Apple Watch not showing up as a data source in the Health app for sleep, cardio fitness, or other categories?

MacBook apple with Apple Watch

One of the biggest advantages of owning an Apple Watch is all the health and fitness metrics it passively captures and sends to your iPhone’s Health app.

When you pair an Apple Watch to your iPhone, Apple’s Health app should prioritize data from your Apple Watch above any other source, like third-party apps. And it should all work seamlessly in the background!

Unfortunately, quite a lot of people run into problems with the Health app not recognizing their watch as a data source or as the primary data source for some of the advanced health features like sleep, cardio fitness, HRV, and others.

If your Apple Watch is not listed as a data source or the primary data source in the Health app on your iPhone for a metric you want to review, learn how to get it working.

Related reading

What to do if your Apple Watch isn’t listed as a data source in the Apple Health app

Before you start troubleshooting, make sure you update your iPhone’s iOS and your watch’s watchOS to their latest versions. Simply updating often fixes problems like this. Apple Watch preparing watchOS update

  • To update your iPhone, open Settings > General > Software Update.
  • To update your Apple Watch, first, open Control Center and make sure the watch connects to a WiFi network. Then, open the Settings app on the watch and tap General > Software Update

Check your watch’s privacy setting

  1. Open the Watch app on your paired iPhone.
  2. Scroll down and tap Privacy. Watch app iPhone privacy settings for health tracking
  3. Verify that all toggles are turned on, including heart rate, blood oxygen measurements, respiratory rate, environmental sound measurements, and fitness tracking.
    1. If anything is off, toggle it on. If everything is on, try toggling everything off, waiting 30 seconds, and toggling everything back on.

Check your iPhone’s system settings

  1. Open the Settings app > Privacy & Security > Location Services > System Services. Verify you toggled on Compass Calibration and Motion Calibration & Distance. System Services for iPhone in Location Services
  2. Go back to Settings > Privacy & Security. Scroll down and tap Motion & Fitness. Make sure you toggled on Fitness Tracking. In the app list, toggle on the Health app. Motion and Fitness on iPhone Privacy for Fitness Tracking with third party apps

Allow iCloud to store your Health data

Apple uses iCloud to sync data across your devices, including your iPhone and Apple Watch. So it’s a good idea to turn on iCloud for the Health app.

Appel encrypts all your health data stored in iCloud and on your iPhone and Apple Watch using end-to-end encryption, which means your data cannot be read by anyone you don’t authorize, including Apple.

  1. On your paired iPhone, open the Settings app. Tap your name or Apple ID at the top. 
  2. Choose iCloud.
  3. Under the section Apps using iCloud, select Show All. iPhone iCloud settings in Apple ID
  4. Locate the Health app and tap it. Verify it’s on. If not, toggle it on. iPhone Apps using iCloud
  5. You should see Sync this iPhone toggled on. If it’s off, toggle it on. iCloud Health app on iPhone Apple ID and iCloud settings
  6. Next to Manage Storage you see how much health information iCloud currently stores.

