Apple Watch 5: Where’s the Sleep Tracking?

With the new Apple Watch 5 set to drop next month, prices for the Apple Watch 4 (above) are falling like trailer-mounted satellite dishes in a hurricane. Meanwhile, Apple’s competitors are rising to the challenge: get on buyers’ wrists before Cupertino’s new computer finds a home there. FitBit’s new Versa 2 is out, tempting smartwatch consumers with features Apple can’t provide. Specifically . . .

An always-on display, better battery life (three days vs. two) and Sleep Score. It’s the latter which must be causing Apple the most agita.

The first advantage is outweighed by all the other stuff an Apple Watch can do, from playing your music to answering your phone calls and 1.2m things in between. As far as now-you-don’t-see-it, now-you-do is concerned, number 5 is alive when you move your wrist to your face.

If you’re looking to track your sleep with an Apple Watch, you have to rely on third-party software apps running on your iPhone. Some cost cash money.

If you want to use your Versa 2 to know your sleep quality — the amount of time you spend in light, deep and REM sleep based on your heart rate and motion — wear it all night then press the button for the data. [NOTE: There are no images of the FitBit’s Sleep Score screen on FitBit’s website or anywhere else.]

You can’t do that monitoring thing with your Apple Watch — ever — thanks to its limited battery life. Which still leaves the central question: does sleep tracking “work”? Medical professionals aren’t convinced, at all, yet, as consumerreports.org reports:

Seema Khosla, M.D., medical director of the North Dakota Center for Sleep in Fargo and the lead author of a 2018 position statement on sleep apps from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, says that most of the research on the apps is preliminary at best.

And she points out that the fine print on most apps say that they are marketed as “entertainment” or “lifestyle” apps, not medical devices, meaning that their effectiveness hasn’t been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. 

Basically. sleep experts say sleep apps can diagnose a sleeping problem but FA to cure it. You might say they would say that, and that technology can eventually guide users to get some serious sack time, but a lot of sleep dep is psychological and lifestyle-related. As in talk to a therapist.

Me? I need a nap. And the Apple Watch needs an onboard sleep tracking app, ’cause the market demands one. That is all.

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