How Much Sleep Do Fitbit Users Really Get? A New Study Finds Out

Fitbit Sleep Study: The average Fitbit user

The launch of Sleep Stages was a huge step forward in sleep research—for Fitbit users and scientists.

Available on Fitbit Alta HR, Blaze, and Charge 2, Sleep Stages uses motion detection and heart rate variability to estimate the amount of time users spend awake and in light, deep, and REM sleep each night. The result? Data that empowers Fitbit users to take control of their sleep quality and allows Fitbit scientists to dig deeper into the health effects of sleep.

“The ability to easily track your sleep not only helps individuals better understand their own sleep, it also unlocks significant potential for us to better understand population health and gain new insights into the mysteries of sleep and its connection to a variety of health conditions,” says Conor Heneghan, Ph.D., lead sleep research scientist at Fitbit.

With that in mind, researchers tapped Fitbit’s longitudinal sleep database—the most extensive in the world—to analyze millions of nights of Sleep Stages data* to determine how age, gender, and duration affect sleep quality.

The sleep study results are below. Open up your sleep log in the Fitbit app to see how your personal stats compare.

The Sleep Sweet Spot

Fitbit Sleep Study: The average Fitbit user

The average Fitbit user is in bed for 7 hours and 33 minutes but only gets 6 hours and 38 minutes of sleep. The remaining 55 minutes is spent restless or awake. That may seem like a lot, but it’s actually pretty common.

“Sleep is not completely still,” says Fitbit Advisory Panel sleep expert Michael Grandner, MD, director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona in Tucson. “It’s perfectly normal to have periods of restlessness—10 or even up to 30 could be normal for you.” (Here’s when restlessness might be more concerning.)

That said, 6 hours and 38 minutes is still shy of the 7+ hours the the CDC recommends adults get. If you tend to fall short as well, try to bank those extra minutes: Fitbit data confirms that sleeping 7 to 8 hours gives you the highest combined percentage of deep and REM sleep. In fact, 7.5 hours of sleep is the point at which you typically start getting less percentage of REM and more light.

People who sleep 5 hours or less a night deprive their body of the opportunity to get enough deep sleep, which occurs near the beginning of the night. Deep sleep is important for many physical processes such as cell regeneration, human growth hormone secretion, and feeling refreshed.

Fitbit data shows waking up earlier than usual is what impacts REM sleep, which occurs more at the end of the night. Not getting enough REM sleep can negatively impact your short-term memory, cell regeneration, and mood.

Light sleep seems to act as a filler: You get more when you log less than 7 hours or more than 9 hours of sleep a night. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing—a lot of body maintenance happens during light sleep.

“These findings further support the general recommendation that most adults need to consistently sleep 7 to 9 hours per night, and illustrate why a good night’s rest is so important for your overall well-being,” says Fitbit Advisory Panel sleep expert Michael T. Smith, Jr., Ph.D., professor of psychiatry, neurology, and nursing at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

For more information on sleep stages and cycles, see REM, Light, Deep: How Much of Each Stage of Sleep Are You Getting?

The Gender Sleep Gap

Fitbit Sleep Study: Men versus Women

For the second year in a row Fitbit data scientists found women get about 25 minutes more sleep on average each night compared to men. The percentage of time spent in each sleep stage was also similar—until you factor in age.

Fitbit data shows that men get a slightly higher percentage of deep sleep than women until around age 55 when women take the lead.

Women win when it comes to REM, logging an average of 10 more minutes per night than men. Although women tend to average more REM than men over the course of their lifetime, the gap appears to widen around age 50.

Bridging the Generational Divide

Fitbit Sleep Study: Sleep Schedules by Generation

Generation Z goes to sleep the latest, but they sleep longer, putting their nightly average of total hours asleep on top. Baby Boomers sleep the least, averaging 6 hours and 33 minutes per night.

REM and light sleep stay pretty stable throughout a person’s lifetime but deep sleep takes a hit, decreasing from an average of 17 percent at age 20 to 12 percent at age 70.  

According to Grandner, there are two main things that can lead to less deep sleep. The first is age: “People naturally get less as they get older,” says Grandner. “And there’s not really much you can do about it.”

The second can be more controllable. “Anything that interferes with sleep like pain, illness, and medical problems, can keep your body out of deep sleep artificially,” says Grandner.

