I Tested Apple Watch Sleep Tracking To Save You Time And Battery Life
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If youre an executive seeking peak performance from the moment you wake up or a parent hoping to create a better nightly routine for your family, youve probably heard about sleep tracking wearables devices that promise to improve your health and productivity by monitoring your sleep. Sleep tracking tech is rapidly becoming ubiquitous: This month, Apple added the feature to tens of millions of Apple Watches in a free watchOS 7 software update, and in August.
But despite years of work by researchers and wearable developers, meaningfully useful sleep tracking remains more a dream than a reality. After trying the feature in prerelease versions of watchOS 7, I spent the past week testing Apples finished sleep tracking app, which meant changing my daily charging routine, wearing my Watch to bed each night, and checking my phone for insights each day. Having gone through that process, Im convinced Ive experienced the kernel of a valuable solution, but just like the very first Apple Watch, it still feels half-baked.
Here are some of the things I discovered during my testing regimen.
How Does Apple Watch Sleep Tracking Work
The Apple Watch Sleep app integrates with the Sleep feature in the Health App and the Apple Watch app for iPhone.
If you wear your Apple Watch to bed and turn on sleep mode, the Sleep app will track your sleep duration, which includes the average time you spend in bed and the average time you spend asleep.
Quick tip: With the watchOS 8 update, your Apple Watch also tracks your breathing rate while you sleep.
One of the main features of the Sleep app is bedtime schedules, which can help you achieve your sleep goals during the week and even on weekends.
Once you set a schedule, your Apple Watch will gather data during these time frames. You can set multiple sleep schedules, which is helpful if your sleep habits differ throughout the week.
Sleep Tracking With Watchos 7
Apple finally added the long-awaited sleep-tracking feature to Apple Watch with WatchOS 7. Its pretty simple to use, too. Just set a bedtime and wake-up time, and the Apple Watch will help you get a good nights rest. We all know sleep hygiene is important, and the Wind Down feature helps to minimize distractions before bedtime, such as switching your iPhone to Do Not Disturb and changing the lock screen to a less-distracting interface. As soon as its your scheduled bedtime, the Apple Watch starts automatically tracking sleep. Make sure your watch is set to a comfortable fit if its too loose on your wrist, it may register too much movement during the night.
Your sleep data tracked through the Apple Watch integrates with the Apple Health app, and through the app, you can see statistics based on how much shut-eye youre getting and receive tips for better sleep. Each morning when you wake up, your Apple Watch provides you with a summary of your nights sleep as well as a battery indicator to remind you to charge your device.
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Setting A Sleep Schedule Feels Familiar
Setting up sleep tracking feels very much like an extension of the years-old iOS feature inside the Clock app that allows bedtime reminders and triggers a yellow shift in the light from your phone’s screen to enter a wind-down experience.
Sleep schedules get set up on the Apple Watch, or in Apple’s Health app. I picked eight hours, spinning the clock around so my bedtime would be midnight, waking at 8 a.m. I work from home now and the kids aren’t in school.
Consistent, but I go to bed way too late.
How Can You Make Sure Your Apple Watch Is Tracking Sleep
Apples Sleep app also allows you to track sleep from your iPhone, which is based around the bedtime schedule that you will have to create when you set up the Sleep app. This is synchronous: whether you set it up on the Apple Watch or iPhone first, it should automatically sync with the other device and activate Sleep during your scheduled bedtime.
To make sure your Apple Watch is recording sleep, look for the Sleep app on your home screen . From there you can enable tracking sleep with the Apple Watch that will forward that data to the iOS Apple Health app. Its here where you can also enable charging reminders and automatically turn on the Do Not Disturb mode at night though if you want to switch it on manually, look for the new Bedtime button on your control center.
Michael is a freelance journalist who has covered consumer technology for over a decade and specialises in wearable and fitness tech. Previously editor of Wareable, he has written for publications including Wired UK, GQ, Men’s Fitness, BBC Science Focus, Metro and Stuff. Michael is a keen runner and swimmer and is also the co-founder of YouTube channel The Run Testers.
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Sleep Data Is Modest And Not Particularly Actionable
Apples sleep tracking app interface is simple. Tell it your preferred bedtime schedule in my case, 11 p.m. to just before 6 a.m. and it will be looking out for sleep during those times . It turns out that you must set up tracking schedules to cover each individual day of the week or use separate schedules for weekdays and weekends. I didnt realize until too late that the Watch hadnt recorded data for two full nights because I hadnt set up a separate weekend schedule to cover them.
