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Does Apple Watch Track Sleep Patterns

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Apple Watch Sleep Tracking: How it actually works // Setup, Tested, Details, Comparisons

Sleep Cycle has the unique feature of a built-in alarm with a Wake up phase, that automatically wakes you up at the optimal time, based on your sleep pattern. Set the time you need to wake up by, and the app will wake you up to 30 minutes before when youre in your lightest phase of sleep. You can adjust that time frame in the app if you want a longer window of time before youre woken up.

If you buy the paid version , youll unlock premium features, like a sleep aid to provide you with soothing sounds, weather alerts when you wake up, and heart rate monitoring.

Although the features may be better than the other apps, you wont receive a data analysis of your sleep cycle.

How To Track Sleep In The Apple Watch 5

Namrata Gogoi

16 Aug 2020

The Apple Watch 5 has plenty of potential when it comes to tracking your movement or logging your runs and walks. With each iteration, Apple adds more functionalities to this smartwatch. And now, sleep tracking is one of the features to join the herd.

Though you could track your sleep patterns before, Apple hasnt integrated these functions by default until watchOS7 and iOS 14. Although this feature does come in handy, it’s not impressive, at least for now.

Hence, we thought of compiling two ways to track your sleep habits and patterns using the Apple Watch. The first one uses the native app, while in the second method, we explore a third-party app that gives a whole new meaning to sleep tracking.

So, what are we waiting for? Let’s get started.

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How Do I Know My Sleep Cycle

During your first cycle of sleep, it starts about 90 minutes after you fall asleep and last only 10 minutes. Each cycle after that, your REM sleep gets longer and longer. In the final cycle is may last up to an hour. During your REM sleep cycle, your eyes are darting around and seeing different things.

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Best Sleep Apps Of 2021

Why We Chose It: SleepScore is our best overall app as it is available for iOS and Android and offers many great features to track and improve your sleep.

  • Uses sonar technology to track your sleep

  • Syncs with wearables such as Apple Watch

  • Clear analysis of sleep patterns and easy-to-understand sleep score

  • Measures light and noise level in the bedroom to determine optimal conditions for sleep

  • You must start and stop the tracker for accurate tracking

  • Reviews state it does not function as well on Android-powered devices compared to iOS

As the most advanced sleep tracker on this list, SleepScore uses sonar technology to measure sleep habits from your nightstand. ResMed, the developer of SleepScore, has studied sleep for over a decade to provide expert advice and sleep insights. The app sends sonar waves from your phone to measure your breathing and any sounds, which allow it to track light, deep, and REM sleep and identify when you wake up during the night. The app formulates a sleep score to attach an objective number to your sleep quality to help with setting goals for better sleep. To use the sonar technology, you must leave your phone plugged in, above mattress level, and with the base of the phone pointed toward you .

What About The Oura Ring

The best sleep tracking apps to download for your Apple Watch

The Oura Ring is a Bluetooth-enabled, rechargeable sleep tracker made of lightweight titanium that you wear on your index, middle, or ring finger. We tested the Oura Ring over several months, including comparing it against SleepScore, Sleep Cycle, Pillow, and Sleep as Android, and have a full review of the device. While we think the SleepScore and Sleep Cycle provide sufficient sleep tracking for most people, the Oura Ring does offer additional, interesting insights, including heart rate and heart rate variability readings. However, the Oura Ring is more expensive than our app picks and isnt a very good fitness tracker, so it isnt as versatile as other wearables.

The Oura Rings sleep tracking wasnt significantly more or less accurate compared with our top app picks . But the heart rate and HRV readings are very accurate. There has even been research showing that these data points, along with the rings oxygen-rate and skin-temperature readings, could help detect some illnesses, such as COVID-19, before symptoms begin.

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What Does It Track

When you wear your Apple Watch to bed you’ll see a decent amount of data in the Apple itself. You’ll need to head to Sleep app on the Watch itself.

Youll see your previous nights sleep duration, with a small graphic that outlines any wake ups.

Youll also see a summary of sleep duration and consistency over the past 14 days and, when youve got a few nights of sleep under your belt, the Apple Watch will tell you if your sleep duration is increasing, decreasing or consistent.

You can also view sleep data in the Health app.

In the Sleep section you can see sleep data by week and month, and cycle back through time. This will also show your average time in bed and time asleep for the period.

The iPhone will also estimate time asleep if you werent wearing your Apple Watch based on its usage. However, it stops tracking when your wake time kicks in, which makes the data look a little same-y.