Fitbit Sleep Study: Sleep Stages by Generation

So what can you take away from this Fitbit sleep study? Three things:

  • Keep a consistent sleep schedule—ideally one that lets you get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep a night. That tends to produce the optimal combined percentage of deep and REM sleep.
  • Consider moving your bedtime up. People who go to bed earlier tend to get more sleep and get higher quality sleep, with 9 to 10 pm being the time slot that yields the highest average percentage of REM sleep.
  • Remember: Everyone is different. As Grandner told Fitbit, ideal sleep stages are “whatever your body does given enough of an opportunity.” If you feel great on your current sleep schedule, you may not need to change a thing.

*This research is based on aggregated and anonymous data from millions of users April 8-17, 2017. Sleep duration is based on time asleep and does not include restless or awake time. Generations are defined as: Generation Z (age 13-22), Millennials (age 23-40), Generation X (age 41-51), and Baby Boomers (age 52 and above).

Related Articles:
Getting More Sleep Can Help You Be an All-Star at Work
5 Reasons You Might Be a Restless Sleeper
Can a Pill Really Help You Sleep Tonight?

86 Comments   Join the Conversation

86 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Your data is too similar to be accurate. Do you account for the different primetime in the middle of the country?

    My old fitbit often told me things I knew not to be true – like I walked 10000 steps on a 2.5 mile walk.

  • Your data is too similar to be accurate. I would say a software problem.

    What about how TV influences this? People go to bed earlier in central time because primetime ends at 10.

    Not a medical device.

  • Too bad all of the purchasers of the high end charge continue to be ignored and forgotten with this feature despite numerous comments in forum. Not even a courtesy of a response.

  • This is fantastic, more articles using the mass data you’ve accumulated please!

    A great follow up to this article would be to look deeper at the data and the variability for each stage of sleep. Is it normally distributed? Can it be improved?

  • All this research and not a single word about the smart alarm functionality that users are asking for since 2014! Please, add a smart alarm to your bands!

  • My experience is that the Fitbit does not accurately reflect my sleep. Any research based on Fitbit data is suspect.

  • So the Flagship tracker for FITBIT the SURGE is NOT getting these features in any future firmware updates>?? Makes no sense!

  • Fitbit sleep tracking went automated and does not work. Fitbit doesn’t acknowledge the issue and expects us to manually go in and remove the inaccurate readings each day. no one has time for this.

    This data they are using is not accurate. It could be someone sitting at their desk, working, or on the couch, watching a movie.

    I stopped using my fitbit. Terrible customer service.
    All they did was direct me to a forum thread where i could post that I was having the issue too. Two years later- no response. Just more people adding that the exact same thing is affecting them.

  • There is a limit to how much water is good for you though, my doctor got me to reduce the amount of I was drinking. Over hydration can cause the kidneys to become very low in salt and which happened in my case. This is not good for you either.

  • Article is good for my wife and daughter (Charge 2 owners) but entirely irrelevant to me (Surge owner). Guess it’s my own fault for taking the view that the expensive model would be actually useful.

  • The deep and REM sleep interest me, but my Fitbit says I wake up when I actually get out of bed – even if I have been laying there awake for an hour or more.

  • How does your research deal with users who have obstructive sleep apeanoa! It gives me the same information as somebody without it??? Certainly not accurate information according to my stats on my CRAP machine

  • I am beyond baby boomer and regularly fall asleep in a chair during the day. Sometimes my change recognises this, often it doesn’t.

  • Why has the Charge HR been left out of this update?

    It has the motion and heart rate sensors so will be generating the data, Is there a technical reason or is the omission just to push HR owners to upgrade ?

    I spent a fair amount of time researching the correct adhesive to glue the HR strap back onto the case and now that I have a ready supply of units with detached straps that will keep me supplied for years wouldn’t want that effort to go to waste.

  • Fascinating article, thank you. But please could you get in more statistics for the older person like me, aged 84. There must be lots of older Fitbitters around?

    • I’m older too – way far away from the baby boomer set – would love to see those stats for those of us in our mid 70’s and older. I have found out this winter that my sleep requirements have changed – less is more – where I used to need 8 to 10 hours, 7 to 8 suites me very well these days. I wonder how many others in my age group have found this to be true

  • It annoys me as well that they release a product world wide and use the U.S terminology and insulting descriptions. Why do I have to put up with “Lunch” and “dinner” ? They are the same thing in the English dictionary. Apparently I’m a “Millennial” dispite being born in ’82 when the phrase wasn’t even coined until after the Millennium to discribe the childeren born around then.

