We all know that good sleep is essential to taking care of your wellness — and yes, that includes daytime sleep and naps. But what about nap-tracking wearables?
There are a plethora of different wearable devices, activity trackers, and fitness monitors that can accurately track sleep these days. From the Apple Watch to longstanding brands like Fitbit, most wearables have some type of sleep tracking baked in.
However, there’s a difference between tracking your standard eight hours of sleep at night and tracking daytime sleep or naps. And, truthfully, many wearables actually fail at nap tracking or daytime sleep tracking.
Here’s what you need to know about the science of nap tracking, and the best nap tracking wearables and apps to do so.
- 1 The benefits of taking a nap
- 2 Are wearables good at tracking naps and daytime sleep?
- 3 Nap tracking capabilities of popular smartwatches and wearables
- 4 The best daytime sleep and nap-tracking activity monitors
- 5 Dedicated sleep-tracking wearables
- 6 Apps that track your naps for Apple Watch
- 7 Sleep — including napping — is critical. Make sure your wearable is up to the task
- How to track your sleep with Google Fit
- How to track your sleep stages with Apple Watch
- Wear your Garmin when you sleep to get the most accurate stats for these 10 health metrics
- How to use sleep tracking on your Samsung Galaxy Watch
The benefits of taking a nap
Intuitively, we know that sleep is good. It helps you keep your immune system up, allows the body to heal and repair itself, and benefits your mood and mental health.
Shorter amounts of sleep — such as naps — are also beneficial. According to the National Sleep Foundation, naps can:
- Reduce daytime sleepiness
- Reduce fatigue
- Improve mood
- Improve learning and performance
- Improve alertness and reaction times
- Leave you feeling refreshed and awake
- Increase feelings of relaxation
Everyone can benefit from naps, but they’re especially helpful to those with irregular sleep schedules.
For example, if you have shift work with shifts that change each day, then a nap can help you regulate your sleep health over time — or catch up on some ZZZs if you’re lacking.
Some people sleep on an irregular cycle that doesn’t fit into what we think of as a traditional sleep schedule.
For example, some people may sleep for four hours at night, then supplement that with another four-hour sleep session during the day. Naps and daytime sleep can be great ways to add a bit of extra rest to their routines.
Are wearables good at tracking naps and daytime sleep?
The benefits of napping and daytime sleep are apparent, but it’s especially useful if you can track your overall sleep health — including those shorter rest sessions. That’s where nap-tracking wearables come in.
In theory, any wearable device, activity tracker, or fitness monitor with sleep-tracking capabilities should also be able to track daytime sleep and naps. However, in practice, that’s not always the case.
Take the Apple Watch, for example. Although the Apple Watch is an accurate sleep tracker for traditional nighttime sleep, it does poorly at accurately tracking daytime sleep and napping.
Many users attempting to track their naps have found that the Apple Watch either tracks it inaccurately or does not register the nap as actual sleep. This is generally because the Apple Watch’s sleep tracking is relatively basic, and relies heavily on set sleep schedules for its data.
Many Garmin, Fitbit, and Samsung smartwatches also do a poor job of tracking naps. Some of these manufacturers’ models do a better job than others, so you’ll want to choose wisely if nap tracking is a high priority.
Clinical studies also indicate that the accuracy of nap-tracking wearables may be questionable even if they do end up tracking a nap.
Research indicates that some smartwatches may be overly sensitive in their nap-tracking capabilities, while others — even those that do the best to track naps — may miss some sessions entirely.
Nap tracking capabilities of popular smartwatches and wearables
Many of the largest wearable manufacturers make devices with built-in sleep tracking, but your mileage may vary depending on the accuracy of nap tracking.
Although Apple, Garmin, Fitbit, and Samsung devices may be able to track naps in theory, they all do a spotty job when it comes to accurately tracking shorter sleep sessions.
As mentioned earlier, the Apple Watch probably fares the worst when it comes to tracking daytime sleep and naps. This is mostly because the device’s sleep tracking features are relatively basic compared to some of the other options on this list.
Apple says that its watchOS platform uses several metrics to determine whether you’re sleeping. These include your heart rate, whether or not you’re moving, and the exact time of day. Because it places so much emphasis on sleep schedules, it likely misses most daytime sleep sessions.
If you already own an Apple Watch, there are ways to tweak its internal settings to make nap tracking more accurate. You can also use third-party apps, such as Pillow or Auto-Sleep, that better track daytime sleep and naps.
Here are some tips to help increase the device’s nap-tracking capabilities. This won’t result in a perfect nap-tracking wearable, but they can make the Apple Watch a workable solution if you don’t want to spend any money on a separate sleep-tracking device.
- Enable Sleep Mode manually. By default, the Apple Watch doesn’t track any sleep outside of its regular sleep hours. You can change that by manually enabling Sleep Mode, which should increase the device’s accuracy in tracking naps and daytime sleep.
- Customize your sleep schedule. Because the Apple Watch relies on consistent schedules to monitor sleep, it may be useful if you tweak the sleep schedule manually. For example, you may want to set up a new Schedule for naps sleep if you have consistent daytime sleep.
