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Deciding on the Best Sleep Tracker? Why You Should Try RISE

Published
2024-06-21
Updated
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What's the Best Sleep Tracker? 

  • The RISE app is the best sleep tracker. Beyond just tracking your sleep duration, it works out how much sleep you personally need, so you know if you’re getting enough of it.
  • RISE focuses on the two metrics that, when improved, make the biggest difference to how you feel. That’s sleep debt and circadian alignment.
  • RISE also gives you daily guidance, based on your own biology, to help improve your sleep, energy, health, and productivity.
  • You can use RISE with just your phone or pair the app with a wearable. RISE syncs with Apple Watch, Oura Ring, Garmin, and Fitbit directly and devices like Whoop and Eight Sleep indirectly through Apple Healthkit.

Looking for a sleep tracker can feel overwhelming. There are thousands on the market all claiming to improve your sleep. But if you want better sleep and energy — probably why you’re looking for a sleep tracker in the first place — the decision is easy. 

You need a sleep tracker that tracks your sleep duration, of course, but also one that works out how much sleep you personally need, so you know if you’re getting enough of it. Plus, you’ll want a sleep tracker that gives you personalized guidance to improve your sleep and energy levels. 

There’s only one tracker that truly does that: the RISE app. 

Below, we’ll dive into what to look for in a sleep tracker, what the RISE app does, and how it compares to other sleep trackers out there.

Buyer’s Guide: What to Look for in a Sleep Tracker? 

Here’s what to ask yourself when comparing sleep trackers:

  • Does the sleep tracker work out how much sleep you need? You’ll want a sleep tracker that tracks your sleep duration, of course, but also one that works out your individual sleep need (how much sleep you need), so you know if your sleep duration is sufficient.
  • RISE uses sleep science algorithms to accurately work out your sleep need and sleep duration.
  • Does the sleep tracker focus on the right metrics? Not all sleep metrics are made equal. In addition to tracking your sleep need and sleep duration, you’ll also want to track sleep debt (how much sleep you owe your body) and circadian alignment (how in sync you are with your circadian rhythm, or body clock). These are proven to make the biggest difference to how you feel each day. Many sleep trackers either don’t track them at all, give you limited information about them, or track them inaccurately.
  • RISE uses your unique sleep need to work out your sleep debt and predict the timing of your circadian rhythm each day.
  • Does the sleep tracker help you improve those metrics? You probably don’t just want to gather sleep data for fun. Look for a sleep tracker that helps you improve your sleep debt and circadian alignment, so you notice a difference in your days and nights.
  • RISE gives you personalized daily guidance, based on your own body, to help you lower your sleep debt and get in sync with your circadian rhythm.
  • Does the sleep tracker come with useful features? Consider which features you’re looking for in a sleep tracker. Popular features include a smart alarm, heart rate tracking, and sleep sounds.
  • RISE has sleep sounds, a smart alarm, suggested wake and bedtimes, and personalized sleep hygiene notifications to help you get more sleep and energy.
  • How much does the sleep tracker cost? If you’ve got a budget in mind, this will help to narrow down your sleep tracker choices. Some come with the extra cost of a wearable device.
  • RISE costs $69.99 a year, which works out to $5.83 a month. There’s a seven-day free trial in which you can find out how much sleep you need, whether you have any sleep debt, and see daily predictions of your circadian rhythm. And you don’t need a wearable to make RISE work — although if you have one, RISE can sync with wearables.
  • Does the sleep tracker have good reviews? Compare reviews and look for industry awards and recognitions.
  • RISE has thousands of 5-star user reviews and it’s been named one of the best sleep apps for 2024.
  • Does the sleep tracker need a wearable to work? Consider if you want to buy, charge, and look after another gadget. Think about the battery life and how comfortable a wristband or smartwatch will be to sleep with. Some sleep trackers just need your phone to work or they use non-wearable devices to track your sleep like a mattress pad.
  • RISE can track your sleep through your phone alone or, if you have a wearable sleep tracker or decide to get one in the future, RISE can pull data from it.

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Metrics You’ll Want Your Sleep Tracker to Track 

Sleep tracking is only truly effective when you’re tracking the right metrics and improving them to get a good night’s sleep, more energy, and better physical and mental health. 

Here’s how RISE and alternative sleep trackers compare on the metrics they focus on.

Sleep Duration 

Tracking sleep duration is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think about sleep trackers. Most sleep monitors track this basic metric giving you an estimation of how much sleep you get each night. 

RISE does too, tracking your sleep duration in one of four ways: 

  • Tappigraphy: Tracking phone use, or when you touch your phone last thing at night, during the night, and first thing in the morning. 
  • Mattress-based actigraphy: Tracking movement using your phone’s accelerometer. 
  • Sound: Tracking sound via your phone’s microphone.
  • Data from a wearable (if you have one): RISE pulls data from Apple Watch, Garmin, Fitbit, or Oura Ring. If you forget to wear or charge your wearable, RISE will automatically use tappigraphy to track your sleep.

