Sleep, Fitness and How a Sleep Tracker Watch Can Help to Optimise Both
It’s common knowledge that sleep is essential for good health. But how can a good night’s sleep help your training schedule and how do you know whether you are getting enough? In this article, we’ll explore the importance of sleep to the athlete and how using a sleep tracker watch can help you to optimise your workouts.
Sleep and Exercise: How Both Work in Tandem
When it comes to working out, you know that what you do during each session is important. But what about what you do when you are not working out? Eating, drinking, working, sleeping – all can have an impact on the results you achieve in your workouts. Sleep is especially important. Without the right amount of sleep, your workouts simply won’t be able to deliver the benefits you are seeking.
The more rested you are, the better your body and mind can function, including at the gym or when working out at home. What’s more, people who sleep better are more motivated to keep to their exercise schedule. On the flip side, when you don’t get enough sleep, you might find that your workouts are more of a challenge or that you need to pull up and rest sooner than normal. While sleep deprivation doesn’t have a huge impact on respiratory and cardiovascular responses or muscle strength, it can cause fatigue to set in sooner.
How Much Sleep is Enough?
Most of us know that getting a good night’s sleep should be a necessity. But how many of us make those hours under the covers a priority? The amount of sleep each person needs will differ from person to person but a good rule of thumb for adults is 7-9 hours.
Until recently, athletes were unable to consistently track sleep and identify any patterns that could be affecting their output. Yes, you could keep a manual recording of your sleep, noting down when you went to bed and what time you woke up. However, you would not have an accurate record of what time you fell asleep and whether you were restless during the night. Another problem with manually tracking sleep is remembering to track it and tracking it consistently. A Sleep Tracker Watch can take away the uncertainty by automatically tracking your sleep for you every night. You’ll get a detailed reading of your sleep patterns and be able to correlate this data with the results of your next workout.
How a Sleep Tracker Watch Works
From setting sleep goals to identifying restless patterns of sleep, a sleep tracker watch can tell you a lot about your sleeping habits. There is a wide variety of fitness trackers on the market that have sleep trackers built-in. There are also dedicated trackers that clip to your pillow or which you place on your bedside table. The features of each device vary, but common functions of a sleep tracker watch usually include:
- Sleep Duration: The sleep duration feature works by tracking the amount of time you are inactive. They record the moment you fell asleep to the moment you start to stir in the morning.
- Sleep Quality: Quality of sleep is also very important. Most trackers can detect when there are breaks in your sleep patterns that you may not be aware of. So, if you have been tossing and turning in your sleep, your tracker will tell you.
- Sleep Phases: Some trackers can analyse the phases of your sleep cycle. These can time your alarm clock to go off when you are in a lighter sleep mode, making it easier for you to wake up.
- Environmental Factors: Some more sophisticated devices can detect environmental factors, such as the temperature or amount of light in your bedroom.
What Does a Typical Sleep Cycle Look Like?
Everybody is different when it comes to sleep but during a typical night, you go through several sleep stages. These can include:
- Stage 1: This stage lasts a few minutes. During this stage, your sleep is light and you will be easy to wake. It’s about this time where you might feel the sensation of falling or tripping up. This is because your brain waves are still active and still sending messages to your muscles.
- Stage 2: The second stage of sleep is also light, but your brain waves will be starting to slow down now.
- Stages 3 and 4: During these stages of sleep, you will transition to a deeper sleep state and will be harder to wake up. This is the stage where your body starts to repair itself.
- REM sleep: This is the final stage of the sleep cycle and is when dreams are more likely to occur. Your brain is busy processing information during this stage and storing long-term memories.
Which Sleep Tracker Watch is Best For Sleep Analysis?
Do you already own a fitness and sleep tracker watch? Perhaps you are thinking of investing in one. We’ve taken a look at some of the most popular devices and given you a lowdown of their sleep analysis capabilities.
Fitbit Versa 2
The Fitbit Versa 2 is one of the most reliable and popular fitness and sleep tracker watches on the market today. Not only can it detect when you fall asleep but can also detect when you are simply lying in bed reading a book. It is incredibly accurate with its step rate and heart rate counters and so that should fill you with the hope that the sleep analysis is accurate too. You can also program a sleep schedule into the Versa 2 and it will give you a gentle reminder that it’s time to turn in.
Price at time of Article: £199.99
The Polar Sleep Plus system on the Polar M430 fitness tracker uses the watch’s accelerometer to deliver highly insightful and intuitive feedback. It provides you with actual sleep time and not simply the time you spent in bed. It also tracks continuous sleep periods and interruptions. You can also rate your sleep and use this benchmark data to measure against your workouts. This will be a true indicator of how important a good night’s sleep is to your training output.
Price at time of Article: £174.50
Fitbit Alta Hr
The Fitbit Alta Hr is a thinner and unobtrusive design compared to the Versa 2 and may feel better on your wrist if you wear it to bed. However, its compact design does mean that you get fewer apps to play with. But not having that drain on power does mean you get a massive 7 days of battery life. Sleep analysis data is very accurate and reliable and you’ll get a good breakdown of your sleep patterns on the Fitbit app. You can also set a wind-down period before bedtime.
Price at time of Article: £129.99
To conclude, sleep is so important for training. Adequate sleep can benefit you immensely and help you hit your goals. Investing in a good Sleep Tracker Watch is paramount to improving fitness. But remember to always consider what your actual goal is. Some people might prefer a sleep app rather than a sleep tracker watch and that’s okay. It’s about your personnel preference.
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