However, those who are in the market for a new wearable may want to look elsewhere if nap tracking is a top priority in a wellness device.
Garmin Venu 3
For those who want a more traditional smartwatch-style activity tracker, the Garmin Venu 3 provides good sleep-tracking performance alongside a suite of other health and fitness tracking.
According to Garmin, the Venu 3 can automatically track both sleep and naps, the latter of which it defines as “short, typically daytime sleep periods.”
The company relies on the Firstbeat Analytics system to track sleep, which uses time of day, heart rate, heart rate variability (HRV), respiration rate, and wrist or body movement.
The Garmin Venu 3 does not track sleep stages for naps, however. The company explains the lack of this feature by stating naps are primarily comprised of lighter sleep anyway. However, the built-in Sleep Coach does consider naps when estimating your nightly sleep needs.
Unlike some other options, the Venu 3 can track shorter naps as long as they end at least 60 minutes before your standard sleep cycle and start at least 30 minutes after you wake up.
However, all naps must be less than 3 hours to be tracked as a nap. Anything longer than that is tracked as sleep.
Samsung Galaxy Watch
The Samsung Galaxy Watch is one of the fiercest competitors to the Apple Watch, and for good reason. This full-featured wearable has a stack of health, fitness, and wellness tools to add to your belt. And yes, that includes sleep tracking.
Samsung’s sleep-tracking system is a bit opaque, however. The company says the Galaxy Watch can track sleep and determine sleep score, time, stage, and consistency. It also monitors blood oxygen levels during sleep.
The South Korean tech giant does not explain how the Galaxy Watch can track sleep automatically or whether it can track naps of shorter lengths. However, anecdotal user reports and other news sites indicate that the Galaxy Watch starts to track sleep after about 30 minutes.
As an added sleep health bonus, the Galaxy Watch can also track your blood oxygen levels during sleep and your snoring. In fact, the Galaxy Watch may be one of the only mainstream wearables with snore detection.
Pixel Watch (and other Fitbits)
Fitbits have been one of the major players in the activity tracking space for years. After the acquisition by Google, there have been changes on both the Fitbit side and the Google Pixel watch side. Both devices share a lot of core features, such as sleep tracking.
Although Fitbit devices and Google Pixel Watches can technically track naps, they can only detect naps that are at least an hour long. This is because these devices only use a lack of movement as a metric to detect sleep automatically.
Basically, Pixel Watches and Fitbits detect sleep if your “body is completely at rest and you haven’t moved for about an hour.” The company does not detail how exactly it determines that or whether any other metrics — like heart rate — are used.
However, the Fitbit and Pixel Watch can log naps of at least one hour, which is better than some competing devices. Users can see these naps in the app, and Fitbit even tracks “days with naps” as a metric in the Sleep Profile.
The best daytime sleep and nap-tracking activity monitors
When it comes to nap tracking, some wearables are better than others. If you’re in the market for a new activity or health tracker and sleep or nap is a major priority, these two devices are probably going to be your best bets.
The Oura is a sleek and stylish wearable that blends into your existing jewelry. Unlike wrist-worn wearables, the Oura is a ring device that fits on your finger and tracks your activity, fitness, and sleep.
One of the other things that makes the Oura ring out is that it comes with robust nap detection built right in. Oura specifically designed Nap Detection to help users track and improve their sleep quality, particularly if they have abnormal sleep patterns.
The Oura ring automatically detects naps between 15 minutes and three hours in length as long as your body enters at least one sleep stage (whether it’s light, deep, or REM sleep). It monitors your heart rate, movement, and body temperature.
Although it can track your naps, the Oura ring prioritizes your longest sleep period when determining a Sleep score. You can view all of your tracked naps and other sleep in the Oura app. In other words, it’s one of the best nap-tracking wearables.
The Whoop band is another alternative wearable that’s aimed at health and fitness enthusiasts because it can track a range of metrics beyond most activity trackers. Although it requires a subscription to use, the Whoop band is a good choice for those who want deeper data insights into their wellness.
One of those insights is Sleep and Nap tracking, which the Whoop has built-in. The Whoop Band automatically analyzes your heart rate, heart rate variability, and activity patterns to determine whether or not you’re sleeping.
The downside to the Whoop band’s nap tracking vs. Oura Ring is that it doesn’t currently automatically detect naps shorter than 24 minutes (versus Oura’s 15 minutes), and detected naps won’t generate a Recovery score.
If your nap isn’t automatically detected or is too short for Whoop’s Sleep Auto-Detection, you can add it manually using the Add Activity menu option in the app. You can also see Sleep Stages and Performances for all tracked sleep, including longer naps.
Muse S Headband Sleep Tracker + App
The Muse S Headband Sleep Tracker may be a good bet if you’re looking for a wellness tracking device aimed at your mental health instead of your physical health. Think of it like a wearable headband that can help improve your sleep and your meditations.
