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Does The Apple Watch Track Sleep Stages

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Sleep Tracking With Watchos 7

Sleep Cycle App Review: Apple Watch Science Test

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.

So Is It Still Worth Wearing Your Fitness Tracker To Bed At Night

Most smartwatches and fitness trackers have whats called a tri-axis accelerometer in them. Thats a techy way of saying theres an accelerator in your wearable.

Its a small device made up of axis-based motion sensing and it tracks movement in every direction. Some even come with a gyroscope to measure orientation and rotation.

Using a process called actigraphy, your tracker translates your wrist movements into sleep patterns.

As you can imagine its not always accurate and theres some guesswork involved in that process. Thats because actigraphy just tracks one thing movement. And theres so much more to monitoring sleep than simply tossing and turning.

Brainwaves, eye movements, and breathing are also required to determine the difference between deep REM sleep and light sleep.

Psychologist Kelly Glazer Baron, PhD, MPH from the Rush University Medical Center, published a report in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine on the impact of fitness trackers on sleep.

Baron states that part of the problem lies in the technology itself. Citing multiple studies, Barons report states that these increasingly popular devices “are unable to accurately discriminate stages of sleep.” As Baron explains, “They are not able to differentiate between light and deep sleep.” Furthermore, “they might call it sleep when you’re reading in bed.”

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.

Read Also: Vivofit 2 Sleep Tracking

Why Are People So Interested In Sleep Tracking

There have been lots of studies that link good quality sleep to a healthy lifestyle. Proper sleep can lower your stress levels, lower blood pressure, help your immune system stay strong, and help you recover mentally and physically from the stresses on your body.

Good sleep helps you stay sharp mentally – important for those in education or in mentally taxing jobs – as well as physically strong.

Sleep is particularly important for physical recovery from exercise and for many athletes, it’s an important part of a training regime. It’s through recovery – including sleep – that you rebuild the muscles and systems you have stressed, making yourself stronger.

I Get A Gentle Tapping Alarm On My Wrist

Sleep Tracker App For Apple Watch

In the morning, the Apple Watch thumps with a wake-up alarm. I feel it like a steady tap. I think I missed the first few minutes it was going off. It offers a snooze option, which I use. It reminds me of silent alarms I’ve used on Fitbit and even Pebble way back. I love the idea as a way I won’t wake up the family if I have to get up early, but I wish the pings were a little more… pingy.

Morning to you too, Apple Watch .

Also Check: Which Of The Following Statements About Rem Sleep Is True

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:

Are Watch Sleep Trackers Accurate

So far, research has found that compared to polysomnography tests which experts use to diagnose sleep disorders sleep trackers are only accurate 78% of the time when identifying sleep versus wakefulness. This accuracy drops to around 38% when estimating how long it took participants to fall asleep.

Recommended Reading: Causes Of Sleep Apnea In Veterans

Change Or Add A Sleep Schedule

  • Open the Sleep app

  • Tap Full Schedule, then do one of the following:

  • Change a sleep schedule: Tap the current schedule.

  • Add a sleep schedule: Tap Add Schedule.

  • Change your sleep goal: Tap Sleep Goal, then set the amount of time you want to sleep.

  • Change Wind Down time: Tap Wind Down, then set the amount of time you want sleep mode to be active before bedtime.

    To reduce distractions before your scheduled bedtime, sleep mode turns on during Wind Down. Sleep mode turns off the watch display and turns on Do Not Disturb.

  • Do any of the following:

  • Set the days for your schedule: Tap your schedule, then tap the area below Active On. Choose days, then tap Done.

  • Adjust your wake time and bedtime: Tap Wake Up or Bedtime, turn the Digital Crown to set a new time, then tap Set.

  • Set the alarm options: Turn Alarm off or on and tap Sound to choose an alarm sound.

  • Remove or cancel a sleep schedule: Tap Delete Schedule to remove an existing schedule, or tap Cancel to cancel creating a new one.

  • What Does It Track

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

    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.

    Don’t Miss: Fitbit Alta Sleep Tracker

    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.

    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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    Read Also: Sleep Hypoxia

    What Does The Apple Watch Track

    If youre just in it for the basics think general sleep trends you may be satisfied. The Sleep app will track your total time asleep and track each time you woke up throughout the night, as well as your and . It will also record how much time you spend in bed and provide weekly and monthly sleep time averages. This data is based on your motion during Sleep mode.

    Notably, the app offers the option to create multiple sleep schedules, including a chosen bedtime, preferred wake-up time, , and sleep goal. Based on the schedule you set, your device will automatically enter Sleep mode .

