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How to track your sleep with your iPhone

Much has been written about the effects smartphones can have on your sleep. For several years, researchers have been warning that the blue light emitted by touchscreens can interfere with sleeping patterns, while they’ve also flagged the dangers of looking too much at your social media before bedtime. However, while excessive smartphone use certainly isn’t the ideal nighttime companion, focused use of your device can actually help you improve your sleeping routine. In fact, if you’re an Apple fan, you may be interested to hear that you can track your sleep with your iPhone.

While the iPhone’s sleep-monitoring abilities arguably aren’t quite as sophisticated as those of the Apple Watch Series 6, they can help you construct a clearer picture of just how much sack time you’re getting from one night to another. As such, we explain in this article how to track your sleep with your iPhone. In particular, we look at how to use the Health app to see how many hours of sleep you’re getting each evening, while we also explain how to set bedtimes (which are necessary if you want to monitor your sleep).

How to track your sleep with your iPhone

If you’re using iOS 14 or later, you’ll need to use the Health app to set bedtimes, enter sleep goals, and track your sleep. Here’s how to get started:

Setting up Sleep using the Health app

Step 1: Open Health. Scroll down until you see the Set Up Sleep box and then tap Get Started.

Step 2: You’ll then be shown a number of on-screen prompts. These invite you to set your Sleep Goals (the number of hours per night you’d like to sleep), your Bedtime and Wake Up times, your Sleep Mode (i.e. whether you want to activate Do Not Disturb mode around your bedtime), and any Wind Down Shortcuts (shortcuts to activities that may help you relax before bed). You’ll also have the option to track your sleep with your Apple Watch, assuming you have one and have paired it with your iPhone.

Your iPhone is now ready to begin tracking your sleep. Basically, it will do this by recording when you last use it at night and when you first use it in the morning. It won’t know whether you wake up in the middle of the night to, say, drink a glass of water or go to the toilet (so long as you don’t pick up the phone before going back to bed). As such, it can’t really tell you whether you’re getting quality sleep or not, although it can at least confirm that you’re not using it.

Viewing your sleep data

Once you’ve been using Health to track your sleep for a few days or more, you may want to check to see how you’re doing. This is very easy: Simply open Health and tap the Browse tab in the bottom-right corner of the screen. Next, scroll down and tap Sleep.

The Sleep screen will show you a bar chart. This represents the days of the past week and the number of hours you spent sleeping during them. It will show you your average time in bed per night, while the Week and Month tabs at the top let you switch from looking at this week’s sleep to looking at this month’s (and back again).

There’s also the option of seeing more sleep data. If you tap Show More Sleep Data (under the bar chart), you’ll see the chart again, but also information related to sleep duration: Measurements (the number of nights monitored by the app), Sleep Goal, Average Time in Bed, and Average Time Asleep. You can tap on each of these to see how your recorded sleep compares to each of these metrics. You can get data on your average time asleep — only if you’re also using an Apple Watch though.

That’s pretty much it, so don’t expect a massive amount of detail on your sleep phases and cycles. However, in the section below we explain how to adjust and edit your sleep schedule (as well as other parameters), just in case you want to aim for more (or less) sleep.

Adjusting your sleep schedule

If you go to Health > Browse > Sleep, you can scroll down to see your Sleep Schedule. The first little window displays your next Bedtime and Wake Up (i.e. for tonight and tomorrow morning). You can tap Edit to change the time you’ll go to bed and the time you want the alarm to go off. However, bear in mind that this changes Bedtime and Wake Up only for one day — your long-term, recurring schedule remains the same.

If you want to change your normal schedule, you can do so by tapping Full Schedule & Options. Next, tap Edit (under Full Schedule) to change your Bedtime and Wake Up, and to change the days for which these hours apply. Assuming that you leave some days out (e.g. Saturday and Sunday), you can set a schedule for these days by tapping Add Schedule for Other Days.

It’s on the Full Schedule page that you can also adjust other details related to your schedule. For example, you can change your Sleep Goal, your Wind Down time (the length of time before Bedtime during which you have Do Not Disturb mode on), and your Wind Down Shortcuts.

Also, if you don’t want to use the Health app, you can change your Bedtime and Wake Up by opening the Clock app. From here, tap the Alarm tab, and then tap Change next to the Sleep/Wake Up time. You can set a new Bedtime and Wake Up, although bear in mind that this will only be for your next Bedtime and Wake Up. You’ll have to tap Edit Sleep Schedule in Health if you want to change the whole schedule.

iOS 13

If you still have iOS 13 running on your iPhone, you can track your sleep using the Clock app and its Bedtime app (no longer a feature in iOS 14).

Go to Clock > Bedtime, and then tap Get Started. You’ll then need to set your Bedtime and Wake Up, as well as choose the days on which these will apply. Once you’ve set these for the first time, you can change your schedule by going to Clock > Bedtime again and tapping either your Bedtime or Wake Up. You can also change which days of the week these apply to, by tapping your desired days under the Days of Week Active heading.

Clock > Bedtime will also display how much you’ve been sleeping over the past week (or rather, how much you’ve been using your iPhone during the night). However, you can also check your sleep data by tapping Show More in Health, or by going to Health > Browse > Sleep.

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Simon Chandler
Simon Chandler is a journalist based in London, UK. He covers technology and finance, contributing to such titles as Digital…
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