How to track sleep with Nest Hub and Google Fit

One of the more unique features of Google’s second-gen Nest Hub is sleep detection. Once set up, it can potentially provide valuable insight into your daily sleep patterns, even if it’s up to you to correct them. Here’s how to track sleep with a Nest Hub and Google Fit.

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Install a 2nd generation Nest Hub next to your bed, angled toward where your chest rests when you sleep. In the Google Home app, go to your Hub settings and select Sleep detection. Follow the instructions to set up the feature, including calibrating your sleep zone. You can view sleep data on your Hub or anytime on your phone using the Google Fit app.


What is sleep tracking for Nest Hub?

Jimmy Westenberg/Android Authority

Sleep detection uses a combination of radar, light, sound and temperature data to track the duration and quality of your sleep, as well as the factors that may have it. It can tell if a room is unusually bright, for example, or if you (or someone else) have snored or coughed. Note that it’s only designed to track one person, so if you’re sleeping with a partner, they’ll need their own Nest Hub (and separate Google Account) to do the same.

The Hub’s radar tracks movement and breathing, using that data to calculate subtotals for light, deep, and REM sleep, as well as when you’re fully awake (including getting out of bed for a few minutes). It even attempts to measure respiratory rates.

Around your designated wake-up time, your Nest Hub displays a sleep summary showing how long and how well you slept. The first page of this summary is relatively straightforward, such as rating your sleep as “restful” if it was quiet or “restless” if you tossed and turned constantly. However, with a few swipes, you can drill down into more granular data, such as highlighting that 30-minute snoring stretch at 3 a.m.

All of this information is synced with the Google Fit app for Android and iOS. This lets you catch up on a previous night if you can’t spend time in front of your Hub, with the added benefit of viewing long-term trends and combining them with data from smartwatches and fitness trackers.

Sleep detection is currently free for Nest Hub owners, but from 2023 Google plans to pay for the feature behind Fitbit Premium subscriptions. The feature is already not available in all countries, or even in all languages.

See: Fitbit Premium Review

How to set up sleep tracking for Nest Hub

Before you start, you’ll need a 2nd gen Nest Hub by your bed and the latest versions of the Google Home and Google Fit apps on your phone. We’ll assume you have them already installed and ready to go.

To set up sleep tracking, follow these steps:

  1. In the Google Home app, long press your Nest Hub in the device list.
  2. Tap Settings (the gear icon).
  3. Select Sleep detectionthen Configure sleep tracking.
  4. Follow the instructions to activate the function. You’ll be given options to track sound events and get personalized sleep suggestions from Google Fit – feel free to ignore these, but you’ll be sacrificing key functionality.
  5. When prompted, set a bedtime schedule. This is absolutely essential, as it tells your Nest Hub when discovery should run and whether or not you’re on schedule. Be realistic, unless you’re okay with your hub constantly grading you too late or too early.
  6. Equally important is calibrating your sleeping location. If you’re not prompted automatically, go to your Nest Hub, swipe up from the bottom edge of the screen, then tap the icon gear icon.
  7. Make sure Direction of movement is activated.
  8. Faucet Sleep detection (accompanied by a bed icon), then Calibrate.
  9. Position your Nest Hub so that its screen (and therefore its radar) is pointing towards your chest, and follow the on-screen commands.

Once you’ve calibrated your hub, it’s best to avoid moving it unless you’re ready to recalibrate it. This can skew the results, especially if it accidentally grabs a partner, pet, or child.

Understanding Your Sleep Summary

Whether you’re watching it on your Nest Hub or in the Google Fit app, the sleep summary can be a little confusing at first. It’s really not that hard to decipher, though.

The duration The field displays the time slept, the total time spent in bed, and an “efficiency” percentage, representing the ratio between the two. Ideally, this number should be between 85 and 95%, at least if you intend to sleep as long as possible.

Program tells you how well you’re tracking your bedtime and wake-up time goals. There’s some wiggle room here — Google still considers your sleep “on time” if you wake up at 7:38 when your schedule was set at 7:20.

The schedule shows how long it takes to fall asleep and get out of bed. Pay attention to this – if it takes you 30 minutes or more to fall asleep, you may need to improve your relaxation routine. The Cleveland Clinic suggests five to 20 minutes is normal.

The disturbances the graph displays when you were awake, asleep, or asleep but restless. Added to this are timelines for snoring, coughing, “other sounds,” and light level changes. It’s your main tool for identifying the causes of poor sleep, or even chronic health problems if there’s a lot of snoring, coughing, or insomnia. Note, however, that your hub may pick up sounds from other people in the room. Likewise, its motion detection is far from bulletproof, so you might for example have been awake for a “restless” period but not moving in the right direction for your status to change.

The stages of sleep chart is perhaps the most opaque initially, as not everyone understands the meaning of light, deep, or REM sleep. Google explains that light phases typically make up more than half of your sleep and are important in memory formation. However, you need deep sleep to help with muscle repair and brain health. REM sleep is often accompanied by dreams. You could use this last piece of information to find out if you were woken up by a nightmare.

Respiratory rate is determined by the rise and fall of your chest. You can usually ignore this, but if you see any spikes or crashes overnight, it could be a sign that you need to talk to a doctor about issues like sleep apnea.

You may or may not see heartbeat listing. It’s not recorded by your Nest Hub, but rather by other fitness devices you might have. As with breathing, watch for spikes or crashes and seek medical attention if you are concerned.

Speaking of which, we’ll end with a general disclaimer – sleep tracking is notoriously inconsistent on consumer hardware, including wrist-worn products, let alone something that tries to read you from a few feet away. Even Google legally protects itself by stating that sleep detection “is not intended to diagnose, cure, mitigate, prevent, or treat any disease or condition.” In other words, while your data may raise concerns, always follow up with a doctor to be sure.

Read more: The best sleep trackers you can buy

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