How to track your sleep with an Apple Watch

Do you want to track your sleep with the Apple Watch? With the release of WatchOS 7 for Apple Watch Series 3 devices and later, you can now 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 has 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 that sleep hygiene is important — relaxing before you drift off to sleep — 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.

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

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

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.

Some features require an in-app purchase to unlock, 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

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 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.

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

Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 4
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

If you have an older version of the Apple Watch, you may find yourself with limited options. Apple did not support sleep tracking until WatchOS 7. If your device doesn’t support an upgrade, you are left navigating a slew of third-party apps that need to connect to your iPhone, which can be a bit clunky. If you want to avoid the hassle, there is another option, namely a fitness band with sleep tracking and a heart-rate sensor. Fitness bands offer more battery life, less effort to set up than third-party apps, and are quite affordable. Options include the $50 Xiaomi Mi Smart Band 5 or the $97 Fitbit Inspire HR.

Some people find wearables uncomfortable to wear all night. Luckily there are several non-wearable sleep trackers to choose from. The Withings Sleep Tracking Mat uses an app on your phone along with a special mat that goes under your mattress. You can cut out the device entirely and buy a mattress with sleep tracking built-in.

Monitoring your sleep patterns to improve them is just as important as making sure you move around enough during the day. The Apple Watch can help monitor both simultaneously. If your Apple Watch is not Series 3 or better, there are still plenty of options available.

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