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Use Sleep Trackers As a Guidepost
Dr. Smarr cautions on the sleep tracking trend, explaining, “For most people, choosing these devices should be an issue of fun and curiosity more than to gain medical insight.” Without an EEG (a test that tracks electrical patterns in the brain), the standard from which sleep stages have historically been defined, devices that use other modalities to track sleep stages are not always accurate, because these other modalities, such as your breathing rate, heart rate, or movement during sleep, show similar but different kinds of cycles from EEG, and their exact rhythms differ from person to person in ways that science and medicine have not made much sense of yet.
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