Sometimes it seems as if sleep is a secret cheat code to life. As with video games, finding the hidden sequence to a restful night can lead to extra energy and strength. Unlike video games, however, you can’t just consult the internet for the answer that works for every player. Accordingly, the search for effective sleep tools has raged on for hundreds of years, at least.
While we may not have arrived at the answer, at least today our advancements can help. With wearable technology comes tools that can measure body movement and vital signals. This allows us to create applications that can serve as diagnostic tools for sleep. While they are no substitute for actual medical advice, these sleep applications can bring us a lot closer to understanding how to get a good night’s sleep.
In general, sleep apps for smartwatches use three basic metrics to track sleep-related statistics.
- Heart rate – Most of the applications designed specifically to work on smartwatches include some kind of heart rate tracking and analysis. This feature can be good for people looking for a more comprehensive look at overall health. The heart rate information while sleeping can be combined with other applications that monitor heart rate during exercise or otherwise daily activities.
- Sound Analysis – Many of the applications also use some kind of sound analysis. This can be useful for detecting specific sleep problems such as snoring or sleep apnea. Sound monitoring was also used in a number of devices to record body movements during the night. These devices, of course, have limitations in terms of proximity to the sound, and the amount of actual noise. Snoring is generally loud enough to be heard at a distance. Sleep apnea, on the other hand, does not always result in audible sudden breaths. In addition, if the watch is held under blankets almost any noises can be difficult to hear.
- Body Motion – Assuming that sleep intensity changes can be recorded by actual movements, many applications track the motion of the body overnight. This can provide insight into actual waking periods, or just times when the sleep is light enough for movement. Generally, deeper sleep stages do not include as much movement of the body. Since body motion during sleep is a personal difference, several applications provide a way to indicate sensitivity to motion.
Most of the sleep trackers that work on applications outside watches only track motion and sound. Users will have to pay attention to make sure they select an app that is compatible. Users may find other applications that can work on multiple devices, including smartwatches. These applications make use of motion detection and sound features on watches but often lack the heartbeat monitor.
Please remember, applications are not a substitution for medical diagnoses. While most of the applications provide varying degrees of tracking reports, many of the others also provide coaching plans. Obviously this review cannot indicate how effective these sleep improvement plans might be for each user. Sleep disruptions can be caused by a number of factors, and many users find comfort in solutions that do not work for others.
Free Sleep Apps for Smartwatches
Smart as Android: Sleep Cycle Smart Alarm – Urbandroid
This is a smart alarm clock with tracking for your sleep cycles. Using your wearable sensors, it offers to wake you up at the perfect time. The app is compatible with Pebble, Galaxy Gear, Garmin, Wear OS, and Mi Band, and the Google Fit and S Health services.
You can get a better understanding of your sleep quality through the sleep score. The score tracks how long you sleep, how deep you sleep, and whether you snore or wake up. It can also provide nature sounds like ocean waves or birds. The alarm function uses CAPTCHA to prevent oversleeping.
The device is ranked at 4.6 on Google Play with over 300,000 reviews. Most users believed the app helped them to improve the quality of sleep.
Sleeprate: Improve your sleep – sleeprate.com
If you struggle to get a good night’s sleep, this app is designed to help! By recording information about your sleep stages and snoring, the app can provide a plan to help you improve the quality of your sleep. Users can pay for additional features, such as the ability to study sleep patterns over time. The assessment provided is designed to give behavioral-based information that you can use to understand the exact nature of your sleep difficulties.
The program is compatible with a number of devices, including products by Fitbit, Garmin, CardioSport, Under Armour, and Polar. You can track your sleep for free, but it is very easy to (accidentally or not) purchase additional analysis tools. Reviews were generally all over the place, with a number of bugs and problems. The developers were responsive, however, and seemed able to resolve many of the issues.
Full app only available:
Sleep Tracker Only:
Pillow – Neybox Digital Ld
Pillow app has one of the most sleep suggestive names on this list. The smart alarm clock system is designed to wake you during one of your lightest sleep stages. This is done through an analysis of your body movements and heart rate throughout the night. We all know the uncomfortable feeling of being jolted from a deep sleep.
In addition to the alarm clock function, the app also provides a three-pronged sleep analysis. The sensors measure your heart rate and provide an easy to read the chart. The number of beats per minute is correlated to the stage of sleep at the time. The app also has an audio recording function that can catch snoring, talking and apnea events. The application includes a nap mode.
Every data track culminates in an experimentally based sleep improvement plan. The app is free, with advertisements.
