Sarah has covered news topics for digital and print publications. She holds a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Nevada.
Polysomnography, or PSG, is a comprehensive lab conducted test that tracks brain waves, oxygen levels, heart rate, and movement when sleeping. PSG is often considered the most accurate way to monitor and detect sleep disorders. However, new research in the journal Sleep suggests that many consumer accessible sleep-tracking devices perform just as well in detecting sleep. In fact, the study finds these consumer-oriented devices often perform better than actigraphy (a technique used to assess activity and rest over several days or weeks, often with a wearable device) in detecting wake. Such findings can mean major benefits to consumers suffering from sleep-related issues, including convenience and accessibility.
The study tracked the sleep of 34 young adults using PSG, an actigraphy device, four wearable sleep trackers (the Fatigue Science Readiband, Fitbit Alta HR, Garmin Fenix 5S, and Garmin Vivosmart 3), and three non-wearable sleep trackers (EarlySense Live, ResMed S+, and SleepScore Max). Participants were tracked for three consecutive nights in a controlled setting.
Results showed that although PSG continued to be the gold standard in detecting sleep issues, five of the sleep-tracking devices tested — Fatigue Science Readiband, Fitbit Alta HR, EarlySense Live, ResMed S+, and SleepScore Max — performed just as well, if not better, than actigraphy when it came to detecting wake times. Most devices also “exhibited high performance” in detecting sleep. The study shows that of the seven devices tested, the Fitbit Alta HR was consistent in its performance and one of the most accurate compared with its competitors within the study. The researchers considered it a top contending sleep-tracking device.
Although the accuracy of sleep-trackers is promising, the study indicates that additional performance testing is warranted with a more diverse participant group. This could help researchers gain a better understanding of device limitations and overall health benefit to the consumer.