How Do Your Sleep Habits Stack Up?

Recently, Fitbit research scientists looked at aggregated sleep data from over 10 million users in 2015* and noticed some eye-opening patterns. Take a look at their findings, and then check out your sleep log in the Fitbit app to see how your personal bedtime numbers compare.

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Restless Sleep Revealed

Have you noticed a pattern of restlessness in your personal sleep log? You’re not alone—most sleepers have a number of short periods of awake time in the middle of the night. In fact, data shows Fitbit users are awake or restless on average for a total of  25.5 minutes each night. “Sleep is not completely still,” says Michael Grandner, PhD, MTR, a Fitbit sleep advisor and director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. “We all move during our sleep, especially in stages 1 and 2—and this is totally normal.”

The Gender Impact

When it comes to getting snooze time, the Fitbit data reveals women are clearly winning. On average, female Fitbit users sleep 25 minutes more per night than male Fitbit users. However, the difference changes with age. Women between the ages of 20 and 50, sleep 30 minutes more than men the same age; but by the time they’re 60 years old, women only enjoy 20 minutes more sleep per night than their male peers.

The Sleep-Weight Connection

The aggregated, anonymized sleep data shows Fitbit users who sleep 7 to 9 hours per night on average have a lower body mass index (BMI) compared to those who only sleep 3 to 4 hours (27.4 and 29.7 respectively). Additionally, the Fitbit data shows Fitbit users who have an overweight or obese BMI (greater than 25) log 70 fewer minutes of sleep per week on average, when compared to those with a normal BMI (18.5-25).

A possible reason for these differences: “Lack of sleep is stressful to the body,” says Michael Smith, PhD, Director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at Johns Hopkins University and an expert sleep consultant for Fitbit. “It can cause higher blood pressure and heart rate—and it can also alter metabolism, leading to spikes in blood sugar that can lead to insulin resistance and weight gain.”

The Effect of Active Minutes on Bedtime

Want to clock more Zzz? Getting more exercise and establishing an earlier bedtime could help!

Fitbit data scientists note a correlation between active minutes and hitting the sack early—Fitbit users with the most tracked active minutes also seem to have a more consistent, and earlier, bedtime. The same group of Fitbit users logging the most sleep tends to hit the sack at 11:07pm on average, while those who don’t get as much shut-eye aren’t winding down until 11:55pm on average.  

Having a consistent bedtime is important for your overall health and wellbeing, because it can set you up to get the right amount of sleep for you. “The body loves regularity,” says Grandner. “When you have a regular bedtime, your sleep biology can train itself around that time—your body knows when sleep is coming, so it can optimally prepare.”

The Age Breakdown

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Fitbit data shows active millennials typically go to bed earlier. But a subset of that generation is actually logging the least amount of sleep. Why? The college-aged set might be prioritizing other activities over sleep. Maybe it’s a bit too much studying and partying for those co-eds—they aren’t hitting the sack until 12:22am on average, bringing the total amount of time spent snoozing down by sleeping 91 minutes less per week on average.

Meanwhile, Gen Xers who are more active get more sleep than their less active peers, and active Baby Boomers seem to be snoozing like babies! Take a look at some more cool, age-related sleep findings in the infograms below.

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*This research is based on aggregated and anonymous data from over 10 million users in 2015. Sleep duration is based on time asleep and does not include restless or awake time. Generations are defined as: Baby Boomers (age 55 and up), Generation X (age 35-55) and Millennials (age 18-35), as of May 1, 2016. A Fitbit tracker recognizes and awards active minutes when the activity you’re doing is more strenuous than regular walking, which includes everything from a brisk walk to a cardio workout or run. Active minutes are awarded after 10 minutes of continuous moderate-to-intense activity and for the purposes of this analysis were averaged across users.

126 Comments   Join the Conversation

126 CommentsLeave a comment

    • I have a Fitbit and I have carpal tunnel in both hands? Just had surgery on the left hand, the worst one, and it is the one I wear the Fitbit on!

    • I have had carpel tunnel surgeries on both hands to attempt to fix the issue and stop the excruciating pain but it didn’t work because it has since turned out not to be carpel tunnel syndrome but is trapped nerves in neck due to cervical spondolosis. I wore my Fitbit throughout all of my surgeries.

  • This information is helpful for me and thankful for my Fitbit. I’m finding that I need 7 or more hours of sleep in order to not feel fatigued and tired during the day.

    • I do too and since having a Fitbit that tracks sleep(along with several other things) I find that I’m much more mindful of my habits that contribute to my over all health. Incidentally I have found that I get much better sleep when out boxer and village nit doesn’t share the bed with us! Lol

  • First time I’ve had such detailed info about my sleep pattern. It’s great. Love it. Like the detailed explanation too!!

