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 available for Apple Watch, including native options from Apple itself.
Read on as we round up the best sleep tracking apps for Apple Watch, comparing 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 app.
We got hands-on with the experience when it was released, explaining that Apple is tying 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 Sleep Mode, which hides your usual watch face and instead shows the current time, as well as what time your alarm is set. It also turns off features like wake-up, so your watch doesn’t light up in the middle of the night.
To view the sleep data tracked by your Apple Watch, you can go to the Sleep app on Apple Watch or the Health app on iPhone. The actual data here is limited. Apple simply shows you your sleep time, as well as an interval for your heart rate. That’s where third-party apps still prove useful. They can offer much more data than Apple’s native implementation, and you don’t have to wait until the fall to get started.
What about battery life?
Before you start tracking your sleep with Apple Watch, you’ll need to make a plan for when you’ll charge your watch. There are two main options here: before bed or after you wake up in the morning. One key change for me was putting an extra Apple Watch charger at my desk rather than on my nightstand.
For me, it’s much easier to charge before bed each night. If I put my Apple Watch on the charger around 8pm, after I’ve already reached my fitness goal for the day, it usually has a full charge when 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 me through the day.
Plus, on the days when I need a midday recharge, having the extra Apple Watch charger on my desk makes it easy.
This works perfectly for me, but your routine is probably different than mine. The key is to come up with a plan that you can replicate every day. Whether that’s charging in the morning or at night, or a combination of both, it’s a lot easier than you might think to change your Apple Watch charging habits.
Of course, there’s also always the option of repurposing an old Apple Watch as your dedicated “sleep watch.” 9to5Macs Zac Hall previously explained how to do this. You could also pick up a used or refurbished older model of Apple Watch to do this.
Once you’ve established 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 tracker in the App Store, and for good reason. It provides some of the most in-depth data, including a detailed look at sleep, sleep quality, heart rate, deep sleep and much more.
AutoSleep uses a ring system to help you monitor those key stats. The main interface shows you ringtones for sleep, sleep quality, deep sleep and bpm. All this data comes at a cost, though, and AutoSleep’s interface can feel a bit overwhelming once you dive into all the available data. However, recent changes to the app have made it much easier to see a breakdown of all that data.
AutoSleep also offers a great Apple Watch app that makes it easy to quickly view the current day’s sleep data. There is 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 in 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, sleep 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 calm, restless and awake, with a particularly neat look at when your “best sleep” occurred.
Sleep++ has also recently added a useful new “Readiness Score”, making it easy to know when you need to wind down and recharge for the next day.
One of the best things about Sleep++ is that it’s completely free, with an optional in-app purchase to remove ads. If you’re looking for a data-rich automatic Apple Watch sleep tracker, download Sleep++ from the App Store.
When I wrote about sleep apps for the Apple Watch nearly three years ago, Pillow was an option I wasn’t aware of at the time, but several 9to5Mac readers suggested I try it. 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 seeing detailed sleep trends over time, personalized recommendations and more. You can try Pillow in the App Store for free with in-app purchases.
NapBot is a relative newcomer to the Apple Watch sleep tracking fun, 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 about 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 every day, and you can select a specific day to see more detailed information about heart rate and phases.
NapBot also recently launched its first Apple Watch app that is completely independent of the iPhone. It currently only allows you to see the previous day’s sleep, but hopefully, it will add more capabilities and historical data over time.
NapBot is the newest Apple Watch sleep tracking app, but it’s also quickly becoming my favorite. You can download it on the App Store for free with in-app purchases.
SleepWatch is one of the most popular sleep tracking apps on the iPhone and Apple Watch. It has more than 300,000 ratings in the App Store with an average of more than 4.5 stars. The program offers a number 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 a $4.99 per month in-app subscription to unlock every feature.
Last but not least, we have Sleep Cycle, which offers apps for the iPhone and Apple Watch. Sleep Cycle sets itself apart with a number of unique features, such as Philips Hue integration, a smart alarm clock, unique data and trends, and more.
- Sleep analysis with patented sound technology or Sleep Cycle accelerometer
- Request by shaking or double-tapping the phone lightly
- Customizable wakeup window. From instant (regular alarm clock), to 45 minutes
- Sound Recorder and Trends – Capture snoring, sleep talking and other sounds and view your trends
- Trends – collect long-term trends about your sleep patterns
- Comparative Data – Compare your sleep patterns with world sleep statistics
- Weather and 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
- Philips HUE Light Bulb Support – Simulate a natural sunrise to give you an even gentler wake up
Sleep Cycle is available on the App Store as a free download with in-app purchases to unlock the full set of premium features.
Which should you choose?
Despite all the new entrants into the Apple Watch sleep tracking industry, I still find AutoSleep to be the most powerful option. AutoSleep offers you a lot of data, and you can pick and choose whether to read too much into it.
Additionally, I pair 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 through third-party sources like AutoSleep.
The key, regardless of which app you choose, is to make sure there is some kind of automatic sleep detection. 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.
These apps also integrate with Apple’s Health app, meaning you can get 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 improved hardware. We’ll have to see what exactly that means and whether third-party apps can use that information.
Do you track your sleep with Apple Watch? Which app do you prefer? Let us know below in the comments!
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