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Level Up Your InsideTracker Recommendations with Heart Rate and Sleep Tracking

woman fitness tracker physiomarkers

InsideTracker’s mission has always been to provide you with actionable, evidence-backed recommendations to improve your health and wellness. And now, we've made strides to integrate yet another biometric data source to realize this vision. With the latest version of the InsideTracker Mobile App, users can now get real-time, daily feedback on insights from heart rate and sleep data collected by wearable fitness trackers. Here's how this development is building on the InsideTracker experience and how these physiomarkers integrate with your existing blood and DNA data.

Buy an InsideTracker test for access to our companion app

Activity trackers combine with DNA + blood data to provide real-time health analytics and insights

Recently, InsideTracker has incorporated DNA testing into our insights and recommendations. By evaluating various genetic potentials, a single DNA test can provide deep and meaningful insights for certain traits—like predisposition for high LDL-cholesterol or the potential to excel at endurance sports. But on its own, genetic testing cannot provide a complete picture of health. For one thing, it never changes—your DNA is static and does not respond to lifestyle changes. In some instances, genetics can explain close to just 10% of the potential for a particular trait.

It's for this reason that InsideTracker has always utilized blood biomarker testing to assess the impact of your nutrition and lifestyle on your health. Unlike DNA, blood biomarkers are always changing and responding to your daily habits, and can therefore be quite different from month to month. In fact, certain biomarkers can fluctuate on a daily basis, but it's simply not realistic to utilize blood testing to capture this day-to-day variability. 

Level Up Your InsideTracker-01Fortunately, advancements in wearable technology have provided the opportunity to collect critical data and monitor our bodies every second (actually millisecond) of the day. With a smartwatch or heart rate monitor, we can now track our heart rate, sleep performance, steps taken, and even body temperature—all of which provide key insights about the effects of our daily lifestyle on health. Activity trackers have finally made it possible to monitor biomarkers on a daily basis, empowering you to make changes to optimize your performance and wellness in real time.

In the latest update to the InsideTracker system, these moment-by-moment activity tracker insights seamlessly integrate with your blood and DNA data. Now, InsideTracker users can track heart rate metrics like resting heart rate and sleep stats such as REM sleep and deep sleep to get a more in-depth and precise understanding of their health and performance. Here's some key info about how all of these metrics relate to wellbeing and how InsideTracker is analyzing them.

 

Monitoring resting heart rate can help you reach your fitness and longevity goals

Heart rate data has long been used to measure fitness and athletic performance. Resting heart rate (RHR) in particular is a useful metric to assess both fitness level and as a predictor of overall health. RHR is simply the number of times your heart beats per minute (bpm) while at complete rest, measured either when sitting or laying down for a period of several minutes. The American Heart Association states that an RHR of under 100 beats per minute is considered normal—and, in general, the lower the better. This principle is based on the fact that the heart of a physically fit and healthy person requires less exertion to circulate blood at rest compared to a less fit person.

RHR has been found to be highly correlated with VO2max, which is one of the gold standards for measuring aerobic fitness—RHR is just much more easily obtainable with wearable fitness trackers.[1] It's also a highly personalized metric and often changes on a daily basis; increased fitness levels usually correspond with a lowering of RHR (note: excessive training can have the opposite effect on RHR).

But RHR changes aren't just due to exercise levels. Lifestyle habits, including food choices, sleep patterns, and stress levels can all contribute to the fluctuations in RHR we see over time. Research has linked elevated RHR to increased stress and cortisol levels, which can lead to increased hypertension, increased cholesterol, decreased insulin sensitivity, and increased blood sugar levels.[2] Furthermore, a meta-analysis published in 2016 found that RHR greater than 80 bpm was significantly correlated with increased risk of cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.[3] The researchers also cited that every 10 bpm increase in RHR was associated with a 9% increase in risk of death. 

Luckily, RHR is incredibly responsive to changes in exercise, lifestyle, and nutrition, making it a prime candidate for the immediate insights we get from wearable activity trackers. Using heart rate data from your fitness tracker, InsideTracker creates a personal optimized zone for RHR and provides daily insights based on weekly and monthly trends to help you reach your fitness goals. So, regardless of whether your wellness goals are more focused on longevity and healthy aging or than athletic performance, RHR insights can help you get there.

