Sleep tracking with Apple Watch is a great way to gain new insight into your sleeping habits and trends over time. Apple is apparently working on its own sleep tracking features for Apple Watch, but those features aren’t available just yet. In the absence of a first-party solution for Apple Watch sleep tracking, a handful of incredibly powerful third-party apps have come to the App Store.
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 primary options here: before bed or after you wake up in the morning. One key change for me has been placing an extra Apple Watch charger at my desk rather than on my nightstand.
For me, it’s much easier to charge before bed every night. I wake up and head straight to the gym most mornings, so I have to make sure my Apple Watch has enough battery for workout tracking. If I put my Apple Watch on the charger at around 8 p.m., after I’ve already reached my stand goal for that day, it usually has a full charge by the time I head to bed at 9:30 p.m. And when I wake up in the morning, I almost always have more than 90% battery left — more than enough to make it through the day.
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 is also always the option of repurposing an old Apple Watch as your dedicated “sleep watch.” 9to5Mac’s Zac Hall previously explained how to do that. You could also pick up a used or refurbished older Apple Watch model to do this.
Once you’ve established a charging routine for your Apple Watch, it’s time to pick a sleep tracking app. There are a few 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 in-depth data, including a detailed look at sleep, sleep quality, heart rate, deep sleep, and much more.
AutoSleep uses a system of rings to help you monitor those key statistics. The main interface shows you rings for sleep, sleep quality, deep sleep, and bpm. All of this data comes at a cost, however, and AutoSleep’s interface can feel a bit overwhelming once you dive into all of the available data.
To combat that, AutoSleep also offers an excellent Apple Watch application that makes it easy to get a quick look at the current day’s sleep data. There is also a “readiness” score that attempts to predict how ready you are for the day based on your sleep for that night.
When I wrote about sleeping apps for the Apple Watch almost three years ago, Pillow was an option that I wasn’t familiar with at the time, but multiple 9to5Mac 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 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 on phases, trends, and more.
NapBot offers an impressive amount of data in an impressively easy-to-navigate interface. The “Calendar” tab in the app allows you to get a detailed look at your sleep on a daily basis, and you can pick a specific day to see more detailed information on heart rate and phases.
NapBot also just launched its first Apple Watch app that’s 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 go-to. You can download it on the App Store for free with in-app purchases.
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.”
One of the best things about Sleep++ is that it’s completely free, with an optional in-app purchase to remove advertisements. You can download it on the App Store
If none of those options pique your interest, Sleep Watch is another choice that’s available 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.
Despite all of the new entrants into the sleep tracking Apple Watch industry, I still find AutoSleep to be the most powerful option, but that’s not to say it’s perfect. AutoSleep offers you a lot of data, and sometimes it’s overwhelming trying to figure out the logic behind some that data.
NapBot is becoming a close second for me. While it’s a newcomer to the scene, it’s getting better quickly with consistent updates. For instance, it recently added a standalone Apple Watch app, new trends and Apple Watch complications, and more.
The key, regardless of which application you pick, is to 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.
These apps also integrate with Apple’s Health app, which means 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 is also the impending launch of first-party Apple Watch sleep tracking capabilities from Apple. While we still don’t know exactly when these features will be released, a first-party solution from Apple could offer battery management features and more.
Ultimately, if you want the most data possible, AutoSleep is my favorite sleep tracking app for Apple Watch. NapBot and Sleep+ are both excellent options as well, excelling by providing detailed data in easy-to-use interfaces. I recommend you give them all a try to find out which one works best for you.
Do you track your sleep with Apple Watch? Which app do you prefer? Let us know down in the comments!