A beginner’s guide to trackers

Image of Professor Colin Espie
by Professor Colin Espie

We’ve hand-picked a range of sleep trackers that we think deserve to be highlighted. In this section we’ll cover a range of devices from Jawbone, Fitbit, Sense and Basis. This is by no means an extensive list of the trackers available but it’s a good start for any budding tracking enthusiast!

Jawbone: UP Move



Price: $49.99
Battery life: 6 months

If you’re looking for an all round tracker that you don’t have to wear on your wrist, the UP Move could be for you. Unlike the UP Move’s sister trackers, wearing the UP Move on your wrist is not a requirement. However, Jawbone does recommend wearing it on your wrist during the night to track your sleep accurately.

Speaking of sleep…the UP Move will tell you the basics – how long and how well you slept. It tracks your quality of sleep using the built-in accelerometer, which detects light, sound and wake phases of sleep.

On the downside, you have to actively invoke the sleep tracking mode for the UP Move to track your sleep – something that’s done automatically in other trackers. Without automatic sleep detection, it’s on you to remember to start the sleep tracking mode, otherwise you’ll lose a night’s worth of data.

In addition to its sleep tracking mode, the UP Move boasts activity tracking and a stopwatch mode. Activity tracking monitors your steps, calories burned, distance walked, active time and idle time. The stopwatch feature is there to tell your UP Move that you’re about to start an activity, such as running or yoga. Jawbone supports a huge array of sports so no matter what your sport of choice is, you can log it in the Jawbone app after completing your activity.

Jawbone: UP2



Price: $99.99
Battery life: Up to 10 days

The UP2 hosts the same features as the UP Move – sleep tracking, activity tracking and stopwatch mode. One key difference between the two is that you wear the UP2 on your wrist compared to anywhere on your person with the UP Move.

More importantly, the UP2 includes two features that may aid a good night’s sleep…

• A smart alarm feature which identifies the best moment in your sleep cycle to wake you up in the morning and does so using a gentle, silent vibration.

• Automatic sleep detection so there’s no need to switch into sleep mode before catching a few zzz’s – no matter when you fall asleep, the UP2 should catch it and track it.

Jawbone: UP3 & UP4



UP3
Price: $179.99
Battery life: Up to 7 days

UP4
Price: $199.99
Battery life: Up to 7 days

On top of the basic features – activity tracking, sleep tracking and stopwatch mode, the UP3 and UP4 boast advanced sleep tracking, heart health monitoring, automatic sleep detection and smart alarm.

Using bioimpedance sensors to track your heart rate, the UP3 and UP4 can detect your sleep phases with a high degree of accuracy. Advanced sleep tracking empowers you to understand your sleep quality even further by tracking your Wake, REM, Light and Deep sleep.

One difference between the UP3 and UP4 is that the UP4 includes Amex Payments – you can connect your UP4 band to an American Express Card and make payments from your wrist. The UP3 does not include this functionality.

Fitbit: One



Price: $99.95
Battery life: 10 – 14 days

The Fitbit One is conveniently small and easily clips onto your pocket, belt or even bra. In addition to sleep, the One tracks your daily activity, including steps taken, stairs climbed and calories burned. The device’s OLED screen let’s you keep track of your progress throughout the day so you know where you are against your goals and also doubles up as a clock.

To track your sleep, you need to attach your One to the sleep wristband that comes included with the tracker. This might be a pain for some and comes with the risk of forgetting to do it and therefore, not capturing your sleep data. However, the wristband does offer the silent alarm, to allow you to be woken up at the time you prefer with a quiet vibration.

The One is a great option for those that prefer not to wear their device on their wrist day and night.

Fitbit: Charge & Charge HR



Charge
Price: $129.95
Battery life: 7 – 10 days

Charge HR
Price: $149.95
Battery life: Up to 5 days

The Fitbit Charge and Charge HR build on top of the functionality of the Fitbit One, tracking your sleep, steps, calories, floors climbed and active minutes. Both devices include a small screen that displays your progress and rewards you when you meet your activity goals, such as reaching 10,000 steps in a day. The screen also doubles up as a clock and will display incoming calls when synced to your smartphone.

The Charge and Charge HR both include automatic sleep detection and smart alarms.
Automatic sleep detection guarantees you won’t lose a night’s sleep data. The silent alarm helps you wake up with a smile on your face – gently waking you at the time you prefer.

The only difference between the Charge and the Charge HR is that the Charge HR also tracks your heart rate. The Charge HR automatically and continuously monitors your heart rate across the day and night so you can keep an eye on your heart rate over time and identify any trends – helping you to monitor and manage stress.

Fitbit: Surge



Price: $249.95
Battery life: Up to 7 days

Fitbit calls the Surge the “ultimate fitness super watch”. If you’re looking for a tracker with all the bells and whistles, the Surge could be the tracker for you. On top of the common functionality that we’ve covered previously – sleep and activity tracking, the Surge includes;

• heart rate tracking – receive automatic, continuous, wrist-based heart rate readings

GPS tracking – monitoring your runs, distance, pace and elevation as you train

• multi-sport tracking – Surge lets you track a wide range of sports, such as cross-training and cycling, so not matter what sport you’re training for the Surge will track your stats accurately.

In addition to the above, the Surge lets you control your music right from your device and also sends notifications to your device if synced to your smartphone.

Sense



Price: $129
Battery life: Up to 1 year

Unlike the other sleep trackers that we’ve covered so far, Sense consists of two parts – a beautifully designed orb that lives in your bedroom and a ‘Sleep Pill’. Sense focuses solely on sleep and, unlike the wearable devices that we’ve covered, neither of the devices live on your body.

Sense measures temperature, light, humidity, motion, sound and even the dust particles in the air. The Sleep Pill tracks your sleep by monitoring your motion.

By partnering the Sense and Sleep Pill together, you can get a fuller picture of your sleep on the Sense iOS or Android app. The app displays a view of your sleep cycle and highlights key events that might have affected your sleep, such as sounds outside that may have disturbed you.

Sense only tracks your sleep. Therefore, if you’re looking for a tracking device that monitors more than your sleep, Sense isn’t that device. However, if you’re looking for a non-intrusive device that takes a deep dive into your sleep and empowers you to make positive changes in your sleep patterns and environment, then Sense may be the one for you.

Basis: Peak



Price: $199.99
Battery life: Up to 4 days

If you’re looking for an all-in-one advanced tracker and smartwatch, then Peak could be for you. Not only does it boast automatic fitness and advanced sleep tracking, Peak features heart rate tracking, automatic sleep detection and smartwatch notifications for email, text and calls. It also tells the time…

When it comes to sleep tracking, Peak monitors your sleep duration and sleep stages (REM, Light and Deep sleep). It also monitors your movement to show you how much you were tossing and turning during the night.

Peak also tracks your activity – automatically detecting periods of exercise, which saves you having to enable any sort of stopwatch mode as with some of the wearables that we discussed earlier.

Next: Choosing the best tracker for you

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