 

Using sleep phase tracking as the ultimate performance optimization tool

Quality sleep is often referred to as the ultimate performance enhancer, and not just in a physical way! The amount of sleep we get impacts wellness in a multitude of ways, from mood and energy levels to the metabolism of food and the strength of the immune systems. It's therefore critical that we all optimize our sleep habits when possible. InsideTracker has therefore begun using fitness tracker data to analyze sleep phases, unveil any connections between lifestyle and sleep patterns, and identify areas for improving (even optimizing) your sleep. 

Your sleep can be broken down into four phases: light sleep, deep sleep, REM sleep and believe it or not, awake time. Even if you don't notice, the average person wakes up between 10-15 times per night—the more frequent these disturbances, the lower your overall quality of sleep can be. Light sleep is generally the phase of sleep we spend most of our night in—it can account for ~50% of our total sleep time and serves as a transition to the more important and regenerative phases, deep sleep and REM sleep.

Deep sleep is also known as slow wave sleep due to drastically slowed brain waves and nervous system activity characteristic of this period. Deep sleep is physically restorative and serves as a time for the body to recover and repair damaged tissue via hormones and chemicals that initiate the repair process. In fact, 95% of our body’s growth hormone is produced during deep sleep. The majority of deep sleep occurs early in the night, but will ideally comprise at least 15% a total night's sleep.

While deep sleep serves physical restoration, REM sleep provides a period for mental restoration. Named for the rapid eye movement that occurs during this period, REM sleep is characterized by its heightened brain activity—nearly as active as an awake brain! This brain activity enables our nervous system to solidify short-term memories into long-term ones and to reinforce the mind-muscle connection by solidifying the neural patterns involved in hand-eye coordination. As the night progresses, you should be spending more time in the REM sleep stage, accounting for roughly 20% of your night.

We're constantly being reminded to get 8 hours of sleep per night (in fact, 7-9 hours is healthy). And though those hours are often the first to be sacrificed in the name of productivity in a fast-moving world, they can actually be the most valuable resource for those looking to improve athletic performance or improve overall wellbeing. Impaired sleep can be linked to a variety of serious health problems, including increased risk of depression, obesity, type II diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. In fact, poor sleep quality has even been shown to increase susceptibility to viral infections. On the other hand, quality sleep can promote a favorable environment for immune cell function and cytokine (inflammatory molecules) production, and virus-fighting specific T cells, which peak during the night.[4,5,6]

By tracking and optimizing your sleep cycle and phases, InsideTracker provides key insights and actionable recommendations to help you maximize the benefits of the hours you spend in bed—and take a meaningful step towards improving your health and wellness.

 

Combining DNA + blood + physiological fitness tracker data for a complete, whole-body view

Just as with blood biomarkers or DNA data alone, these fitness tracker-based physiological markers alone can't tell the complete story of your health. As featured in the new InsideTracker mobile app for iOS, the true power of these physiological markers is harnessed when combined with blood and DNA data. The InsideTracker mobile app sets a new industry standard by combining these three groups of markers to give you real-time, holistic insights with even more precision and personalization. With heart rate monitoring and sleep phase tracking, the InsideTracker mobile app provides personalized recommendations to optimize your performance, insights into how your daily habits affect your biomarkers, and will shed light on your body’s true potential—anytime you want, all in the palm of your hand.

 

How to get your personalized insights into your heart rate and sleep habits

The InsideTracker mobile app easily combines your heart rate and sleep metrics with your existing InsideTracker recommendations built on your blood and DNA data to give you actionable habits that are easy to incorporate into your daily life. To start analyzing these physiological metrics, simply connect your Fitbit to the InsideTracker mobile app to begin syncing your latest data. Soon, Garmin Connect and Apple Health users will also be able to connect their fitness trackers to receive all of the new RHR and sleep recommendations listed here.

And guess what—we're not stopping there. Our science and R&D teams are hard at work to bring you even more physiological insights on your body composition, activity data, and stress levels all to be combined with your existing blood and genetic information. Stay tuned for these updates coming soon!

Buy an InsideTracker test for access to our companion app

References

[1] https://heart.bmj.com/content/99/12/882.full

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1446757/

[3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26598376/

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26118561

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20398008

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30755455