How to turn on Sleep Mode on your Apple Watch using watchOS8

apple watch sleep mode toggle on watchOS 8

If you normally tap your watch’s Sleep Mode icon (Bed symbol) in Control Center to manually turn on sleep mode when you hit the sack, you probably noticed it’s no longer there in watchOS 8. With the update to watchOS 8, Apple moved this toggle under its new Focus umbrella (formerly Do Not Disturb.)

Focus is Apple’s new mode to customize and personalize Do Not Disturb so you can customize what incoming notifications you mute for different times of the day like when working, vacationing, family time, exercising, and other activities or times when you don’t want to be bombarded with all types of notifications, from anyone.

Yes, there are many minor changes here with some rearranging and name updates, perhaps to the annoyance of some!

How to manually turn on Sleep Mode on your Apple Watch with watchOS 8

The good news is that Sleep Mode is still in your watch’s Control Center. The bad news is that it now takes two steps to turn it on.

  1. Swipe up Control Center on your Apple Watch.
  2. Tap the crescent moon Focus icon (formerly called Do Not Disturb.) Select a Focus or Do Not Disturb mode on Apple Watch
  3. Scroll down the list and tap Sleep to turn it on immediately. If you don’t see the icon for sleep mode, scroll down and read the article section on setting up a Sleep Focus.Apple Watch control center sleep mode on as the Focus and Do Not Disturb mode
    1. The bed icon shows up at the top of your watch’s screen, indicating sleep mode is active. Your Apple Watch stops notifications and alerts, dims its screen, and shows a simplified watch face. sleep mode screen on apple watch
    2. Your Control Center icon changes to the bed icon to indicate that sleep mode is on. apple watch control center sleep mode active
  4. If you want to exit and unlock Sleep Mode temporarily, turn the Digital Crown. apple watch unlock sleep mode
  5. To turn Sleep Mode off entirely, swipe-up Control Center and tap the Bed Sleep Mode icon once to turn it off.
  6. If you don’t want to go through this manual turning Sleep Mode on and off, you can also create a bedtime schedule on your watch. You can even set up multiple sleep schedules, with one scheduled for the weekends and another for the weekdays!

Set up a Sleep Focus for your Apple Watch

If you don’t see the Sleep and the bed icon in your watch’s Control Center’s Focus settings, you need to create a sleep focus first on your paired iPhone.

  1. On your paired iPhone, open the Settings app and choose Focus. Focus in iPhone Settings app
  2. If you see Sleep listed, tap it to set it up for the first time or see its details. 
  3. If you don’t see Sleep listed, tap the + in the upper corner. iOS 15 add a new focus using Settings app and Focus
    1. Choose Sleep from the list of available focus options. Choose a new focus setting for iPhone
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions and tap Next to set up your Sleep Focus.
    1. Choices include allowing notifications and calls from apps and people in your Contacts App. If someone isn’t in your Contacts app, add them first.set up what apps and people you allow for your iPhone and Apple watch sleep focus settings
  5. Press Done to see your Sleep Focus and make additional changes, such as allowing notifications on your home and lock screens. Finish setting up a sleep focus in iPhone Settings Focus feature

Create an automatic sleep schedule on your Apple Watch

The awesome thing about setting up automatic sleep tracking and sleep mode on your Apple Watch is you set it up once and then can forget it! Your watch and the iPhone’s Health app then track your sleep without having to do anything!

You can create your sleep schedule directly on the Apple Watch or via your paired iPhone’s Health app. We highly recommend you set up a sleep schedule and turn on your watch’s sleep mode for folks with a regular bedtime routine.

Since your Apple Watch syncs with your iPhone’s Health app, when you create a sleep schedule in the Health app, it shows up on your Apple Watch too, and vice-versa.

Set up an automatic schedule for sleep on your Apple Watch

  1. Open the Sleep app on your watch. Apple Watch Sleep App
  2. Tap Full Schedule and toggle Sleep Schedule on. Then tap, Set Your First Schedule.
  3. Under Active On, tap Every Day to choose the days you want and uncheck days you don’t want. Tap Done to set your days.
  4. Select your wake-up time. To make changes to the time, turn your watch’s Digital Crown and press Set to save your setting.
  5. Toggle the Alarm on or off for a wake-up alarm. 
    1. If you turn on the alarm, tap the Sounds & Haptics button to change the alarm’s sound.
  6. Continue to scroll down and tap on Bedtime to set what time you usually go to bed.
    1. Turn the Digital Crown to set your bedtime and press Set to save. set a bedtime in sleep mode on Apple Watch
  7. Tap the Add button at the top of your watch’s screen to create and add this bedtime schedule.
  8. Your sleep schedule should now show up in the Sleep app! If you want to change anything, tap on it to open the Edit Schedule options.Apple watch sleep app wake up and bedtime schedule
  9. To add another schedule, like for weekends, scroll down the Sleep app’s Full Schedule past any listed schedule and tap the Add Schedule button and repeat steps 3-7. Sleep app on Apple Watch Add Schedule button
    1. If there are conflicts like overlapping days in different sleep schedules, your watch asks you if you want to change your sleep schedule. change or cancel message in Apple Sleep app for scheduled days
  10. After setting up your sleep schedule, the last step is to turn on the sleep focus at your bedtime. To do that, on your iPhone, open Settings > Focus > Sleep. And toggle on Turn on at Bedtime. automatically turn your sleep focus on at bedtime with your sleep schedule

How to add in a sleep goal or wind down your Apple Watch to prepare for sleep

You can also add a Sleep Goal or Wind Down in the Sleep app > Full Schedule, then scroll all the way to the Options section. sleep goal and wind down settings in Apple Watch sleep app

  • A sleep goal is how many hours of sleep you want to get each night. Apple uses this information to recommend a bedtime to you.
  • A wind-down is a set number of minutes where your watch automatically reduces distractions before your scheduled Sleep app bedtime begins

Remove or cancel a sleep schedule on your Apple Watch

If your sleep schedule isn’t working automatically or if you have conflicts between schedules, you can delete a schedule from your Apple Watch.

  1. Open the Sleep app on your watch and choose Full Schedule.
  2. Tap a listed sleep schedule to open the Edit Schedule options.
  3. Scroll all the way down and tap Delete Schedule. Delete Sleep app schedule on Apple Watch

Wrap up

Turning on sleep mode on your Apple Watch via Control Center is still fairly easy. Swipe up Control Center, hit the crescent moon icon, and tap on Sleep. That locks your watch’s screen, so it doesn’t disrupt your sleep with alerts and dims the screen.

If you prefer having your watch automatically lock into sleep mode, just set up a sleep schedule using your watch’s Sleep App or iPhone’s Health app, and then turn on the Sleep Focus toggle to Turn on at Bedtime. 

When you turn on your watch’s Sleep Mode, your Apple Watch provides important data to help track and record your sleep. Plus, the watch’s sleep mode helps eliminate all the disturbances like a bright screen or alerts and other annoyances when you wear your watch overnight. And that’s why we use Sleep Mode every night!

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. 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!


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