Consumer sleep tracking devices: a review of mechanisms, validity and utility

Expert Rev Med Devices. 2016 May;13(5):497-506. doi: 10.1586/17434440.2016.1171708. Epub 2016 Apr 18.


Consumer sleep tracking devices such as fitness trackers and smartphone apps have become increasingly popular. These devices claim to measure the sleep duration of their users and in some cases purport to measure sleep quality and awaken users from light sleep, potentially improving overall sleep. Most of these devices appear to utilize data generated from in-built accelerometers to determine sleep parameters but the exact mechanisms and algorithms are proprietary. The growing literature comparing these devices against polysomnography/actigraphy shows that they tend to underestimate sleep disruptions and overestimate total sleep times and sleep efficiency in normal subjects. In this review, we evaluate the current literature comparing the accuracy of consumer sleep tracking devices against more conventional methods used to measure sleep duration and quality. We discuss the current technology that these devices utilize as well as summarize the value of these devices in clinical evaluations and their potential limitations.

Keywords: Sleep tracking devices; actigraph; consumer sleep tracking; fitness trackers; smartphone apps.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry / instrumentation
  • Algorithms
  • Cell Phone
  • Humans
  • Polysomnography / instrumentation*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Wakefulness / physiology