The Apple Watch can perform various functions including being a fitness tracker and heart monitor. Unfortunately, native sleep tracking isn’t one of them. Although rumors point to Apple adding an all-new automatic sleep tracking feature eventually on its wearable device, third-party apps are the only solution in 2019. Here are the sleep tracking apps we recommend and why.
AutoSleep Tracker for Apple Watch
In my book, AutoSleep Tracker is the best app for this purpose on the market. First introduced in 2016, the app is easy to use (just go to sleep, folks) and offers mountains of information about each time you sleep.
Using advanced heuristics, AutoSleep works even if your Apple Watch isn’t on your wrist during sleep. When you are wearing your Watch to bed, the app will track your sleep and quality and send you a notification each morning once you get up. If you don’t wear your Watch to bed, then take your Watch off before you shut your eyes. As soon as you touch your iPhone or put your Watch back on in the morning, AutoSleep will know that you have finished sleeping.
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Ideally, you should wear your Watch to bed when using AutoSleep Tracker. When you do, you’ll also receive a report each morning on your sleep quality. This report uses time asleep, restlessness, time awake, and heart rate to score the quality of your sleep and offer a suggestion to improve your score. If you don’t wear your Watch during bedtime, the app will only capture the amount of time you sleep.
Another bonus: The app includes a calibration feature that allows you to teach the app more about your specific sleep patterns. The app uses this information to make more accurate assessments moving forward.
Bonus No. 2: AutoSleep Tracker is a companion app to the highly-rated HeartWatch app, which uses your Apple Watch to keep track of your heart health throughout the day.
Priced at $2.99, AutoSleep Tracker is available on the App Store. The HeartWatch app is also $2.99.
Pillow Automatic Sleep Tracker
Pillow is a worthy alternative to AutoSleep, although it’s not my favorite since it is much more an iPhone app than one for Apple Watch. Regardless, it works very well as a smart sleep assistant by analyzing your sleep cycles automatically. Beyond this, the app includes sleep aid sounds, personalized insights, tips, and more.
On Apple Watch, the app focuses on the tool’s Automatic mode, which detects sleep sessions without any user input. Pillow uses this information to create reports viewable on both Apple devices.
Note: Not every feature on Pillow is available through Apple Watch independently. For example, you can’t listen to the sleep aid melodies on the wearable device alone.
One area where Pillow easily bests AutoSleep Tracker is on app design. For one, Pillow looks a lot like Cupertino’s native Apple Watch apps. Second, Pillow provides a full range of Apple Watch Series 4 complications that are so far missing with AutoSleep. These include complications for newest Watch’s Infograph and Infograph Modular faces.
Pillow is free in the App Store; you’ll need to pay $4.99 to get most of the advanced features. This fee is one-time only.
AutoSleep and Pillow aren’t the only automatic sleep tracker apps on the App Store. Others include the following.
Sleep Watch (free, in-app purchases)
Like AutoSleep, Sleep Watch doesn’t require an iPhone to manage your sleep analyst. Once installed, it just works every time you go to bed. Each morning, you’ll find information on your daily sleep time and sleep cycle, average sleep heart rate, sleep heart rate dip, restful sleep, and much more.
Sleep Tracker by Sleepmatic ($1.99)
Receiving design inspiration from Fitbit, the Sleep Tracker app by Sleepmatic automatically logs your sleep and naps and provides insightful sleep analysis each day. It also offers the ability to adjust sensitivity if its sleep detection isn’t ideal for your situation. Like the other apps in this report, Sleep Tracker supports Apple HealthKit.
What About Apple?
Back in 2017, Apple purchased the Finnish company Beddit, a maker of sleep-tracking devices like the Beddit 3 Sleep Monitor. To date, the only way to take advantage of the Beddit app is to purchase one of the company’s stand-alone devices. However, this is likely to change soon.
According to Bloomberg, Apple plans to add native sleep tracking to the Apple Watch as early as 2020. For now, the company is working with testers at secret sites to put the feature through its paces. It looks like Apple is spending a great deal of time looking at how sleep tracking affects the Apple Watch’s battery life.
The report explains:
One practical necessity for sleep tracking in a smartwatch is a battery that can last multiple days. Each Apple Watch model to date is advertised as being able to last a day with the need to charge it each night. In comparison, Fitbit’s watches with sleep tracking are marketed as being able to last as long as a week on one charge.
Whether the native sleep tracking feature will be exclusive to the 2020 Apple Watch or available to those with older models isn’t yet known. Most likely, the unique features will be kept for those with the latest Apple Watch model.
Apple’s entry here doesn’t necessarily mean the end of third-party sleep trackers for Apple Watch. However, it could make it harder for them to compete, especially if Apple’s tool uses sensors whose data outsiders won’t be allowed to touch for their apps. Regardless, this is many months off.
Sleep tracking does affect battery life on the Apple Watch. However, I haven’t noticed significant changes when using any of the apps mentioned above. I continue to charge my wearable device each day, for better or worse. Hopefully, future Apple Watches (even ones without sleep tracking built-in) will offer battery improvements that extend the time between charges by days, not just hours.
Automatic sleep trackers for Apple Watch provide valuable information to users who might be suffering from sleep apnea or other sleep-related issues. By collecting data from Apple Watch, these apps can recommend solutions for a better night’s sleep. Although no app is perfect, some are better than others.
AutoSleep Tracker and Pillow are two of the most popular sleep tracking apps on the market. Each can provide useful information to the user after just one night of use. Other apps, such as Sleep Watch and Sleep Tracker are also helpful, although their feature-set might be lacking.
Once you decide on a sleep tracking solution, stick with it and let us know which one you selected in the comments below.