    • I love my fit bit love how many steps I do during the day it’s 5 1/2 to 6 miles I’m 72 years old love to see the fit bit sleep pattern

  • The algorithm for measuring sleep is not accurate. I’m a very restless sleeper at night and take naps during the day. If I wake up to drink water or rearrange blankets at night, often sleep time after that event is missed. Daytime dozing is missed completely unless it is a substantial amount of time, i.e. greater than one hour. One night this week the tracker measured no sleep at all, which was close to the truth because I was waking up hundreds of times gasping from sleep apnea and a sore throat all through the night. if I put the Fitbit setting on “sensitive”, it’s way too sensitive. I wish they would tweak the algorithm for those of us with sleep apnea, because it’s not picking up short bursts of sleep.

    • Consider seeing a sleep doctor. There are CPAP and BiPAP machines you can comfortably sleep with that will solve that problem.

    • I have apnea and according to the Fitbit am very restless. It calculates my sleep at about four hours a night. If that were true I wouldn’t be functioning. I read recently that you can move during deep sleep. Is that what’s happening?

    • I find the tracker to be very relatable. It doesn’t pick up short naps because it won’t pick up restless sleep at all. If you’re not sleeping restfully, you’re not sleeping well. It doesn’t count towards overall sleep. Don’t keep it on the sensitive setting! That setting doesn’t record any sleep.

      • Thanks Cindy, I will change my setting. According to my fitbit surge I sleep on average 4 hrs per night. Hope it helps.

    • Get a C-Pap before the apnea that is apparently that severe kills you. Because it cannand I don’t want that.

  • I hope Fitbit continues to study this data & give us helpful advice on improving our sleep. I work hard on maximizing my sleep but I still only get 4 to 5 hours of restful sleep each night. I’m a 57 yr old male. I am recently retired & have a BMI of 34. Sounds like I need to get my BMI back below 25 to improve my sleep.

  • My Fitbit consistently says I’m asleep when in actuality I am watching television or reading. This really does not reflect my actual sleep time or pattern.

    • You can delete or edit sleep logs Fitbit creates. Marking my time watching a movie as sleep has happened to me so I just delete it when that happens. Problem solved!

      • My fit bit has a block of time almost every night that it doesn’t record anything. It makes it look as if I’m not sleeping thru the night. Can this be fixed???????

      • It’s because it picks up that you have not moved in 10mins or more so then starts recording that your asleep.

        You just need to log into the app and delete any sleep recordings that are not true. Or even adjust anything that is slightly out.

  • I am a Baby a boomer who is getting more sleep because I am more active and have lost 45 pounds. I no longer suffer from sleep apnea issues which interrupted sound sleep with numerous restless and awake moments.

    • How did you lose weight? I lost some & stopped using my CPAP but now I’ve gained 10 back. How much “restless mins” is normal? I have so many blue lines at night. should I worry?

      • You should talk to your doctor – odds are you still need the CPAP. Also keep in mind that the FitBit isn’t 100% reliable on keeping track of sleep, but if you have over an hour of “restless minutes” something is likely off.

  • This is great to see the aggregate data and insights. My question is about the affect of ‘normal’ or ‘sensitive ‘ mode on this data. I’m showing an average of 6 hrs 3 min but my FitBit is set on sensitive mode – if I’m on normal mode, I’m showing much less restless time. Which mode is your aggregate data representing?

  • It would be helpful to get more info about typical sleep patterns and some typical anomalies and what they might indicate.

  • Your years for the generations are incorrect baby boomers are 1946-64 making the 55 & up assessment incorrect

    Baby boomers are the demographic group born during the post–World War II baby boom, approximately between the years 1946 and 1964. This includes people who are between 53 and 71 years old in 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau

  • My Charge 2 shows “No Sleep Cycles ” (diagonal lines black and gray.
    Does this mean I have a sleep disorder or a problem with my program?

  • With my fitbit, I find that I am more aware of how much sleep I’m getting. I love being aware of the needs for my body.

  • My Fitbit data no longer shows restless but more awake time. My wife Fitbit no longer shows restless also.

  • FitBit has helped realize I need a little more sleep time. And with Fitbit I can organize that and it reminds me to get to bed when I would like to. Thank you FitBit.

  • My sleep has improved since I now on a CPAP machine. And yes, earlier to bed does make for a more restful sleep or me!

  • I’m a nurse and I work day shifts and night shifts. This is why I get very little sleep sometimes and lots of sleep other times. I sleep good on my days off, but when I’m working overnights I only sleep 4-6 hours. I do get lots of exercise regularly though and my BMI is low. I just have a hard time napping during the day when I’m on nights.

