Sleep tracking with Apple Watch is a great way to gain new insights into your sleep habits and trends over time. There are a number of different sleep tracking apps for the Apple Watch, including native options from Apple itself.
Read on as we round up the best sleep tracking apps for the Apple Watch and compare Apple’s first-party solution to the competition.
Native Apple Watch sleep tracking
With the release of watchOS 7 in 2020, Apple Watch added official support for sleep tracking without the need for a third-party application.
We put the experience into practice at launch, explaining that Apple is merging Apple Watch’s sleep tracking capabilities with new iPhone features like Wind Down and Wake Up for a seamless cross-device experience.
There’s a new Sleep app on the Apple Watch, as well as a Sleep mode that hides your usual watch face and instead shows the current time as well as your alarm’s set time. It also disables features like raise-to-wake so your watch face doesn’t light up in the middle of the night.
To view sleep data tracked by your Apple Watch, you can visit the Sleep app on Apple Watch or the Health app on iPhone. Actual data here is limited. Apple simply shows you your sleep time and a range for your heart rate. This is where third-party applications still come in handy. They can offer a lot more data than Apple’s native implementation, and you don’t have to wait until fall to get started.
What about the battery life?
Before you start tracking your sleep with Apple Watch, you need to schedule when to charge your watch. There are two main options here: before bed or after waking up in the morning. A key change for me was to place an additional Apple Watch charger at my desk instead of on my bedside table.
It’s a lot easier for me to charge every night before bed. If I plug my Apple Watch into the charger around 8pm, having already reached my standing goal for the day, it’s usually fully charged by the time I go to bed at 9:30pm and when I wake up in the morning I almost always have more than 90% battery left – more than enough to get you through the day.
And on those days when I need to charge at lunchtime, having the extra Apple Watch charger on my desk makes it a lot easier.
This works perfectly for me, but your routine is probably different than mine. The key is to develop a plan that you can repeat every day. Whether charging is in the morning or at night, or a combination of both, changing your Apple Watch charging habits is a lot easier than you might think.
Of course, there is always the option of converting an old Apple Watch into a dedicated “sleep watch”. 9to5Mac’s Zac Hall previously explained how to do this. You can also pick up a used or refurbished older Apple Watch model.
Once you’ve set up a charging routine for your Apple Watch, it’s time to choose a sleep tracking app. There are a few different options.
AutoSleep is probably the most popular Apple Watch sleep tracking app on the App Store, and for good reason. It offers some of the most detailed data, including an in-depth look at sleep, sleep quality, heart rate, deep sleep, and more.
AutoSleep uses a system of rings to help you monitor these key stats. The main interface shows you rings for sleep, sleep quality, deep sleep and BPM. All of this data comes with a cost, however, and AutoSleep’s interface can feel a little overwhelming once you dive into all the available data. Still, recent changes to the app have made it a lot easier to see a breakdown of all that data.
AutoSleep also offers an excellent Apple Watch application that makes it easy to take a quick look at the current day’s sleep data. There’s also a “readiness” score that tries to predict how ready you are for the day based on your sleep for that night.
More about AutoSleep:
AutoSleep is available on the App Store for $4.99 as a one-time purchase.
Sleep++ is another popular sleep tracking app for Apple Watch with support for automatic sleep detection, bedtime reminders, sleep goals, and more. In the Sleep++ app, the main interface offers a detailed overview of your sleeping habits over the past few days.
Like its competitors, Sleep++ offers a lot of data on sleep trends, cycles, phases and more. You can also see a detailed timeline of your sleep, including when you were restful, restless and awake, with an extra at-a-glance look at when your “best sleep” occurred.”
Sleep++ also recently added a useful new “Readiness Score” that makes it easy to know when to take it easy and recharge for the day ahead.
One of the best things about Sleep++ is that it’s completely free, with an optional in-app purchase to remove ads. If you are looking for a data-rich automatic Apple Watch sleep tracker, download Sleep++ from the App Store.
