Does Garmin Instinct Track Sleep? (Mystery Solved)

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Written By Alan

Would you believe a G-Shock I was gifted in 2014 by my grandpa started my lifelong journey of a watch geek?

🕑  Last Updated: October 10, 2022

There are numerous reasons why enjoying a good night’s sleep plays a pivotal role in your overall well-being.

For many, feeling rested the next day is the biggest motivator behind getting quality sleep. However, the benefits go well beyond that and include improvement in mental health, boosting the immune system, strengthening your heart, adjusting blood sugar levels, and fighting obesity.

Thanks to the constant advancement in technology, we can now get great insights into our sleep patterns, such as the amount of REM and deep sleep we get per night. Many people use sleep-tracking devices to test different supplements, bedtimes, or diet habits.

Nowadays, smartwatches are the most popular wearables offering accurate sleep quality tracking. One of the most popular brands known for offering a large number of models with this awesome function is the US-based Garmin.

Considered to be the best dollar-for-dollar Garmin smartwatch, the Instinct, is a huge pull for many health-conscious folks.

But does Garmin Instinct track sleep?

If you’ve been mulling over the purchase of this watch or already own one but are wondering whether it can help you manage your sleep patterns, continue reading.

As an affiliate, Timepieceking might earn a commission (at no additional cost to you) for purchases made via links in the article.

Does Garmin Instinct Track Sleep?

Yes, it does!

The Garmin Instinct series is one of many that offers excellent insights into your sleep quality patterns.

All Garmin watches that allow you to track sleep quality do so by utilizing a feature called Advanced Sleep Monitoring. ASM monitors the patterns in different sleep stages, such as the already-mentioned REM and deep sleep stages. Even more detailed insights are provided by the Solar version of Garmin Instinct as it additionally collects data on the oxygen saturation of your blood (Solar has a built-in oximeter).

All Garmin watches, Instinct included, require you to install the Garmin Connect app on your smartphone or desktop in order to track your sleep patterns.

Once installed, the app will provide you with data on:

  • duration of your sleep in general
  • duration of each sleep stage
  • duration of being awake
  • movement during sleep
  • blood oxygen saturation (exclusively with Instinct Solar)

If you’ve noticed any changes in breathing patterns or breathing difficulties, getting the Solar version is far from the worst idea. The Sp02 sensor installed in Garmin smartwatches is one of the most accurate in the market and can be especially useful during those crazy Covid-ridden times. You should be aiming for a result in the 94%-100% brackets.

Another useful app as far as your breathing is concerned, is the respiration rate monitor. It measures the number of breaths per minute. During sleep, you shouldn’t exceed 20 breaths as that would mean the sleep is extremely light. Unfortunately, the app is not available with the Instinct model but can be found in other releases such as Garmin Fenix 6X.

How Does Garmin Instinct Monitor Sleep?

Now you’re probably wondering: how does Garmin Instinct measure sleep and does the technology differ from other smartwatch brands?

In short, they all work in a similar way. In order to track your sleep, any smartwatch needs to be equipped with two sensors: the heart rate sensor and the accelerometer. Since a few minutes after you fall asleep, your heart rate drops below the normal (awake) levels and you’re basically still, the device can figure out whether you’re in dreamland or still moving.

Both sensors are found in the majority of modern smartwatches. This data may be used to determine (1) how long you slept and (2) how long each of the four sleep periods lasted.

The sensors will detect this because heart rate, breathing, and bodily motions all rise during rapid-eye-movement sleep (REM). Most significantly, the majority of smartwatches include information on the length of your deep sleep, which is critical for your body’s recuperation.

Maximizing the Benefits of Garmin Sleep Tracking

To squeeze out as much as possible out of the Garmin’s sleep tracker, make sure to:

  • Check whether the Garmin Connect app on your mobile or desktop is updated to the latest version
  • Fill in all the necessary details, such as birthdate
  • Set your sleep schedule if you have one (and update it when it changes)
  • Wear the watch a couple of hours before your planned bedtime
  • Wear the watch tightly (but comfortably)
  • Have the heart rate sensor working, clean and scratch-free

Garmin Instinct Not Tracking Sleep: What to Do?

In the rare instance when the Garmin Connect app doesn’t display your sleep results, there’s probably at least one metric that you failed to set correctly.

To make sure your Garmin Instinct displays full data on your last night’s sleep, make sure that:

  • successfully synchronize the data with a watch marked as your “Preferred Activity Tracker in Garmin Connect” (in case you own more than one)
  • the same watch that is connected to your Garmin Connect app is worn while you sleep
  • the Optical Heart Rate Sensor (OHR) is switched on
  • you set a valid birth date in the User Settings tab of Garmin Connect
  • the Battery Saver mode is disabled
  • the sleep window is set correctly

If all of the above points are met and the data is still not displayed, contact Garmin Support for further help.

