How to track your sleep with an Apple Watch using the built-in Sleep app or third-party apps
You can track your sleep on an Apple Watch using the built-in Sleep app, or a variety of third-party apps.
To use the Sleep app on your Apple Watch, you’ll need to update it to watchOS 7, and have an Apple Watch Series 3 or newer.
There are also several third-party sleep tracking apps, like SleepWatch and AutoSleep, that offer more advanced sleep metrics.
When you’re not getting a good night’s sleep, it’s hard to be productive, balance your emotions, and stay healthy .We all know the importance of eating right and exercising, but sleep is just as key to promoting a healthy and happy life.
Just as you track your steps or count your calories, you should be keeping tabs on your sleep routine. Luckily, your Apple Watch can help you with that.
All new Apple Watches come with a built-in sleep tracking app, simply called “Sleep.” It can detect when you’re sleeping, track how you’re sleeping, and more.
However, if you’re looking for more detailed sleep analysis or features some apps track your REM cycles, and some can even play music you might want to look into a third-party app.
Here’s a comparison of the leading sleep-tracking apps currently available for the Apple Watch, including the built-in Sleep app.
The official Apple Watch Sleep app
Cost to download: Free and built-in
Paid membership: No
The built-in Sleep app was added in the watchOS 7 update, which is exclusive to the Apple Watch Series 3 and newer. If you have a compatible Watch but don’t have watchOS 7, be sure to update it .
Your Apple Watch has the ability to detect when you’re sleeping and for how long, based on micromovements that signal respiration during sleep.
The Sleep app can also detect periods of wake and sleep throughout the night all put together in a handy little chart that tracks your sleep schedule over time. All your sleep data will also be automatically synced to your iPhone.
The Sleep app generates a chart to track your sleep schedule, which syncs with your iPhone.
You can use the Sleep app in conjunction with your Watch’s Wind Down, Sleep Mode, and Do Not Disturb features. This can help you develop a specialized routine before bed, which can include a customized watch face, bedtime reminders, screen dimming, and more.
Your Watch also has the ability to wake you up by delivering light vibrations or soft sounds.
The Sleep app tracks when you go to bed and when you wake up.
Although the Apple Watch Sleep app offers a lot of features to sync your devices together, it doesn’t provide as detailed sleep data analysis as some of the other third-party apps available from the App Store.
Cost to download: $3.99
Paid membership: No
AutoSleep offers a super quick setup you don’t even need to make an account.
Perfect for people who like to lay in bed and watch TV or read a book, AutoSleep requires you to tell the app that you’re going to sleep (through its Lights Off function). In other words, a six-hour, unmoving Netflix binge will never trick it into thinking you’ve fallen asleep.
You can activate Lights Off directly from your Apple Watch and track how long it takes you to fall asleep.
Press “Lights Off” to let AutoSleep know you’re going to sleep.
You can view your sleep session on a graph that plots how deep your sleep was, as well as your heart rate over time. It’ll show the peaks and troughs in your sleep that indicate when you woke up and when you were in sound slumber.
You can access all your data from the iOS AutoSleep app.
The sleep rings show your time asleep, your time having quality sleep, your time in deep sleep, and your sleeping heart rate. You can set goals for each of these, and the rings will compare with your goals, letting you know how well you’ve done.
Much like the Apple Watch’s activity goals, AutoSleep offers rings to track your sleep.
There’s also a feature to show your “sleep bank” for the week. This is based on you getting a full eight hours a night. If you sleep less, you’ll go into debt, and if you sleep more, you’ll have extra credit.
Overall, AutoSleep provides a decent amount of data and you can compare day-to-day to see how your lifestyle affects your sleep. For the one-off charge of $3.99, it’s a great value.
Cost to download: Free
Paid membership: No, but offers in-app purchases
Sleep++ is the most basic of the available sleep apps, but it’s free to download and has no hidden extra costs. You can choose to have your sleep tracked in auto mode or manual mode.
Auto mode will automatically track your sleep, using your movements or lack thereof to know when you’re in dreamland. If you use manual mode, you’ll have to tell the app when you’re going to sleep and when you wake up.
Press “Start Sleeping” and then “Stop Sleeping” on your Apple Watch or in the iPhone app.
Sleep++ offers multiple ways to track your sleep.
You won’t get much data from this app, just one bar showing you how deep your sleep was. However, it’s totally free and a great place to start your sleep-tracking routine.
Sleep++ provides data that’s specific to the minute.
Cost to download: Free
Paid membership: 1 month free, then $29.99/year to get trend data and premium features
Sleep Cycle has the unique feature of a built-in alarm with a “Wake up phase,” that automatically wakes you up at the optimal time, based on your sleep pattern. Set the time you need to wake up by, and the app will wake you (using haptic vibrations on your watch) up to 30 minutes before when you’re in your lightest phase of sleep. You can adjust that time frame in the app if you want a longer window of time before you’re woken up.
If you buy the paid version (you get a 1-month trial to test it out first), you’ll unlock premium features, like a sleep aid to provide you with soothing sounds, weather alerts when you wake up, and heart rate monitoring.
Although the features may be better than the other apps, you won’t receive a data analysis of your sleep cycle.
Sleep Cycle also allows you to share your graph results on social media.
Cost to download: Free
Paid membership: 7 days free, $3.99/month or $29.99/year to gain access to better analysis
SleepWatch provides the most data of any of the tested apps, but you’ll have to buy a membership to make the most of it, as well as receive heart rate comparisons and comprehensive sleep analyses. The paid membership will give you a numeric value for your quality of sleep think of it as your sleep credit score!
SleepWatch is one of the more expensive sleep tracking apps, but offers the most data.
You’ll also get data based on your sleep patterns, a ratio of light-to-restful sleep, and your heart rate. You can view this data on your Apple Watch, as well as on the mobile app.
The SleepWatch app is sleek and detailed.
You can set your sleep goal and adjust the sensitivity of the sleep detection. The Smart Bedtime Reminder is another paid feature that will remind you to go to sleep at a certain time to improve your sleep rhythm.
If you love to analyze data and see how changing your lifestyle can affect your sleep, then this is the app for you.
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