Testing Apple Watch sleep tracking on watchOS 7 & iOS 14

Posted:
in Apple Watch edited July 2020
One of the most requested features for Apple Watch is sleep tracking, and with watchOS 7 and iOS 14, Apple is finally bringing it to the table. In true Apple style, it does much more than track when you start and stop sleeping.

Sleeping with Apple Watch
Sleeping with Apple Watch


It would be easy enough for Apple to create an app that detects the start and stop point of your sleep. Apple has a tendency to go the extra mile on features, however, thinking about the implementation as a whole, and not just what users anticipate.

For watchOS 7 and iOS 14, Apple thought about the entire sleeping experience for users. That includes keeping a consistent routine, settling down before bed, gently waking up, and analyzing the data that is collected.

So that's what Apple did by introducing the Sleep app for Apple Watch, sleep mode for iPhone and Apple Watch, revamping the Bedtime feature found in iOS 13, and introducing Wind Down.




Starting sleep tracking with Apple Watch

To get started with sleep tracking for watchOS, users can jump into the new Sleep app on the wrist-worn computer or into the Health app of their iOS 14-equipped iPhone. We opted for the latter.




When you go to the sleep category of the Health app, there is a new option to set your bedtime schedule. First, you can enable sleep mode. Sleep mode simplifies your Lock Screen at your scheduled Bedtime and will turn on Do Not Disturb to reduce interruptions.

The app will then suggest you enable Wind Down. The idea is that your nighttime routine can begin prior to your bedtime, before you go to sleep. Sleep mode is when you're actually sleeping and Wind Down is everything leading up to that. You choose how much before your bedtime you want to start Wind Down. This can be between 15 minutes and three hours.

Wind Down on iOS 14
Wind Down on iOS 14


What Wind Down will do is help with those routines as you get ready for bed while reducing the screen time on your phone. It simplifies your Lock Screen, just showing the time, your alarm and any Shortcuts or apps you may use. Create a Shortcut to listen to a relaxing podcast, play your nighttime music playlist, or start your two-minute teeth brushing timer. Whatever you do before bed can be added here.

Finally, Health will ask if you want to track your sleep with Apple Watch. You then get your summary of everything you set up including your schedule and features enabled.

Apple Watch details

Once everything is set up, you can start tracking sleep. Almost everything happens in the background. Your phone will go into Wind Down mode before it Watch go into sleep mode.

Manually enable sleep mode on iPhone or Apple Watch within Control Center
Manually enable sleep mode on iPhone or Apple Watch within Control Center


Sleep mode is able to be manually set, too, on both the watch and phone. Just go into Control Center on each device and toggle it on.

Apple Watch display when it is awoken in sleep mode
Apple Watch display when it is awoken in sleep mode


When the Apple Watch is in sleep mode, the display stays black as you move your wrist about, preventing it from inadvertently lighting up while you are trying to sleep. And tapping the screen causes is it to light up very dimly with the time and when your alarm is set.

Rotate the Digital Crown to use Apple Watch in sleep mode
Rotate the Digital Crown to use Apple Watch in sleep mode


If you want to use your watch, it makes you rotate the Digital Crown, similar to expelling water after swimming. This too stops the watching from waking by accident.

Good morning report on Apple Watch after sleeping
Good morning report on Apple Watch after sleeping


Once you wake up, your Apple Watch will greet you with a "good morning" summary that lets you know how long you slept, what the weather looks like for the rest of the day, and what your battery life is for your watch.

Sleep app in watchOS 7
Sleep app in watchOS 7


You can revisit your sleep history by checking out the Sleep app your Apple Watch or by visiting the Health app on your iPhone. It will show you how long you slept, how many times you woke up, and how consistent you've been.

Keep up with your battery

Speaking of battery, this is likely one of user's biggest concerns. Apple doesn't have a way to magically extend your watch's battery life but it does try to help you manage it.

