I tried Fitbit’s new sleep features for two months

As soon as Fitbit’s Premium Sleep Profile launched back in June, I was intrigued by the thought of using data to get better rest. There are few things I love more than sleep, but I just don’t prioritize it enough. As a child, I’d stay up late to read with a flashlight under the covers. Now, I spend a bit too much before-bed time exploring fascinating internet rabbit holes.

But I’ve also wondered if I sometimes feel tired due to an issue of sleep quality, not just quantity. Before this experiment, I thought it was easy to know how much I slept each night (spoiler alert: it’s not, and you’ll learn why below). But I wasn’t sure how to get an objective read on my sleep quality until I realized Fitbit could track it for me. Then I learned Fitbit’s Sleep Profile would assign me a “sleep animal” to describe my rest-related habits. At that point, I knew I had to give it a try. Since I work at Google, I’m lucky enough to have easy access to the Fitbit team, who very graciously set me up with a device.

In the name of learning all about my sleep — and potentially getting better rest — I tested Fitbit’s Sleep Profile for two months. Here’s a primer on how the Fitbit Premium Sleep Profile works, the six Sleep Profile animals that represent different sleep styles, and seven things I learned (and loved) from my experience.

How the Fitbit Premium Sleep Profile works

The Sleep Profile is Fitbit’s latest rest-related update since introducing sleep tracking in 2009. It’s available for Fitbit Premium members with Google Pixel Watch, Sense 2, Sense, Veras 4, Versa 3, Versa 2, Charge 5, Luxe, Inspire 2 or Inspire 3 devices.

Before Sleep Profile, Fitbit provided sleep stats, like how long you were awake, your restlessness and your sleep stages, and used them to generate a nightly Sleep Score from 1 to 100.

Fitbit’s Sleep Profile levels up this tracking, providing a detailed monthly analysis of these 10 features the Fitbit research team identified as most important for a cohesive picture of sleep quality and quantity:

  1. Sleep schedule variability: how much your sleep schedule varies from day to day.
  2. Sleep start time: the time you usually get to sleep.
  3. Time before sound sleep: how long it usually takes you to really fall asleep.
  4. Sleep duration: how much sleep you get on average.
  5. Deep sleep: how much time you spend in the most refreshing sleep stage.
  6. REM sleep: how much time you spend in the rapid-eye-movement sleep stage, when your brain is working on problems and processing emotions.
  7. Restorative sleep: how much time you spend with your heart rate lower than your usual resting rate.
  8. Sleep stability: how often your brain wakes up for a moment as you change sleep stages or sleep position (often without you realizing it).
  9. Nights with long awakenings: how many nights you spend awake for long periods due to things like noise.
  10. Days with naps: how many naps Fitbit detects each month.

As long as you’ve worn your Fitbit to bed for at least 14 nights of the previous month, on the first day of each month, you’ll get a monthly Sleep Profile analyzing these metrics. You can explore this data in a bunch of helpful formats to find whichever works best for you (more on that below).

The six Fitbit Sleep Profile animals

On the first of each month, your Fitbit Sleep Profile will also reveal which animal represents your most recent sleep habits. The options are these six animals with distinct sleep behaviors that also correspond with common human sleep patterns:

  1. Bear: You tend to have a consistent sleep schedule, regularly falling asleep around the same time. You go to bed earlier than most, and you tend to reach a sound sleep quickly. Your sleep tends to be long and restful, with a relatively high proportion of deep and REM sleep.
  2. Dolphin: You tend to fall asleep later than most and sleep for less time overall — maybe due to an inconsistent sleep schedule, or more disrupted sleep at night. Compared to others, you tend to be a lighter sleeper and might take naps to catch up. Interestingly enough, dolphins are the least common sleep animals assigned to Sleep Profile users.
  3. Giraffe: Your sleep tends to be shorter, and you are more likely to sleep later and wake up earlier. You have a relatively good proportion of deep and REM sleep despite a shorter overall duration. And if you’re a giraffe like me, you’re certainly not alone — this is the most common sleep animal among users.
  4. Hedgehog: You usually fall asleep later and wake up earlier. You are a lighter sleeper — typically taking longer to reach sound sleep and may get less deep and REM.
  5. Parrot: You tend to keep a consistent bedtime and don’t sleep too early or late. You typically reach sound sleep quickly and usually get a good amount of sleep each night. You likely sleep deeply once you drift off but can be light on REM due to waking up briefly throughout the night.
  6. Tortoise: You tend to fall asleep at different times each night, but often earlier than most. Paired with slightly later average wake times, you tend to spend more time in bed overall but may find it takes longer to reach a sound sleep, impacting your lower than average deep and REM sleep.