RISE then gives you a detailed breakdown of your night. You’ll see how much sleep you got, when you fell asleep and woke up, and if and when you woke up in the night. 

You won’t see how long you spent in different sleep stages (we’ll explain why soon), but if you have an Apple Watch, RISE can pull this data across to the app.

Heads-up: Research shows tappigraphy can be more accurate than tracking movement for some sleepers. That’s because many of us lay motionless in bed scrolling on our phones or watching TV. If a sleep tracker is tracking your movement, this motionless awake time can be misclassified as sleep. Apps like RISE that can track your phone use may give you a more accurate sleep duration. 

Did you know apps make great sleep trackers? We’ve covered how you can track your sleep with just your phone here.

RISE app screenshot showing sleep duration and when you wake up at night
RISE tracks your sleep duration and when you wake up in the night.

Sleep Need  

Knowing how much sleep you’re getting is important as sleep deprivation affects everything else in life — your health, performance, energy, and mood, just to name a few things. But if you don’t know how much sleep you personally need, knowing how much you get isn’t all that helpful. 

This is where finding out your sleep need comes in. 

Sleep need is how much sleep you personally need. It’s based on genetics and can vary from person to person.  

For example, among 1.95 million RISE users aged 24 and over, sleep needs ranged from five hours to 11 hours 30 minutes.

The RISE app can tell you how much sleep you need
The hours of sleep RISE users need.

Most sleep trackers don’t work out your sleep need. They may use generic sleep guidelines — which are often inaccurate and misleading — or ask you to set your sleep need yourself despite most of us not knowing how much sleep we need. Alternatively, they may not even work out your sleep need at all. 

RISE works out your sleep need in hours and minutes. The app uses a year’s worth of your phone use behavior and sleep science algorithms to calculate how much sleep you personally need.

Sleep Debt 

Once you know your sleep need, you’ll want to know if you’re hitting that each night. If you’re not, you’ll be building up sleep debt, which is the amount of sleep you owe your body.  

Lowering your sleep debt can help improve your energy, mood, focus, and mental and physical health, making it one of the most important metrics to track.

Many sleep monitors either don’t track your sleep debt at all — like Sleep Cycle and Fitbit — or they track it using generic or self-set sleep goals — like Whoop and AutoSleep. This probably makes their sleep debt tracking inaccurate. 

RISE gives you an accurate sleep debt number. The app compares how much sleep you get to how much sleep you need and calculates your sleep debt over the course of 14 nights. 

You won’t get confusing sleep reports or a hundred data points to go through. You’ll get one clear number to focus on.

Learn more about the best sleep debt trackers here.

RISE app screenshot showing how much sleep debt you have
RISE works out your sleep debt.

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can view their sleep need here and view their sleep debt here.

Circadian Alignment 

Alongside accurately working out your sleep duration, sleep need, and sleep debt, you’ll want a sleep tracker that gives you insights about your circadian alignment.

Circadian alignment is when you synchronize your daily routine and behaviors, like sleeping, eating, and activity, with your circadian rhythm or internal body clock. 

Being in sync, means the sleep you get will be at the right time for you on a regular schedule. This will lead to more energy, better performance and health, and an easier time falling and staying asleep. In a virtuous cycle, being in sync with your circadian rhythm will make it easier to keep your sleep debt low, and in turn, low sleep debt can help you stay in sync. 

That means the best sleep tracker will need to track your sleep debt and your circadian rhythm to help you feel and function your best.

Many sleep-tracking apps and wearables — like Sleep Cycle — don’t give you any information about your circadian rhythm. 

Others — like Apple Watch, Fitbit, Whoop, Oura Ring, and AutoSleep — give you limited information to work with. This might come in the form of a recommended bedtime or sleep consistency score (how regular your sleep schedule is). These insights appear to be helpful but are often based on those generic or self-set sleep goals, limiting their usefulness. 

RISE gives you accurate insights you can use all day and night. 

Using your recent sleep times, inferred light exposure, and algorithms built on the SAFTE model — which was developed by the US Department of Transportation and the Department of Defense — RISE predicts the timing of your circadian rhythm.

You’ll see: 

  • When your body naturally wants to wake up and go to sleep, so you can fall asleep fast, stay asleep, and get the sleep you need 
  • When your energy levels will rise and fall across the day, so you know the best times to do challenging tasks, take a nap, and wind down for bed 
  • When you should do 20+ sleep hygiene habits. These are the habits that help you keep sleep debt low and stay in circadian alignment. Doing them at the right time for your circadian rhythm makes them even more effective

You’ll also get an Energy Potential score from zero to 100. Instead of the opaque readiness or recovery scores other sleep trackers offer, this score is based on your sleep debt. Lower your sleep debt to get more energy.