Apple Watch charging notification
Apple Watch charging notification


When it is almost time for bed, if your battery life is less than 30 percent, your phone will notify you that you need to charge. And when your watch is charging, your phone will get an alert letting you know when it hits a full charge so you can go grab it.

Apple Watch does charge quick and in our time testing, we haven't had much issue keeping the watch juiced up -- even on a beta. We top it off while we are in the shower and maybe a few minutes in the morning before work and it makes it through the day and night.

Get some rest

Together, the new features cover the entire experience of sleeping and helps you better your sleep patterns. You slowly wind down your day by reducing distractions and getting into your bedtime routine. Your phone stays silent on Do Not Disturb mode while you sleep and your Apple Watch tracks you at the same time and doesn't turn on and blind you. When you wake up, your watch greets you, as does your iPhone, to start your day.

Track your sleep with Apple Watch
Track your sleep with Apple Watch


It has been a long time coming, but Apple's implementation is well thought out, unique, and a phenomenal example of Apple's ecosystem working together.

Apple Watch deals

If you want to take advantage of the upcoming sleep tracking feature, but don't have an Apple Watch, some of the lowest Apple Watch prices of the year are going on right now on Series 5 models.

Existing features
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 21
    jgutherjguther Posts: 97member
    What is next? Toilet tracking? No, thanks! I know how to sleep. Not much to it, really. Have been doing it every day for the last 58 years. I find it sad that some people believe that they need (or even want) this...
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 2 of 21
    iqatedoiqatedo Posts: 1,724member
    jguther said:
    What is next? Toilet tracking? No, thanks! I know how to sleep. Not much to it, really. Have been doing it every day for the last 58 years. I find it sad that some people believe that they need (or even want) this...
    So, the whole point to this post is to criticise others. You have a right to your opinion. I've tracked my sleep for years and have found changes interesting.
    gregoriusmRayz2016king editor the grateStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 21
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    iqatedo said:
    jguther said:
    What is next? Toilet tracking? No, thanks! I know how to sleep. Not much to it, really. Have been doing it every day for the last 58 years. I find it sad that some people believe that they need (or even want) this...
    So, the whole point to this post is to criticise others. You have a right to your opinion. I've tracked my sleep for years and have found changes interesting.
    Good for you.

    Most of Apple’s health programme is geared around prevention, and sleep tracking is no exception. Lots of physical and mental health problems can be traced to lack of sleep. 
    iqatedowatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 21
    iqatedoiqatedo Posts: 1,724member
    Rayz2016 said:
    iqatedo said:
    jguther said:
    What is next? Toilet tracking? No, thanks! I know how to sleep. Not much to it, really. Have been doing it every day for the last 58 years. I find it sad that some people believe that they need (or even want) this...
    So, the whole point to this post is to criticise others. You have a right to your opinion. I've tracked my sleep for years and have found changes interesting.
    Good for you.

    Most of Apple’s health programme is geared around prevention, and sleep tracking is no exception. Lots of physical and mental health problems can be traced to lack of sleep. 
    It is quite straight forward to find reputable information, in this example, from Harvard medical School - https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/sleep-and-mental-health. Adequate sleep happens to be something I struggle with and welcome assistance in understanding my circumstances.
    Rayz2016watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 21
    frantisekfrantisek Posts: 738member
    Rayz2016 said:
    iqatedo said:
    jguther said:
    What is next? Toilet tracking? No, thanks! I know how to sleep. Not much to it, really. Have been doing it every day for the last 58 years. I find it sad that some people believe that they need (or even want) this...
    So, the whole point to this post is to criticise others. You have a right to your opinion. I've tracked my sleep for years and have found changes interesting.
    Good for you.

    Most of Apple’s health programme is geared around prevention, and sleep tracking is no exception. Lots of physical and mental health problems can be traced to lack of sleep. 

