It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but Apple is working on the ability to track sleep right from the Apple Watch. This would be in place of a third-party app. In fact, this is something that could be unveiled as early as next week, and is being called “Time in Bed tracking”. While I love the sleep tracking apps that I use, you often have to pay for advanced features, and that seems a little excessive, in my opinion. Time in Bed will track things like quality of sleep, movement, heart rate, and even noises. Of course, all the information will be available for you in the Health app.
If you do use your Apple Watch to track your sleep now, you know that you’re going to need to keep enough of a charge in order to last through the night. With this new functionality, the Apple Watch will send a notification telling you to charge your Watch before you go to bed. In addition, Apple has plans to alter the way that your alarms work. If you wake up early, your daily regular alarm will be silenced. This is a feature that I could have benefited from this morning!
While I definitely like the fact that I can monitor how well I’m sleeping with my Apple Watch, I do wonder how accurate it actually is. In general, sleep trackers will monitor how long you’re sleeping. They can track the time that you’re inactive, and even when you fall asleep and when you stir in the morning. They will also monitor your sleep quality. How often do you wake up? Are you tossing and turning at night?
Some apps will even track the phases of your sleep and time your alarm to go off during a period when you’re sleeping less deeply. The theory behind this is that it makes it easier for you to be wakened more naturally. Rather than to wake from a dead sleep at the sound of a blaring alarm.
During a typical night, you cycle through various stages of sleep:
- Stage 1: Lasting only a few minutes, the first stage of sleep is light and easy to wake from.
- Stage 2: During this stage, which is also fairly light, your brain waves begin to slow.
- Stages 3 & 4: During these stages, you move into deeper sleep that’s harder to wake from. This is the time when your body grows and repairs itself and boosts immune function
- Rapid eye movement (REM): During the final stage in the sleep cycle, your brain becomes more active and dreams occur. Your brain is processing information and storing long-term memories.
This cycle repeats every 90 to 110 minutes. As sleep progresses, REM cycles increase in length.
What we don’t know is what the app will look like, or what functionality it will include. Another unknown factor is if the functionality will be available on all Apple Watch models. We are likely to find out more next week. Apple is expected to reveal minor hardware revisions for its Watch – including new ceramic and titanium finishes.