    Then let’s get to the inaccurate data, does it factor in peoples job? I mean having the average bed time and awake time doesn’t work for me as my job keeps me up until 3am sometimes, so that’ll throw off the information used right away.

    Customer service seems nice enough but the technical department is awful, my fitbit -still- has 2 ways of tracking my calories with no explaination why it was changed, even calling it a bug by some responses. Tiles keep appearing when you hide them, ‘older’ phones are being phased out even though nothing new is being added to warrant it and the more expensive models aren’t getting newer features, accessories are poor quality and they -still- insist on using this “Sport grade” plastic that eats your skin, what use is a tracker if you have to take it off?!

    Makes me wonder if Fitbit will go the way of the other American companies, think of something novel, screw it up, get a government grant in exchange for ‘selling’ our information to the U.S powers-that-be and carry one as if nothing happens, ala: Google, Facebook, Apple.

  • I am really disappointed that the Charge HR is not getting this sleep tracking. I originally bought this fitbit to track my sleep – it was the top of the range at the time. I really don’t want to upgrade as I am worried that in 6 months time, they bring a new style of tracking out and that watch wont be included!!!

  • My Fitbit Blaze doesn’t give me any accurate sleep information. On average I go to bed at 11:00 pm and awake at 7:30 am – 8.5 hours. Yet, night after night, I get the reading of 1 to 3 hours max. How can this be true? I am disappointed.

  • The first two weeks I had my Fitbit it showed sleep type – rem etc. Now it has stopped doing so. Wear it exactly the same and nothing has changed. Why doesn’t it show this information now. Was the best part of the sleep section

  • Is there a technical reason why sleep stages are not available on the Surge?

    For the top end product it has been a long time since an update. Are you trying to create a market for your next GPS enabled watch? I am not likely to buy it if you treat me like this.

  • I am 68 years old and my sleep pattern bears no relation to your figures.
    I sleep an average of 7 hrs 9 mins;
    REM 49 mins
    Light sleep 5 hrs 22 mins
    Deep sleep 58 mins
    How do I know this is accurate?

  • As we get older we require less sleep. And unless we want to go to sleeping aids we will not have the quality of sleep recommended. It is tiring to hear that we should have 8 or more hours sleep which for some of us is impossible. Doctor advised if not getting 8 or more hours of sleep is not interfering with your life don’t worry about it.

    • It’s not that we “require” less sleep as we grow older, it is just harder to get more sleep because we don’t sleep as deeply. With more light sleep, we are more easily awakened throughout the night, not to mention we may awaken to go to the bathroom more often or are subject to some type of sleep disorder such as sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome.

  • As we get older we require less sleep. And unless we want to go to sleeping aids we will not have the quality of sleep recommended. It is tiring to hear that we should have 8 or more hours sleep which for some of us is impossible. Doctor advised if not getting 8 or more hours of sleep is not interfering with your life don’t worry about it.

  • Thanks to my Fitbit Charge 2, which I upgraded to, I have greatly improved my sleep and I am now finally seeing some changes to my body weight with the increase/improved sleeping. No issues from me!

  • When my daughter first gave me her fitbit in May, 2017, I was very excited because I could see how I slept and measure my water and see other things. Since you have changed the forum for fitbit, I have a hard time even adding the amount of water I drink and can never see how I sleep. Unless I am sleepwalking, the walking measurement isn’t true either. I am upset with the changes as I am an elder person and this is extremely hard for me to manage. Please don’t print this but please send me a reply. Thank you, Diane.

  • Hi, I would like to make a recommendation, I am a new mom and there isn’t any place where I can put this information. As much as I like tracking my sleep, I would also like to track my sleep accordingly to my situations. I don’t believe my sleep deprivation should affect the stats of everyone in my age category. Also, if the statistics of other parents would be available it could be interesting to know if my REM, or light sleep is average to other parents. Thank you

  • I recently switched to charge2. The sleep report compared to charge is a great improvement !!!
    The info you just supplied is very informatve

  • My Fitbit sleep tracker does not work at all anymore and I can’t figure out how to get it to track. I have the blaze module

  • It would be interesting to see sleep data from parents with young/infant children to look at the loss of the deep sleep and R.E.M. sleep. If there could be a feature to reflect that it would be interesting data to look through.