RISE app screenshot showing your energy peak and dip times
RISE predicts your daily circadian rhythm.

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can see their circadian rhythm on the Energy screen here.  

Sleep Quality 

Garmin, Apple Watch, Sleep++, Pillow, AutoSleep, and others track the quality of your sleep.

This is a metric RISE doesn’t track per se. But there are good reasons for that. 

Sleep quality doesn’t have a set definition, so trackers use different metrics to give you a sleep score based on their own scoring system instead. This could include sleep duration, deep sleep, and perhaps how many sleep disturbances you had. It varies from one sleep tracker to the next. 

Despite their prevalence, there isn’t evidence these sleep scores correlate with how you feel and function (with the significant exception of the placebo effect). 

And even if they did, it would be hard to improve them as so many metrics go into the score and the relative importance of each metric in determining the overall score is not clear.

Research shows how you feel about your sleep can make a difference to your well-being though. You can self-rate your sleep quality in RISE to track this.

We’ve covered more on sleep quality vs. sleep quantity here. 

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You Don’t Need to Track Time Spent in Sleep Stages

Many sleep trackers tell you the amount of time you spend in the sleep stages of light sleep (called core sleep on the Apple Watch), deep sleep, and rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep. This includes trackers like Apple Watch, Garmin, Samsung Galaxy, the Pillow app, and Eight Sleep mattress cover.

RISE doesn’t track your sleep stages. Here’s why: 

  • There isn’t enough evidence to know whether the amount of time you spend in each sleep stage makes a difference to how you feel during the day.
  • There isn’t a recommended amount of deep, light, and REM sleep to get. In fact, it’ll be different for everyone and could change nightly depending on several factors.
  • Research shows sleep trackers — including Fitbit, Garmin, and the Withings sleep mat — aren’t 100% accurate at working out which sleep stage you’re in. Even in polysomnography (sleep studies), experts only agree on results about 80% of the time.   

You don’t need to track the time you spend in different stages of sleep. You just need to focus on getting enough sleep for you on a regular schedule with the help of good sleep hygiene. This will ensure your brain can get the right amount of each sleep stage for you.

Heads-up: Metrics like time spent in sleep stages and sleep quality can’t help diagnose sleep disorders. RISE’s sleep debt tracking can be useful to share with a healthcare provider to show recent sleep loss. Blood oxygen levels from trackers like Apple Watch and snore detection from trackers like Fitbit could help a doctor detect signs of sleep apnea.  

Which Sleep Trackers Help You Get Better Sleep and More Energy? 

Look for a sleep tracker with features that will help you lower your sleep debt and get in circadian alignment. This is what will make the most difference to your sleep and energy levels. 

Trackers like Oura Ring, Whoop, and Apple Watch may help with features like bedtime consistency tracking or the ability to manually log activities that could impact your sleep to look for patterns. 

RISE is the only sleep tracker with purpose-built features designed especially to help you lower your sleep debt and get in circadian alignment.

These features include: 

  • 20+ sleep hygiene notifications: These are the sleep habits proven to help you fall and stay asleep. RISE tells you the best time to have your final coffee, finish dinner, and get and avoid bright light based on your individual circadian rhythm. You can get these notifications on your Apple Watch if you have one.
  • Recommended sleep and wake times: Learn when your body naturally wants to wake up and go to sleep, or follow RISE’s Smart Schedule to get a personalized bedtime based on your chosen wake time, sleep need, and sleep debt. RISE can also help you get over jet lag, become a morning person, or get your sleep schedule back on track.  
  • A prediction of your energy levels: Check when your energy will most likely rise and fall each day. Plan your day to match to harness your most productive times. 
  • Sleep sounds and guided relaxation exercises: Fall asleep faster with guided breathing and relaxation exercises and a library of soothing sounds. 
  • A smart alarm clock: RISE’s alarm will tell you, as you’re setting it, if your wake time will add to your sleep debt. It’ll wake you up with soft sounds and vibrations come morning.
RISE users' sleep needs
Regular RISE users get more sleep.

Other Useful Features 

You can decide on a sleep tracker by comparing the additional features it offers. 

Popular features include tracking your snoring, respiratory rate, and body temperature. If you go for a fitness tracker like the Apple Watch, Oura Ring, or Whoop, you’ll get workout tracking, fertility tracking, and information about blood oxygen saturation and heart rate variability (HRV). 

Here’s what RISE offers: 

  • Calendar integration: View your daily energy peaks and dips in your Google or Apple calendar, so you can schedule your day to match. 
  • Partner Connect: Sync up with a partner or friend to view each other's sleep debt and keep each other accountable. 
  • See RISE insights on other devices: Access RISE on the app, the iPhone home screen widget, or on your Apple Watch or iPad.
  • Sync RISE with other trackers: RISE syncs with Apple Watch, Garmin, Fitbit, and Oura Ring directly, devices like Eight Sleep Mattress and Whoop indirectly through Apple HealthKit, and with apps like Sleep Cycle and AutoSleep. This lets you completely customize your sleep-tracking experience. 

