How to track your sleep with an Apple Watch

Lack of sleep or low-quality, interrupted sleep can cause or exacerbate numerous health issues that interfere with your life and your long-term well-being. Tracking your sleep, analyzing your sleep patterns, and addressing your sleep problems are all possible if you have an Apple Watch.

Apple Watch has a built-in sleep tracker that monitors and records your sleep patterns. You can do this with an Apple Watch Series 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7 model running WatchOS 7 or higher and an iPhone 6S or later with iOS 14 or higher.

If you wear your watch to bed, the tracker records the amount of time you sleep. In the morning, the Sleep app shows your periods of sleep time during the night and keeps a daily and weekly record of your sleep patterns.

Be mindful of your battery, which needs charging on a daily basis, so you must set aside time during the day to make sure your watch battery is functioning optimally. If your Apple Watch is charged less than 30% before you go to bed, it will prompt you to charge it.

We show you how to track your sleep with the Apple Watch alone. See our separate guide on how to monitor your sleep with an iPhone.

Track sleep with Apple Watch initial setup

You can use your Apple Watch alone to track your sleep patterns by using the Sleep app to set sleep goals. In the morning, the Sleep app registers how much sleep you got. It will also record your sleep trends over 14 days. Any changes made to parameters on your Apple Watch will be reflected on your iPhone.

Step 1: On your Apple Watch, navigate to the Sleep app.

Step 2: Tap the Sleep app and you will see instructions on how to set up a sleep goal and schedule your bed time, wake time, wake up alarm, and reminders.

Add a sleep schedule to your Apple Watch

You can have a single sleep schedule for every single day, every work day, or for each individual day of the week. Here’s how to set it up.

Step 1: Open the Sleep app and scroll to Full schedule.

Step 2: Toggle on the Sleep schedule switch.

Step 3: Set your first schedule. Every day appears as the first option, and you can keep your sleep schedule on every day.

Step 4: You can remove any day or days you want from a wake-up alarm, but to track sleep, you’ll likely want all days covered.

Step 5: Tap the Alarm button to set a wake up time.

Step 6: Adjust the time on the alarm clock face using your watch’s Digital Crown and tap the green Checkmark at the bottom right to confirm the time.

Step 7: Scroll down until you see Bedtime and set that time the same way.

Decide on and view additional sleep options

When you wear your Apple Watch to sleep, the watch uses its accelerometer to detect your motion. Aside from the basics of setting up a sleep schedule, there are a number of other options available with the Apple Watch sleep settings.

Alternatively, you can change these options on your iPhone via the Apple Watch app by going to My watch > Sleep.

Step 1: Set a sleep goal. Tap Sleep goal, and set the number of hours you want to sleep.

Step 2: Enabling Sleep tracking lets you measure how well you meet your sleep goals. When sleep tracking is on, your watch tracks your sleep and adds sleep data to your iPhone’s Health app.

Step 3: Choosing an alarm lets you pick from a handful of custom watch wake-up sound effects. Turn Alarm off or on and tap Sound and haptics to choose an alarm sound. If your watch is in silent mode, it will tap your wrist to wake you but not make any sound.

Step 4: Enabling the Wind down option automatically turns on the sleep focus feature, which turns off the watch display and turns on do not disturb so you are not bothered by notifications while sleeping.

Step 5: Set up the Sleep screen so you will not be disturbed overnight. With the sleep screen on, your watch display and iPhone lock screen are simplified and dimmed.

Step 6: Scrolling through the Sleep app lets you check whether you’ve met your sleep goals.

Step 7: View your sleep stats directly on the Apple Watch for up to 14 days at a time. For even more detail, view the iPhone Health app. In addition to the stats, it also tracks respiratory data via Browse > Respiratory > Respiratory rate > Show more respiratory rate data.

Why track your sleep?

The negative effects of insomnia can show up in your daily life. If you’re persistently feeling exhausted in the middle of the day, can’t stay awake while watching TV, or can’t work up the motivation for your daily walk or run, all that diminishes your quality of life and may be directly caused by a lack of sleep.

While sleeping, your brain is active as you cycle through the different stages of sleep, processing information as your body rebuilds tissue and produces new cells. Sleep loss can increase the risk of serious illnesses, while getting good-quality sleep can boost your physical energy and cognitive abilities.

Sleep tracking provides insight into your sleep patterns, possibly revealing the causes of daily fatigue or even uncovering a sleep disorder. Learning about your sleep behaviors and patterns gives you the tools to improve your sleep.

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