Can smart watches track your sleeping patterns?

HOUSTON – You see them on wrists all across Houston. Sherry Cameron said that her fitness tracking device is one of the first things that she checks when she wakes up in the morning.

‘It tells me how much REM sleep I’ve had, how much deep sleep I’ve had how much I was laying in the bed wide awake,’ said Cameron.

Many smart watches and fitness trackers claim to monitor sleeping patterns. We asked the Medical Director of Neurological Sleep Medicine at TIRR Memorial Hermann and associate professor at UT Health, Dr. Sudha Tallavajhula, about the device’s accuracy.

“They are about 85 to 95% sensitive when it comes to measuring sleep duration,” said Dr. Tallvajhula. “When it comes to looking at deep sleep, what they mean by deep sleep may vary across brands and models but for large scape purposes they are fairly accurate.”

Some physicians said that the devices may help alert you to possible health issues to discuss with your doctor.

“There are some sleep watches that gauge a drop in oxygen saturation which may be indicative of sleep apnea,” said Dr. Tallvajhula. “It may not be accurate but it could give some indication that you need additional testing.”

The doctor said that the devices and technology do have limitations and for some, wearing a device can be counterproductive and create anxiety.

David Rahe said that he has a love/hate relationship with his smartwatch.

“I don’t like any of the information that it gives me from my sleep count to my body fat percentage,” said Rahe. “I hate all the information I am getting but hopefully it gives me a baseline.”

Dr. Tallavajhula said her advice is to identify why you want the information and what you are specifically trying to track.


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