A good night of sleep is vital. It is the foundation of health, wellbeing, and fitness. It isn’t just the quantity of sleep that you get; it’s also the quality that matters, however. Sleep has an impact on mental health, stress levels and can even help you lose weight. You may not realize just how important sleep actually is to your overall health. However, if you neglect your sleep, you are neglecting your health.
With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that in recent years all of the makers of the big brands of fitness trackers, smartwatches, and sports watches have made significant improvements to their sleep-tracking capabilities. This is to help people understand just what happens when they are asleep.
Garmin is amongst those manufacturers who have made these improvements. It wasn’t always this way, however. For several years, the Garmin watches were quite frankly not that great at sleep tracking. Fast forward to 2018, and they launched the Advanced Sleep Monitoring feature. This began to close the gap on other manufacturers. They added this improved feature to models like the Vivosmart 4, Fenix 5, and Forerunner 245. This allowed them to deliver detailed information about their bedtime routine to help them look at the bigger picture of their health.
How does it work?
Previous models from Garmin used movement that was tracked by clever motion-sensing accelerometers and heart rate through the use of the optical heart rate sensor. These were built-in so that they could analyze sleep.
However, the Advanced Sleep Monitoring advances now also considers the variability in heart rate. This is the time found between each heartbeat and takes a better measurement of the time that you are awake and asleep in each sleep stage.
Garmin analyses the photoplethysmography (PPG) and actigraphy (ACT) data and the combination it creates to work out exactly what you are doing, whether you are asleep, resting, or have got up in the night. This data takes the following into account:
- Changes in a person’s heart rate; in REM sleep heart rate data is more erratic and in non-REM sleep it is lower.
- Changes in heart rate variability; a rise in HRV can be a sign that your body is in a stressful situation even during sleep.
- Movement that is spotted by the accelerometer.
Accuracy of Garmin sleep tracking apps
Getting into bed triggers your “sleep clock” to begin. Your heart rate dips to rates where the watch will know that you are sleeping. The longer that you wear the watch for the more accurate this will become based on your HRV.
There are, of course, other things that may affect the accuracy of the reading. These are things that the watch cannot account for to some degree. Things like stress, alcohol consumption, and sleepwalking – all of these may raise your heart rate because you may be moving more.
The Garmin sleep tracking apps do not track naps either. Although there is plenty of evidence to show that napping can be very beneficial. Athletes are often encouraged to nap and they can form an important part of your sleep pattern. A sneaky snooze will, however, recharge your body battery score.
How can your Garmin give you accurate sleep data?
To ensure that you are getting the most accurate data possible from your Garmin, you should:
- Wear the watch for a minimum of two hours before bedtime and whilst you sleep
- Ensure that the heart rate monitor is on, and it is a snug fit around your wrist. Not too tight though as this could restrict your ability to fall asleep
- Set the watch as a preferred activity tracker
What can the data show?
Every morning you will be able to see a complete readout for the night that will show you exactly how much sleep you got in total. It will give you a breakdown of your deep, light, and REM sleep and show you when you were awake.
Currently, sleep stats are not visible on the watch. However, Garmin has indicated this will occur in an update. To look at them properly, you will need to use the web tools of the Garmin Connect app. The app will allow you to get a widget that will show you your most recent sleep on the My Day screen. Looking in More and then Health Stats will give you a full breakdown.
The data will be shown as a timeline that will show when you fell asleep and woke up rather than when you went to bed and get out of bed. You can manually adjust these stats in the app if needed. You can also see a movement timeline that will show you how restless you were.
There is a seven-day view which will give you an average for the week. It is crucial to have consistent bed and wake times and good sleep hygiene to get the best from your stats.
You can also use the Garmin to set sleep goals. Go to the setting and make adjustments to your normal bed and wake times to do this. While all of this is great, there is one big thing missing: the Garmin does not consider the amount of time that it can often take to actually fall asleep after you go to bed. Measuring this “dozing “time would be handy.
If you leave your watch on charge, you will still end up with a sleep report for the night, and this can really alter how your weekly stats will look, making them somewhat inaccurate. Unfortunately, you cannot amend these readings.
The newer Garmin’s have something called Body Battery, and this is a score that ranges from 0-100. The score shows how well energized and recovered you are, and it should be full if you have had a good night’s sleep.
Other sleep apps for Garmin watches
Sleep as Android
This is a companion app for Android Sleep. Allows you to monitor your sleep (sent motion and HR data to Sleep as Android) and includes alarm vibration, anti-snoring, and lucid dreaming prompts.
Sleep Cycle (Beta)
Set your alarm and the specific range for when you want to be woken up, then leave the app running all night. Then, the app will automatically wake you during your desired time range when at the healthiest time for you! Try it out.
HR Sleep uses your heart to track your sleep. As always, this is not a medical app, and the information shouldn’t be utilised for that. The usage of HR Sleep does not imply any responsibility. It is just for educational purposes.
Insomnia data has just been provided for people who suffer from sleep problems. For individuals that toss and turn, movement data has now been provided.
Restoring, Non-Restoring and Awake data are now available. Please keep in mind that HR Sleep does not send any data to Garmin Connect. The sleep data you see there is GARMIN-only and has nothing to do with HR Sleep.
In that thread, you may also configure data logging (storing certain info from your sleep on programme shutdown). Your Vivoactive HR saves it as a text file. Though, HR Sleep does not need syncing and does not provide any data to Garmin Connect.
If you set up data recording as explained in the HR Sleep thread, data is recorded to your Vivoactive HR under the Garmin – Apps – Logs folder after you leave HR Sleep.
With a swipe, you can access all of the primary screens of the HR Sleep app.
Frankly, Garmin’s commitment to sleep tracking is significant, and if you purchase a Garmin product that can track your sleep, there’s a good chance it could improve your sleep habits for good.
If you’ve enjoyed our review of Garmin Sleep Tracking Apps, why not check out some other great Garmin Apps?
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Last Updated on March 23, 2022
A highly motivated all-around writing professional with experience in writing about modern technology. Joanne writes for Superwatches for over 2 years now. Joanne specializes in product comparisons and reviews for us and we truly appreciate the quality of her work.
Lives in Congleton, UK.