Throughout human history, if you wanted to know what you're like when you sleep, you'd have to ask the person lying next to you. Then again, that person was probably sleeping, too, so there wasn't a lot of information to convey.
You could also participate in a sleep study, but those could be time-consuming, and the idea of a scientist in a lab coat watching us while we sleep could give people, well, nightmares.
Luckily, digital sleep trackers have exploded in popularity, and now you can collect accurate data about your unconscious lifestyle with the press of a button. You could spend all your waking hours poring over the information collected while you caught 40 winks.
While many of these sleep trackers are built into fitness watches like Garmin and Fitbit, many people will prefer a less intrusive device specially designed to study their siestas. Nearly all of these systems are accurate and expertly put together, and they focus on your sleep cycle, encouraging you to wake when you are most bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
Note: Most sleep trackers are designed to monitor one person, so sharing a mattress with someone else might muddy the results. Make sure to read customer reviews before you invest in a particular system.
Here are some of our favorite sleep trackers, developed for a variety of lifestyles.
Beddit 3 Sleep Tracker
Beddit is one of the primary go-to sleep trackers on the market today, and if you're looking for something simple, dependable and cost-effective, this white strip should do the trick. Just insert the device under your bedsheets and download the app, and let the data flow. You'll learn about your snoring, heart rate and breathing habits with incredible precision.
Designed by a Swedish company, the Emfit QS is designed especially for athletes. The strip goes under your mattress and amasses a shocking amount of data, which professional sportspeople (and anyone training for a marathon) will find incredibly useful.
Sleep Number's SleepIQ
Sleep Number has developed many intelligent sleeping options, but the SleepIQ for kids is particularly fun: The bed tracks sleep and has a built-in "monster detector" and other accouterments. There's a sensor that will alert you when your child wanders off, and the whole frame is designed to expand as your kid grows. This model isn't cheap, but it'll provide great Z's for a child from four years to adolescence.
The Sense tracker definitely wins for original design: The device itself looks like a mummified sphere and can sit on a nightstand, while the tiny monitor is a little nub with the word "Hello" and clips onto a pillow. It even glows at night, if you want it to. There's no "snooze" feature, but otherwise, the alarm works beautifully.
Can a device really lull you to sleep with a careful selection of light and colors? Yes, and that's exactly the kind of technology that was developed for the Aura. The circular display will project certain light into your eyes, and then it will use a different combination to wake you up, so you don't have to cringe at the screaming of an alarm.
Not only does the Beautyrest Sleeptracker have a great name and an accurate sensor to place under your mattress, but the device is also Amazon Echo-enabled, which means you can operate and fine-tune this system through Alexa. Beautyrest also has the coveted ability to monitor two different people at once, analyzing distinct data for different comatose bodies.
It may sound crazy that a device could monitor your sleep patterns without needing to touch you (or even touch your bed), but the RedMed S+ is designed to do just that. The device looks like a futuristic clock radio and stands a safe distance from your body. Then it uses ultrasonic pulses to keep track of your nocturnal activities. When you connect the device to your cellphone's speakers, the S+ is also equipped to find suitable music for the rhythm of your snoozing.