence on these devices. Being determined to stay healthy is still key to have a better quality of life.

Chloe M.

Chloe M (RN, BSc) holds a degree in Biology and is a practicing Registered Nurse. She has worked as a clinical and field researcher for various NGO organizations and social enterprises. She likes to share her experience as a nurse to provide insights on managing health and practicing preventative medicine.
Chloe M.