If you’re interested in gaining insight into your sleep habits, Fitbits are an excellent option as most Fitbit trackers monitor your sleep patterns, detecting the amount of time you spend awake, restless, and asleep.
However, a number of users have reported experiencing issues with their devices not tracking sleep effectively or accurately.
In this article, we look at the causes for Fitbit not tracking sleep consistently and we have some helpful troubleshooting tips that can assist you in getting your Fitbit back to good working condition.
Fitbit is Not Displaying Your Sleep Score
Fitbit identifies when you are asleep by detecting that your body has been still without significant movement for at least an hour.
Once this hour has passed, your Fitbit starts collecting information about the quality of your sleep.
In the initial few hours (less than three), your Fitbit classifies your sleep into three distinct categories: restless, awake, or asleep.
After passing the 3-hour mark, your sleep is classified into different stages by the Fitbit, including light, deep, and REM (rapid-eye movement).
These stages are then used to calculate a sleep score, but only Fitbits equipped with heart-rate sensors can track them.
To gather information on your sleep stages, you must wear the Fitbit on your wrist or arm and activate wrist mode.
The Fitbit Charge HR and Fitbit Surge are not able to record sleep stages despite featuring heart rate sensors, making them exceptions to this rule.
If your Fitbit does not have a heart rate sensor or is a Charge HR or Surge, it can only track when you are asleep, restless, or awake.
If your Fitbit sleep score is not appearing or only displays scores for a portion of the week, there could be a few reasons for this.
It’s possible that your Fitbit isn’t collecting enough data to generate a score, or there may be a connectivity issue between the device and the app.
Another possibility is that the device’s sensors are not working correctly or the firmware needs updating.
In some cases, the problem may be related to the device’s battery life or charging.
Ensure that your Fitbit is fully charged and that it’s correctly positioned on your wrist or arm. Additionally, if you’ve recently changed your sleep schedule or environment, this can affect the accuracy of your sleep tracking.
The best thing to do in this case is to log out of your Fitbit account and then log back in using the steps below:
- Start by opening the Fitbit app.
- Navigate to the ‘Today’ tab.
- Next, click on your account picture or profile icon located in the upper-left corner of the screen.
- Then, scroll down until you find the option to Log Out and select it.
- After logging out, click on Log In and follow the on-screen instructions to sign back into your account.
When you log out of your Fitbit account, this triggers a reload of all your information from the servers, which can help ensure that your sleep data is displayed accurately within the app.
The Sleep Sensitivity Option is Set to ‘Normal’
Within the Fitbit app, you can adjust the sleep sensitivity setting to customize how your device tracks your movements during sleep.
By default, the ‘Normal; setting is selected, which only registers significant movements like rolling over as indicators of restlessness or wakefulness.
However, if you opt for the ‘Sensitive’ setting, your device will record nearly all movements as to how much time is spent restlessly or awake.
This can be useful if you suspect you’re not getting restful sleep or if you want a more comprehensive overview of your sleep patterns.
Keep in mind that this setting may result in a higher amount of restlessness or awake time being recorded, so it’s important to choose the option that best suits your needs and sleep habits.
Here’s how to change your sleep sensitivity settings:
- Open the Fitbit app and tap on the ‘Today’ tab.
- Next, click on your profile picture or icon, and scroll down ‘Settings’
- Select the option for ‘Activity & Wellness,’ which is typically listed first.
- Now choose the option for ‘Sleep’ and scroll down to the bottom of the page. Here, you’ll find the setting for ‘Sleep Sensitivity’
- To change the sensitivity level, select the ‘Sensitive’ option instead of the default ‘Norma’l setting.
- This will result in more movements being recorded as time spent restless or awake during sleep, providing you with a more detailed analysis of your sleep patterns.
Your Fitbit’s Heart Rate Sensor is Disabled
The heart rate sensor on a Fitbit device is an essential component in accurately tracking sleep. It helps to identify the various stages of sleep by measuring changes in heart rate throughout the night.
When the heart rate sensor is turned off or not functioning correctly, it can negatively impact the accuracy of your sleep tracking data.
Without the heart rate sensor, your Fitbit device may rely solely on motion sensing to detect whether you are awake, asleep, or restless during the night.
This method of sleep tracking is less accurate than using heart rate data, as it cannot differentiate between different stages of sleep or distinguish between restful and restless sleep.
It’s important to note that sleep stage information is not recorded when you sleep for less than 3 hours, regardless of whether or not your heart rate sensor is turned on.
Therefore, it’s essential to ensure that your device is properly configured before going to bed to obtain accurate sleep data.
