Why A Smartwatch Is No Good For Tracking Sleep

Recently, we have been introduced to wearable technology like the Apple Watch and Android Wear, which are packed with sensors that allow for enhanced and more accurate tracking of everything from heart rate and calories burned, to GPS location. These smartwatch technologies boast a handful of impressive features, but there is one thing they are not particularly good for: tracking your sleep. 

With all the built-in sensors, you would expect good sleep tracking capabilities. However, most modern smartwatches are not practical for this type of tracking. The reason for this lies in the technology used for charging these devices. These smartwatches are charged through inductive charging, where alternating electric currents travel through conductive coils, removing the need for bulky cords. This type of charging is essential for smartwatches and other small technologies where a USB port is not feasible or just unsightly. The downside to inductive charging is its need for physical contact, meaning; you can’t charge a device unless it is sitting on its charging dock.

The Apple watch connected to an inductive charger.

The Apple watch connected to an inductive charger.

While inductive charging is generally great for recharging your smartwatch, it is not practical for monitoring sleep activity. Users are faced with the difficult decision of tracking sleep with their watch on their wrist, or charging it (which often happens at night).  "Charge it overnight. Wear it all day," as Apple suggests; clearly not meant for people who care to track their sleep activity. Until inductive charging allows for device charging from a distance, the sleep tracker on your smartwatch might only be good for short naps.

With a love of sleep, I am dreaming of a smartwatch with a multi-day battery (common in many fitness trackers) where I don’t have to choose between tracking my sleep and charging my watch. Apple can you help?