    • I, too, am an RN who works 7p-7a. I am 65yr old female. I wish that my Fitbit charge 2 could be changed for those who work nights! Especially the steps done. I can alter the water intake but not the steps. Can anyone help me out? When I am not working, I still stay on night schedule, as my body is still on night shift.

  • The retrospective review of the aggregate data is very impressive. I applaud the Fittbit effort. I am a Ph.D. Physiologist and, over the last 2 years of wearing Fittbit, have wondered if the work would be done. In saying that, I truly believe (with increased understanding of the data and improvements in accuracy) the Fittbit will lend itself well to prospective studies in health and medicine.

  • My Fitbit is helping me to manage my fibromyalgia better. I feel great when I workout and helps with my sleep. I’ll always be fatigued but it helps me tremendously

  • Your sleeping tracker does not work I am awake during the night on a regular basis and most of the time my Fitbit does not capture my time awake or shows I was awake for 10 minutes or so, when I was actually awake for a couple hours

  • I love having my fitbit as inhave Fibromyalgia and my sleep ptterns are all over due to suffering and taking medication for insomnia (2.5 yrs now)

    At least I can show my doctor each month my sleeing patterns and lack of sleep. I can sleep 6 hours and 9 of 10 my restless sleep is more than 1/2 to 3/4 more than a deep sleep.

    Its pants so i do nap in daytime to bump up my deep sleep and i do take vit b to sometimes stop sleeping any time of the day – sometimes i dont know i fell asleep

  • My Fitbit is fine for tracking when I wake up, but can be up to two hours out from when I go to sleep. Have checked this with my old Garmin watch and it is correct. Does anyone else have this problem/ know how to fix?

  • I only sleep an average of 4 hours a night. I take melatonin. Usually it doesn’t do anything for me except help me get to sleep. I’m a healthy weight. I work out almost everyday. My diet is healthy. My boyfriend said I should check to see if I have sleep apnea. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.

  • I love my “sleep pattern” the best on my Fitbit. I have definitely noticed the earlier I get to sleep the better and longer I sleep. I think I get over tired & doze.
    There goes my good nite’s sleep!

    • Rod, In what way could it hurt you to have your data lumped into 10,000,000 users data? I am glad they are studying this. I would love to hear more on other comparisons. It was all intended to help people become more aware of healthy habits. I thank them for this.

    • Rod, In what way could it hurt you to have your data lumped into 10,000,000 users data? I am glad they are studying this. I would love to hear more on other comparisons. It was all intended to help people become more aware of healthy habits. I thank them for this.

  • I started using Fitbit January 3, 2016 in order to track my sleep. I still use it every night along with a C-PAP and an S+ made by ResMed. fit bits new program that now breaks up light sleep, rim sleep, deep sleep, and awake times, is very accurate and matches with my S+ by ResMed. I make sure I’m hitting my goals every day and night using my Fitbit. So thankful for what their research is doing and how fit bit helps me accomplish my goals. I’m 62 years old and right in the middle of those baby boomers.

  • All interesting information here.How about sleep information regarding workers who work nights and have to sleep during the day.eg,”A days sleep not a good as a night sleep? “.Maybe of interest the health and knock of affects of working nights.

  • As of today, I can no longer find my sleep efficiency auto-calclated under my sleep log.

    Did that function get term’d?

  • Had to laugh when the Fitbit told me it had noticed I’m having less than usual sleep for population and referred me to this article. I’m a mum to a child who has seizures that get worse at night and are life threatening. He is also completely disabled so Im basically on call for him all day and night. I bought the fitbit to prove to the powers that be that my sleep has been between 4-5 a night for 12 years and I’m about to fall over. Although the Fitbit is not perfect yet I believe it’s a start. I hope in future it can be used to provide evidence for care to protect vulnerable people. Then I might finally get some sleep. Have to say that articles like this are pretty useless for special needs families whether millennials, Baby boomers or my Gen X.

  • I am sleeping on average 8 hours a night & most of the time I totally flatline, no restless or awake lines!!! Is this normal? I’m an active 41 year old female.

  • I wonder if less sleep is the CAUSE of a higher BMI or less sleep is a RESULT of a higher BMI.
    It always seems to be put in such a way that more sleep will lower BMI, but maybe as BMI lowers sleep will naturally increase.

    • I’ve heard that more/better sleep helps you be more active during the day and make better dietary decisions thereby resulting in a lower BMI.

    • I am one if the oldest Baby Boomers. I am active, weight and BMI ate normal. I have no evidence of sleep apnea. My Fitbit sleep data records much more restless sleep than i feel. I have taken Melatonin in the past, and very rarely take a low dose of prescripton medication. Neither of these change the restless/ restful ratio. Any suggestions?