Does Garmin Instinct Have the Smart Alarm Feature?

Garmin Instinct series doesn’t have a built-in smart alarm feature meaning they are not able to wake you up during the light sleep stage. In fact, at the time of writing, none of the Garmin smartwatches offer this perk.

The feature is quite an incentive for many as it tracks your sleep stages and sets off the alarm during the light sleep stage around the time you designated. Waking up during the light sleep stage improves your mood and the feeling of being well-rested.

If you’re really desperate for your device to offer a similar function, you can consider installing third-party apps. One of the most popular applications of this kind is SmartWake. However, bear in mind that using the feature (or any third-party app for that matter) adds to battery exploitation. Some report it even interferes with Garmin’s much-praised Body Battery feature (available with Instinct Solar).

Alternatively, you can consider getting a smartwatch from other renowned brands, such as Fitbit. The Ionic and Versa series offer the feature.

Garmin Instinct Sleep Tracking Accuracy

So, is Garmin Instinct accurate when it comes to tracking the quality of your sleep?

Overall, Garmin sleep tracking accuracy is one of the highest offered by any smartwatch brand currently in the market.

When talking about research into the capability of measuring sleep by smartwatches, we have to keep in mind that these are not scientific studies that, more often than not, involve super complex data such as brain wave patterns.

As already discussed, Garmin watches deliver precise insights but these are based exclusively on heart rate, movement, and sometimes blood oxygen levels.

In 2019 Garmin conducted a thorough study into the effectiveness of the sleep tracking app. The subject of the research was another popular model, Vivosmart 3. The study showed average accuracy of about 70% which was (and still is) a very impressive result.

Other Garmin Watches Tracking Sleep

Garmin Instinct is just one of many watch models from a US-based brand that can track your sleep performance. Because of the inclusion of the Pulse OX sensor, the Solar version of Instinct can give you some of the best insights into your sleeping patterns.

However, if for whatever reason you don’t fancy getting the Instinct, Garmin provides you with a myriad of alternatives.

Nearly all Garmin watches do come with sleep trackers – some are more and some are less accurate.

  • Garmin Vivoactive 4

Garmin 010-02174-01 Vivoactive 4, GPS Smartwatch, Features Music, Body Energy Monitoring, Animated Workouts, Pulse Ox Sensors and More, Silver with Gray BandReleased in 2019, the Vivoactive 4 smartwatch is still one of the best-sellers in the Garmin collection. It’s also one of the most popular picks in the entire smartwatch section on Amazon.

The model is not as tough-to-beat as the Instinct, hence it’s a more frequent choice amongst fitness dorks instead of folks into more demanding outdoor activities.

Thanks to the blood oxygen monitor, the model gives you equally detailed insights as to the more pricey Garmin Instinct Solar.

  • Garmin Fenix 6X Pro

Garmin Fenix 6X Pro, Premium Multisport GPS Watch, Features Mapping, Music, Grade-Adjusted Pace Guidance and Pulse Ox Sensors, BlackAt the time of writing, Fenix 6X Pro is one of if not the most advanced Garmin smartwatches. With that said, it’s also one of the most expensive.

Featured as the premium option in our guides to best Garmin watches for mountain biking and top Garmin watches for hunting, the model can rival any other smartwatch brand in the market when it comes to the number and quality of features.

Naturally, it’s equipped with the Blood OX sensor.

  • Garmin Venu 2

Garmin Venu 2, GPS Smartwatch with Advanced Health Monitoring and Fitness Features, Slate Bezel with Black Case and Silicone Band
Venu 2 smartwatch is another excellent model equipped with all the sensors necessary to give you the most detailed insights into your sleep performance.

Design and price-wise, it’s very similar to the Vivoactive 4 model. The same can be said about health-tracking apps. Akin to the two models mentioned above, Venu 2 comes with blood oxygen and respiratory rate sensors.

  • Garmin VivoSmart 4

Garmin vivosmart 4, Activity and Fitness Tracker w/ Pulse Ox and Heart Rate Monitor, Black, Large Band
If you’re shopping on a budget or simply prefer the more inconspicuous and easy-to-carry fitness bands, VivoSmart 4 provides further food for thought.

On top of the essential sensors required to measure the quality of your sleep such as the heart rate monitor and accelerometer, the fitness tracker is also equipped with the Blood OX sensor. Considering the bargain-basement pricing of the model, it’s quite an incentive.

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