Verify that your watch shows up as a device in the Health app

  1. On your iPhone, open the Health app and select the Browse or Summary tab. Then, tap your profile picture or icon at the top right corner.
  2. Scroll down to the Privacy section and tap Devices. Apple Health app privacy settings for devices and apps
  3. You see a list of all your Apple devices that ever connected to the Health app, including iPhones and watches you no longer own. Devices list in Apple Health app
    1. Each time you unpair your watch, Apple creates another entry for your watch which is why you might see a lot of Apple Watch listings.
  4. Go through the list and locate and tap your current Apple Watch. Your current watch shows you active options, including active Privacy Settings and options to see data for activity, hearing, heart, mobility, respiratory, sleep, and vitals. current apple watch in Health app devices list
    1. If unsure which Apple Watch is your current watch, tap each watch entry. If it’s no longer paired to your iPhone, you see a message telling you that. Apple Watch not paired to iPhone as listed in iPhone Health app devices
    2. If you can’t locate a watch entry with active information, i.e., every Apple Watch listing shows the message “this Apple Watch is no longer paired with this iPhone,” we recommend you open the Watch app and unpair your watch, then go through the re-pairing process and set up your watch as new instead of restoring it from a backup.
  5. Scroll down to the data you don’t see on your watch (for example, sleep.) Apple Health app sleep data recorded by Apple Watch
    1. Look for any recorded data. Apple HEalth app all sleep recorded data from Apple Watch
    2. If you don’t see any recorded data listed, run through the steps to set up that functionality again. For example, if your Apple Watch isn’t showing any sleep information, run through the sleep set-up again.
    3. Another option, if you don’t see any recorded data, is to unpair and then re-pair your watch to your iPhone and set up your watch as new instead of restoring it from your backup.

What to do if your Apple Watch isn’t the primary data source

Apple should always prioritize data from your Apple Watch over other sources, like your iPhone and third-party apps.

But sometimes, this ordering gets out of whack, especially if you connect a lot of health and fitness apps and wearables to your iPhone.

When multiple sources contribute the same type of data, whatever you list as the top data source takes priority over all other listed sources. 

So let’s look closer at how your iPhone’s Health app handles data priority.

  1. Open the Health app, then tap the Browse tab. Browse tab in Apple Health app for iPhone
  2. Tap the category (and, if needed, the subcategory) where you have an issue with the data. Browse in iPhone Health app
  3. Scroll down to the More section, then tap Data Sources & Access. Show all sleep data and sources in Apple Health app on iPhone
  4. Scroll down to Data Sources and review the current list in order of priority, with the source listed at the top having the highest priority and the last one listed having the lowest. iPhone listed as device priority over Apple Watch in Apple Health app on iPhone for Sleep
  5. If your Apple Watch is not listed at the top, tap the Edit button at the top.
  6. Next to your current Apple Watch, touch and hold the three horizontal lines icon (the change order button) next to the watch and drag it to the top of the list. Change device priority in Apple HEalth app on iPhone for Sleep
  7. Move your iPhone and any other data sources (like third-party apps) you want for this metric to positions below your current Apple Watch. 
    1. Move any older Apple Watches that aren’t paired to your iPhone anymore to positions below your current watch, iPhone, and third-party apps.
  8. If you have any listed data sources you don’t use anymore or don’t want to use for this particular data set (like third-party apps), tap them once to make them inactive.
    1. You cannot delete data sources, but you can make them inactive. Make a device inactive for Sleep in the Apple Health app on iPhone
  9. To save your changes, tap Done at the top.

For more on setting device priority, see this article: How do I set device priority for calculating steps and other activity on iPhone and Apple Watch?

Final thoughts

We hope your watch is now showing up as a data source for the particular metric you want to review. 

If it’s still not working, we recommend unpairing your watch and re-pair it to your iPhone as a new watch rather than restoring it from a backup. It’s like starting with a fresh factory watch, so you’ll need to run through all the set-up steps again and add features like sleep tracking and so forth.

It’s a long process, but it’s often the best choice when your watch isn’t working and sharing data as it should.

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A. Beth Whittenberger
I started my love affair with computers way back in elementary school with the Apple II. Since then, I've worked with technology in my career as a media educator and videomaker. I have an MFA in media making from Temple University, where I also taught undergrads as an adjunct faculty member. Additionally, I was a writer, content producer, and editor on the popular tech blog AppleToolBox. So I know a thing or two about teaching others and creating how-to guides! After a cancer diagnosis, I turned to mobile technology like my Apple Watch to help me monitor my health throughout my chemotherapy treatment and later, to regain my wellness once in remission. I love sharing how to understand and use mobile tech, like smartwatches and phones, as a tool for empowerment to live our best and healthiest lives! Connect with me on LinkedIn!


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