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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Apples Wind Down Is Better Than Its Sleep Tracking
Though Im not thrilled with the sleep tracking functionality, Apple did a nice job with a related set of watchOS 7 and iOS 14 features called Wind Down. Rather than just telling you how much you slept, Wind Down provides a holistic approach to weaning you off your phone at night, softly encouraging you to settle down before a full Do Not Disturb regime kicks in.
If you prefer to use apps to relax, you can create iOS shortcuts specific to settling down, such as turning on a music playlist or podcast, opening an app for reading or journaling, or accessing apps for yoga and meditation. These shortcuts will appear on the iPhones Lock Screen so youre reminded to use them, and you can also initiate a watchOS Wind Down sleep mode that begins however many minutes you prefer before your scheduled bedtime.
These kinds of features may seem simple to implement, but theyre actually thoughtful, OS-level integrations that show how sleep tracking functionality could become part of a larger sleep management experience for some users. I might want to keep using Wind Down even in the absence of sleep tracking.
Track Your Sleep With Apple Watch
With the Sleep app on Apple;Watch, you can create bedtime schedules to help you meet your sleep goals. Wear your watch to bed, and Apple;Watch can track your sleep. When you wake up, open the Sleep app to learn how much sleep you got and see your sleep trends over the past 14 days.
If your Apple;Watch is charged less than 30 percent before you go to bed, youre prompted to charge it. In the morning, just glance at the greeting to see how much charge remains.
You can create multiple schedulesfor example, one for weekdays and another for weekends. For each schedule, you can set up the following:
A sleep goal
What time you want to go to bed and wake up
An alarm sound to wake you up
When to turn on sleep mode, which limits distractions before you go to bed and protects your sleep after youre in bed
Sleep tracking, which uses your motion to detect sleep when Apple;Watch is in sleep mode and worn to bed
Tip: To exit sleep mode, first turn the Digital Crown to unlock. Then swipe up to open Control Center and tap .
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Edit Your Sleep Schedule On Your Apple Watch
If you need to update your sleep schedule, you can make changes to your full schedule or for Next Wake Up Only. With Next Wake Up Only, the changes you make apply only to the following day. Changes made to your full schedule apply to all future days.
If you’re up before your scheduled Wake Up time, you can exit sleep mode.;Turn the Digital Crown to unlock your Apple Watch. Then swipe up to open Control Center and tap the Sleep app icon.
Getting The Watch Ready To Sleep:
Now, as it stands today, actually getting the Apple Watch to track sleep is a rather long affair. Unlike Fitbit, Garmin, Samsung, and wellevery other wearable ever the Apple Watch wont actually track sleep by simply wearing it and heading to sleep. Instead, you need to fully detail your nights intentions to the parents, as if you were a teenage boy about to take a girl out to the prom.
So, assuming you got everything all updated on both your phone and watch, then you need to open the Sleep app on your watch. This is what tells the watch that you want to do sleep things on both the watch and the phone. It does seem you can do some of this via the Watch configuration app, but you cant do all of it. More on that in a second.
On the Apple Watch, youll open the Sleep app, and the first thing itll ask is for your sleep goal. This is basically telling it how many hours you want to sleep each night:
Its on this same page you can configure an alarm or not:
Next, is the toggle to actually enable sleep tracking. This is the part that basically keeps track of how much you sleep each night:
After that, youll toggle the Sleep Mode on the watch. This piece turns off the watch display unless tapped. So the previous setting enables data tracking, and this setting turns off the display as well as automatically enabling Do Not Disturb based on your planned sleep time.
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Wearable Battery Life Remains The Biggest Problem
Ever since the first Apple Watch arrived in 2015, Apple has stuck to the same battery life guarantee: 18 hours of run time between charges. The actual number can be much lower if you use the watch to make long phone calls, constantly download data, or track extended runs or workouts. But on the other hand, the latest Apple Watches quietly exceed the 18-hour promise if you disable or only lightly use their new features. Regardless, Apples guideline was simple: Put the watch on your wrist each morning, dont worry about battery life all day, then place it on a charger each night, and repeat ad infinitum.
Given that the company has had five years to prepare for the addition of sleep tracking which obviously requires users to wear their Watch overnight Apple could have boosted battery life any year with a bigger housing or more power-efficient parts to enable multiday run times. Some competitors have made those choices, relying heavily on longer run times to differentiate their devices. Apple instead decided to market its way around design compromises, recently floating the idea that users should recharge their Watches during morning showers.
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.
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Create Your Bedtime Routine With Wind Down
Just saying that youre going to sleep at a certain time is not as easy as it sounds. Apple thought about that and decided to add Wind Down. This is a new health feature that will help you go to sleep on time by creating a bedtime routine.
With Wind Down, your iPhone will turn on Do Not Disturb a certain amount of time before your bedtime. Besides enabling Do Not Disturb, you can also customize shortcuts thatll help you set the mood to go to sleep. You can set many shortcuts, like listening to a relaxing playlist, or starting up your meditation app, basically anything that makes you sleepy.
It Knows When Youre Dancing
The Health app adds a wider variety of workout tracking options to the already fairly extensive list, including functional strength training, indoor cycling, and even dancing.
It can tell you when and how to wash your hands
Weve been washing our hands with renewed vigor ever since COVID-19 pandemic began. Watch can now automatically detect when youre washing your hands and start a 20-second timer to ensure you hit the minimum scrubbing requirement. It can also use location services to remind you to wash your hands when you get home from a trip in the germ-ridden outside world.
