Fitbit’s new Alta HR fitness band takes sleep tracking to the next level by showing you data about your Sleep stages. Leveraging their PurePulse heart rate technology, Fitbit’s Sleep Stages data goes beyond tracking how many minutes you slept to breakdown the data into light, deep and REM sleep. Once it gathers enough data you’ll be given personalised sleep insights to provide guidance to help improve your sleep.
Fitbit says this new advance in sleep tracking will give users more actionable insights and guidance to help improve sleep and make more informed decisions about overall health and wellbeing.
I attended a media briefing yesterday hosted by internationally regarded sleep expert, Dr. Carmel Harrington, and Fitbit’s Regional Director for ANZ, Shaun Colligan. The duo provided insight into Australia’s sleep habits, as well as detail on Fitbit’s new sleep tracking software. It was great to have a medical expert to ask questions as well as a company exec who was able to comment on product features.
When asked by me about future Fitbit improvement in fitness and sleep tracking enabled by the continuing reduction in cost and size of sensors Shaun Colligan commented that the “evolution of sensors in the future will drive better insights and knowledge for customers”.
I think it would be great if Fitbit sleep tracking evolved to track the duration and instances of snoring at night. It is well known that heavy snorers get poorer quality sleep.
It was good to see that Fitbit didn’t use hyperbole to exaggerate the new sleep tracking features. Dr Harrington made it clear that the Alta HR is not a medical grade diagnostic device. It’s value is in potentially alerting you to poor quality sleep issues that encourage you to start a conversation with your Doctor to find out why the underlying issues are.
Dr Harrington said that not getting enough sleep is bad for mental health. Insights from Fitbit data show that if you fall asleep immediately at night you are sleep deprived. Going to sleep should initially take 10-15min ideally.
When we sleep there are 3 neurobehavioural states:
- Rapid eye movement (dream sleep). We are paralysed as a protective mechanism to not act out dreams. Mentally our brain is incredibly active, as much as we are while awake.
- Non REM sleep.
She said that an example of a good sleep pattern is initial Light sleep 20min then Deep sleep then REM sleep. Through the night this repeats in roughly 90 min cycles. 5 sleep cycles in total across a night is good sleep.
Fitbit Alta HR Unboxing
We chose the Black/Stainless Steel Alta HR version to review, it’s available in band sizes S, L and XL. Note that other colours are only available in S and L band sizes. The front and back of the packaging are self explanatory.
Inside the packaging you’ll find your Alta HR, setup instructions and the USB charger cable which ends in a clamp. Don’t lose or break the charger because it’s obviously proprietary, not backwards compatible and a replacement will cost you $30+ shipping.
Fitbit Alta HR First Impression
I was keen to wear it and start tracking my steps as soon as I left the press conference, however the set up procedure refused to continue until I was back at work and the Alta HR was clamped by it’s USB charger receiving power.
Once setup was done the Fitbit app on my Android phone introduced me to the new Sleep Stages and Sleep Insights features.
The new Sleep Stages information will also be available on the Blaze and the Charge 2 (it needs HR) while Sleep Insights will be available on all Fitbit trackers that track sleep.
The benefit of getting the Alta HR is that it’s the thinnest and lightest heart rate sensing Sleep Stages compatible fitness band from Fitbit, as well as having better battery life supposedly up to 7 days.
The Fitbit app also gave tips on how to wear the band properly and clean it regularly, these may seem obvious but without doing these properly your tracking data will be much less accurate.
That’s all well and good I hear you ask but how well did it track my sleep last night and was the data pretty accurate?
Well as you can see yesterday it took me a while to get to sleep after getting into bed at about 9:40pm and I woke up at about 6am when my alarm went off. The red awake times are pretty accurate reflecting my waking up to have a sip of water a few times, I hadn’t drunk enough water during the day before so I was thirsty.
I’ll post a follow-up in a few weeks time to let you know if the battery life really does last one week, if the sleep tracking continues to be pretty accurate and any insights the Fitbit app gives me.
You can order a Fitbit Alta HR and accessories from their website or from all major retailers where Fitbit wearables are sold such as Harvey Norman, The Good Guys, JB Hi-Fi, Rebel, David Jones and Myer. The RRP is $249.
PR agency did not request fitness band be returned due to hygiene reasons. Understandably, who would want to review a fitness band that a previous reviewer has sweated onto for several weeks!
I’m so happy that I got this feature added to my Blaze. I really like it.
I think Basis did this better. Shame about Peak and shame about Intel…
Totally agree. Miss my Basis Peak but the Alta HR is the closet I’ve been able to find.
Thank you for your great analysis Neerav.
This was what I liked most about my Microsoft Band 2, least til the band itself split six months in – they replaced it for free, but it wasn’t worthwhile going through that again six months later, so I onsold it instead.
That went way off topic, but the point was the sleep feedback was really interesting!
Misfit sleep tracking has done this for years – so it looks like fitbit are copying.