Unlike physical-focused wearables that only use heart rate and oxygen level data to detect sleep, the Muse S measures brain activity to determine how much actual sleep you get. It also has an accelerometer, gyroscope, and oxygen and heart rate sensors.
Because the device only tracks sleep when you wear it, it doesn’t need to automatically detect sleep sessions. Just slip on the headband before you nap, and the Muse S will monitor various metrics while you sleep.
Despite its heavy focus on sleep, we don’t consider the Muse S a dedicated sleep-tracking device. This is because it also uses its brain activity sensors to monitor and help you improve your meditation sessions. Because of that, it may be a good option for those who need help sleeping and help with their meditation practice.
Dedicated sleep-tracking wearables
Generally, we would recommend opting for multi-purpose activity tracking devices whenever possible.
On the other hand, if you own an Apple Watch or another device that doesn’t track naps very accurately and you need to supplement it with more robust daytime sleep features, a dedicated sleep tracker may be a good option. Here are two we recommend.
Sleepon Go2sleep Tracker
The Go2Sleeper tracker is similar to the Oura in that it’s a wearable ring, but the similarities end there. Unlike the Oura tracker, the Go2Sleep is a dedicated silicone ring that only tracks sleep. However, it’s really good at its job.
The Go2Sleep tracker is one of the most recommended nap-tracking wearables by the National Sleep Foundation. Before your nap session, you put on the silicone ring and sync it to your phone. From there, it can track nearly ten different metrics while you sleep.
Because you have to manually trigger the Go2Sleep tracker before sleeping, it can detect all forms of sleep — including naps and daytime sleep. Although the extra step may add inconvenience, the wealth of data may offset that for many users.
Some of the metrics it tracks include blood oxygen levels, heart rate variability, and time spent in each sleep stage. It’s also a relatively affordable device, and can even alert you if it detects abnormal heart rate and oxygen levels.
Bia Smart Sleep Mask
For shift workers and others with an irregular sleep schedule that involves some daytime sleep, the Bia Smart Sleep Mask may be the best option on the market. Like the previous device, it’s also recommended by the National Sleep Foundation.
For one, it’s a sleep mask that can help block out all light, making it easier to get some sleep during the day. It can accurately track naps and daytime sleep because it only tracks sleep when you wear it.
Additionally, the Bia may also help you fall asleep during the day. According to the company, the device uses neurofeedback to softly guide users through each sleep stage — including deep and REM sleep.
In the app, you’ll see all your sleep metrics, including sleep quality, length, and stages. Even though it’s a pricey device, it may be worthwhile for those who need to boost their sleep health while on an irregular sleep schedule.
Apps that track your naps for Apple Watch
Now, since your Apple Watch doesn’t do a great job tracking your naps and daytime sleep, quite a few apps out there can make up the difference.
The Pillow app is a robust platform for tracking your sleep health on the Apple Watch. It can offer deep insights and analysis of metrics such as sleep quality, sleep disruption, and more. It also has a nap-tracking mode that tracks shorter sleep sessions.
However, Pillow’s nap tracking mode is a manual setting you enable before taking a nap. The app has automatic sleep detection, but there isn’t much information on its accuracy.
For example, Pillow says it can detect your sleep “automatically without the need to press any buttons or perform any other action.” The company doesn’t provide any details on how its platform can track sleep automatically.
On the other hand, some anecdotal user reports indicate that Pillow can track shorter-duration naps with a fair degree of accuracy.
If scientific rigor is important to you, AutoSleep may be the best currently available sleep tracking platform for Apple Watch. It’s benchmarked against clinically certified sleep equipment, and both medical researchers and universities use it for study purposes.
The AutoSleep app automatically tracks sleep as long as you wear your Apple Watch. Like Pillow, on the other hand, the app doesn’t offer any specific details on how it tracks sleep. It’s likely that, like the built-in sleep setting, it uses heart rate data and accelerometer data to track sleep.
According to the company, AutoSleep can accurately track naps when your wearable is on. However, the app tracks any nap longer than 30 minutes as a full sleep session.
As long as the “all-day tracking” setting is enabled, AutoSleep seems to do a decent job at tracking naps. Some users report that it requires a bit of tweaking, which may indicate that the app needs to learn your habits before tracking naps accurately.
Sleep — including napping — is critical. Make sure your wearable is up to the task
Naps are a great way to refresh your energy and stay on top of your sleep health, and nap tracking wearables are a good tool for ensuring that your naps are effective.
As we’ve covered, not all nap-tracking wearables are created equally. Some devices are much more up to the task than others. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you should purchase a new nap tracking wearable.
We recommend working with what you have first. If you’re an Apple Watch user, try out a third-party app to boost the nap tracking capabilities of your wearable. Samsung, Fitbit, and Garmin users can stick with their current devices — remember that they may not track your napping perfectly.
If you’re in the market for a dedicated wearable or want to purchase a new activity tracker with robust sleep tracking, your best bet might be an Oura Ring or Whoop Band, or one of the dedicated sleep trackers.
Whatever your circumstance, make sure that you’re getting enough sleep and resting well. You deserve it!