    I understand both sides. I love gizmos and al they capabilities but true is that if  you have common sense you do not need more to sleep enough. Other is if you have some sleep problems or other health issues affecting sleep already, then tracking can give you some useful information but wont probably help you resolve cause as it is in your habits, too much stress or unresolved inner conflicts.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 21
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,302member
    Nope!   Not for me....
    In 2005 I took CE course in sleep for my nursing license.   It was produced by researchers at the University of Washington and it was a highly technical view of sleep.   Two of its main points were:
    1)  Sleep is as necessary for life as food, water and air.   (In fact, a popular method of torture is sleep deprivation!)
    2)  Sleep does not need to come in uninterrupted 8 hours chunks.   It's the cumulative amount rather than the continuous amount that counts.

    For the latter point:   They pointed out that the middle ages recognized a "second sleep" where people would sleep for several hours, get up for a few hours and then fall asleep again for several hours.   And, they pointed out how that is a normal physiologic pattern rather than something pathological.  And many older people particularly can attest to that and I am one of them!   It is not terribly unusual for me to sleep 4 hours before waking naturally, get up for about three, have breakfast & then go back to sleep for another 2 or 3 hours.

    Today's regimented sleep specialists would call that pathological.   But, it's simply what my body is doing -- and since I am getting the sleep I need I learned to not fight it.

    Much of our daily routines -- from nutrition to sleep -- have been dictated by the requirements of the industrial revolution where your schedule and your body's are dictated by the needs of the factory:   You eat when they say you should eat, you shit when they tell you to shit and you sleep when they tell you to sleep.   So, of course, "science" backs up all that nonsense.
    ...  And most of what I saw in this presentation on the Apple Watch simply backs that up:  serving the needs  and biases of society rather than what your body needs.

    [And that is not meant as a criticism of Apple but of the so called "science" that they are following.]
    edited June 2020 toysandme
  • Reply 7 of 21
    Is there anyone running the beta that compare Apple's sleep app to AutoSleep?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 21
    fred1fred1 Posts: 834member
    Since we’re proclaiming our opinions about whether or not we think tracking our sleep is important/useful/beneficial, I’ll state that I think it is. I’ve been using a third party app on my Apple Watch ever since I got the watch and I’ve found it to be very helpful, largely because I often don’t sleep well. 
    And there are times when I wake up thinking I didn’t sleep well at all, but the app tells me that I actually did. It’s silly, but it actually makes me feel better. 
    What’s the harm in all of this? I’m looking forward to seeing how Apple does this. I expect good things.
    StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 21
    I've been using Sleep Cycle since November 2018. My sole wish for the next watchOS is to automatically turn off the flashlight. About once a month, I use the flashlight function while using the can in the, um, wee hours, then awake to discover the battery is at 3 percent.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 21
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,302member
    fred1 said:
    Since we’re proclaiming our opinions about whether or not we think tracking our sleep is important/useful/beneficial, I’ll state that I think it is. I’ve been using a third party app on my Apple Watch ever since I got the watch and I’ve found it to be very helpful, largely because I often don’t sleep well
    And there are times when I wake up thinking I didn’t sleep well at all, but the app tells me that I actually did. It’s silly, but it actually makes me feel better. 
    What’s the harm in all of this? I’m looking forward to seeing how Apple does this. I expect good things.

    It sounds like you're measuring sleep quality rather than (just) sleep duration.
    That's not only a different ball game, I didn't see any indication that this Apple Watch feature will do that.
  • Reply 11 of 21
    fred1 said:
    Since we’re proclaiming our opinions about whether or not we think tracking our sleep is important/useful/beneficial, I’ll state that I think it is. I’ve been using a third party app on my Apple Watch ever since I got the watch and I’ve found it to be very helpful, largely because I often don’t sleep well
    And there are times when I wake up thinking I didn’t sleep well at all, but the app tells me that I actually did. It’s silly, but it actually makes me feel better. 
    What’s the harm in all of this? I’m looking forward to seeing how Apple does this. I expect good things.

