New Fitbit Alta HR Review: The Focus On Sleep Tracking

Know how you slept with the new Fitbit Alta HR

The Fitbit Alta HR gives a fascinating insight into your sleep patterns and one of the most interesting things you’ll learn is that even when you think you’ve had a bad night’s sleep, chances are you’ve been relatively well-rested.

Thanks to new advances in sleep tracking, the Alta HR gives you an extra bonus, building on what you might have already experienced in previous Fitbits – it introduces Sleep Stages and Sleep Insights that gives you an in-depth analysis of your sleep patterns.

We all know how important sleep is for our overall health, but most of us have no idea how well we’re really sleeping and that’s why I was so keen to try out the Alta HR.

As a mother of three children as well as a couple of ‘fur babies’ I’m pretty used to being woken in the night a few times so I wanted to see how my sleep really measured up. (It measured up really well and now I realise that waking in the night multiple times is perfectly normal).

How it works:

Sleep Stages: powered by PurePulse, Sleep Stages uses accelerometer data and heart rate variability (the changes in time between beats) plus Fitbit’s algorithms, to estimate how long you spend in light, deep and REM sleep. It also tells how often you wake in the night.

While everyone’s sleep cycle is different, if you understand the pattern of your cycle, you’ll be able to make some lifestyle changes to improve your sleep and overall health .

When you think you’ve had a bad night’s sleep, chances are you’ve been relatively well-rested.
Even when you think you’ve had a bad night’s sleep, chances are you’ve been relatively well-rested.

The Fitbit team worked with sleep experts to help develop the technology, taking into account the stages of sleep:

  1. Light sleep – this occurs through the night and is important for memory and letting your body recover during the day
  2. Deep Sleep – for most people deep sleep takes up 10-25 per cent of your night (depending on your age)
  3. REM Sleep – this is when most dreaming occurs and it’s said to be crucial for mental recovery and memory formation. For most of us it’s 20-25 per cent of your night.
  4. Awake periods – between 10-30 times – this is a normal part of your sleep cycle.

For Sleep Insights, the Fitbit team conducted a series of tests with the Alta HR, to estimate sleep cycles in adults. I believe this is Fitbit’s best version yet, because it has all the features of the Charge 2 but with a slimmer band, a better battery life and, best of all, the detail of your sleep.

It also tracks your steps, the calories you’ve burned, the distance, active minutes but the added bonus of sleep insights makes this extra special. The only thing missing is the ‘relax’ button which was featured on the Charge 2 but the Alta HR is a great blend of features and functionality. Prices start at AU$249 on fitbit.com/altahr.

The Fitbit Alta HR has all the features of the Charge 2 but with a slimmer band and a better battery life.
The Fitbit Alta HR has all the features of the Charge 2 but with a slimmer band and a better battery life.

The most fascinating aspect is seeing how many times you wake up in the night – there are so many times you’re not even aware of and, for me, there were at least 15 times per night.

However, when you wake up feeling well-rested, it’s a strange concept to check your Fitbit and realise that your sleep has been disturbed that many times.

The heart rate sensor is no different from the Charge 2 but, for me the highlight is the sleep tracker – it’s perfect for those of us who are sleep obsessed or, if we’ve had a bad night’s sleep, we’re intrigued to know what went on.

The Alta HR is definitely my favourite and I kept wearing it to bed, long after my mini-trial was over!

Libby Jane Charleston
LJ Charleston is the Editor of the unique lifestyle technology digital magazine, Women Love Tech. LJ’s expertise comes from her 20+ years’ experience as a senior journalist in TV, newspapers, radio and more recently digital media, along with a passion for everything tech.

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