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Can Apple Watch Identify Sleep Apnea?
One of the more interesting uses for the Apple Watch is tracking your sleep.
In addition to suggesting a regular bedtime and waking up time, an Apple Watch will also track your sleep patterns and give you reminders when it’s time to turn in for the night.
The idea is that by getting into a regular sleep schedule, you’ll be able to wake up feeling refreshed and rested.
But can the Apple Watch also detect sleep apnea? And if so, how accurate is it?
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Can Apple Watch detect sleep apnea?
Yes, the Apple Watch can detect patterns that suggest sleep apnea, but it cannot be used to diagnose OSA. It uses its built-in accelerometer to detect movement and its heart rate sensor to keep tabs on sleep cycles. With third-party apps, the Apple Watch might be able to detect the likeliness of sleep apnea, but it cannot be used to diagnose the condition.
It is important to note the difference between detection and diagnosis, and to seek out treatment from a healthcare provider if any irregularities are noticed.
How is sleep apnea diagnosed?
Sleep apnea is a serious breathing disorder that can be difficult to diagnose. With Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), the muscles or tissues in your upper airway literally collapse, preventing you from breathing temporarily which frankly speaking can kill you if left untreated. Diagnosing sleep apnea requires an overnight test called a sleep study. Luckily, advances in technology mean you can have a sleep study performed at home or in a sleep lab.
Step-by-step instructions for diagnosing sleep apnea:
- Talk to your doctor about scheduling a sleep study.
- You can either have a sleep study performed at home or in a sleep lab. At-home sleep studies have a better price tag.
- During the study, healthcare professionals will look for changes to your heart rhythm, oxygen levels, breathing pattern, sleep pattern, and brain waves.
- If the sleep study finds that you do have OSA, your doctor may prescribe CPAP therapy.
What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a dangerous condition that occurs during sleep and can be difficult to recognize. Symptoms of sleep apnea may include
- loud snoring,
- snorting or gasping for air during sleep,
- waking up with a dry mouth,
- morning headaches,
- excessive daytime sleepiness,
- brain fog,
- and irritability.
It is important to be aware of these warning signs, as well as to monitor your sleep patterns to detect any abnormal patterns.
Smartwatches such as Fitbit and the Apple Watch are highly effective sleep trackers. If you are at risk for sleep apnea, you can download the Drowzle app to your smartphone, which records and stores your oral and nasal breathing sounds, gaps in your breathing, and other metrics. It is then shared with your healthcare provider to determine if further testing is needed.
Apple watch and sleep apnea
The Apple Watch’s sleep tracking feature can provide information about the duration and quality of your sleep. By analyzing your sleep patterns over time, you may be able to identify patterns or disruptions in your sleep that could be indicative of sleep apnea.
Additionally, the Apple Watch’s heart rate monitor can detect changes in your heart rate during sleep. If your heart rate drops significantly during sleep, it could be a sign of sleep apnea, which is characterized by pauses in breathing that can lead to decreased oxygen levels and increased heart rate.
So yes, the Apple Watch is capable of detecting sleep apnea, though it cannot diagnose it. Third party apps like NapBot can also be used to monitor for possible sleep apnea. However, it is important to note that these apps are not FDA cleared to diagnose sleep apnea, and a doctor must still be consulted to make a diagnosis.
Are there any apps available to help track sleep apnea with an Apple Watch?
Yes, there are apps available to help track sleep apnea with an Apple Watch.
One such app is NapBot, which provides more comprehensive analysis related specifically to sleep apnea.
Cardiogram app uses advanced AI called DeepHeart to analyze heart rhythm, ECG, and activity data in order to report on cardiovascular health with 82 percent accuracy.
Drowzle is available for both Android and iOS and allows users to track sleep patterns and be screened for sleep apnea from the comfort of their own home. It records and stores your oral and nasal breathing sounds, gaps in your breathing, and other metrics, which can then be shared with your healthcare provider.
There are several other apps available that can help monitor and track your sleep, and some may provide insights into your sleep patterns that could potentially indicate sleep apnea. Here are a few examples:
- SleepScore: This app uses your phone’s microphone and speakers to track your breathing and movement during sleep. It provides a score each morning based on your sleep quality and can offer personalized tips for improving your sleep.
- SnoreLab: This app records and tracks your snoring during sleep. Snoring can be a symptom of sleep apnea, so tracking your snoring patterns may provide insights into your sleep health.
- Sleep Cycle: This app uses your phone’s accelerometer to track your movement during sleep and provides insights into your sleep patterns. It also has a feature that analyzes your snoring and can provide alerts if it detects loud snoring or snoring patterns that may indicate sleep apnea.
- Fitbit: This app pairs with Fitbit devices to track your sleep architecture, including duration, stages, and quality. It also provides personalized insights and tips for improving your sleep.
- Pillow: This app uses your phone’s accelerometer and microphone to track your sleep patterns, including snoring and sleep apnea events. It provides detailed sleep analysis and can sync with Apple Health.
- Sleepzy: This app tracks your sleep cycles and provides personalized recommendations for improving your sleep, such as adjusting your bedtime or waking up at a different time.