  • I received a Fitbit Alta HR as a gift the end of May…I couldn’t believe the information it could gather…Since July 1, my sleep stages have not registered at all…Tech Support has been trying to help me with many different things to try to get stages back, but so far no luck. My hope is that something will finally work and stages will once again operate properly.

  • I don’t understand why everyone here is so negative. My charge2 hr is pretty accurate in regards to detecting my sleep. Not a single false positive in about a month of use and I have a desk job with a TV evening schedule that would trigger false sleep if the tracker were at fault. Keep us updated on this data it is very interesting!

  • I notice there is no reference to medication that forces the body awake during the night to get rid of water. I go to bed a 10 and am up at 6:30. During the night I might be awaken sometimes as much as 4 times. How does this factor into a pattern? I am 81.

  • I agree fitbit is not accurate at anything. The steps are way off. I have an Apple Watch and I walk the same amount and check the fitbit and it is double the amount. I don’t believe anything about fitbit and its accuracy.

  • Sounds like this study is a work in progress and FitBit should be applauded for that.

    My pacemaker runs at 70 bpm, so that’s the base, which cuts off any dips that might otherwise occur. I hope your algorithm can take that phenomenon into account. Perhaps there should be a profile option to include FitBit-wearers with pacemakers.

  • I notice that the data for sleep on my Fitbit charge 2 is not accurate.
    I have the Ap on my iPone and my iPad Pro the data on each varies. Also the different stages of sleep only shows up on my iPhone not, my iPad.
    Also when I scroll back to the previous day’s sleep record on the dashboard it doesn’t show anything but today’s sleep time.
    This needs attention.
    Does anyone have any input ?

  • A lot of negative comments on this article, but I’m with Nick. “More articles using the mass data you’ve accumulated please!” I use the Fitbit Flex and it seems to track my sleep very well even though it does not have the heart rate function to track deep sleep and REM. I could see studies combining the sleep and step data to provide even more useful information. Keep them coming!

  • As a 77-yr old, I’m glad that I usually get 7+ hours of sleep per night (not counting the 1/2 hour of nap time during the day). I also wish that there were a way to retrofit the Surge to give me REM data. Oh, bother…

  • The Fitbit sleep function is awesome and fairly accurate. Keep coming with these articles! Everyone knows who the baby boomer generation is what generation is generation z? Should give data for age ranges not generations. Thanks

  • I have done an experiment when I wake early 3am and just lie there awake until alarm goes at 5.10am and apparently I am in light sleep (mostly) according to my Fitbit. Not once, I have done this several times. So yes your figures are distorted. Also, I have read every article in the June and July newsletters and can’t help noticing how young all the experts are and have all done so much. I’m 57 so guess I have not had enough life experiences yet to know all that they know. I hope some of them read this and when they get to my age realize that – yep I didn’t know it all and no its not all black and white.

  • Your information stops with the baby boomers. What about those of us who are older?

  • This was a great article in comparison to other however I would have loved to seen what optimal looks like.After all most fit bit wearer are trying to improve their life style and that includes sleep.
    Thanks
    Sharon

  • You have no data for older people. The world doesn’t end or begin with baby boomers. Be nice to see 70’s to 90’s information also.

  • I don’t like my information being used. Fitbit is identifying by age and gender. How specific will they. E and will they provide my info to healthcare providers, insurers or government? I’m not wearing it at night any longer. This is a violation of trust.

  • Very informative about FitBit users’ sleeping habits. I enjoyed reading about this and hopefully it can impact the greater population with education for better sleep.

  • Wondered if my data was going to be out there in cyber space…hmmm!;/ (Might have to cancel this feature as this was not my intent when purchasing the “Charge 2HR+!)

  • Wondered if my data was going to be out there in cyber space…hmmm!;/ (Might have to cancel this feature as this was not my intent when purchasing the “Charge 2HR+!)

  • Does the Charge HR track REM sleep?
    Also It appears that restless sleep is not considered/added in the total hours of sleep. Is this true?

  • I’ve had no problems with the sleep tracking on my charge2. I think that this tech is working pretty well and I believe that with the population of the study, n > 1,000,000, that these results are reliable and usable for reference.