You can also see heart rate during bed time and have a look at your low and high HR.

Does The Apple Watch Track Sleep

Apple Watch is a type of smartwatch that has tracking capabilities for your fitness and sleep.

The tracking features are beneficial to your health in many ways, but they can also help you make adjustments to improve the quality of sleep you get at night. These tracking features will be discussed below!

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No Public Sleep Studies Yet

Apple has public health studies for areas like heart health, hearing and women’s health, which are enabled through separate opt-in research apps, it has no public sleep studies yet. Instead, “has been doing our sleep studies internally with thousands of people,” Lynch says. Apple could eventually open a public sleep study, if the company intends to study deeper links to conditions like sleep apnea.

Fitbit — now acquired by Google — has enabled blood oxygen measurement on its recent trackers with the aim to provide deeper sleep analysis or sleep apnea detection, although no FDA-cleared results have taken place yet. The connection between fitness trackers and accurate sleep analysis has been fuzzy. I’ve worn an Oura ring lately and have been using its sleep scores as a semi-helpful snapshot of my restfulness the night before. Does that score always line up with how I feel? No. I wear my CPAP machine, and it’s not aware of what my sleep trackers are recording. Or vice versa.

Current Apple Watches still need charging nearly every day, and sleep tracking needs a 30% charge for a night’s recording.

Set Up Sleep On Apple Watch

Sleep Tracking for Apple Watch Users

Open the Sleep app on your watch . Tap the schedule, then select the Wake Up time if you wish to change it. Turn on an alarm if you need one to wake you up at the right time. Tap the time for Bedtime if you want to change that as well.

Return to the main screen and tap Full Schedule if you wish to turn off your Sleep Schedule for any specific nights or all nights. Here, you can also add a schedule and change your sleep goal or Wind Down time. Then just wear your watch to bed.

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Apple Watch Sleep App

It would be remiss not to start this guide by mentioning the built-in Apple Watch sleep tracking feature, which debuted with watchOS 7.

Its far more simplistic than any of the other apps on this list, so if youre used to in-depth data on your sleep cycles, deep sleep or other biometric data you might be a little underwhelmed.

However, it combines with the iPhone to put a focus on your sleep consistency and sleep hygiene. Its about setting bedtime and wake ups which can build better sleep, and the Apple Watch will also keep tabs on sleep duration and heart rate during sleep.

Weve tested against the Fitbit Sense and Withings Sleep Analyzer and found it to be one of the most accurate trackers in terms of sleep duration. Its not just tracking the time in bed, but how long you actually slept between tossing and turning something that many systems regularly over-estimate.

You dont get much in terms of stats to review. You can see your average time in bed, average sleep and the duration of each sleep. This is visible both on the Apple Watch and the Health app.

Data Tracking With Sleep++

Sleep++ analyzes your sleeping pattern, shows you the number of hours you were in bed, and gives you a percentage measuring how restless you were during the night. You can also view your sleep information on the Sleep++ iPhone app and opt to sync the data to the Health app.

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How To Track Your Sleep With An Apple Watch

Do you want to know how to track your sleep with an Apple Watch? With WatchOS 7 for Apple Watch Series 3 devices and later, its easy to track your sleep using the in-built sleep-tracking feature. If youre rocking an older Apple Watch, theres no need to worry there are a few sleep-tracking workarounds involving apps and using your iPhone. However, none are ideal, and well also fill you in on the one big drawback that may change your mind about using the Apple Watch to track sleep at all.

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Why You Need A Good Night’s Rest For Better Health And Productivity

How To Track Your Sleep On Apple Watch

Sleep is vital to your health and productivity. It’s important to keep a regular sleep schedule so that your body can get the rest it needs, and tracking can help you identify patterns that are leading to poor quality of sleep.

You can’t be successful in reaching your goals if you’re not getting the rest needed to be at your best.

Being productive requires a lot of energy, and the quality of sleep you get affects how much energy you have for your daily tasks.

If tracking shows that certain activities are leading to poor quality of sleep, then tracking can help you adjust your habits so that you get better quality rest.

Sleeping for too long can also lead to poor quality of sleep, so tracking is helpful for identifying patterns that might be leading to too much sleeping.

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How Does It Work

In direct comparison to the likes of Fitbit, Withings and other wearables, Apples sleep tracking is undeniably basic.

Theres no sleep stage tracking of REM, deep and light cycles, nor is there in-depth analysis of how long it took you to drop off. Why? Because Apple says that stuff isnt really directly improvable by users, thus not useful to know and it has a point.