By default, Fitbit devices have heart-rate tracking turned on, but it’s always a good idea to check that it hasn’t been accidentally turned off.
Moreover, in some cases, the ‘Auto’ setting may not work correctly, so we recommend manually setting your heart rate tracking to the ON position for more accurate sleep stage information.
Turn on your heart-rate tracking with the following steps:
- Open ‘Settings’ on your Fitbit.
- Select Heart Rate and toggle it ‘On’
The Positioning of the Watch on Your Wrist is Incorrect
The positioning of your Fitbit wearable device on your wrist is crucial when it comes to accurate sleep tracking.
If the device is not worn correctly, it can lead to discrepancies in the recorded data and impact the overall accuracy of your sleep insights.
Firstly, it’s important to ensure that the device is worn on the non-dominant hand.
This helps to reduce the chance of accidental movements and ensures that the device is recording the correct hand movements during sleep.
It’s also important to wear the device snugly on your wrist but not so tight that it causes discomfort or restricts blood flow.
If the device is worn too loosely, it can lead to excessive movement during sleep, which can be recorded as a restless time and affect the accuracy of your sleep data.
On the other hand, if the device is worn too tightly, it can cause discomfort and affect the quality of your sleep, leading to inaccurate sleep data.
Another factor to consider is the orientation of the device on your wrist.
For optimal accuracy, the device should be positioned with the screen facing upward and the sensors in contact with your skin.
Some people have found that wearing their Fitbit device at least an inch above the wrist bone (approximately two fingers above the wristbone) can help to improve their sleep tracking accuracy.
Another potential solution is to wear the device on the inside of the wrist or arm.
This can be particularly helpful if you have tattoos or a lot of arm hair, as it can improve the contact between the device’s sensors and your skin.
Rather than shaving your arm hair, wearing the device on the inside of your wrist is a more convenient solution.
Please also take a look at our article about known issues with Fitbit screens – with explanations.
The Device’s Battery is Too Low
Fitbit devices rely on battery power to operate, and a low battery level can potentially impact the accuracy of your sleep tracking.
This is because your Fitbit needs to be continuously worn throughout the night to track your sleep patterns, and if the battery level is too low, the device may not be able to track your sleep for the entire duration of the night.
If the battery level is too low, the device may shut down or enter a power-saving mode during the night, which could cause interruptions in the data collection process.
This can result in gaps in the sleep data recorded, leading to inaccuracies in the sleep tracking analysis and recommendations provided by the Fitbit app.
To avoid these issues, it’s essential to ensure that your Fitbit is fully charged before going to bed each night.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to periodically check your device’s battery level throughout the day to ensure that it remains sufficiently charged for tracking your sleep each night.
Please also read my article about Fitbit charging problems, where I explain some common issues.
Your Fitbit Software is Outdated
If your Fitbit device is outdated or no longer receiving software updates, it may not be able to accurately track your sleep.
This is because Fitbit frequently updates its software to improve the performance and accuracy of its devices, including sleep tracking.
Outdated devices may lack the necessary features to detect and analyze different stages of sleep, including deep and REM sleep.
This can result in less accurate sleep data, leading to inaccurate insights and recommendations provided by the Fitbit app.
Here’s how to update your Fitbit device’s software:
- Ensure that your Fitbit device is fully charged or connected to a power source.
- Connect your Fitbit device to your smartphone or computer using the appropriate cable or through Bluetooth.
- Open the Fitbit app on your smartphone or go to the Fitbit website on your computer and log in to your account.
- From the Fitbit dashboard, select the ‘Account’ icon in the top left corner of the screen.
- Choose the name of your Fitbit device under ‘Devices’
- Scroll down and select the ‘Update’ option. If an update is available, you will be prompted to start the update.
- Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the update process.
General Pros and Cons of Using Fitbit Wearables to Track Sleep
Fitbit uses advanced sensors and algorithms to track your sleep patterns accurately. It can track the duration and quality of your sleep and your sleep stages (light, deep, and REM sleep).
As I Fitbit wearer, I find this useful in helping me know more about my sleeping habits. Many wearers like to know how their sleep may or may not be affecting their energy levels during awake times.
Unfortunately, you can also come across certain sleep tracking issues on Fitbit, such as:
- Fitbit is not displaying your sleep score
- The Sleep sensitivity option is set to normal
- Your Fitbit’s heart rate sensor is disabled
- Incorrect positioning of the watch can lead to sleep tracking inaccuracies
- The device’s battery is too low
- Your Fitbit software is outdated