With all of the innovative developments Apple has made in recent years, especially with its smartwatches, it was inevitable that sleep monitoring on the Apple Watch would become part of the brand’s offering.
The world is a busy place. And with not enough time in the day to do everything, getting a good night’s sleep has become even more important. Quality sleep can not only give you energy and improve your ability to concentrate, but it can also improve your mental outlook.
This is where sleep monitoring technology comes in. The best sleep trackers record data on the quality of your resting hours, giving you deeper insights into your sleep.
Apple’s Sleep application focuses on what time you go to bed and what time you get up. It uses this to analyze how much sleep you’ve had–making it all about the winding-down time as you prepare to sleep.
How Does the Apple Watch Track Sleep?
The Apple Watch is equipped with a host of sensors to monitor sleeping patterns, but it also allows you to take control of your sleeping habits, too. Some options even prevent you from being disturbed as you drift off.
An accelerometer motion detector inside the Watch knows whether you are walking, running, or just lying down watching television. Relying on a variety of algorithms, it then determines if you are actually asleep or just in a relaxed state but awake. The Apple Watch can also monitor blood oxygen levels with a third-party app.
It also takes your heart rate into consideration. As we talked about in our article on sleep monitoring in Fitbit watches, differences in heart rates can indicate which stage of sleep you are in, but not always with a great deal of accuracy. Sleep monitoring technology, as advanced as it is, still has trouble figuring out when you move from light sleep to deep sleep, or from deep sleep to REM sleep. One thing to keep in mind with the Apple Watch is that, while it includes plenty of sensors for collecting sleep-related data, the native Sleep app included with the watch doesn’t necessarily use or display all that data. For a more in-depth analysis of your sleep patterns, you’ll likely want a paid Apple Watch sleep app.
How Does the Apple Watch Help to Improve Your Night’s Rest?
Like other smartwatch apps for sleep monitoring, the Sleep app on the smartwatch can do lots of things to help you get a better night’s sleep. The app doesn’t just track your sleep patterns. It also highlights factors that may be affecting the quality of your sleep. This can be over the course of a single night or it may find patterns in your sleep that signal chronic bad sleeping habits.
When using the app for the first time, set up your desired sleeping schedule, the time you want to be asleep, and the time you have to wake up in the morning. From this basic data, the app helps you build and implement the perfect bedtime routine. For example, it can let you know when you need to start winding down and get ready for sleep.
While you remain in control of when you actually start winding down to go to bed or when you turn out the light, the Apple app’s data can better inform the decisions you make about things like the time you go to bed and how many hours of sleep you should try for. You can then use this to adjust your sleeping hours for a single night, or across multiple nights.
Sleep monitoring on the Apple app is about more than sleep data, and, in fact, the data can even seem secondary, as this app is more about sleep training. You can play calming music to help you drift off. Listen to a guided meditation via a third-party app. Even dim the screen to help you wind down. Use the Do Not Disturb mode if text messages or phone calls disturb your sleep at night, and activate this mode as you are getting ready for bed or about to go to sleep.
How Accurate Is the Apple Watch Sleep App?
Sleep is made up of different stages. These stages include light sleep, from which you can be woken up easily, as well as deep sleep and rapid-eye-movement stages when dreams take place. Apple understood early on that monitoring those stages was a huge challenge, due in large part to the fact that these stages are most easily detected with brainwave monitors which can track the shift from alpha and beta to theta waves.
For this reason, in its current form, the Apple Watch’s Sleep app focuses just on the time you are asleep and helps you make decisions based on that limited information. While incorporating sleep monitoring on the Apple Watch has been attractive to smartwatch fans, there is a lot more it could do with the data and new algorithms to monitor sleep.
For example, it does not measure blood oxygen levels, collect data on sound or light during the night, or, as mentioned before, attempt to distinguish one sleep stage from another, though it is able to detect whether you are asleep or lying awake with insomnia.
Functions Available with the Sleep App
It is possible to create a variety of sleep schedules with the Apple Watch. This is ideal if you want to wake up and go to sleep at different times during the week or on weekends.
You are able to set:
- Your own sleep goals for how much you need to sleep
- Exact times you want to be asleep by each night
- An alarm at the time you want to get up
- Music to play just before you go to sleep
- Sleep Mode to prevent unwanted distractions right before you fall asleep
You can also view your:
- Sleep history, to see how much you’ve actually slept for the past fortnight
- Breathing rate, which may able to detect health issues like sleep apnea
- Average heart rate throughout the night
Graphs and pie charts display all of these results, or you can connect your watch to your iPhone and see a larger, more detailed breakdown of your sleeping habits.
Which Apple Watches Can Monitor Sleep?
However, you won’t find sleep monitoring on the Apple Watch preinstalled on the 3, 4, or 5; these will need to have it installed with the new update. Unfortunately, the very first watches created by Apple, the Series 1 and Series 2, cannot monitor sleep.
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Last Updated on September 29, 2022