The Apple Watch therefore focuses on the tracking of sleep duration, and behaviors you can control for a better night’s sleep. That included consistent bedtime and wake ups, and ironically, spending less time with your devices.

It uses the motion sensors and accelerometer to monitor your rest, and while it does use the heart rate sensor to track blood oxygen and bpm, this isnt factored into the assessment of your sleep.

That may seem insanely retro but it works. Were continually comparing and testing the best sleep trackers, and the Apple Watch is up there with the most accurate devices in terms of tracking sleep duration.

Data Tracking With Pillow

At the end of a sleep session, Pillow will tell you the number of hours you slept. Swipe down the screen to see the quality of sleep, both for the previous night and past nights. Swipe further to see how much time you spent in each cycle of sleep and how long you were in bed versus how long you were asleep.

You can also launch Pillow on your iPhone to run it from there or just see what data it records and how it works with your Apple Watch.

In the settings for Pillow on your iPhone, you can opt to always sync the data with the Health app, or you can manually sync it by tapping the Sync button in the Apple Watch app. After the data has synced, open the Health app and segue to the section for Sleep. By default, the app shows all data from any sleep app for which you’ve given permission.

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Best For Extra Features: Pillow


  • Best results when paired with an Apple Watch

  • Reviews state there is a recent reduction in the app functionality

Pillow, the sleep app by NeyBox Digital Ltd., has an average rating of 4.3 stars on the App Store and can be used to automatically track sleep. This sleep tracker app is compatible with an Apple Watch, but it can also be used in manual mode. We liked that this app offers the option of enabling audio recordings while you sleep, which is helpful for those who suspect that snoring or talking in their sleep is disrupting their sleep cycle. The sleep analysis includes a sleep cycle diagram and heart rate analysis, and it displays trends over time. Pillow regularly updates sleep tips to help you fall asleep and stay asleep and personalizes your insights over time.

Pillow is only available for iOS and costs $4.99 a month, $12.99 for three months, and $39.99 for a year. A one-week free trial is available. It is only available on iOS, but it syncs with the Apple Health app so you can have all your data in one place. If youre using it without an Apple Watch, you must input what time you fall asleep and what time you wake up, which can lead to inaccurate measurements.

How To Track Sleep On Autosleep

How-to: Track & Analyze Your Sleep with Apple Watch

For starters, the AutoSleep app shows a 12-hour and 24-hours view of your sleep pattern. Compared to the native counterpart, the presentation is more detailed. Apart from the amount of time you spent sleeping, you can also see the quality, sleeping heartbeat, and the amount of deep sleep. And the good news is you can track your day-time slumbers as well.

To get a slightly deep insight, click on one of the four bubbles at the center, and all the information will be laid out in front of you. Apart from the details, what I especially like about this app is the subtle yet fluid animation.

A tap further, and the app will show you your sleep report for the whole week, along with the 7-day trend. Plus, you can also check out the Sleep Hygiene option to get an overview of your past week’s sleeping pattern.

Once you begin to wear the watch to bed more often, you will see the rings at the top encircled in green, showing your past sleep patterns. Just tap on the circles to see all the information laid out in front of you.

And it doesn’t end there. AutoSleep has a feature which it calls Sleep Bank. You can set the number of average hours of sleep through Settings. And when you sleep more than the stipulated time, your bank will show a surplus data.

You can also check out the Sleep Hygiene option to get an overview of the sleeping pattern past week

In short, the app shows you a detailed insight into your sleep, be it the amount of light sleep, restfulness, and deep sleep.

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The Science Of Sleep Tracking

So, sleep is important. But what exactly should we track? If we take sleep laboratory tracking as a guide, we should consider the following parameters:

  • Breathing Rate
  • Sleep Positions
  • Brainwave Patterns

If you were to visit a sleep clinic and undergo the gold standard of sleep analysis known as polysomnography, the information above would be gathered together and assessed to determine the possible presence of a sleep disorder. And a fundamental part of this type of sleep study would be the last on this list monitoring of your brainwave patterns. This component would be crucial not only to track the stages of your sleep, but also your sleep cycles. As you will see below, whilst there are a number of possible indicators of the stage of sleep we are in, the only way to be certain is through brainwave measurement.

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What Is Sleep Cycle On Apple Watch

The new Apple Watch app for Sleep Cycle is completely standalone for watchOS. Sleep Cycle is a sleep tracker that analyzes your sleep patterns and uses an intelligent alarm clock to wake you up while youre in a light sleep. The app syncs all of its data directly to the Health app on iPhone as well.

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