    What Is Apple Watch Sleep Tracking

    How To Track Your Sleep On Apple Watch

    Sleep tracking on a smartwatch isnt new and Apple isnt trying to reinvent the wheel just yet. Samsung, Garmin, Fitbit, and others have been offering the ability to automatically track your time in bed and offer a range of different metrics and insights related to sleep.

    To put it simply, sleep tracking helps you understand not only how you sleep but also identify trends or factors that could be contributing to poor sleep quality for a single night or in general. Some of these insights can be viewed on the Apple Watch in the dedicated Sleep app, but most are found in a sleep subsection of the iOS Health app.

    As already mentioned, there are a bunch of third-party Apple Watch sleep apps, which you will still see recommended to you in Apples Sleep app. This is the first time Apple has created something that uses both its smartwatch and iPhone to smarten up that bedtime experience.

    We fully anticipate that Apples sleep tracking app will continue to evolve to enhance the metrics it records and the insights it will offer over the coming months and years.

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    While Reliability Is Questionable Fitness Trackers Can Be A Useful Guide

    Countless studies have varied in their results of fitness tracker reliability but for the most part, the consensus is that actigraphy is generally accurate enough to track sleep in healthy adults with normal sleep patterns. Its just not as accurate as an in-home sleep study using a polysomnogram to monitor brain activity.

    Well, it all comes down to psychology. Maybe you give yourself a pat on the back after your fitness tracker tells you youve had 8 hours sleep .

    And thats a good thing. Even before wearable technology was invented, it was well known that tracking anything related to your health made you more aware of your choices. When you count steps, you tend to do more steps. When you write down your calories, you tend to be more conscious of what youre eating.

    I Tested Apple Watch Sleep Tracking To Save You Time And Battery Life

    Image Credit: Jeremy Horwitz/VentureBeat

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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.

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    Apple Watch Sleep Tracking Outlook

    The Apple Watch sleep tracking software Im using is still in beta stages, meaning Apple could alter it before watchOS 7s official release. As it is now, Im more impressed than I thought I would be.

    What I like the most is not the sleep tracking data itself, but the guidance that Apple offers in getting me ready for bed. No more doom scrolling for me! Plus, Apples gamification of sleepmuch the same way it does with activityhas made me as motivated to meet my bedtime goals as I am to exercise for 30 minutes every day. Maybe thats just what I needed to get my sleep schedule back on track.

    Data Tracking With Autosleep

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

    The next morning, open the app and you can see how long you were in bed and how long you actually slept. As the app records each night’s sleep, it keeps track of the average amount of sleep you get.

    On the watch, swipe down on the app’s screen to view more data about your sleep. You will be able to view the amount of total sleep, deep sleep, and overall quality of sleep, how long you were awake during the night, and your average heart rate during the night. You can also see a history of your sleep for as long as you’ve been using the app.

    To see even more information, open AutoSleep on your iPhone and swipe down the different screens. Though other sleep apps are free, AutoSleep is worth the price for its wealth of details.

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    What Do I Use

    Despite all of the new entrants into the sleep tracking Apple Watch industry, I still find AutoSleep to be the most powerful option, but thats not to say its perfect. AutoSleep offers you a lot of data, and you can pick and choose whether to read too much into it.

    Additionally, I pair the AutoSleep data with the features introduced with watchOS 7 and iOS 14. You can still use features such as Wind Down and Sleep Mode, and track data using third-party sources such as AutoSleep.

    NapBot is becoming a close second for me, and its getting better with each passing update. Both NapBot and AutoSleep, for instance, offer iOS 14 home screen widgets and Apple Watch complications, something that isnt possible with Apples Health data.

    The key, regardless of which application you pick, is to make sure there is some sort of automatic sleep detection feature. This reduces friction and means you dont have to remember to manually start a sleep tracking session every night before bed. Instead, your Apple Watch can track your sleep in the background, without any interaction from you.

    These apps also integrate with Apples Health app, which means you can get an overview of your sleep data alongside everything else in the Health app. The Health app is useful for tracking long-term trends and averages, but if you want detailed data, youll have to jump to your third-party app of choice.

    Do you track your sleep with Apple Watch? Which app do you prefer? Let us know down in the comments!

    The Apple Watch Dims And Becomes Bedtime

    I realized, as it was time for bed, that the watch screen was really dim, like the Watch Series 5’s ambient always-on display mode, but all the time. It looks like a basic watch face, shutting down complications and other details. Tapping and turning the crown brought me back to other features if I needed them… but I liked the idea here. Also, a dimmer, more low-key watch can mean saving battery life, which is smart anyway.

    Read Also: Sleep Hypoxia Without Apnea

    Apple Watch Sleep Comparison

    7hr 3mins

    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.

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