    It sounds like you're measuring sleep quality rather than (just) sleep duration.
    That's not only a different ball game, I didn't see any indication that this Apple Watch feature will do that.
    Surely it will as Sleep Cycle does that now. The phone's microphone listens to breathing while watch accelerometers measure how fidgety you are.
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 12 of 21
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 856member
    Ok, so either you love or hate the idea of sleep tracking. Personally, I thought I absolutely needed it on my watch.  I tried out several 3rd party apps and found that I didn’t get as much out of it as I thought I would. Whatever. To each his own. But can we all agree that a timer for washing your hands is just plain silly? If you can’t count to 20 in your head, then maybe there are other problems that need your attention. And don’t even get me started on  toothbrushing timers. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 21
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 856member
    jguther said:
    What is next? Toilet tracking? No, thanks! I know how to sleep. Not much to it, really. Have been doing it every day for the last 58 years. I find it sad that some people believe that they need (or even want) this...
    Haha, right? I can see it now...Ralph, Health App has detected that you took a 12 minute shit. 4 minutes longer than your average shit. Is everything ok over there? Shall I notify your emergency contact?
    jguther
  • Reply 14 of 21
    Will this work like current 3rd party sleep apps that track your sleep automatically? Using the watch sensors it knows when you've fallen asleep and when you have woken up. SleepWatch works pretty well, but for some reason when you're not even wearing the watch (hence no HR), it thinks that you're asleep. Not good. Hopefully Apple's new sleep tracking system is automatic, and knows that when you're not wearing the watch, it shouldn't be counted as sleep.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 21
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    frantisek said:
    Rayz2016 said:
    iqatedo said:
    jguther said:
    What is next? Toilet tracking? No, thanks! I know how to sleep. Not much to it, really. Have been doing it every day for the last 58 years. I find it sad that some people believe that they need (or even want) this...
    So, the whole point to this post is to criticise others. You have a right to your opinion. I've tracked my sleep for years and have found changes interesting.
    Good for you.

    Most of Apple’s health programme is geared around prevention, and sleep tracking is no exception. Lots of physical and mental health problems can be traced to lack of sleep. 

    I understand both sides. I love gizmos and al they capabilities but true is that if  you have common sense you do not need more to sleep enough. Other is if you have some sleep problems or other health issues affecting sleep already, then tracking can give you some useful information but wont probably help you resolve cause as it is in your habits, too much stress or unresolved inner conflicts.
    Well, tracking can first help you decide if you have a problem or not. Then you can decide if you need help. 
    StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 21
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    What I’d to see: toilet tracking. 

    The watch delivers an electric shock when it detects its wearer is using a phone while standing at a urinal. 


    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 21
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,828member
    Using the Watch for sleep tracking is okay, but I'd vastly prefer a purpose-built, dedicated sleep band that is strictly a DAQ device that pumps sleep data into my iPhone or a dedicated sleep analytics/monitoring device or system. The Apple Watch is arguably too bulky to wear while sleeping and the primary charging period for most people's Apple Watches is while they are sleeping. If the Apple Watch could run for a week on a single charge, no problem, but taking it off its main charging cycle to monitor sleep is a problem.

    In my opinion, the perfect sleep DAQ device would be a DAQ band that docks into a bedside appliance during the day, where it would charge for the next night's sleep. For many people with sleep abnormalities the data collection "appliance" would be a CPAP machine or an alarm clock. I think Apple would be well served to partner with a company like Respironics to provide a way for iOS/iPadOS devices to provide end-user consumable feedback and data via a specialized DAQ band, or for those who don't have an issue with wearing a watch to bed, the Apple Watch.

