How Your Fitness Tracker Can Indicate Sleep Apnea

Once your head hits the pillow the rest might feel like a mystery until you wake up the next morning. You may wake feeling well rested or like you hardly closed your eyes at all, as you’re left wondering how you really slept. Many modern CPAP machines now include sleep tracking functions, but that only helps if you've already been diagnosed with sleep apnea. However, wrist trackers such as Fitbit or the Apple Watch may be able to clue you in on your sleep quality and even track sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea Tracking On Your Wrist

Sleep apnea symptoms occur during your sleep, making them easy to miss. As your breathing stops multiple times per night and your body works to restore airflow your chest may heave, heart rate may spike, wake up gasping, and much more. All of which is extremely exhausting and dangerous.

If sleep apnea is left untreated it may contribute to a variety of serious health conditions such as: 

Man needs to track sleep apnea
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Heart Disease
  • Hypertension
  • Increased Traffic Accidents
  • Depression
  • Obesity
  • Chronic Fatigue

But if sleep apnea happens in your sleep, how do you know if you’re at risk? Because loud snoring is a major symptom, sometimes people are alerted by their partners or can film themselves sleeping. You can also use an at home sleep apnea test. However, if you aren’t ready to complete that process, the answers you’re looking for might be on your wrist, as smart watches like Fitbit and the Apple watch are actually highly effective sleep trackers.

How To Track Sleep Apnea

People wear trackers to monitor their personal fitness activity to improve their overall health, so it only makes sense for these devices to track your sleep, which is crucial for your overall well being.

Because Fitbit watches and other devices are able to detect how many times your body is restless during the night they may be able to provide an accurate idea of how many apneas you suffer from a night. An apnea is an event in which your body suddenly stops breathing during sleep. While 10 to 30 periods of restlessness are normal during the night, between 5 to over 30 an hour may determine your sleep apnea severity.

View your sleep results to track sleep apnea

Also, with the ability to track your heart rate, sleep trackers are able to determine your sleep cycles, which must function properly in order to help you feel well rested. Pay close attention to how much time is spent in the REM cycle, which is needed to physically repair your body as you dream. Without getting enough time in the REM cycle you may feel fatigue, especially if you have a physically demanding career.

As the amount of time you spent in a restless state is subtracted from the time you got good sleep, sleep trackers are able to determine how much quality sleep you get. Then they display all of this helpful information in nightly charts for you to review.

Be sure to look are your sleep results every morning to learn your normal routine and to see if you might be at risk for a sleeping disorder. Many doctors are finding this information to be incredibly valuable for determining if you need a sleep apnea test or not.

Sleep Trackers May Improve Soon

It may become easier to track sleep apnea in the future

With the addition of the SpO2 sensor in the FitBit Ionic watch to sense oxygen saturation it may be able to tack sleep apnea in the future as more machine learning and studies are performed. This would help determine if your body isn’t getting enough oxygen as you sleep.

The company is currently undergoing trials to discover their effectiveness at monitoring sleep apnea events. It may become more of an overall wellness device and symptom checker in the future.

In the meantime, as sleep trackers have the ability to determine your restlessness and sleeping cycles, be sure to contact your doctor if you feel as if you may be at risk for sleep apnea.