If you’re new to using a CPAP machine, you may have questions about your therapy. Am I on track? Is the CPAP machine working? While your machine may provide you with some data, it doesn’t have the full story. Enter sleep trackers.
First thing first, what is a sleep tracker? When we say sleep tracker, we’re essentially talking about a fitness tracker that’s engineered to give you the data you’ll need to monitor your sleep and spot problem areas. Some sleep trackers can monitor blood oxygen levels as well as your movement during sleep, providing you with actionable insights you can use at your next doctor’s appointment.
Best Sleep Trackers of 2019
Let’s dive into some of the best sleep trackers available that can help you get insight into your sleep habits!
Garmin Vivosmart 4
The Garmin Vivosmart 4 is a device you may find to be indispensable for monitoring your overall health. In addition to counting calories, steps, and floors, the Garmin Vivosmart 4 can also measure blood oxygen levels—perfect for knowing when your workout has reached its peak or if you’re getting enough oxygen at night.
- Ideal for: New CPAP Users
- Cool Features: Tracks blood oxygen levels, restless leg activity, and a bunch of other important sleep metrics. It’s ideal for someone new to sleep apnea, who wants to see how their treatment is progressing.
- Area for Improvement: The screen and interface are largely lacking. Garmin wants you to use the companion app to interpret most of your data.
- Cost: Around $129
Before pulse oximeters were added to fitness trackers, there was little a fitness tracker could do to monitor the quality of one’s sleep. The Garmin Vivosmart 4 is one of the first fitness trackers to include a pulse oximeter, giving it the power to spot periods of low oxygen during sleep—most likely caused by an obstructed airway.
The Vivosmart 4 is also able to track movements during sleep, so if you’re a restless sleeper, you’ll know by looking at your data on the companion app. By tracking both blood oxygen as well as movements during sleep, you’ll have a complete picture of how you’re sleeping than what you’d get just from your CPAP machine’s app.
Buy it Now: Garmin Vivosmart 4
The Polar A370 is an advanced fitness tracker with a color screen (bonus!) and can track sleep as well as monitor your fitness activity. While it doesn’t track blood oxygen data like the Garmin, it can monitor your heart rate while sleeping to give you a complete readout of your activity the next day.
- Ideal for: Active CPAP Users
- Cool Features: The best feature of the Polar A370 is easily the app and Polar Flow website. The color screen is especially nice, and the watch provides more advanced data than Garmin does. You can track your progress on a mobile app or a desktop computer. You’ll see detailed charts and graphs that monitor your activity and track your progress.
- Area for Improvement: It would be the perfect watch if it had a pulse oximeter like the Vivosmart 4. While it does have decent sleep tracking data, it’s not as advanced as the Garmin.
- Cost: Around $149
If your CPAP therapy is working fine, you may not need the pulse oximeter. Maybe you just need basic data about your sleep, something you could easily get by monitoring your heart rate. If that’s the case, you may not need a sleep tracker like the Garmin Vivosmart 4, and you could go with the better screen and data readout provided by the Polar A370.
If you’re serious about improving your health, there’s no better platform to get the data you need to take your sleep and workout to the next level.
Buy it Now: Polar Pro A370
Digital Finger Pulse Oximeter
If you just want to spot check your blood oxygen levels, CPAP.com sells a Digital Finger Pulse Oximeter, which allows you to see what your blood oxygen levels are at any time. Simply clasp around your finger, and it will give you the readout you’re looking for.
- Ideal for: Active CPAP Users / Supplemental Oxygen
- Cool Features: What a simple device! If you just want to know if you’re getting enough oxygen, without needing any additional features, this is for you.
- Area for Improvement: Doesn’t have any easy way to track progress or see trends. If you want to get hard-core with your data, this isn’t the device for you.
- Cost: Around $89
If you use supplemental oxygen in addition to using CPAP, you’ll need to keep a close eye on your blood oxygen levels. Having a Digital Finger Pulse Oximeter makes it possible to know if your oxygen levels are under control. It’s an essential part of tracking your overall health.
Buy it Now: Digital Finger Pulse Oximeter
What to Look for in a Sleep Tracker?
Buying a sleep tracker is more complex than just purchasing a watch. To find one that’s right for you, you need to start with the data the device delivers when tracking your sleep and activity. You’d then want to look at how the data is presented. Does it have an app? Does it use special software? From there, you can sort out what features are going to be most useful to you.
Common Sleep Tracker Features
A sleep tracker will typically have some or all of the following features:
- Heart Rate Monitor
- Body Temperature
Depending on make and model, a sleep tracker may also record:
- Pulse Oximeter
- Blood Pressure
- UV light
- Ambient Light Sensor
- Brain Wave Monitoring
If you’re primarily concerned about your sleep, you’ll want a sleep tracker that measures your cardiac functions at the bare minimum. This can include heart rate and ECG, if available. As a bonus, you’d want something that can track your blood oxygen levels as well.
Understanding Data Reporting
When you find a device that checks all of your feature boxes, you then need to look at how the data is presented to make your decision on purchasing. Some trackers only display the information on a companion app, while others allow you to track your progress on a website. A lot of it depends on the brand, so you’ll need to be choosy and shop around to find one that is the closest match to what you’re looking for.
The Garmin Vivosmart 4 and Polar A370 both have state-of-the-art companion apps and software. Whether or not you decide to go with the Polar A370 or the Garmin Vivosmart 4 is going to depend a lot on what you need it for. Are you more interested in the data that comes back from the tracker? Go with the Polar A370. If you’re more interested in tracking the sleep side of things, you will find the Garmin Vivosmart 4 to be more useful.
There are very few sleep trackers that can work without a smartphone to connect with. Smartphones can provide a connection to the internet that many of these devices lack, and are necessary for transmitting your data to the cloud, making it possible to view on an app. If you use a flip phone, you may find it hard to get a sleep tracker that does what you need it to.
It’s never easy to sort through all the features of new technology, but we hope you found this information to help choose the best sleep tracker for you.
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David Repasky has been using CPAP treatment since 2017 and has first-hand experience with what it’s like to live with Sleep Apnea. He brings the patient’s perspective to the CPAP.com blog and has received formal training in CPAP machines, masks, and equipment.