Apple Watch Ultra not tracking your sleep? Here’s how to fix it

Fix Apple Watch Ultra when it's not tracking sleep and sleep stages

By Dave Johnson - Senior Staff Writer
8 Min Read

One of the neat features of the Apple Watch Ultra is the capability to track sleep. This allows you to monitor your sleep patterns, duration, and quality using an Apple Watch Ultra. Apple’s sleep tracking feature can record your total time asleep and track each time you wake up throughout the night, as well as your heart rate and calorie burn. It can also record how much time you spend in bed and provide weekly, monthly, and biannual sleep time averages. This data is based on your motion during Sleep mode.

Three Apple Watch Ultra devices, each with a different band, are shown in profile and overhead.  

After wearing your Apple Watch Ultra to bed, you can analyze sleep stages such as when you were in REM, Core, or Deep Sleep and when you were awake throughout the night. Apple Watches can even track your breathing rate as you sleep, for keeping tabs on your respiratory health.

I use a Sleep Focus schedule on my iPhone to remind me to go to bed and avoid interruptions. Apple Watch Ultra can further add to these features by monitoring your sleep. These features ensure that you improve your sleep quality, as good sleep offers a lot of benefits, including better health and mood.

If you are unable to get your Apple Watch Ultra or Apple Watch Ultra 2 to track your sleep, there are steps you can take to address the issue. There could be two different issues: either sleep tracking is not working at all, or it seems to be working but shows incorrect or missing data. For example, your Apple Watch Ultra may not be tracking sleep stages.

This issue is important because if there are issues with your sleep monitoring, this may cause issues with your other fitness or health-related apps as they may be linked and may be fed with incorrect sleep data.

What you need to ensure Apple Watch Ultra sleep tracking works

In order to track your sleep with Apple Watch Ultra or Apple Watch Ultra 2, you need to make sure you’re doing all the following:

  • Wear your Apple Watch to bed.
  • You’ll need to have turned Sleep Tracking on within the Watch app on iPhone in Sleep settings.
  • Your Apple Watch needs to be in Sleep Focus.
  • You also have to be asleep for four hours or more for tracking to kick in, so you can’t track naps with Apple Watch sleep tracking.

How To Fix Apple Watch Ultra Not Tracking Sleep Stages/Sleep

There are several reasons why the Apple Watch Ultra or Apple Watch Ultra 2 might not be tracking your sleep. You might have accidentally disabled Sleep tracking, wrist detection, etc., or there might be some software bugs preventing the Apple Watch Ultra from tracking your Sleep.

Many people are encountering sleep-tracking-related issues with their Apple Watch Ultra and Apple Watch Ultra 2. Therefore, we’ve researched thoroughly on this topic and put together this guide to help you resolve this issue. Read along to learn how to fix Apple Watch Ultra not tracking Sleep.

1. Ensure Sleep Tracking Is Enabled

Before it can track your sleep, your Apple Watch Ultra must be set up accordingly. In the Watch app on your phone, open My Watch and select Sleep. Tap Use this Watch for Sleep to enable the feature. Make sure the switches next to Track Sleep with Apple Watch and Charging Reminders have been turned on.

2. Make sure that Wrist Detection is on

  1. Open the Settings app on your watch.
  2. Tap Passcode.
  3. Ensure that Wrist Detection is enabled.

It’s also worth noting that you should wear your watch to bed to track your sleep. Also remember to unlock your watch. This is important if you just put it on before going to bed.

If you’re getting inaccurate sleep data, make sure your Apple Watch Ultra isn’t too loose on your wrist. If your watch is too loose, the accelerometer might register too much movement during your natural sleep. Adjusting the band may help the watch better track your sleep.

3. Set Apple Watch as the Primary Data Source in the Health App

Apple should always prioritize data from your Apple Watch over other sources, like your iPhone and third-party apps.

But sometimes, this ordering gets out of whack, especially if you connect a lot of health and fitness apps and wearables to your iPhone.

When multiple sources contribute the same type of data, whatever you list as the top data source takes priority over all other listed sources.

So let’s look closer at how your iPhone’s Health app handles data priority.

  1. Open the Health app, then tap the Browse tab. Browse tab in Apple Health app for iPhone
  2. Tap the category (and, if needed, the subcategory) where you have an issue with the data.
  3. Scroll down to the More section, then tap Data Sources & Access.
  4. Scroll down to Data Sources and review the current list in order of priority, with the source listed at the top having the highest priority and the last one listed having the lowest.
  5. If your Apple Watch is not listed at the top, tap the Edit button at the top.
  6. Next to your current Apple Watch, touch and hold the three horizontal lines icon (the change order button) next to the watch and drag it to the top of the list.
  7. To save your changes, tap Done at the top.

4. Charge Apple Watch To Fix Apple Watch Not Tracking Sleep

If your Apple Watch Ultra or Apple Watch Ultra 2 is new, you’ll almost certainly be OK to go through the night if you charged for a bit during the day at some point. Sleep tracking uses around 10% battery in total, though Apple wants you to have at least 30% charge to ensure your alarm goes off.

5. Remove Third-Party Sleep Tracking Apps

Do you use third-party sleep-tracking apps on your Apple Watch Ultra? They may interfere with the native Sleep app. You should uninstall such third-party apps and try again.

  1. Start the Watch app on your iPhone. Go to the My Watch tab.
  2. Look for any third-party sleep-tracking app. Tap on it.
  3. Disable the ‘Show App on Apple Watch’ toggle.