- Sleep Time: This app tracks your sleep cycles and provides a sleep analysis each morning, including information on deep sleep, light sleep, and REM sleep. It also has a smart alarm feature that wakes you up during your lightest sleep phase.
Remember, while these apps can provide insights into your sleep patterns, they cannot diagnose sleep apnea or other sleep disorders.
Is it possible to identify sleep apnea with an Apple Watch?
Yes. The Apple Watch is capable of tracking the sleeping patterns of its user and can detect irregularities in breathing and heart rate. While the Apple Watch cannot diagnose sleep apnea, it can provide data that might help indicate a potential issue to be discussed with a healthcare provider. Of course an at home sleep study is more reliable and the best solution is an in-lab sleep study.
What data does an Apple Watch collect to detect sleep apnea?
The Apple Watch uses its built-in accelerometer, heart rate sensor, and third-party health apps to detect sleep apnea. The Apple Watch can monitor breathing metrics, heart rate, heart rate variability, body movements and stillness during sleep, ECG, and activity data. Third-party apps like Cardiogram and NapBot can provide more comprehensive analysis related to sleep apnea.
Is the Apple Watch tracking accuracy good enough to detect sleep apnea?
The Apple Watch may not be able to diagnose sleep apnea, but its tracking accuracy can be used to detect signs of it. A study conducted by health startup Cardiogram and the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) revealed that wearables like the Apple Watch, Fitbit and others can accurately detect sleep apnea with a 90 percent accuracy and hypertension with an 82 percent accuracy.
Moreover, the Apple Watch contains a heart-rate sensor that is a Class II medical device, and with the help of third-party apps, it can potentially be used to detect sleep apnea. Although this kind of detection isn’t enough to diagnose sleep apnea, it can arm users with more information when they decide to seek out treatment with a healthcare provider.
Thus, the Apple Watch’s tracking accuracy is good enough to detect sleep apnea, though it is not enough to diagnose it.
How is the Apple Watch able to measure breathing rate?
The Apple Watch is able to measure breathing rate by utilizing two primary sensors that are already built into the device. One is a heart rate sensor and the other is an accelerometer. The watch’s accelerator tracks body movements during the night, such as when you roll over, toss and turn, or are still. This same tool also monitors your respiratory patterns by calculating how many times you breathe per minute while sleeping. The heart rate sensor measures your heart rate compared to your breathing patterns. Using the data from these two sensors, the Apple Watch can analyze your metrics and determine how well or how poorly you slept that night, making it especially useful for those who suspect they have sleep apnea.
What other wearables are available to help detect and track sleep apnea?
What other wearables are available to help detect and track sleep apnea? [Expanded list and comparison]
Aside from the Apple Watch and the FitBit, there are several other wearables on the market designed to help detect and track sleep apnea. These include the Garmin Vivosmart 4, the Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro, and the Jawbone UP3.
- The Garmin Vivosmart is a fitness tracker that has a built-in sleep monitor and heart rate monitor. It also tracks steps, calories burned, and distance traveled. In addition, it can provide an estimate of oxygen saturation levels, which can be used to detect sleep apnea.
- The Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro is a fitness tracker that includes a sleep monitor and heart rate monitor. It also includes several other features such as step counting, calorie tracking, and a built-in GPS. It also has an Altitude Mode that can be used to detect sleep apnea.
- The Jawbone UP3 is a sleep tracker and fitness tracker that can detect sleep apnea. It has a built-in heart rate monitor and can track steps, calories burned, and distance traveled. It also provides an estimate of oxygen saturation levels, which can be used to detect sleep apnea.
Is the Apple Watch able to detect any other health issues related to sleep apnea?
Yes, the Apple Watch can detect other health issues related to sleep apnea. The watch contains a heart-rate sensor that is considered a Class II medical device, as well as a blood oxygen sensor. Third-party health apps like Cardiogram can also use advanced AI to analyze your heart rhythm, ECG, and activity data, and can report on your cardiovascular health with 82 percent accuracy compared to other wearables by themselves. In addition, the Apple Watch can track movement and its heart rate sensor helps to monitor sleep cycles. However, the Apple Watch cannot diagnose sleep apnea and is not approved as a medical device.
How can I test myself for sleep apnea?
If you suspect that you or a loved one may have sleep apnea, a great place to start is to test yourself at home. Here is a step-by-step guide on how you can test yourself for sleep apnea:
- Download the Drowzle app to your smartphone. Make sure to place your phone within 2 feet of your pillow for accurate results.
- When you go to sleep, the Drowzle app will record and store your oral and nasal breathing sounds, gaps in your breathing, and other metrics.
- The data will be stored in the cloud and shared with your healthcare provider. Based on your level of risk, you may opt in to purchase Drowzle Pro and schedule a telehealth appointment with a medical professional.
- After assessing your results, your healthcare provider may suggest you do an in-lab polysomnography test or take a home sleep test.
- If the sleep study finds that you do have OSA, your doctor will likely prescribe CPAP therapy.