If you love tracking your sleep with your Apple Watch but find that your watch’s screen isn’t dimming or turning off like it used to, you aren’t alone. It recently happened to me after updating to Apple’s latest watchOS.
Suddenly, sleep mode isn’t dimming my watch face or locking the screen, and the bright light from my watch keeps waking me up, making it harder to get back to sleep.
So, yup. I needed this fixed asap…
- 1 Restart your watch
- 2 Check that you have a sleep focus
- 3 Set your watch’s screen to dim and reduce distractions during your sleep
- 4 Is your Apple Watch still not dimming its screen when tracking your sleep and using the sleep focus?
- 5 Want your watch to dim or turn off its screen but need certain notifications?
- 6 Wrap up
- How to track your sleep stages with Apple Watch
- Sleep science and wearables, health applications beyond your usual sleep metrics
- How to turn on Sleep Mode on your Apple Watch
- How to track your sleep using Apple Watch or iPhone using third-party apps
Restart your watch
Before you start troubleshooting your watch, see if a simple restart does the trick. Restarting your watch often fixes these types of issues.
We recommend powering your watch off, waiting a few moments, and then powering it back on.
You can also force restart your Apple Watch if the power off/power on restart didn’t help.
Now, if your watch continues to not dim while you sleep try the steps below to troubleshoot and hopefully fix it.
Check that you have a sleep focus
Your Apple Watch and iPhone should already have the sleep focus available. However, sometimes it’s missing after an update, or you might have unintentionally deleted it.
The good news is that it’s easy to get back.
- Open the Settings app on your paired iPhone and choose Focus.
- Look for the Sleep focus. If you don’t see it, tap the plus symbol (+) in the upper left corner.
- From the list of available focuses, choose Sleep.
- Select Customize Focus.
- Go through the options to set up and personalize how you want your sleep focus to work. Just look at the options that you want. You don’t have to review all (or any) of these options for the sleep focus to work.
- For example, tap Allow Notifications to choose family members and other people or apps that you allow notifications from when the Sleep Focus is on. Anyone or any app not listed is automatically silenced.
- Other focus options include customizing the watch face or iPhone’s home and lock screens when the sleep focus is on, adding a focus filter, and screen options to simplify the lock screen and show the time.
Learn all about setting up your different focuses in these articles:
- How to sync Focus Modes between Apple Watch and iPhone
- How to use the Focus feature on your Apple Watch
Set your watch’s screen to dim and reduce distractions during your sleep
Although it took me a while to figure it out, it was actually a pretty simple settings adjustment. Here’s what worked for me on my Apple Watch running the latest watchOS (the Sleep app is available in watchOS 8+.)
- On your Apple Watch, open the Settings app.
- Scroll down and tap the Sleep app.
- Check that you toggled on Turn on at Wind Down or Turn On at Bedtime.
- Then scroll down and toggle on Sleep Screen–this setting dims your screen and reduces distractions from your watch or phone.
- Scroll further down and toggle on Show Time if you want to show the date and time on your Apple Watch while sleeping. If not, toggle this off.
- Continue to scroll down and check that you turned on Sleep Tracking and decide if you want Charging Reminders or not.
You can also open the Health app on your iPhone, tap Browse > Sleep, then tap Full Schedule & Options. Toggle on Sleep Schedule and Use Schedule for Sleep Focus.
Another option, if you schedule your bedtime, is to turn on Apple’s Wind Down feature.
Wind Down automatically reduces distractions before your scheduled bedtime and turns on sleep mode, so your watch display turns off and Do Not Disturb turns on.
How to use Sleep’s Wind Down
You can only add a Wind Down if you toggle on Sleep Schedule and have a set sleep schedule.
- On your watch, open the Sleep app.
- Scroll down and tap Full Schedule.
- Verify that Sleep Schedule is on and that you see a listed schedule below.
- Scroll down to the Options section and tap Wind Down.
- Tap the plus and minus icons to choose a Wind Down duration in 15-minute intervals.
- Once set, your watch’s screen dims and eventually turns off before your scheduled bedtime and engages the sleep focus mode (do not disturb for sleep) to reduce other distractions, like notifications.
You can also change these settings using your iPhone. Open Settings > Focus > Sleep. Go to a listed sleep schedule and tap Schedule and Options. Find Wind Down under the section Additional Details.
If you want to control your Sleep Focus using Control Center, do not turn on Wind Down. If it’s already on, change the duration to zero to turn it off.
