Sleep tracking with Apple Watch is a great way to gain insight into your sleep habits and long-term trends. In fact, with the release of watchOS 7 two years ago, Apple officially added native sleep tracking support to the Apple Watch for the first time. Read on as we round up the best sleep tracking apps for the Apple Watch, comparing Apple’s first-party solutions to the competition.
Track your sleep with Apple Watch
Apple Watch added official support for sleep tracking without needing a third-party application when Apple released watchOS 7 in 2020.
We got our hands on it at launch, and explained that Apple is combining the 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 faces and instead shows the current time, along with the time your alarm is set for. It also disables features like wake, so your watch face doesn’t light up in the middle of the night.
To see the sleep data on your Apple Watch, you can go to the Sleep app on Apple Watch or the Health app on your iPhone. But the actual data here is limited. Apple just simply records your time asleep, as well as a range for your heart rate which the third-party applications can do. They can offer much more data than Apple’s native implementation, and you don’t have to wait until the fall to get started.
Apple Watch battery life?
You should take the battery life into consideration. If you sleep with your watch, there are two primary options here: before bed or after you wake up in the morning. placing an extra Apple Watch charger at the desk may be better than on the nightstand.
For me, it’s much easier to recharge before bed every night. Most mornings I wake up and work out first, so I have to make sure my Apple Watch has enough battery for workout tracking. If I put the Apple Watch on the charger around 8pm, it’s usually fully charged by the time I go to bed at 9:30pm, after I’ve reached my standing goal for the day. When I wake up in the morning, I almost always have more than 90 percent charge left—enough to last a full day.
Plus, having an extra Apple Watch charger on my desk makes it a lot easier on days when I need to charge mid-day.
Another point is what watch band you wear to sleep. A comfortable and fit Apple watch band can promise good sleep and accurate data. Otherwise, a hard and tough watch band makes you feel uncomfortable and get the wrong data. A nylon band should be the first option to wear because it is very soft and fit around your wrist.
This worked perfectly for me, but your routine may be different than mine. The key is to come up with a plan that you can replicate every day. Whether you charge it in the morning, at night, or both, changing your Apple Watch charging habits is easier than you might think.
Of course, there’s always the option to reuse your old Apple Watch as your dedicated “sleep watch.” 9to5Mac’s Zac Hall previously explained how to do this. You can also choose to do this with a used or refurbished older Apple Watch.
Once you’ve established a charging routine for your Apple Watch, it’s time to choose a sleep tracking app. There are several different options.
AutoSleep is probably the most popular Apple Watch sleep tracking app on the App Store, and for good reason. It provides some of the most detailed data, including a detailed look at sleep, sleep quality, heart rate, deep sleep, and much more.
AutoSleep uses a bell system to help you monitor these key statistics. The main interface shows sleep ringtone, sleep quality, deep sleep and bpm. However, all this data comes at a price, and once you drill down into all the available data, AutoSleep’s interface can feel a little overwhelming.
To address this, AutoSleep also offers a great Apple Watch app that makes it easy to quickly view your sleep data for the day. There’s also a “readiness” score, which tries to predict your readiness for the day based on how well you slept that night.
More on AutoSleep:
- Simple app overview
- Sleep Rings – Simple at a glance overview of sleep
- Sleep Hygiene Trends
- How to Adjust Sleep Detection
- Tips & More
AutoSleep is available on the App Store for $3.99 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 provides a detailed look at your sleep habits over the past few days.
Like its competitors, Sleep++ also offers quite a bit 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 a particularly neat look at when your “best sleep” occurred.”
The app is all free, with an optional in-app purchase to remove advertisements. If you’re looking for a data-rich automatic Apple Watch sleep tracker, you download Sleep++ on the App Store.
I wasn’t familiar with Pillow at the time, but multiple readers suggested I give it a try. With features like automatic sleep detection and heart-rate analysis, Pillow fits right in among the rest of the market.
One of the key features of Pillow is its support for recording important audio events throughout the night. This means the app can track data including snoring, sleep apnea, and sleep talking, but the biggest caveat here is that noise 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.
NapBot is a new app for sleep tracking, and it’s quickly becoming one of the most powerful options. NapBot uses machine learning to perform automatic sleep tracking, allowing you to see details on phases, trends, and more.
NapBot provides a wealth of data in an impressively easy-to-navigate interface. The Calendar tab in the app gives you a detailed breakdown of your sleep each day, and you can select specific days to see more detailed information on heart rate and stages.
NapBot has also just launched its first Apple Watch app that is completely separate from the iPhone. It currently only allows you to view your sleep from the previous day, but hopefully, over time it will add more features and historical data.
NapBot is the newest Apple Watch sleep tracking app, but it’s also quickly becoming my go-to. You can download it for free with in-app purchase on the App Store.
If you don’t like those options above, maybe you can try Sleep Watch which you can download on the app store. Apple acquired Beddit in 2017, but it’s primarily a hardware sleep tracker that you put underneath your sheets. Sleep Cycle was available for the Apple Watch up until recently, but support was dropped back in October.
What do I use?
Despite all the new entrants in the Apple Watch sleep tracking industry, I still think AutoSleep is the strongest option. AutoSleep provides you with a lot of data, and you can choose whether to read too much data.
Additionally, I paired AutoSleep data with the feature introduced with watchOS 7 and iOS 14. You can still use features like Wind Down and Sleep Mode, and use third-party sources like AutoSleep to track data.
NapBot is already a close second for me, and it gets better with every update. For example, both NapBot and AutoSleep offer home screen widgets and Apple Watch complications, something that Apple’s health data can’t.
No matter which application you pick, you should make sure there is 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 in the background, without any interaction from you.
The apps also integrate with Apple’s Health app, which means you can view your sleep data and everything else in the Health app. Health apps can be used to track long-term trends and averages, but if you need detailed data, you’ll have to jump to a third-party app of your choice.
Of course, there are also rumors that the Apple Watch Series 8 will bring more advanced sleep tracking capabilities through improved hardware. We’ll have to see what that actually means and whether third-party apps can use this information.
Do you track your sleep with your Apple Watch? Which app do you prefer? Let us know down in the comments!