When I was writing about sleep apps for the Apple Watch nearly three years ago, Pillow was an option I wasn’t familiar with at the time, but several 9to5Mac readers suggested I give it a try. With features like automatic sleep detection and heart rate analysis, Pillow fits in perfectly with the rest of the market.
One of Pillow’s key features is support for recording important audio events throughout the night. That means the app can track data like snoring, sleep apnea, and sleep talk, but the biggest limitation here is that sound detection only works in manual mode.
There’s also support for viewing detailed sleep trends over time, personalized recommendations, and more. You can try Pillow on the App Store for free with in-app purchases.
A relative newcomer to the Apple Watch sleep-tracking fun, NapBot is quickly becoming one of the most powerful options. NapBot uses machine learning to perform automatic sleep tracking so you can see details on phases, trends, and more.
NapBot offers an impressive amount of data in an impressively easy-to-navigate interface. The Calendar tab in the app gives you a detailed look at your sleep on a daily basis, and you can select a specific day to view more detailed heart rate and phase information.
NapBot also just launched its first Apple Watch app that is completely independent of the iPhone. Currently you can only see the previous day’s sleep, but hopefully more features and historical data will be added over time.
NapBot is the latest Apple Watch sleep tracking app, but it’s also quickly becoming my go-to. You can download it for free on the App Store with in-app purchases.
SleepWatch is one of the most popular sleep tracking apps on iPhone and Apple Watch. It has over 300,000 reviews on the App Store with an average of over 4.5 stars. The app offers a range of powerful data collection features, including:
Total Sleep Time Sleep Rhythm HR Dip Sleep HRV 2-Day Sleep Goal Restful Sleep Sleep Disruption Sleep Blood Oxygen
SleepWatch is available on the App Store as a free download with an in-app subscription for $4.99 per month to unlock all features.
Last but not least, we have Sleep Cycle which offers apps for iPhone and Apple Watch. Sleep Cycle boasts a number of unique features such as: B. the Philips Hue integration, a smart alarm clock, unique data and trends and more.
Sleep analysis with patented Sleep Cycle sound technology or accelerometer Snooze by gently shaking or double-tapping the phone Customizable wake-up window. From instant (regular alarm clock) up to 45 minutes Sound Recorder & Trends – Capture snoring, sleep sounds and other noises and view your trends Trends – Collect long-term trends on your sleep patterns Comparison data – Compare your sleep patterns to worldwide sleep statistics Weather & Sleep – See how different types of weather affect your sleep quality. Sleep Notes – See how events like drinking coffee, stress, exercising or eating late affect your sleep quality for an even smoother wake-up
Sleep Cycle is available on the App Store as a free download with in-app purchases to unlock all premium features.
Which one should you choose?
Despite all the new entrants to the sleep tracking Apple Watch industry, I still find AutoSleep to be the most powerful option. AutoSleep gives you lots of data, and you can choose to read too much into it.
I also couple the AutoSleep data with the features introduced with watchOS 7 and iOS 14. You can still use features like Wind Down and Sleep Mode, and track data using third-party sources like AutoSleep.
The key, no matter which app you choose, is to make sure there’s some sort of automatic sleep detection feature. This reduces friction and means you don’t have to remember to manually start a sleep-tracking session every night before bed. Instead, your Apple Watch can track your sleep without your interaction in the background.
These apps also integrate with Apple’s Health app, giving you an overview of your sleep data alongside everything else in the Health app. The Health app is useful for tracking long-term trends and averages, but if you want detailed data you’ll have to jump to your third-party app of choice.
Of course, there are also rumors that the Apple Watch Series 8 will bring even more advanced sleep tracking capabilities with upgraded hardware. We’ll have to see what that means exactly, and whether third-party apps can use this information.
Do you track your sleep with Apple Watch? Which app do you prefer? Let us know in the comments!
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