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Sleep Tracking: Is It Safe to Wear Smartwatch While Sleeping?

Many smartwatches and fitness bands offer sleep-tracking features, allowing you to monitor your sleep cycle and schedule. You might even find yourself wearinWear Smartwatch Sleepingg these smart bands all the time for the same. But is it safe to wear a smartwatch or fitness band while sleeping? And does wearing them always have any health implications or radiation? Let’s delve into the details.

What is Sleep Tracking on Smartwatches and Fitness Bands?

Sleeping daily is essential for our body to relax the muscles and brain and regain power. But at times, we get tensed or anxious due to stress, frustration, or other daily events. This can cause sleep-related issues and have a negative impact on health.

The Sleep Tracking feature on smartwatches and bands can analyze your sleep duration, quality, and sleep patterns. It can also gauge your sleeping cycles, including rapid eye movement and non-rapid eye movement phases.

This is usually done using actigraphy, i.e., by detecting the movements on your wrist. Some smartwatches also use changes in heart rate to track the sleep cycle.

How Does Sleep Tracking Work?

Sleep tracking in smartwatches and bands uses wrist movements to detect sleep. It primarily uses gyroscope and accelerometer sensors to track body movements. It also helps the device detect which sleep cycle you are in or if you are awake.

Some smartwatches rely on the heart rate sensor to monitor sleep since the heart rate is generally reduced in deep sleep. The data changes in different sleep cycles as the heart rate will fluctuate according to your sleep stage.

Should You Wear a Smartwatch or Fitness Tracker While Sleeping?

Wearing a smartwatch or fitness tracker while sleeping can be a personal choice for every person. Some people may not be comfortable wearing a smartwatch during sleep, while others may already be used to it.

If you are concerned about your sleeping schedule, wearing your smartwatch to bed is always good. Using the data and suggestions, you can change your daily routine and sleep properly to keep your mind and body relaxed.

However, some people may find the watch uncomfortable on their wrist while sleeping. This can disturb sleep further. Some may even get skin irritation problems, especially when the smartwatch heats up or is worn tightly.

If you face any such issues, sleep tracking will do more harm than benefit; hence, avoid wearing the watch. But if not, it’s completely fine to wear it overnight.

Radiation in Smartwatches and Fitness Trackers

Most electronic gadgets emit some form of radiation. In the case of smartwatches and fitness trackers, it is Electromagnetic Fields (EMF). Smartphones, laptops, and TVs also emit these radiations through different variations.

Smartwatches use low-frequency EMF, which are non-ionizing radiations and do not have enough energy. Furthermore, they usually send signals in streams or brief bursts (pulses) for a short period.

As a result, wearable devices expose the user to minimal levels of RF radiation over time. Provided they also equip Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and or cellular connectivity, you can keep them on par with smartphone radiation.

You can read more about wearable technology and safety on the CDC’s website and its relation with cancer on the University of Utah website.

Can Wearing a Smartwatch All Time or While Sleeping Affect Your Health?

No officially proven claims suggest that wearing a smartwatch all the time negatively impacts your health. Plus, most users naturally take breaks to charge their watches or when bathing.

Given the radiation exposure being way under safe limits, smartwatches, and fitness trackers can be worn 24/7, provided you’re comfortable doing so and are not sleeping with your head right over the watch.

Is it Beneficial to Track Your Sleep?

Sleep tracking can be helpful for people concerned with their overall health. It tracks your sleep cycles and tells you whether you are having a good sleep. The different stages of sleep are described below:

  • NREM (Stage One): This is the beginning stage when your body and brain significantly slow down to sleep. It generally lasts 5-10 minutes, and if you are awake during this stage, you may not feel active.
  • NREM (Stage Two): In this stage, you go into light sleep, and your muscles begin to relax as your body temperature and heart rate slow down. During this stage, your eye movement stops, and your brain waves slowly. The sleep spindles start storing memories and shut down your senses to keep your sleep uninterrupted. This stage lasts up to 25 minutes and prepares you for deep sleep.
  • NREM (Stage 3): This is the deep sleep stage when your muscles and brain are at complete rest. Your body prepares itself by strengthening your immune system and creating bones and muscles during this stage. It is difficult to wake up at this stage, but if you awake, you may face blurriness and brain waving for up to 30 minutes or an hour. You spend up to 20 to 40 minutes in this stage, and as you get older, you spend less time in this stage and more time in the second stage.
  • REM Sleep: This is your dream stage when your brain activity gets much higher, matching or exceeding your brain activity when awake. Except for your eyes and breathing muscles, the rest of your muscles enter a state of temporary paralysis. Because of this, your heart rate and blood pressure increase, and you start breathing fast. The first REM cycle starts after 90 minutes of the first stage and lasts up to 10 minutes, but the further REM stages will get longer as per how many hours you sleep.

Your smartwatch tracks these stages, and you can monitor your sleep and check your sleep quality. The smartwatch can also suggest some things you can do to get a sound sleep. This can help you fix the way you sleep.

How to Avoid Issues While Sleeping with a Smartwatch or Band?

There can be several issues that you may have to face while sleeping with a smartwatch or band. Let’s discuss these issues and how to avoid them while sleeping with a smartwatch or band.

Skin Irritation

The first and the most common issue if you sleep wearing a smartwatch or band, is skin irritation. There can be situations like your skin is sensitive, or maybe you keep your hands under your head while sleeping, etc.

To avoid this issue, you can remove the smartwatch or band before bed for a comfortable sleep. Another thing you can do to fix this issue is to loosen the strap of your watch or switch to a more comfortable strap.

Sleep Disturbance

A smartwatch is mainly used to get notifications, alarms, reminders, etc., and it vibrates every time for each notification. This can create a disturbance while sleeping with any smartwatch or band.

You can avoid the sleep disturbance issue by turning on DND or night mode on the watch. Or you can disconnect your watch from your phone’s Bluetooth and reconnect it in the morning- all the data will remain synced.

Headache Issues

While scientists have not yet found any solid link between headaches and low-level EMF radiations, some people may feel that wearing a smartwatch 24 hours a day is causing them headaches.

If that’s the case, you should ideally avoid wearing a smartwatch all the time. Or better, sort your preferences and wear it only when required- for instance, if your sole purpose is sleep tracking, put it on before going to bed, or if activity tracking is all you want, remove it when you’re not working out.

Wrapping Up

This was all about sleep tracking on a smartwatch, how it works, and whether you should wear the smartwatch or band when sleeping. We also discussed the impact of smartwatch radiation and other related issues.

You need not worry about getting cancer from your smartwatch or band. But again, taking frequent breaks throughout the day is always good to relax your wrist and avoid continuous exposure to the wearable. Anyways, do you wear your smartwatch while sleeping? Let us know via comments.

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Abhishek Bhatnagar

Abhishek Bhatnagar, a known technology blogger & YouTuber from India. A Software Engineer by qualification, now he works as the editor-In-Chief, Webmaster, & Managing Director at Gadgets To Use. He runs a number of other technology websites as well.