  • How does broken patterns fit I generally get two hours in the afternoon and then maybe 4 to 5 at night because I work at 4 a.m. in the morning

  • Fitbit is a marketing driven organization with a very thin technical base (both software and hardware). Having three of their products I find nothing consistent; features, data collected or support, across these products.

    Fitbit can send out enticing marketing publications (brochures, studies, articles that hype their gear) but their products seem to never have technical support (on shelf product or after market) consistent with the image they portray.

  • I wear a CPAP nightly and would not go to bed without it. It might me nice to be able to check that option on your profile and further add to the depth of the study. Awesome article!!

  • I’m a new Fitsebit user and based on the many comments I’ve read, Fitbit does not present itself accurately nor do they respond to questions.

  • I have a Fitbit Blaze. The sleep function has never worked – according to the Blaze I only sleep about 2 hours a day!! All other elements of the Blaze work well. A great asset for keeping track of dietary intake.

  • I appreciate all the insights regarding sleep data. Because of my Fitbit I am working to add more sleep time.
    My customer service with Fitbit has passed my expectations.

  • Thank you for the article, I really enjoyed it. I just wish the alarm on my Fitbit Charge 2 was enough to wake me up.

  • I have never had more than five hours of sleep per night for my entire adult life, and I do just fine. I’m 60 years old, female, fit as a fiddle mentally and physically, have a job that requires incredible mental gymnastics, work out three to four times a week, eat healthily, and feel as good now as I did 30 years ago. I am sick to death of the “experts” sleep-shaming people like me. There have been studies showing plenty of people function just fine on four hours of sleep per night. Give it a rest (pun intended hahahaha)!

  • A lot of comments on which Fitbit models are supposed to have the newer sleep tracking function and which do not. In many cases those that are supposed to have it, do not work. I have had my Blaze for a year now and have only seen the new output half a dozen times. Along with the other comments, Fitbit cannot have the data to actually derive accurate sleep statistics.

  • I use a surge. I am a 72 year old male. I have set my Surge to regard 6:15 as my standard for sleep, not really enough, but a viable number, that I can actually make most of the time. My typical restless and awake time is about 14 minutes, so I really do sleep through. I do exercise and try to keep up with the 10,000 step goal, and make it when there isn’t a lot of snow or rain. It would be fun to map my sleep stages. The only problem with my Surge is making sure it recharges when I plug it in to do so. The biggest request I would have is to be able to see the time in minutes and seconds, not just minutes; and the other is to have 1 AM (or even 2 AM) be the start and end of the day.

  • Surprised to see that most people, like me, aren’t getting enough sleep. How about more info/tips on getting better sleep?

  • Thank you for tracking this. I think sleep is very important (maybe, because I have always been a great sleeper). I’m 77, I track my sleep via Fitbit every night. I get 7-8 hours every night, and occasionally 9. (I know 9 is not optimal, but I think it might be because of an especially stressful day). To make matters more interesting, I’m married to a chronic insominiac for 57 years. He is not a Fitbit enthusiast.

  • Could you please add median data to the app? This would be more useful than average to correlate how rested the user feels with the trailing statistics, considering; i doubt that sleep debt gets repaid linearly.

    In fact, i would also be nice if the app could propose a short term sleep plan to remedy sleep debt. Maybe the user woul have to input how rested/tired he feels each day to make this work, idk.

  • where are the answers to all these questions?? I want to know why my sleep tracker has changed and I can no longer access it just by pressing ‘sleep start’ or ‘sleep end’ when I access my fit bit one on my phone.

  • Sometimes my sleep patterns show a “gap”. It looks like I’m awake during these gaps. They are usually 1 to 2 hours. I am not awake during these gaps in my overnight data. What would cause this?

  • I am 65 years old female. My sleep is average for my group. I have decided to do two things and see if my sleeping pattern changes. 1) I am going to drink cherry juice before bedtime. 2) I am going to take a relaxing bath in Epsom salt.

  • This is all crap anyway. My fitbit can’t gauge sleep at all. I can be awake for most of the night and it tells me I got 7 hours of sleep. I’m not even in bed for 7 hours! Worthless to track sleep. I hope it’s more accurate with steps.

  • I’d love to see my sleep (and other stats) by day of the week to see the patterns. Perhaps a feature you can add to the app and dashboard one day …

  • Fascinating info, but I was surprised to find the average bedtime so close to midnight, similar to my own. I was under the illusion that most went to bed before 11 not after, no doubt influenced by 24hr internet and television

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