Wind-downs only work on days when you schedule your sleep. So if you set a sleep schedule for the workweek but not on weekends, you’ll only have wind-downs on weekdays.
Is your Apple Watch still not dimming its screen when tracking your sleep and using the sleep focus?
If you turned on the Sleep Screen option and tried a Wind Down, but your watch’s screen continues to turn on randomly during the night and when sleeping, try these additional troubleshooting steps.
Disable sleep on your watch and re-enable it
- Open the Settings app and choose Sleep.
- Scroll down and tap Don’t Use This Watch for Sleep.
- Confirm you don’t want to use the watch for sleep.
- Wait a few moments, then tap Use This Watch for Sleep.
- Scroll down and verify that you have toggled on all the features you want.
Toggle sleep tracking off and on
- Open the Settings app, choose Sleep, and scroll down to turn sleep tracking off. Wait a few moments and toggle it back on.
Delete all sleep schedules and add them back
- Open the Sleep app on your Apple Watch and choose Full Schedule. Tap a listed schedule, then scroll down and select Delete Schedule to remove that existing schedule.
- Repeat for all listed schedules.
- Once you remove all sleep schedules, tap Set Your First Schedule, choose your wake-up and bedtimes, and select any alarms if desired.
You can also delete your sleep schedules in the Health app on your iPhone.
- Tap Browse > Sleep > Full Schedule & Options.
- Tap Edit for the schedule you want to remove and choose Delete Schedule at the bottom of the screen.
- Repeat for any additional sleep schedules, then tap Done.
- Then tap the Add button and enter your sleep schedules again.
Want your watch to dim or turn off its screen but need certain notifications?
You’ll want to adjust your Sleep Focus settings if you want specific alerts, phone calls, text messages, and other notifications to come through even at nighttime and when sleeping.
Customize your Sleep Focus to allow important notifications and phone calls from people and apps important to you. On your iPhone, go to Settings > Focus > Sleep.
Scroll to ALLOWED NOTIFICATIONS section and tap People and Apps to make changes.
Only contacts and apps listed are allowed to display on your watch and iPhone when you activate the sleep focus.
For everyone else and the rest of your apps, your Sleep Focus filters out notifications and phone calls and signals that you’re not available at this time.
Hopefully, your Apple Watch is now tracking sleep and dimming or turning off its screen, so you aren’t distracted at night or, worse, wake up because of your watch’s bright screen.
If these tips didn’t do the trick for you or something else did, let us know so we can pay it forward.
My watch stopped dimming in sleep mode. A simple reboot of the watch fixed it.
Yes!!! This worked. Thank you!
I couldn’t follow your directions, there is no sleep app, not even in the App Store. I have the latest iPhone and Watch OS as of this week, but I have been unable to get sleep to lock my watch screen for months.
Apple’s Sleep app is available on the App Store–but it is no easy to find so here is the link.
What we suggest is that you send this link to yourself in an email or via the Messages app and then open it on your Apple Watch. That should automatically open the App Store with the Sleep app.
there is no sleep app…
Hi Slim Jim,
If you don’t see the Sleep app on your Apple Watch, open the App Store on your watch and search for “Sleep app by Apple.” It should be the first result. Tap the cloud icon to download and install it on your watch. The Sleep app is for Apple Watch only–there is no iPhone app.
I have the Apple Watch Ultra and the Sleep app, but my app only provides the toggles for “sleep tracking” and “charging reminders.” None of the other toggles appear.
Any ideas as to why that is? Are they missing because it’s the Ultra and they think I’m sleeping on the side of a mountain?
I think you might need to establish a sleep schedule and then use a sleep focus.
To set a schedule, open the Sleep app on your Ultra (not the Settings > Sleep but just the Sleep app (bed icon.) You can also do this in the Health app on your paired iPhone.
Why is my Apple Watch 8 not showing my sleep data
Are you seeing any sleep data at all? If so, it’s likely that sleep tracking is not turned on. ON your watch, open the Settings app and choose Sleep. Scroll down and toggle on Sleep Tracking.
Your watch only tracks sleep if this is toggled on–when on, your Apple Watch tracks your sleep and automatically adds your sleep data to your iPhone’s Health app on your iPhone.
Check out these articles for more tips:
Apple Watch not tracking sleep or sleep stages? Here’s what you can do
How to turn on Sleep Mode on your Apple Watch using watchOS8+