By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A growing number of people are using smartphones to track their sleep habits and research says people who use sleep trackers tend to be healthier overall.

Science has shown people who are better rested, tend to be more productive and have fewer illnesses.

Getting a good night’s sleep used to be a challenge for Sarah Collier but the 42-year-old says once she started monitoring her sleep with her Fitbit six years ago, she’s had more restful nights.

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“I have to be much more routine based,” Collier said.

A new study says people who track their sleep have other similarities.

“The study found that sleep tracking is a constellation of other healthy habits,” Dr. Rebecca Robbins, a researcher, explained. “People who reported sleep tracking also reported really good nutrition and regular exercise habits.”

The study also shows men are more likely than women to track their sleep. The most popular apps for sleep tracking in the study were Fitbit, Lose It! and Apple Health.

“People really liking the ability to collect data about their behaviors from a day-to-day to basis and then improve those behaviors,” Dr. Robbins said.

Tracking her sleep led Collier to make some big changes.

“I’ve discovered that I need to turn off all screens an hour before I actually think I’m going to go to sleep,” she said. “I’ve noticed that having drinks at night–unfortunately–affects my sleep. I’ve noticed having caffeine after 4 p.m. affects my sleep.”

She says she’s now averaging a good eight hours of sleep a night.

Doctors say more research is needed to see how effectively apps measure sleep and how those measurements can be used to gauge changes in sleep patterns.

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