by Anthony 

November 26, 2022

How Sleep Monitoring Works on Apple Devices

Configuring and monitoring your sleep using your Apple Watch requires a combination of the Sleep app on your watch, the Health app on your iPhone, and finally the Sleep Focus mode, which you can access in the Settings app on your iPhone. 


The Sleep app is where you can configure your sleep schedule - the time you want to go to sleep and wake up in the morning, and whether you wish to set an alarm. 

the set up screen of the sleep app on apple watch

The Health app is where you primarily review your sleep stats, although you can also configure your schedule in the Health app too. 

Sleep stats in the Health app on iPhone

Finally, the Sleep Focus mode is where you can set who or which apps you still wish to receive notifications from during the night. Say, for example, if you have teenage kids and you need to know they’re safe when they’re out late on weekends.

Once set up, each evening you’ll receive a reminder that it’s time to start winding down ready for bed.

Apple watch and iPhone displaying reminder to go to bed

This will activate the Sleep focus mode across all your Apple devices, ensuring you’ll no longer be disturbed by notifications, calls or messages. 

the Sleep Focus mode enabled on iPhone

Your watch will then measure the length and different stages of your sleep throughout the night. Until the morning, when you wake up naturally or to a gentle alarm on your watch. Your phone and watch then provide you with information about the day ahead, and stats about your sleep.

iPhone and Apple Watch displaying information about the day ahead

Configuring Your Sleep Schedule in the Sleep App on Your Apple Watch

It’s actually very easy to prepare your Apple Watch for monitoring your sleep. 

Start by opening the Sleep app on your watch. The first time you open the app, you're shown some information describing how the app will monitor how long you sleep and how long you spend in the different stages of sleep, such as deep sleep and REM sleep. Skip through this information using the Crown to scroll and by pressing Next. 

the sleep app on apple watch displaying setup information

The app will set an automatic sleep schedule for you from between 10:30pm and 7am, and a sleep goal of 8 hours. You can adjust your sleep goal by tapping it and then using the plus and minus buttons or the crown to scroll.  

setting sleep goal in the sleep app on apple watch

Once you're happy, tap in the top left corner to go back to the main screen. Tap on the sleep schedule to adjust the times you wish to go to sleep and wake up.  If you want to be woken by an alarm you can enable that in the schedule too.  

Once you’ve set your schedule, again tap in the top left corner of the screen to go back to the main screen and confirm your changes. You can add additional schedules for different days but I recommend not doing any more of the setup on your watch, and instead using the Health app on your iPhone.

To finish in the Sleep app, click Next, scroll through the information and tap Done.

Configuring Your Sleep Schedule in the Health App on Your iPhone

I find configuring my sleep schedules on my watch to be a bit cumbersome or fiddly, so instead I prefer to use the Health app on my iPhone. Open the Health app and choose Sleep from the Summary page. If you don’t see Sleep in your Summary, click on Browse from the menu and search for Sleep. 

the sleep category in the health app on iphone

Click on the category Sleep and then scroll down to the section about your schedule. In this section, you have the option to either adjust only your next sleep cycle, say if you know you’re going to be out late that night, or you can change your full sleep schedule. 

health app on iphone displaying next sleep schedule
health app on iphone displaying the full sleep schedule

You can set additional schedules in this section too, say if you prefer to lie-in on the weekends or go to bed later, or if you need to set an alarm for during the week but no alarm on weekends. 

Choose the days to apply to your schedule. Use the wheel to adjust the times, and then decide whether you want an alarm to wake you.

setting up a sleep schedule in the health app on iphone

I recommend enabling the option to automatically turn on the Sleep Focus mode for the time period you are asleep. Otherwise you will need to enable and disable the focus manually. Not having the Focus mode enabled means you will continue to receive notifications throughout the night, potentially disrupting your sleep. 

option to enable sleep focus in the health app on iphone

Further down this section of the Health app, you can set a wind down period, which is what the Sleep App uses to remind you to go to bed and initiate the sleep focus. A reminder, if you like, to prepare yourself for going to sleep. Finally, you can also adjust your sleep goal in this section too. 

Enabling the option to allow Apple to use both your iPhone and your watch to monitor your sleep. This is useful if you have a tendency to reach for your phone when you can’t sleep, or if you check your phone last thing before going to bed and first thing in the morning when you wake up. 

option to track sleep using iphone in health app on iphone

Configuring the Sleep Focus Mode in Settings on Your iPhone

The final thing to configure is the Sleep Focus mode in Settings. If you have friends or family members who you need to stay in contact with at all times, you can add them here, guaranteeing you’ll receive their call and message during the night.

Open Settings, choose Focus, followed by Sleep. Under People is where you add the people who can contact you.

adding a contact to the sleep focus mode on iphone

Monitoring Your Sleep Data

And that’s it! Having configured your sleep schedule, you’ll now start to receive notifications when it’s time to wind down or go to sleep, and, in the morning, you can review the quality of your sleep in the Health App. 

Click on Show More Sleep Data to take a deeper dive into your stats. Stages display how long you were in each stage of sleep. And you can compare your stats over longer periods of time.

show more sleep data option in the health app on iphone

Additional Sleep Configuration Options

You can use the Sleep app on your watch to change your schedule for any given day. You can see it refers to Next Wake Up Only when you click on the schedule.  If you open the Sleep app settings in the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, you can enable charging reminders, which will alert you if your watch hasn’t got enough battery life to get you through the night. 

charging reminders option in the sleep app settings on iphone

If you wake up on any given morning before your Sleep schedule has ended, you can manually end the schedule by holding in the crown for a few seconds. You can then swipe up to access the control center and disable the sleep focus. 

holding down the crown to manually disable sleep mode on apple watch

As mentioned you’ll receive updates each morning and, periodically, telling you how frequently you’re hitting your sleep goal.

Key Takeaways

  • Use the Sleep App on Apple Watch to set up a sleep schedule.
  • It's also possible, and easier, to set up a sleep schedule in the Health App on your iPhone.
  • Use the Sleep Focus mode to limit notifications while you sleep.
  • Your Apple Watch will remind you when to go to sleep and wake you in the morning.
  • Use the Health app on your iPhone to monitor your sleep results.

If you found this post useful, you might also be interested in reading my article on How to Use Stage Manager on iPad and don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel for lots of tips and tricks on all your favourite apps.

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