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Recommended By Our Editors
Apple, on the other hand, says it’s collecting data on other features instead. During Tuesday’s event, the company announced an Apple Hearing Study , a Women’s Health Study , and the Apple Heart & Movement Study. While these areas of study are important when it comes to overall health, a sleep study should also be part of the mixespecially since the Apple Watch already packs the sensors needed to track basic sleep metrics, and the iPhone’s Health app comes with a Sleep Analysis feature.
If you’re still set on buying the Apple Watch Series 5, there are third-party apps that track sleep. But since they’re not native to the device, the analytics don’t factor in other metrics tracked by the watch. For a smartwatch that comes with a starting price of $399, it’d be ideal if it could paint a full picture of my overall health, sleep included, rather than just part of it.
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Waking Up With Apple Watch
Within Bedtime mode you can also change how youre woken up. The default is to have no alarm, but you can set a silent alarm which rouses you using the Apple Watchs Taptic engine or a standard audio alarm.
When you edit the Schedule just scroll to the bottom and choose Wake Up Alarm. Toggle this on and then tap Sound & Haptics.
Here you can select a vibrate option and some soothing sounds for an alarm. If you want the haptic only just turn the volume to minimum.
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Does The Apple Watch Have Enough Battery To Track Sleep
Battery life has been pointed to as a reason why Apple might have been reluctant to offer its own sleep tracking app in the past. Apple still states an 18 hour battery life for its smartwatch, which hasnt changed since the first Watch. Any battery improvements have been canceled out by features like the Apple Watch 5s always-on screen.
To make sure you have enough battery to track sleep through the night, Apple requires your watch to be charged to at least 30% to enable it.;
If you dont, the Watch will prompt you to charge before going to bed. When its got enough juice, your phone will alert you that its ready to join you in bed. In our time we found that sleep tracking sucked up around 20% battery on average, so its definitely going to impact how much battery youre left with in the morning.
Get More Out Of Your Apple Watch Sleep Tracking
Dont settle for limited info. Many Apple Watch owners use third-party apps to supplement the Sleep app and collect more details.
- The widely popular app Autosleep integrates seamlessly with and even offers a similar experience to Apples activity rings. Autosleep tracks the duration of your sleep and the quality and lets you know your readiness or how prepared you are for the day based on your rest.
- Another highly-rated option,;Sleep++ provides data-driven sleep tracking that lets you know how many times a night you entered deep sleep.
- Pillow offers in-depth sleep analysis charts and a smart alarm clock function that will wake you up at the optimal time for maximum refreshment.
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This Is All Nothing New
Sleep tracking on this level is nothing new for the Apple Watch. I’ve been tracking my sleep every night since November, when I bought my Apple Watch Series 4 refurb. I haven’t used an Apple-issued app, but I have been using AutoSleep, a four dollar app on the App Store.
AutoSleep works great. It has a Watch app that you set and forget. The app on the watch does the sleep tracking and reports back to a far more comprehensive app on the iPhone. AutoSleep on the iPhone captures a ton of metrics, and provides you with lots of ways of slicing and dicing the data.
I, personally, look at the total sleep time after I’ve had coffee in the morning. If I’ve had enough sleep , I don’t take a nap during the day. But if I got less than four hours of sleep overnight, I try to allocate time for a power nap sometime in the middle of the day.;
Edit Your Sleep Schedule
Tap Open Sleep Options in Health to open the Health app, where you can turn on the switch for Sleep Schedule. Tap the Edit link under Full Schedule and set your usual times for going to sleep and waking up. You can also set different times for different days, such as one schedule for weekdays and another for weekends.
Under Additional Details, tap the entry for Sleep Goal and set the number of hours and minutes that you hope to sleep. Tap the entry for Wind Down to select the amount of time for winding down before bed. Tap the entry for Wind Down Shortcuts to set up any shortcuts youd like to apply during Wind Down. Finally, tap the entry for Options to confirm the options you set in the Sleep app and to set up a few more.
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Wind Down And Sleep Mode
Sleep Mode is a new setting that starts to reduce the amount of interactions the iPhone and Apple Watch will have with the user. This includes turning on Do Not Disturb to minimize calls, messages, and notifications. The screen of devices will also be dimmed down automatically, to be less of a distraction to the user when they should be sleeping.
Wind Down is a feature that can perform actions within the Apple ecosystem that can encourage users to go to sleep. Automatically running a period of time before the user is set to go to sleep, Wind Down can automatically trigger Shortcuts to take place, such as playing music to help a user relax, before engaging Sleep Mode.
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.
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Apple Watch Sleep Comparison
A couple of random notes:
The Apple Watch doesnt list Awake Time directly like most wearables/sleep systems, so you have to do some quick math. Doing the math backwards, it would mean 27 mins of awake time based on specifying 6hr 43mins sleep time between 12:17AM and 7:27AM
All the other devices specify an actual Awake time, so I used that. I agree, the math doesnt always work in those cases. I just wrote what it showed.
For HRV values, Whoop and Apple Watch do record them. Whoop shows a single value, the Apple Watch recorded two values. Garmin does track HRV values at night , but doesnt explicitly list HRV values in the app anywhere.
For Sleep Scores, each company does their own magic. Note that for Whoop I used the Sleep Performance score, and not the recovery score. For this night the recovery score in Whoop showed 49 , which is basically a body recovery score upon HRV. Garmin does the same thing with HRV. Withings Sleep score comes from mixing sleep stages. However, for last night the Withings for some odd reason didnt calculate a sleep score yet. So, maybe later?
For average sleep heart rate, all companies track heart rate constantly throughout the night. And all of them showed the values. And some of them showed max/min. But Withings had a metric that showed the average for sleep explicitly.
For respiration rates, I used them as-is when shown.
Phew, got all that? Good.