Using Apple Watch for Great Sleep

Getting good sleep is key to so many wellness benefits. Even though avoiding screens before bed is one way to improve sleep, there are still ways to improve sleep through technology.

Apple Watch does not monitor sleep automatically, at least not as well as it can. There are things you can do to optimize the data you get in order to get the best sleep.

This Apple Watch sleep tracking review covers all the details on how to use your watch to get a good nights rest.

Setup Apple Watch (and iPhone) Downtime

There are plenty of studies that show that putting devices away before bed will help you get a good nights rest. It is a bit of a catch 22 then, how can you use apple watch without using the screen? The easiest way is to get reminders to not use it. By setting up downtime the Watch will not automatically light up when you turn your wrist or lift it. A similar thing happens on your phone with downtime.


Apple Sleep and downtime reminder screen

To setup downtime you need to do so on your phone settings. It’s in the screen time settings, the same ones where you can limit use of specific apps.
Downtime setting for Apple Watch

This little nudge nightly can be just enough to keep you from staying up too late. The pre downtime warning also is a nice signal of when to go out your devices down.

Setup for downtime is found in the settings menu. Look for “screen time” then check downtime. Couple this with limits on your most suspect nighttime apps and the helps hints can make it easier to get to bed at your desired time.

One other way the Apple Watch can help with bedtime is the breath app. It’s a simple feature built into the Watch by default. A minute or two of simple deep breaths, synchronized to the vibrations of the watch, helps to clear the mind and prepare for sleep. Deeper mindfulness meditation through the day also has been shown in studies to help with sleep.

Wear Your Apple Watch to Monitor Sleep Time

To determine if all the efforts to get better sleep are working you need to measure sleep. Sleep states are defined by brain activity, so using a wearable is only a proxy for getting sleep.

Still, wrist worn wearables like Apple Watch can do a good job approximating sleep by measuring your movement. This is how the Apple Watch measures REM (Rapid Eye Movement) cycles, it approximates the REM cycle based on how much movement you generate.

We recently covered the accuracy of Apple Watch for sleep tracking. While accuracy is important so is precision. If you wind up taking a number of actions to improve sleep, you’ll want to ensure that feedback loop is complete and you can tell if sleep improvements are laying off.

This screen above shows the Apple sleep tracker. For each bar that is light colored it means sleep was tracked only by phone and device activity. A darker green bar denotes that your sleep was tracked by wearing an Apple Watch.

Especially helpful are the time to sleep bars. This is something that you can control. It is harder to ensure sleep zones, like deep sleep.

With a watch on your movements and heart rate are tracked and this allows it to predict when you are sleeping. Again since getting to sleep at the right time is one of the easiest ways to help sleep, this can be useful.

We have been known to get into bed, watch off, and then proceed to browse endlessly on a phone or tablet for hours. If this is the main issue common tips are to keep devices in a different room.


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