How Labfront and Garmin are Making Medical-Grade Sleep Data More Accessible

How Labfront and Garmin are Making Medical-Grade Sleep Data More Accessible

Historically, actigraphy – vital for studying sleep patterns at home– has been prohibitively expensive. Now, Labfront and Garmin are changing this by offering an affordable, advanced solution, broadening access to high-quality sleep data to more researchers.

Feb 22, 2024
By The Labfront Team
person sleeping and garmin smartwatchperson sleeping and garmin smartwatch
person sleeping and garmin smartwatch
How Labfront and Garmin are Making Medical-Grade Sleep Data More Accessible

How Labfront and Garmin are Making Medical-Grade Sleep Data More Accessible

Historically, actigraphy – vital for studying sleep patterns at home– has been prohibitively expensive. Now, Labfront and Garmin are changing this by offering an affordable, advanced solution, broadening access to high-quality sleep data to more researchers.


High-quality sleep data is beneficial to a wide range of health researchers, whether you're studying mental health, kinesiology, or elderly care. But actigraphy, an important tool in at-home sleep research, has been out of reach for many due to its high costs. Until now.

We’ve developed an affordable and straightforward alternative using a consumer wearable. Instead of spending thousands for a device, with Labfront you can use a $150 Garmin smartwatch that delivers comparable results to medical actigraphic devices.

What is actigraphy?

Actigraphy is a non-invasive method used to monitor human rest/activity cycles. A device with an accelerometer is worn, usually on the wrist, to measure movement.

For years, actigraphy has been a cornerstone in sleep research, playing a pivotal role in our understanding of sleep patterns, circadian rhythms, and sleep disorders. It allows for continuous data collection over extended periods in a person's normal day-to-day living conditions, unlike more restrictive in-lab studies. This significantly enhances the practical relevance of research findings.

Understanding the limitations of conventional actigraphic devices

Standard actigraphic devices, including the popular Actiwatch 2 (now discontinued) and Motionlogger, can cost up to $3000. This makes such devices unreachable for many professionals, especially those working in smaller institutions or navigating strict budgets.

Also, as mentioned above, actigraphic devices measure activity through acceleration signals, but the way that leading devices measure these signals is often unclear, leaving researchers with a black box.

Labfront x Garmin: A practical, affordable solution

We saw an opportunity to address this gap, leveraging Garmin's expertise in consumer wearables. Instead of investing thousands in expensive traditional devices, you can now get similar, high-quality sleep data from a $150 Garmin smartwatch.

We’ve adapted the algorithms used in medical-grade actigraphs to work with the raw accelerometer data from Garmin wearables and achieved comparable results.

What sets our solution apart is not just its cost-effectiveness; it's the transparency and customization it offers researchers. We provide an in-depth view of the methodologies involved in deriving sleep parameters, enabling professionals to fine-tune the detection processes according to individual research needs.

And if researchers aren’t familiar with sleep data, we offer comprehensive actigraphy analytics packages, developed by our analytics team hailing from Harvard’s Center for Dynamical Biomarkers.

This combination not only offers a solution at a fraction of the cost of traditional medical devices but also maintains the data accuracy and reliability that researchers require.

labfront's sleep report
Sample of Labfront's 1-night sleep report

How does Garmin fare against medical actigraphic devices?

Our recent white paper details how we adapted the medical-grade actigraphy algorithms to fit Garmin’s raw accelerometer data.

During the research, three devices - Motionlogger, Actiwatch, and Garmin's Vivosmart - were worn simultaneously for comparison. The results? The Garmin device showcased excellent agreement with both Actiwatch and Motionlogger, indicating its viability as a substitute for medical-grade devices.

The key findings from our white paper are:

  • Garmin's device shows a sensitivity of over 95% for sleep detection and an overall accuracy surpassing 95%.
  • The methodology introduced is clear, filling a void in the literature regarding consumer-grade actigraphy.
  • The system isn't a rigid structure. It allows for tailored sleep/wake detection parameters, adjusting to individual user conditions.

Read the White Paper!

We encourage you to read the white paper in its entirety to explore the detailed findings, methodologies, and data points.

Why this matters to researchers

Labfront’s actigraphy solution is breaking down former financial and technical barriers to high-quality sleep data. By offering a cost-effective, high-accuracy tool, we're enabling a broader range of researchers to incorporate sleep data into their studies.

The lower costs and adaptable settings remove barriers to entry, allowing broader study participation and more extensive data collection.

labfront actigraphy comparison chart
For a standard research study involving 35 participants, the combination of Labfront and Garmin proves to be 5 to 7 times more cost-effective.

Extending benefits beyond sleep research

With reliable sleep data now within reach, various health domains stand to benefit.

Here are just a few applications:

  • Mental Health: With more accessible sleep data, researchers can better understand sleep's impact on daily stress and cognitive function, potentially identifying new intervention strategies for mental health conditions.
  • Athlete Recovery: In sports science, easy access to sleep data means more comprehensive studies on rest's role in athlete performance and recovery, providing new insights that could shape training routines.
  • Elderly Care: For those studying aging, affordable actigraphy enables ongoing monitoring of sleep patterns in older adults, helping to detect or predict health conditions..


At Labfront, we believe high-quality research data should be accessible and affordable. With our alternative to traditional, cost-prohibitive actigraphic devices, we’re paving the way for new discoveries and applications in diverse health studies. Whether you’re looking to explore sleep disorders, optimize athlete recovery, or understand the sleep-health dynamic in the elderly, the door is wide open.

Check out how our actigraphy solution can be integrated into your research by signing up for a Labfront account and trying it out for yourself!

Last medically reviewed on
Mar 4, 2024
All-In-One Research Solution for Real-World Data Capture

Labfront is a global startup specializing in health data analytics. It is currently disrupting academic health research through its Labfront platform, a code-free digital biomarker collection and analytics solution. With the recent explosion of sensors in the scientific community, Labfront is helping health researchers process the overwhelming amount of complex data and transition to the data-rich future.

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