Sleepzy – Apalon
Sleepzy is a smart alarm system that uses a sleep tracker function to wake you at optimal times. It accomplishes this using an audio recording device and an analysis algorithm. To help you get to sleep, the app does provide a small selection of relaxing sounds.
The free app also provides two other interesting features. First, it allows you to set your own sound file as the alarm. This can be useful for people who have a particular kind of waking experience they enjoy. The app can also provide weather information in the morning. This gives the user a good way to immediately picture their day.
It only appears available on Apple for the moment. The reviews were mostly good registering a 4.2 out of 5. However, a number of people reported bugs.
Beddit – Apple
Only available on Apple, the Beddit app requires the Beddit sleep monitor system. This system can cost well more than a hundred dollars. That said, the application provides a number of interesting features. Because it uses biosensors, it can collect and analyze data outside audio. That allows the system to track your heartbeats, breathing pace, and duration of sleep.
The system can also provide environmental analysis tools such as room temperature and humidity information. That provides unique insights into how things outside your body may be influencing the quality of your sleep. Using these insights, the application can provide optimal daily habits. The smartwatch can even provide reminders about bedtimes.
As of right now, the application scores at 2.1 out of 5 reviews. The primary concerns seem to be related to the required hardware interface.
Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock
Sleep Cycle is a smart alarm clock app that is designed to avoid waking you up during your heavier sleep stages. The system analyzes body movement and audio files to create an optimal wake period with a duration of about thirty minutes. The system also allows you to control whether your sleep cycles are detected using sound or motion. That feature might be wonderful for people who sleep especially still.
The app also uses a dual snooze feature. Users can choose the regular snooze that allows an infinite number of alarms at a designated duration. Also available is an intelligent snooze function, that uses a set number of increasingly shorter snooze periods.
Reviews ranked the system at 4.5 on Apple, with Android users at 4.7.
Google Fit is a multifaceted health app designed to monitor two primary personal statistics. By tracking heart rate and body movement, it can offer further coaching tools for general health improvement. While it is not a sleep tool per se, it can be used to track heartbeats and body movement overnight.
For many people, quality of sleep is often linked to exercise during the day. This app might be useful for discovering a possible correlation between sleep disturbances and a more active lifestyle.
Sleep Watch – Bodymatter, Inc
The Sleep Watch application uses the Health app and Apple watch to track the quality and duration of your sleep. The app is designed to automatically detect a few details about how you sleep. Users can receive a daily briefing that estimates total sleep time, sleep rhythm, and a variety of heart rate information. The app also synchronizes information with the health app, and provides a full picture of the user’s daily routines.
The premium membership also includes a number of advanced tracking and analysis tools. Premium users can receive a full analysis of sleeping habits over time and set daily reminders. The app further provides tools to manually log your sleep habits. It ranked 4.6 at the Apple store.
Sleep++ – Cross Forward Consulting
Sleep++ is another Apple Watch application that uses motion detection and heart tracking capabilities within the device. For those users with unusually physically active bedtimes, the app also allows users to manually enter sleep and wake times. The app is designed to be simple and free, making it perfect for some users.
Paid Sleep Apps for Smartwatches
Sleep Tracker by Sleepmatic – Vimo Labs Inc.
If the Sleep Tracker is currently operating on an Apple Watch, it can automatically log sleeping information. After each sleeping session users can receive a helpful report. Because the program works automatically, watch owners can avoid the potential hassle of having to remember to set the sleep function each night. That can be very useful for those who tend to be forgetful before bed each night. Interestingly enough, the app also works for naps during the day.
The after snooze report includes duration and periods where the user was still or moving. For those who tend to exist in a state of semi awareness each morning, it can also note the moment you actually get out of bed. As part of the analysis process, you can manually add notes like cups of coffee or other factors that impact your sleep.
AutoSleep Tracker – Tantsissa Holdings
As the name indicates, AutoSleep is another application designed to automatically detect when you are sleeping. All you need to do is wear your watch when you fall asleep. If you do not wear the watch to bed, the watch can track the time spent in the charging dock. If you take the watch off right before bed and replace the watch upon waking, it can record approximate sleeping time.
For those wearing the watch, the sensors also track heartbeat and movement during the night. It uses this data to provide comprehensive reports on the quality of sleep. The application can be used with HeartWatch and Apple Health as well.
Sleep Pulse 3 – Spencer Brown
Using the Apple Watch, this app tracks motion and heart rate during naps and overnight. It uses this information to create a sleep report with goals and full analysis. It can also track your resting heart rate upon waking, which can provide insight into your overall heart health.
Unique features of the program include sensitivity level adjustments to more accurately monitor sleep in moving vehicles or for physically active sleepers. There are also power nap and sleep talk additions to the application to provide more features.