Track Your Sleep with the Jawbone UP24

Jawbone UP24
5 StarsA solid, stylish device for tracking sleep and steps with a great companion app.
Overall, the Jawbone UP24 is a solid health tracker that looks good too. A single charge lasts 7 to 10 days and the sleep tracking is very easy understand on the app.

Fitness trackers are all the rage these days. Everyone wants to track their steps, log their food, and analyze their sleep. Over the past few years, these devices have gotten more and more advanced – now finally tracking your heart rate too. Fitbit, Jawbone, Apple and a host of other companies all have their own health tracking devices. Apple even has a health kit built right into the latest version of their iOS. So you may be tracking your steps without even knowing it!

But let’s focus on how these trackers analyze your sleep. We are going to break down how the sleep tracking works on a Jawbone UP24.

While the Jawbone UP24 is not their latest UP model (the UP2, UP3, and UP4 are their latest models), the UP24 still tracks sleep in much the same way the newer models do. The Jawbone UP24, like other health trackers on the market, measures micro-movements while you sleep. This requires you to wear the device on your wrist all night. While that might be a deal breaker for some people, actually wearing this on your wrist isn’t too intrusive.

Tracking your sleep with the Jawbone is a great way to analyze how much deep sleep vs. light sleep you are getting.

And in case you are wondering, there are some sleep trackers out there that you don’t have to wear at all – like the Sense.

The Jawbone UP24 pairs with your iOS or Android device. You must download their UP app and sync your band with the app. This works over Bluetooth technology. One good thing about this device is that it doesn’t communicate with your phone all night. The data is stored in the device itself, then once you sync the UP with your phone the next day – it downloads the data from the phone. We mention this for all you techies out there concerned over the possible health risks of long term Bluetooth exposure.

Wearing the Jawbone UP on your wrist at night isn’t too obtrusive so long as the device fits snug around your wrist. This is a great tip for those of you that are thinking about getting a fitness tracker – make sure it fits perfectly. These devices can be expensive, so making sure they fit properly will ensure that you want to wear them. After all – they don’t work if you don’t wear them!

Depending on how you typically sleep at night can definitely play a role in how comfortable it is. If you tend to put your hand under your pillow and sleep on your stomach, then put the tracker on the hand that isn’t under your pillow. You might need to experiment with this over the course of a few days to see which wrist is best to wear it on.

Jawbone UP App Screenshot

Figure 1.1 – The Jawbone UP iOS App

After activating the Jawbone UP24 before you go to bed (you need to hold down the main button until the little moon icon lights up) it starts to track your sleep. While you sleep, it’s constantly monitoring your “micro-movements” to determine how good your sleep is. If you are constantly tossing and turning, it knows that this can’t be a deep sleep and logs it as “light sleep”. Conversely, if you are not moving at all for extended periods of time, then it determines this to be “sound sleep”.

As you can see in figure 1.1, it shows how quickly I fell asleep and how long I was in bed. If you get up during the night, the Jawbone knows that you’ve moved from your bed area and you’re probably not sleeping. It logs this as being awake.

The most interesting thing you’ll notice in figure 1.1 is that deep sleep was not achieved for the entire night. Sleep experts claim that going from light sleep to deep sleep (then to REM sleep) is natural. This is known as your sleep cycle. A typical sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes and goes on for about 4-6 times per night. The sleep cycle starts with light sleep, progresses to deep sleep, then on to REM sleep.

When looking at how the Jawbone UP24 displays the sleep cycle, it displays sound sleep and light sleep very clearly. It lacks the ability to tell the difference between deep sleep and REM sleep (where dreaming occurs) as all health trackers do. The ability for health trackers like the Jawbone to accurately distinguish between deep sleep and REM sleep is due to the nature of how they are built. Simply tracking body movement isn’t enough to determine if a user is dreaming (in REM Sleep) or not.

If we analyze this particular screenshot, you will see that I fell asleep very quickly (four minutes), was in light sleep for 15 minutes, then was in a sound sleep for approximately 1 hour. This pattern repeated once more, then deep sleep seemed to trail off. Sleep experts actually say this is pretty normal. Deeper sleep tends to occur in the first part of the night. Light sleep and REM sleep occur more often in the second half of the night. That’s why you are more susceptible to waking up by noises closer to the morning hours than you are after first going to bed.

Professional basketball player, Andre Iguodala greatly improved his game by using the Jawbone to analyze his sleep cycles.

On two separate occasions, the Jawbone said I was awake during the morning hours. One time, this was true, the other time this was not. So in terms of accuracy the Jawbone UP24 is pretty good. Spot on accurate? Probably not. For most users however, it’s not that big of a deal and perhaps Jawbone’s more recent models are even more accurate.

The part of the band that I love the most is how it wakes you up. The band vibrates until you shut it off. You can set it for a specific time and it will wake you up around that time, but not if you are in a deep sleep. It waits until you are in light sleep to actually start vibrating. This helps you to wake up feeling refreshed (if you wake up during a deep sleep you tend to be more groggy and disoriented). The vibrating feeling is a bit unnatural at first, but it’s very gentle – allowing you to get up without the sudden jump of a loud alarm. For me, I felt like this made me happier than hearing a loud siren going off (my iPhone’s ringtone).

The most underused feature of the UP app is probably the “Add a Comment” section. It makes a big difference when analyzing your sleep patterns if you can write down how you feel the next morning. Writing down if you woke up refreshed, groggy, sleepy, exhausted and other notes about how you feel is very important to identifying patterns. The goal is to see what it is that makes your sleep the best. For example, if you can notice that you sleep better when you go to bed at 11PM after eating a light dinner and waking up at 7:00AM, then you’re on to something. You can do that for two weeks and look back at your sleep history to see if your sleep pattern starts to regulate. However, the most important factor here is to note how you feel during the day. Did you perform better at the gym? Did you make it through the day without needing that third cup of coffee? These are the type of subtle things to notice, that overtime will begin to add up.

Need that afternoon coffee to make it through the day? It’s probably due to a lack of deep sleep.

Now that we know how to use the device and the app, let’s talk about what to do with this information. Start with how you generally feel during the day. If you find yourself needing coffee or an energy drink in the afternoon and you get at least 7 hours of sleep every night, then you probably don’t get enough deep sleep. Take note of what you eat the last two hours before you go to bed. If you tend to eat large or particularly spicy meals, then this can be your culprit. Learn more about what to eat before bed here.

If you find that you wake up without any energy at all and need some serious caffeine in order to wake up, then you either need more sleep overall – or better sleep. If you only get 4-5 hours a night then you know for sure what needs to be done. The suggested amount of sleep for most people is 7.5 – 9 hours of sleep. Professional athletes that train hard typically need 9-10 hours of sleep per night. If your sleep tracking barely has any deep sleep at all, or you go in and out of deep sleep every 10-15 minutes then you might need to work on your sleep conditions or possibly even invest in a new mattress.

Overall, I’d give the Jawbone UP24 a five star review for sleep tracking. It tells you what you need to know and sometimes even offers tips on how to improve. The tips are pretty generalized, so they may or may not help your specific situation. The band is easy to wear and remains charged for about 7-9 days. They even just released an update to the band’s software that gives you an extra 5 days of battery life.

The other features of the UP bands are great too – you can log your food, sync with a bunch of other health apps, and track your physical activities. If you’re not on the fitness tracker craze yet, don’t worry – you can still go on living a normal life – if you’re into that sort of thing.