You don’t need to wear a watch — or any other wearable — to bed to track sleep. We’ve covered the best sleep tracker app without a watch here. 

Cost 

Here’s how the most popular sleep-tracking devices and apps compare on cost. 

  • RISE: $69.99 a year, which works out at $5.83 a month
  • Fitbit: Price depends on the model. The Fitbit Sense 2 is $249.95 and the Fitbit Charge 6 is $159.95. Fitbit Premium, which gives you access to more sleep and health features on the Fitbit app, costs $9.99 a month or $79.99 a year
  • Whoop: $239 a year. The basic Whoop strap is free and other colors cost $49 to $99
  • Oura Ring: $5.99 for the monthly subscription. The ring costs $299 to $349, depending on design
  • Garmin: Price depends on the model. The Venu 3 costs $449.99 and the Vivoactive 5 costs $299.99
  • Apple Watch: Price depends on the model. The Apple Watch Series 9 is $399 and the Apple Watch Ultra 2 is $799
  • AutoSleep: $7.99 
  • Sleep Cycle: $39.99 a year 

Beyond the price tag, look at free trial periods so you can try before you buy. For example, Whoop, Sleep Cycle, and RISE offer free trials. 

RISE offers a seven-day free trial in which you can: 

  • Find out your sleep need
  • Find out if you have any sleep debt
  • See your daily circadian rhythm and energy predictions 
  • Access all of RISE’s features, including sleep hygiene reminders, recommended bedtimes, and the smart alarm  

A lot can happen in one week — 80% of RISE users feel more energy within just five days. 

Are There Any Free Sleep Trackers? 

There are free sleep trackers such as PrimeNap (only available on Android), SleepWatch (the basic version is free, but you’ll have to pay to access all the features), and Pillow (you’ll also have to pay to access all the features — the app records your snoring, for example, but you can’t listen to the recordings unless you upgrade). 

You can access all of RISE’s features for free for seven days to see if you think it’s worth paying for

Reviews

We can’t compare reviews for every sleep tracker on the market, but here’s what users have to say about RISE: 

  • The best app for sleep health and well-being…ever….RISE is, far and away, the most useful app I've ever subscribed to and the features and resources it provides its users are beyond incredible.” Read the review.
  • “One of the only sleep apps I tried that’s worth the money. It has unique features and helps you track what they call a sleep debt so you can know when to go to bed based on how much sleep you’ve gotten in the recent week. Sometimes I lose sleep and then I feel tired all day, but I gain energy again at night. It helps me understand these patterns with scientific data and then know what time to go to bed to feel better the next day.” Read the review.
  • “More useful than sleep trackers noting how I slept last night, RISE forecasts the day ahead. I find it matches my energy during the day quite accurately.” Read the review

As well as thousands of five-star reviews, RISE has gained attention from some big names in the industry. Apple nominated RISE for a design award and named it an Editor’s Choice App and both Sleep Foundation and Sleep Doctor named RISE one of their best sleep apps for 2024. 

The Best Sleep Tracker: RISE 

You’ve made the decision to track your sleep, now you just need to find the best sleep tracker for you. We believe it’s RISE.

Other sleep trackers can tell you how much sleep you get or give you generic information about certain metrics, but there’s only so much they can do to help you get more sleep and better energy.  

RISE is different. RISE works out how much sleep you personally need. It acts as a sleep coach, giving you daily guidance tailored to you to help you improve the key metrics of sleep debt and circadian alignment. 

In real terms, you’ll get better sleep, more energy, and notice a real difference in your health, mood, and productivity.

FAQs

About Our Editorial Team

Written by
Jeff Kahn, M.S., Rise Science Co-Founder
Reviewed by
Chester Wu, MD, Rise Science Medical Reviewer
Our Editorial Standards
We bring sleep research out of the lab and into your life. Every post begins with peer-reviewed studies — not third-party sources — to make sure we only share advice that can be defended to a room full of sleep scientists.
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Updated Regularly
We regularly update our articles to explain the latest research and shifts in scientific consensus in a simple and actionable way.

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About Rise
Rise is the only app that unlocks the real-world benefits of better sleep.

Instead of just promising a better night, we use 100 years of sleep science to help you pay down sleep debt and take advantage of your circadian rhythm to be your best.

Over the past decade, we've helped professional athletes, startups, and Fortune 500s improve their sleep to measurably win more in the real-world scenarios that matter most.

Rise Science is backed by True Ventures, Freestyle Capital, and High Alpha; investors behind category winners Fitbit, Peloton, and Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

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