6. Enable Sleep Focus and Set A Schedule

Sleep Focus silences your notifications and reduces your lock screen to only show the clock an hour before the designated bedtime you scheduled. For example, my bedtime starts at 11:00 PM, so at 10:00 PM I receive a notification on my iPhone reminding me that I have an hour to unwind.

Just turn on sleep focus when you go to bed (recommend you do this before getting into bed in case you forget once in bed) and turn it off in the morning when you’re awake for the day. You can do this from your watch Control Center by swiping up on the watch face, tapping the 🌙 scrolling to Sleep and tapping it. A small greenish blue bed should appear at the top of the watch face. Do the reverse when you turn it off in the morning and your sleep stage tracking should be available in Health, Browse, Sleep within a few seconds.

On your Apple Watch, also ensure that Full Schedule is enabled. To enable this, open the Sleep app and then tap the Clock icon, scroll down, and turn on Sleep Schedule if it is disabled.

7. Reset the Sleep Schedule To Fix Apple Watch Not Tracking Sleep

  1. open the Health app on your Apple Watch.
  2. Tap Browse at the bottom right, then tap Sleep.
  3. Scroll down to Your Schedule, then tap Full Schedule & Options.
  4. Tap Edit for the schedule you want to remove.
  5. Tap Delete Schedule (at the bottom of the screen).
  6. Now create a new sleep schedule.

8. Reset Fitness Calibration Data

If sleep data doesn’t seem accurate, your Apple Watch Ultra may need recalibrating. You can start this process by opening the Watch app on your iPhone, selecting Privacy > Reset Calibration Data, and following the calibration instructions.

9. Ensure your Apple Watch software is up to date

The next troubleshooting step is to make sure that your Apple Watch Ultra is running the latest official release of watchOS. Apple routinely fixes problems in even the most seemingly minor updates, so it’s possible that the problem of Apple Watch Ultra not tracking sleep has already been fixed, and you just need to apply the update to take advantage of that.

While it’s true that your Apple Watch should install updates automatically (unless you’ve explicitly turned this setting off), those automatic updates can sometimes take days or even weeks to appear. Checking manually is the surefire way to get the latest updates as soon as possible. You can do this from your Apple Watch or your iPhone. Here’s how.

To check for watchOS updates from your Apple Watch, open the Settings app and select General > Software Update.

To check for watchOS updates from your iPhone, open the Watch app and select General > Software Update.

Your device will reach out to Apple’s servers to see if any updates are pending. If one is found, you can install it by selecting Download & Install. Otherwise, you’ll be advised that your Apple Watch is up to date.

10. Restore your Apple Watch to factory settings

While it’s a more drastic step, if your Apple Watch Ultra is still not tracking sleep, you can easily restore your watch back to factory settings and then re-pair it with your iPhone as if it were a new device. When you do this, you’ll have the option of restoring from your last backup or starting fresh.

1"Open the Watch app on your iPhone.

Select All Watches in the top-left corner of the "My Watch" screen.

Select the i button to the right of the watch you would like to unpair.

Select Unpair Apple Watch at the bottom of the screen, and then select Unpair [your Apple Watch name] to confirm.

If you’re using a cellular Apple Watch, you’ll be asked whether you want to keep your cellular plan or remove it. In most cases, you should select _Keep Cellular Plan_as you’ll be setting this Apple Watch up again.

If you do opt to remove your plan, it will be disabled on the eSIM in your Apple Watch. Depending on your carrier, you may need to contact them to get it set up again. Note that removing your plan in this manner will not automatically cancel your subscription with your mobile provider.

When prompted, enter your Apple ID password and select Unpair. This additional security step confirms you’re authorizing the removal of the Apple Watch from your account and disables the Activation Lock and Find My Watch features.

Once the process has finished, the Apple Watch should restart to the initial setup screen. Proceed to pair it with your iPhone as if it were a new Apple Watch.

If you’re setting it up with the same iPhone that you unpaired it from — or a new iPhone that you’ve transferred your data to — you’ll be offered the option to restore from a previous backup or set it up as a new device.

It may be a good idea to skip the backup and set it up as new to see if the issue recurs. If it does, you’ve likely run into a hardware or watchOS issue. However, if your Apple Watch Ultra is now tracking sleep, then you can follow the above steps to unpair your Apple Watch again and then restore it from your prior backup during setup.

11. Is your Apple Watch Ultra still not tracking sleep or missing sleep stage information?

If you are still having this problem, you should contact Apple Support. You may be having a hardware problem.


Does the Apple Watch track sleep apnea?

No, the Apple Watch does not track sleep apnea. It can monitor breathing metrics, heart rate, and heart rate variability while sleeping, which could help signal potential problems, but the device will not diagnose you with any conditions.

How does the Apple Watch track sleep stages?

The Apple Watch can detect a user’s phase of sleep by using its built-in heart rate sensor and accelerometer. It’s not an exact science, but we find it to be fairly accurate.

Can the Apple Watch track sleep when you’re not wearing it?

No. You have to wear your Apple Watch to bed if you want it to track your sleep and additional nighttime data.

Can the Apple Watch track breathing while sleeping?

Yes. The Apple Watch uses its accelerometer to keep tabs on your breathing rhythm at night. To view this data, open the Health app on your iPhone > Browse > Respiratory > Respiratory Rate > Show More Respiratory Rate Data.

How does the Apple Watch know when you’re asleep?

The Apple Watch uses its built-in accelerometer to detect movement and its heart rate sensor to keep tabs on sleep cycles.

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By Dave Johnson Senior Staff Writer
Dave Johnson is a staff writer for GeeksChalk based in New Jersey. He covers news, how-tos, and user guides for iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch.
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