    The machines from companies like Respironics are already capturing usage data to an SD card or streaming via modem. What they don't capture is anything at all to do with sleep data, sleep pattern recognition or so partnering with a company like Apple would not entail overlapping/redundant functionality or capabilities. A partnership between a CPAP maker and Apple would be a win-win, but only within a limited time frame. I imagine companies like Respironics may want a bigger piece of the action and will ultimately build-out their systems to provide more analytics and prescriptive services related to their sleep/health care products. They have the customer and the domain expertise that Apple is clearly lacking. 
  • Reply 18 of 21
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,584member
    jguther said:
    What is next? Toilet tracking? No, thanks! I know how to sleep. Not much to it, really. Have been doing it every day for the last 58 years. I find it sad that some people believe that they need (or even want) this...
    Pathetic comment. It wasn’t until I started tracking my sleep and measuring its quality, that I realized I needed to do better. And did so. 
  • Reply 19 of 21
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,584member

    Nope!   Not for me....
    In 2005 I took CE course in sleep for my nursing license.   It was produced by researchers at the University of Washington and it was a highly technical view of sleep.   Two of its main points were:
    1)  Sleep is as necessary for life as food, water and air.   (In fact, a popular method of torture is sleep deprivation!)
    2)  Sleep does not need to come in uninterrupted 8 hours chunks.   It's the cumulative amount rather than the continuous amount that counts.

    For the latter point:   They pointed out that the middle ages recognized a "second sleep" where people would sleep for several hours, get up for a few hours and then fall asleep again for several hours.   And, they pointed out how that is a normal physiologic pattern rather than something pathological.  And many older people particularly can attest to that and I am one of them!   It is not terribly unusual for me to sleep 4 hours before waking naturally, get up for about three, have breakfast & then go back to sleep for another 2 or 3 hours.

    Today's regimented sleep specialists would call that pathological.   But, it's simply what my body is doing -- and since I am getting the sleep I need I learned to not fight it.

    Much of our daily routines -- from nutrition to sleep -- have been dictated by the requirements of the industrial revolution where your schedule and your body's are dictated by the needs of the factory:   You eat when they say you should eat, you shit when they tell you to shit and you sleep when they tell you to sleep.   So, of course, "science" backs up all that nonsense.
    ...  And most of what I saw in this presentation on the Apple Watch simply backs that up:  serving the needs  and biases of society rather than what your body needs.

    [And that is not meant as a criticism of Apple but of the so called "science" that they are following.]
    Your criticism is a fail — sleep tracking apps already support multiple sleep sessions, today. You’re just ignorant to how they actually work because you apparently haven’t tried them. Check out AutoSleep

    GeorgeBMac said:
    fred1 said:
    Since we’re proclaiming our opinions about whether or not we think tracking our sleep is important/useful/beneficial, I’ll state that I think it is. I’ve been using a third party app on my Apple Watch ever since I got the watch and I’ve found it to be very helpful, largely because I often don’t sleep well
    And there are times when I wake up thinking I didn’t sleep well at all, but the app tells me that I actually did. It’s silly, but it actually makes me feel better. 
    What’s the harm in all of this? I’m looking forward to seeing how Apple does this. I expect good things.
    It sounds like you're measuring sleep quality rather than (just) sleep duration.
    That's not only a different ball game, I didn't see any indication that this Apple Watch feature will do that.
    That’s absolutely what sleep trackers on iOS and the Watch do, today. 
  • Reply 20 of 21
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,584member

    Japhey said:
    Ok, so either you love or hate the idea of sleep tracking. Personally, I thought I absolutely needed it on my watch.  I tried out several 3rd party apps and found that I didn’t get as much out of it as I thought I would. Whatever. To each his own. But can we all agree that a timer for washing your hands is just plain silly? If you can’t count to 20 in your head, then maybe there are other problems that need your attention. And don’t even get me started on  toothbrushing timers. 
    Absolutely not. My instinct is to cut them short every time, and I don’t particularly enjoy counting to myself. If a tool can do it for me effortlessly there is no reason not to. 
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