Assuming the Watch gathers your data properly, youll see a very modest display of data, including a bar representing your total time asleep, the timestamps indicating sleep start and end points, and a bar chart covering the last 14 days. If you want a deeper dive, you can open the Health app on an iPhone to see your average time in bed and average time asleep and under some conditions, a correlation of your overnight heart rate data with your sleeping schedule. When I checked the Health app, one day the heart rate data was there, but another day it disappeared from the apps list of Highlights and I couldnt find it.
Apple has suggested its providing little data to keep users from obsessing over their sleep schedules, as that might inadvertently generate even more anxiety or restlessness. Im still not sure whether thats truly an act of kindness or just a convenient excuse for underwhelming functionality.
How Apple Watch Sleep Tracking Works
Apple’s sleep tracking integrates with the existing Bedtime feature on the iPhone’s Clock app , so you turn it on and create a schedule.
Before your allocated bedtime you’ll be ‘prepared’ for sleep with a wind-down time while your Apple Watch becomes dimmed and locked – your Watch is now in ‘Sleep Mode’.
Do Not Disturb is automatically turned on but you can disable this either when you set up Sleep or afterwards.
You can also choose whether or not to have charging reminders – the watch will warn you within an hour of bedtime if you have less than 30 percent charge.
If you have a Series 4 or 5 you’ll almost certainly be OK to go through the night if you charged for a bit during the day at some point. With Series 3, you will need to fully charge in the day to last the night.
In Sleep Mode, you need to turn the digital crown to unlock the watch just as you do when you step out of water after swimming. We actually find this a bit irritating when we need to get up in the night and use the torch, for example.
You can disable Sleep Mode if you want, but this won’t track sleep. You can also opt out of sleep tracking entirely, even if you have Sleep Mode enabled.
You can access Sleep options and tracking in various places, which is somewhat confusing at first but does make sense because it ties several things together. So:
What Is Blood Oxygen Monitoring
Blood oxygen levels – also known as SpO2 – refer to the percentage of oxygen being carried by red blood cells from the lungs to the rest of the body, as well as how well this oxygenated blood is being delivered.
Using pulse oximetry, which is essentially a simplified way of saying ‘non-invasive oxygen saturation monitoring’, the Apple Watch Series 6 and other wearables are able to notify the user when their blood oxygen percentage falls below a certain point.
Typically, anything above 95% is considered to be ‘normal’. However, anything below 92% is a potential indicator of an underlying health issue, such as sleep apnea.
Fitbit, for example, uses the SpO2 monitor in its wearables to specifically monitor fluctuations and variations in blood oxygen levels during tracked sleep sessions. However, the Apple Watch Series 6 appears to be ready to check on SpO2 levels at any time when the user is still – similar to its ECG tracking function – with readings also only taking 15 seconds. Periodic measurements will also be taken in the background during inactivity and sleep.
What else can blood oxygen monitoring help with? Well, as noted by John Hopkins Medicine, pulse oximetry can be used to check whether somebody needs help with their breathing , estimate whether a person is able to take part in strenuous physical activity and, as we mentioned, indicate whether breathing stops temporarily during sleep .
The New Apple Watch Series 5 Comes With A Ton Of New Features Including An Always
The Apple Watch Series 5, introduced this week, comes with a few new features, including an always-on Retina display, a built-in compass app, period tracking, and activity stats, but it still lacks one basic function: sleep tracking.
It’s easy to see why Apple chose not to include sleep tracking on the Series 5. For starters, there’s battery life. While the new smartwatch’s low-temperature polysilicone and oxide display is meant to preserve power, Series 5 battery life is still 18 hours, the same as the Series 3 and 4. Design is also important to consider. The Series 5 is a sleek, premium wearable, but it doesn’t look like the most comfortable device to wear to bed.
It’s also clear that heart health features are the main focus here. At Tuesday’s press event, Apple opened the Apple Watch section with a video montage of users sharing stories about how the ECG reader and heart rate monitor alerted them or others to serious health conditions and helped save their lives.
Sleep is also the driving force behind performance. In a study done by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine in 2009, students on the Stanford Women’s tennis team had faster sprinting drills and increased hitting accuracy and depth following nights of extended sleep.
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Apple Watch Sleep Tracking Data
Most fitness trackers, such as those from Fitbit, Garmin, and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3, give you highly detailed data about the amount of time youre in REM sleep, light sleep, or are tossing around in bed. I, for one, dont care what stage of sleep Im in, or how much deep sleep I getI just want to know if Ive slept wellbut I respect not everyone feels that way.
