You hear over and over again that your rest is just as important as your workouts. And there’s a very good reason: it’s true. When you workout hard, you need to dedicate yourself to recovery just as fervently. While most runners understand how to track workouts using their beloved Garmins, many don’t realize that our watches can also be used to track data during recovery – especially sleep. If you have a Garmin, chances are you love it. Now is the time to go beyond running data, VO2 max, race predictions, and so forth. It’s time to start using your Garmin to track and get data on your sleep.
In this article, we’ll explain everything that you need to know about Garmin sleep tracking so that you can use your Garmin watch for more than just running.
What is Garmin Sleep Tracking?
Garmin sleep tracking is more officially known as Advanced Sleep Monitoring (ASM). Although previous Garmin watches could track heart rate, newer Garmin watches have an optical heart rate sensor, allowing the watch to give you more detailed information about your sleep.
With the optical heart rate sensor, the watch can measure heart rate variability, which lets you know when you’re in REM or non-REM. Your heart rate is all over the place when you’re in REM sleep, which allows your watch to differentiate between the two.
The watch will get more accurate the more often you wear it because it will start to figure out what your heart rate is when you fall asleep. It will also use the accelerometer to track movement to account for any times that you get up in the middle of the night for a bathroom break.
How to Ensure Your Sleep Tracking is Accurate
If you’ve been wanting to learn more about your sleep, you are probably super stoked about the sleep tracking. But to make sure that you’re getting the most accurate information, you’ll want to do several things.
Put your watch on two hours before bed. This will give the watch heart rate data before you fall asleep, hopefully making it more accurate at determining when you fall asleep.
In order to make sure the heart rate tracking is accurate, make sure the watch is snug on your wrist, but not tight. You don’t want to be uncomfortable when you sleep. Wear it every night to get into the habit. You’ll get inaccurate sleep data if you leave it charging overnight.
Finally, if you own more than one Garmin, set the watch you want to wear at night as your preferred tracker in the Garmin Connect app. Incidentally, you’ll also have to make sure the app is up-to-date and that you have a valid birth date saved in the User Settings.
Finding Garmin Sleep Data
Every morning, data from the previous night’s sleep will be available in Garmin app. As of right now, you can’t see sleep data on your watch, but that is likely coming soon. Once you get to the Garmin Connect app, this is what you’ll see.
Under this section, you’ll see levels of three different sleep cycles: light sleep, deep sleep, and REM sleep. Light sleep is when your eyes and muscles start to slow down in preparation for deep sleep.
In deep sleep, your eyes and muscles stop moving completely, and your heart rate and breathing slow down. Deep sleep can also be known as restoration mode because it’s when your body recovers best. You need it for building muscle and boosting your immune system.
Finally, REM (or rapid eye movement) sleep is also known as the dream stage. Your brain is at its most active, but your muscles are completely calm. In REM sleep, you process information and form memories. It occurs last in your sleep cycles.
You’ll also get a movement timeline of how much you moved when you were sleeping. If you tend to thrash around in your sleep, you might see more data here than someone else who is a quieter sleeper.
7-Day View of Sleep Patterns
If you want an average for the week, you’ll get to see this in the seven-day view. It will show you the averages for light sleep, deep sleep, REM sleep, and any time that you spent awake as well as the times when you went to bed and got up.
If you’re trying to make changes in your routine to get more sleep or be consistent in falling asleep and staying asleep, this seven-day view can give you everything that you need to know. Being consistent in your sleep routine is key to staying healthy.
Extras (on Certain Watches)
On some watches, you’ll also get some extra data like a pulse oxygen timeline that measures oxygen saturation in blood levels (known as SpO2) in a non-invasive way. If it’s between 95-100%, you’re good. Outside that can indicate health issues such as sleep apnea.
Another additional feature on some watches is respiration, showing how many breaths you take per minute. Getting data like this can help you spot any patterns or problems more quickly so that you can address them.
If you’re not sure if your device has these features, Garmin recommends referring to your Owner’s Manual to see if they are included. Some devices that have SpO2 include vivosmart 4, fenix 5 Plus series, Forerunner 245, and Forerunner 945.
What to Do With Your Garmin Sleep Data
Just like you use your running data to improve and figure out things about yourself, sleep data works the same way. Use information you’ve gained to recognize sleep patterns.
If you feel particularly groggy some mornings, look at your data. How long did you sleep? When did you go to bed? Compare it to days when you felt refreshed. What was different?
Having more information about your sleep patterns will help you develop good sleep habits, which are key for any runner who wants to run their best. Sleep is an integral part in physical fitness, helping your body to heal and making you stronger.
What Devices are Compatible?
If you haven’t yet purchased a Garmin watch and want to make sure that you get one that has sleep tracking on it, you should pick one of these compatible devices that have Advanced Sleep Monitoring. We’ve selected a few popular models below or see the full list here.
- Approach S62
- Captain Marvel
- D2 Charlie
- D2 Delta Series
- Darth Vader
- fenix 5 Series
- fenix 5 Plus Series
- fenix 6 Series
- First Avenger
- Forerunner 245 Series
- Forerunner 45
- Forerunner 45S
- Forerunner 645 Series
- Forerunner 935
- Forerunner 945
- Garmin Swim 2
- Instinct Series
- Quatix 5 Series
- tactix Charlie
- tactix Delta
- vivoactive 3 Series
- vivoactive 4/4S
- vivomove HR
- vivomove 3
- vivomove 3S
- vivomove Style
- vivomove Luxe
- vivosmart 3
- vivosmart 4
Unfortunately, Garmin’s sleep tracking won’t track naps because it takes into account how much time you’re sleeping, so the sleep tracking is only good at night. Additionally, other factors may impact tracking such as stress, sleepwalking, and consuming alcohol.
If you want to discover accurate information about yourself, be sure to account for these factors when you’re looking at your sleep data. It’s okay if you have an irregular night every so often. Just make sure that you remember that when you’re looking at your seven-day view.
In the end, Garmin can now tell you pretty much everything that you’d want to know about being a healthy individual, from running stats to sleep stats. Be sure to incorporate all the information you gain into your running goals and personal goals for this year!