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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, it’s easy to track your sleep using the in-built sleep-tracking feature. If you’re rocking an older Apple Watch, there’s no need to worry — there are a few sleep-tracking workarounds involving apps and using your iPhone. However, none are ideal, and we’ll also fill you in on the one big drawback that may change your mind about using the Apple Watch to track sleep at all.

Sleep tracking with WatchOS 7

Apple finally added the long-awaited sleep-tracking feature to Apple Watch with WatchOS 7. It’s pretty simple to use, too. Just set a bedtime and wake-up time, and the Apple Watch will help you get a good night’s 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 it’s your scheduled bedtime, the Apple Watch starts automatically tracking sleep. Make sure your watch is set to a comfortable fit — if it’s 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 you’re getting and receive tips for better sleep. Each morning when you wake up, your Apple Watch provides you with a summary of your night’s sleep — as well as a battery indicator to remind you to charge your device.

Think about the battery

Here’s where sleep tracking with the Apple Watch falls down somewhat. The battery needs charging on a daily basis, so there won’t be any time for that if you’re wearing it all day and night. Of course, you could set aside a different time to charge your Watch, if that works for your schedule. If you don’t want to wear your Watch in bed, or if you have an older device, you could use a third-party sleep-tracking app. Bear in mind that some apps may require you to have your iPhone on the bed with you, which is also an undesirable (and probably quite unsafe) place to charge it.

Sleep tracking using the iPhone is possible, but it comes with many compromises.

Sleep-tracking apps

There are plenty of third-party sleep-tracking options available from the App Store. Most of these apps require your iPhone to be used in addition to your Apple Watch. Here are four options to consider trying out.

AutoSleep Tracker

AutoSleep Tracker app for the Apple Watch.

There is no absolute requirement to wear your Apple Watch in bed with the AutoSleep app. If you do, it uses the Watch’s sensors to establish when you sleep and will then monitor movement and heart rate to provide a sleep score in the morning. If you decide not to wear the Watch while sleeping, the app operates using your iPhone and will only record the amount of time you sleep.

The app costs $4, has consistently good ratings in the App Store, and is one of the most popular sleep-tracking apps to download. However, to provide meaningful metrics, you’ll have to wear your Apple Watch and find another time to charge it — so, if you have a Series 3 Watch or later, you may as well use the built-in sleep-tracking feature.

App Store


Pillow Sleep Tracker app for the Apple Watch.

Pillow also uses your iPhone and Apple Watch together to track sleep. If you decide not to wear your Watch to bed, you have to put your iPhone on the bed with you. This way, it can more effectively monitor nightly activities, including snoring and REM sleep. Pillow also makes use of the phone’s microphone to record noises during the night. If you wear the Watch, heart-rate tracking is introduced. There’s even a Sleep Aid feature that lets you listen to your favorite tracks from Apple Music or your local iTunes library to help you drift off, as well as a library of meditations, sleep stories, and soundscapes designed to make it easier to unwind and sleep soundly.

Some features require an in-app purchase to unlock, and a subscription starts from $7 per month — but many of the features are free, and there is a smart alarm clock, too, ready to wake you up at exactly the right time for your body. Just remember not to charge your phone while it’s in bed with you.

App Store


Sleepzy sleep tracking app on the Apple Watch.

Promoted as a smart alarm clock, Sleepzy also tracks sleep if you wear the Apple Watch. It sets goals to meet with sleeping time, will monitor sleep patterns, and provides white noise and sounds to help you fall asleep. There is a subscription package that starts at $7 per month, and it’s needed to remove ads and to introduce features like data monitoring over time. Using the iPhone works like other sleep apps and records sounds, measures sleep quality, and provides feedback on how to sleep better.

App Store

Sleep Watch

Sleep Watch app on the Apple Watch.

Sleep Watch is another app that can use both your iPhone and the Apple Watch to monitor sleep. If you wear the Watch to bed, it’ll automatically start tracking when you fall asleep and has a comprehensive list of features onboard. Data collected includes heart rate, REM sleep patterns, disturbances to sleep, and plenty more. Those with an Apple Watch Series 6 can track blood oxygen levels while sleeping, too.

If you don’t strap on the Apple Watch, the iPhone will perform many of the same functions. Like some of the other apps, there is a subscription service for some of the premium features, which costs $4 per month or $30 per year.

App Store

The other option

The Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 4 on a wrist.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

If you have an older model Apple Watch, you may not have as many potential available features, as WatchOS 7 is the first version with sleep-tracking capabilities. If you’ve found that the upgrade isn’t a possibility for your smartwatch, you may need to toy around with some other third-party sleep-tracking apps that pair with your iPhone. Another way around this is to consider buying a fitness band with sleep tracking and a heart-rate monitor. There are a lot of great reasons to check out fitness bands—they have long battery life and are budget-flexible depending on the features you want. On top of that, you won’t have to deal with any third-party apps. The $55 Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 6 or the $94 Fitbit Inspire HR are excellent options.

We totally understand that wearing a tracker at night isn’t ideal for everyone. If you’re in that boat, there are a handful of non-wearable sleep trackers available. For example, you could try the Withings Sleep Tracking Mat by placing it under your mattress and connecting it to an app on your phone. An expensive but straightforward option is to cut straight to the chase and buy a mattress with sleep tracking included.

Getting an ample amount of sleep is extremely important to the balance of your overall health. It goes hand in hand with exercising and eating well. Newer models of the Apple Watch can keep track of your sleep patterns, but you have other options available, too, if your watch isn’t capable.

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