Wearable devices are not accurate for measuring sleep quality

By: Dr. Gary Huber

Posted 10/26/2022

How good is your sleep? That’s a simple question but often difficult to answer in a short concise sentence. “Sleep” is a critical vital sign – an eye into the very center of your overall health. In multiple studies, poor sleep patterns have been linked to cancer risk, heart attacks, mood disorder, high blood sugar and even Alzheimers. All the nasty, narly degenerative issues we want to avoid are easier to keep at bay if our sleep is deep and restorative. We age at a rate concordant with the quality of our sleep. Short or interrupted sleep cycles means you get older faster.

But how are we to measure sleep quality and duration? With a wearable device such as FitBit, Whoop or Oura ring? Not even close. In a well-done study by Stone, Rentz, et al, published in the journal Nature and Science of Sleep in 2020, they compared the common commercial wearable devices such as FitBit, Oura, Apple watch, Garmin and others to the gold standard, an EEG. An EEG is an electrical device that is attach to the scalp and is the only true way of measuring the brain waves of sleep. The study found that these wearable devices were horribly inaccurate. In fact, they were no more accurate than a coin flip at determining your level of sleep or the number of awakenings.

These wearable devices are not plugged into your brain. The best they can do is measure your heart rate and your movement and then attempt to plug this insufficient data into an algorithm and try to predict your sleep pattern. DO NOT TRUST this as accurate information. I trust YOUR assessment of sleep far more than a wrist device or ring.

To add injury to insult, they emit EMF or electromagnetic radiation fields that ultimately can interfere with your beautiful brains attempt to produce theta and delta waves for sleep. Your brain is an electronic device and it struggles to operate properly if outside electrical fields interfere with it. Your iPhone and any other electrical field, such as the clock or light plugged in on your night stand, is emitting electrical fields that act as static or competing signals. Imagine trying to watch your favorite TV program while your dog is barking and your 4-year-old is asking you questions about where rainbows come from. You get the picture.

The true danger of EMF’s is being covered up by your FDA. Your tax dollars pay for the National Institute of Health and the National Cancer Institute, and they are both saying the EMF’s are safe and have no link to cancer. Gee that's weird . . . there are more than 500 scientific studies warning us that these are dangerous. If you REALLY want to learn more about EMF’s then check out Nick Pineault’s ebook “The Non-Tinfoil Guide to EMF’s”. He simply presents both sides of the debate but a quick look at the data

If you like your FitBit or Apple watch then know that it does a good job counting steps and measuring heart rate but at the cost of constant EMF exposure and a complete lack of ability to tell you anything worthwhile about your sleep.

If you want to assess your sleep then YOU are the best tool. There is a simple Sleep Score questionnaire that you can take to start gaining insight. Beyond that there are simple home tests that you can use that measure oxygen saturation, snoring and more (watchPAT One). Talk with your doctor about these simple home-based testing options. For more detail on these options see Dr. Bianco’s article, Accurate Measure of Sleep Quality on this website.

If you want to explore information on a variety of heart rate monitors and explore their strengths and weaknesses then see my 13 minute video on HippEvo.com, Heart Rate Monitor Options

So dig in now, take the Sleep Score questionnaire and then follow up with the Sleep Hygiene This is too important to your longevity and good health. Cultivate a great sleep pattern and every day will be a lot brighter and much more enjoyable.


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