The Galaxy Watch 3, and other fitness trackers Ive tested, offer more actionable insight, which someone with consistent sleep troubles might need. For me, going to bed at the same time every night has been enough of an adjustment to regulate my hours of rest. For others, something like Fitbit Premium, which offers personalized guidance on how they can sleep better and have more energy, might be a better choice.
Apple Watch Sleep Tracking: What It Does And How To Use It
– In the latest watchOS 7 update Apple enables you to track sleep using the Apple Watch. watchOS 7 works with Apple Watch Series 3, 4, 5 and the new Apple Watch Series 6 we’re expecting. It isn’t compatible with Series 1 or 2.
Sleep tracking has been a much-wanted feature for the Apple Watch and has been available previously in third-party apps.
Now though, there is a Sleep app on the watch and it uses motion to detect your sleep time. You obviously need to be wearing your Apple Watch to track your sleep, so you’ll need to change your charging behaviour and juice up in the day. If you don’t, you’ll end up with no charge at 10am the next morning.
The good thing about Apple Watch sleep tracking is that it is set-and-forget, so your sleep will be tracked without you having to do anything. But it’s fully configurable as you’ll see.
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Apple Watch 7 Vs Apple Watch Se Series 3
Those are the 3 current models.
Even though Series 3 and SE use the same software as Series 7, there are many subtle differences and improvements with Series 7. Surprisingly the speed of each watch feels similar. However what stands out the most to me is the larger, improved, always-on screen of the Series 7, after a while the other models just start to irritate when I am required to tilt my wrist to turn on the screen.
Under the hood, its the market-leading accuracy of the GPS sensor and a great optical heart rate sensor that will attract fitness lovers to the AW7. I would buy it for that reason alone.
From a practical standpoint, the fast charging of the Series 7 makes it much more usable 24×7.
Sleep Is Auto Detected
The Apple Clock App, allows you to track sleep manually, but if you just want to wear the watch to sleep and have sleep auto-detected, we believe you will enjoy Sleep Watch sleep analysis more. SleepWatch can log your sleep history and times to the Apple Health App. Automatic sleep tracking from SleepWatch is hassle-free. It is an easy way to manage sleep. Do you ever wonder: Am I getting enough sleep? or Are naps affecting my sleep? Sleep is a curious human activity and SleepWatch may be able to shed some light on many aspects of sleep. How do you sleep? SleepWatch may be able to provide some insights. Cant sleep and want to see your sleep deficit? Snore Apps are interesting, but how do you Sleep overall and how does that change over time? SleepWatch can help you keep track.
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Monitor Your Sleep With Your Apple Watch And Iphone
Sleep tracking arrived on the Apple Watch last year with the release of watchOS 7, bringing it into line with devices from the likes of Samsung and Fitbit when it comes to monitoring your wellbeing overnight,
The Sleep app was first unveiled at WWDC 2020, and has since been rolled out on wrists around the world, but if you don’t usually wear your watch at night you’ll be missing out
Here, we answer the big questions about how it works and nudges you to change your overnight Apple smartwatch habits.
How The Apple Watch Tracks Sleep
Apple Watch chief Kevin Lynch explains the company’s sleep approach in a conversation with CNET.
Sleep tracking on WatchOS 7 is overdue, and it’s starting with bedtime guidance.
It’s been almost five years since I first had a sleep study done at home. I put wires all over my face, wore a pulse oximeter on my finger and confirmed I had sleep apnea. I’ve used a CPAP machine ever since, and I’ve been interested in understanding how well I sleep and how to improve my rest. I’ve tried tons of watches, bed sensors and apps. Of all the smartwatches I’ve tried, the Apple Watch was conspicuously the only one that seemed to lack its own onboard sleep tracking.
While sleep tracking was possible using other Apple Watch apps, Apple never entered the space formally, despite purchasing sleep-tech company Beddit in 2017. That’s changed with WatchOS 7, unveiled last week at Apple Worldwide Developers Conference. It adds sleep tracking as an onboard feature, but you might be surprised at what sleep tracking on Apple’s watch does and doesn’t do.
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Apple’s Wind Down feature on the iOS 14 is part of the Apple Watch’s sleep experience, too.
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Benefits Of Having Both An Apple Watch & A Fitbit
If you have the capabilities to have both the Apple Watch and a Fitbit, you really will get the best of both worlds. You can use your Apple Watch as an addition to your phone to send and receive text messages, call others and receive calls, etc. and then you can use your Fitbit tracker to track your overall health and wellness.
You will especially get use out of your Fitbit at night when you use it as a sleep tracker. In fact, some successful people wear their Apple Watches exclusively during the day for meetings and regular fitness tracking, but then switch open to the Fitbit at night when their Apple Watch has to charge and they want to track their sleep.