  • Receive the fit bit update. The new sleep charts and graphs are great!! My question is when I woke up this morning of my sleeping charts and info was right back to the old more basic charts without REM etc like it was before update not sure why

  • Fitbit is not an effective sleep tracker as it assumes im asleep when I lie still and this is not the case I’m awake in bed.

    It always records that I’m sleeping much more than I actually am. It’s never been very good but I don’t know how you can improve it.

  • I am 68 yrs old. I had my Fitbit on 1st of Feb when for 2 weeks I was averaging 8 hours sleep per night, since then I only average 5. I work part time at a job I love, am active, walk a lot got to the gym once a week. These statistics are great but how do I get more sleep? I weigh 9st 6lbs, I was 10st back in February.

  • What a crocus. I had sleep studies and psychological testing and I was told that everyone is different in the sleep they nerd. My body thrives on 3-4 hours deep a night and if I have more I wake up groggy and with a headache. Stop trying to lump everyone into Th same box!

  • How do I get my fit bit to track sleep properly? Last night it shows that I’ve slept one hour one minute. I average about seven hours it tracked properly for the first week or two I had it but lately it’s four hours or less.

  • My Fitbit is right in that I only get 3 to 4 hrs sleep at night. I would be happy with that if it was a straight 3 to 4 hours. But it is always broken up between 5 min, 20 min, etc. I’m always exhausted. The sleep doctor says I have an “Awake” brain. But offered no help.

  • I feel like I’m sleeping a lot more than my Fitbit says I do. I’ve had my Fitbit for almost three years now and for the first two years I had a machine inside me called an LVAD which basically performed the function that my heart couldn’t do. April 21st 2016 I received my heart transplant. So with a transplant they keep your heart rate elevated at least 100bpm and at resting it’s usually around mid 90’s. So because the Fitbit can’t differentiate between actual “sleep” and awake it gives me an improper sleep pattern. Is there any way to adjust this so I can get as close as possible to an average of my sleep pattern?

  • I love the Fitbit. But the sleep patterns for me do not work. I go to bed at about 11pm and It rarely shows me sleep before 230-3am. I know I take 10-15 mins to get to sleep but 4 hours a night lol

  • As a statistician who users big data analytics in my day to day research this is a tremendous data set and the results are fascinating. I would love to work with the Fitbit Data scientists closer on this type of research.

  • For the past week I have been making a conscious effort to increase my hours of sleeping. As a baby boomer, I was way out of my healthy range, averaging about 5 hours 30 minutes over many months. Now with more sleep, I simply feel better and am starting to shed pounds.

  • I’d like to see studies on rotation shift workers or people who work 12-16 hrs night shifts like medical staff and police officers. My insomnia has been getting worse from years of eradic sleep patterns due to my nursing career. It also doesn’t help that we have pets (dogs) that sleep with us in bed and she’s ft about and demand coming off and on the bed to do their business.

  • Should I turn down the sensitivity of my tracker? I’m sleeping in average about 3.5hrs per night (dark blue) and restless the rest of the time? Miles away from the average.

  • I go up to bed before my husband and switch my light off a little before he does. But I’m usually awake reading an hour before him; my weight is average, he’s overweight; I exercise, he doesn’t, so our profiles don’t match the research findings, interesting though they are. Yet I’m the one on medication for my BP!

  • This was another wake up call.data can be very telling,good or bad take the info learn and change something if need be.the Fitbit for myself is at least in 90 plus right! That’s an A

  • I am losing sleep I am trying to find a Fitbit charge hr band holder and your rotten company won’t sell me one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    BOO FITBIT!!!!!

  • I love my Fitbit. I never take it off. But I only sleep around 4 1/2 hours a night most night. I wonder why? Maybe because I weigh more.

  • I got the Fitbit scale too. But I am puzzled at the BMI number. I weigh 122, am 5.3 tall, age 60. My BMI says 30 ! I could probably be 118 or 119, but I am not fat. I workout 3-4 days a week either walk or treadmill and do Pilates. Why is my BMI so high? Is scale inaccurate?

  • Want to believe that Sensitive mode records Deep Sleep. I asked help desk but never got a reply. Can anyone confirm this?
    After using a mouth brace against apnea, I am averaging just under two hours in Sens mode. Before the brace it was less than 20 minutes.

  • Fitbit is just the best! I suffer with really bad seizures, cervial spondolosis and can monitor them during the night via the sleep pattern recording element ; I usually sleep very still because of my exhaustion

  • The sleep information becomes inaccurate if for any reason you get up in the middle of your sleeping time. That break is counted as starting the day time. The time you return to bed and sleep is not counted. So I am getting readings of 2 to 3 hours per night when the sleep either side of the break is 6 to 7 hours. Why are those hours after the break not counted.

  • I count my toes before I go to bed and wit my FB I know that the book I am reading is more accurate. By the way I am 56 and still like chocolate shakes.

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