It’s Apple Watch upgrade season for a lot of people which means deciding what to do with old models. Should you resell, gift, throw it in a drawer, or repurpose it?

Turning your old Apple Watch into a dedicated sleep tracker is a great way to get a little more mileage out of your original purchase. Take these steps to make sure the experience isn’t a nightmare.

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You don’t need a spare Apple Watch to track your sleep with it. Some users have enough extra battery at the end of the day that charging while showering or dinner is enough to top off before the next day.

Workout tracking and LTE usage means I often seen 20% battery before the end of the day, however, so I’ve not yet been able to juggle usage and charging without relying on overnight recharges.

Apple Watch works with HealthKit so it sends sleep data captured by compatible apps to the Health app on the iPhone. That means you can view workout data, nutritional and heart rate data, and other information stored in the Health app alongside your sleep data.

Sleep tracking apps

Apple Watch can be a dedicated sleep tracker, but it doesn’t have this function built-in yet. You currently need an app for that — and there are lots of options.

The best sleep tracking apps for Apple Watch work automatically without the need to start and stop a session. That’s critical for removing friction and making the habit more natural. These are a few options I’ve tried:

Beddit was bought by Apple in May 2017 and hasn’t been updated since the acquisition. Beddit is primarily a hardware sleep tracker similar to these options that you put between your mattress and sheets, but it does include an Apple Watch app intended for tracking naps that it launched in October 2015. Beddit’s technology will probably become built-in Apple Watch sleep tracking someday, but for now you may want to avoid it.

Sleep Cycle has long been a popular sleep tracker for iPhone. Sleep Cycle has an Apple Watch app as well, but it’s also nap-oriented and requires starting and stopping sessions.

AutoSleep, Pillow, Sleep++, and SleepWatch all offer automatic sleep tracking by just wearing the Apple Watch. Any of these are great recommendations and worth testing to determine which best fits your needs. AutoSleep had data that reflected my sleep behavior best for me, but your mileage may vary.

Sleep mode

Before you start sleeping with Apple Watch, you will want to create a “sleep mode” to ensure it doesn’t become an overnight nuisance. This includes making sure your iPhone can communicate with both Apple Watches and turning off alerts and the display on the sleep tracking watch.

Using the Watch app on the iPhone, use the My Watch tab and tap your watch at the top of the list, then make sure Auto Switch is toggled on so the iPhone can receive data from the Apple Watch that you’re wearing without manually switching it each day.

If you’re running watchOS 5, you’ll also want to turn off low heart rate alerts on your repurposed watch. Your heart rate will be much lower while you’re sleeping, and this feature is meant to catch heart rate drops while you’re awake.

While you’re wearing the repurposed watch, use the Watch app on iPhone to turn off low heart rate alerts from the My Watch tab under the Heart Rate section. If this feature is left on from your sleep tracking watch, your Health app on iPhone will be loaded with low heart rate counts.

Then on the repurposed Apple Watch that you will use for sleep tracking, swipe up from the bottom of the watch face to access Control Center. Tap both the moon icon and the masks icon to enable Do Not Disturb and Theater Mode. This will also put your repurposed watch in silent mode.

Do Not Disturb prevents alerts from tapping you on the wrist while you’re sleeping. Alarms set on the Apple Watch will still alert you with silent taps on the wrist that won’t wake your partner. Theater Mode prevents the display from lighting up when the watch thinks you raise your wrist and silences alerts.

Day Watch/Night Watch jokes aside, repurposing an old Apple Watch into a dedicated sleep tracker is a fun way to quantify your sleep health, have constant heart rate tracking, and gain insights into how you may be able to improve how you feel using this information.


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