We’re here to help! Call 1.800.356.5221
Mon-Fri 8am-8pm CST
Sat-Sun 8am-5pm CST

We’re here to help! Call 1.800.356.5221
M-F 8AM-8PM | Sa 8AM-5PM (CST)

Can Your Smartwatch Really Track and Detect Sleep Apnea? Apple, Fitbit, Garmin & More Explained

Table of Contents

man looking at health tracking watch

💡 Key Takeaways

  • Smartwatches as Early Indicators: While not FDA-approved for diagnosis, smartwatches can track sleep quality and vital signs, serving as early indicators of sleep apnea.
  • Variability in Features: Not all smartwatches are created equal; some offer advanced features like oxygen level tracking and snoring detection.
  • Comparison with Home Sleep Apnea Tests: Smartwatches collect similar types of information as Home Sleep Apnea Tests (HSATs), although HSATs provide more detailed data.
  • Brands Matter: Apple Watch, Garmin, and Fitbit offer various features that can help in detecting signs of sleep apnea.
  • Consult a Healthcare Provider: Despite the capabilities of smartwatches, an official diagnosis requires a traditional sleep test or a Home Sleep Apnea Test from a healthcare provider.

Sleep apnea is currently one of the most prevalent sleep disorders, with a shocking 900 million cases globally. Researchers estimate that at least 80% of people don’t even know they have this sleep disorder. This is alarming, as sleep apnea has been linked to numerous health risks, including heart disease, diabetes, and even car accidents

Health officials are always looking for new ways to alert people to the possibility of having sleep apnea. One proposed solution is using personal health trackers, such as smartwatches, to identify those who may be at risk. But how can a smartwatch detect sleep apnea, and are they effective? That’s what we’ll be covering today! 

As we move through this article, we’ll examine how these devices play a role in sleep apnea detection, plus how they measure up to other sleep apnea tests. We will talk about popular smartwatches such as the Apple Watch, Garmin, and Fitbit and discuss whether or not they can alert you to changes in your health that may indicate signs of sleep apnea. We’ll also share some of our favorite sleep apnea-tracking apps and answer some common questions about sleep apnea detection. 

Can a Smartwatch Detect Sleep Apnea?

While they cannot officially diagnose any condition, smartwatches can be used to track sleep apnea. Smartwatch technology is often used to track sleep quality and health status. This type of data helps people identify early warning signs. 

Of course, not all wearables are the same. Some only track your physical movements, which may be able to tell you if you are experiencing poor sleep quality, but not sleep apnea. However, many newer devices– for example, the Apple Watch Series 6– have become so advanced that they can report snoring and even read your oxygen levels. 

While the FDA has not approved these devices for actually diagnosing sleep apnea, the health data that they provide offers a lot of insight into whether or not you are actively showing signs of sleep-disordered breathing. Simply put, this technology has the ability to serve as an alarm bell, alerting you when it’s time to see a doctor. 

How Do Smartwatches Track Sleep Apnea?

The beauty of using a smartwatch to detect signs of sleep apnea is that these devices are already designed to track your sleep patterns and vital signs. This approach piggybacks off of a form of sleep apnea testing that already exists– Home Sleep Apnea Tests

Think You May Have Sleep Apnea? Take Our FREE Sleep Apnea Quiz!

Discover your risk for sleep apnea with just a few clicks! Our FREE Quiz is super simple and easy to use. You’ll receive a personalized score that will tell you how likely you are to have this sleep disorder and the next steps you can take for diagnosis and treatment.

Traditionally, people with sleep apnea would have to go through an overnight sleep test called a polysomnograph. These tests are performed at an unfamiliar and uncomfortable sleep lab, and apart from being expensive and taking up a lot of extra time, these clinics are very limited in the number of sleep tests they can actually perform. 

To fill this need, healthcare providers have turned to Home Sleep Apnea Tests (HSAT), which are FDA-approved sleep apnea tests that can be completed in the comfort of your own home. However, like a traditional sleep test, HSATs still require an order from a doctor. 

Interestingly, these home sleep tests report a lot of the same types of information that newer smartwatches are also capable of detecting. A 2018 report laid out a series of functions that any Home Sleep Apnea Test must be capable of measuring in order to provide an accurate diagnosis of sleep apnea. The research team referred to these data points using the acronym SCOPER– sleep, cardiovascular system, oxygen saturation, body position, respiratory effort, and airflow. 

Let’s take a look at how some of the newest smartwatch capabilities measure up to the data points collected by your standard Home Sleep Apnea Test. Keep in mind that HSATs are able to provide much more detailed information that is specific to sleep apnea. But the point is smartwatches are able to give you a pretty good glimpse into how you are doing in each area of concern. 

(S) Sleep 

People with sleep apnea often have abnormal sleep patterns, with fewer hours of sleep overall, and spend less time in deep sleep. Some smartwatches track your sleep quality, including the number of hours spent in each stage of sleep. If you aren’t getting good quality sleep, you may have sleep apnea. 

(C) Cardiovascular System

Sleep apnea can be rough on your heart. When you have a significant sleep apnea episode, your heartbeat will temporarily slow down before abruptly speeding up as soon as you resume normal breathing. 

Most smartwatches can determine your heart rate and, in some cases, may even be able to report your actual cardiac rhythm. If you see these kinds of cardiac patterns in your sleep tracking data, it could be a sign of sleep apnea. 

(O) Oxygen Saturation

Many of the newest smartwatches have the ability to track your blood oxygen levels. If your oxygen levels temporarily fall and then recover during sleep, it may be a sign that you are experiencing periods of slow or even no breathing due to sleep apnea

(P) Body Position

People with sleep apnea tend to move more often during sleep. In some cases, this is because they wake up gasping for air. In others, they are experiencing an abnormal increase in Periodic Limb Movements as they sleep. Just as your typical fitness tracker is able to determine when you’re on the move, most smartwatches are designed to detect when you move around at night during sleep. 

(E) Respiratory Effort

Obviously, sleep apnea impacts your breathing in many ways. People with Obstructive Sleep Apnea often have to work harder to breathe while they are asleep because their airway is partially or totally blocked. Some smartwatch devices offer the ability to track your respiratory rate by measuring your chest movements while you sleep. 

(R) Airflow

In the case of HSATs, airflow essentially refers to how difficult it is for air to flow into your lungs, or more specifically, your airway resistance. When you have sleep apnea, you have a high amount of airway resistance due to airway obstruction. Although wearable devices cannot tell you exactly how much resistance your airway blockages are causing, many of them can be used to detect snoring, which is a pretty common sign of Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

Which Smart Devices Detect Sleep Apnea?

Keep in mind that these smart devices cannot replace an actual sleep study and therefore cannot definitively tell you whether or not you have sleep apnea, just like they cannot determine why a person’s heart rate is too high. But they are really useful for letting you know whether or not you are experiencing some of the tell-tale signs of sleep-disordered breathing, particularly Obstructive Sleep Apnea. 

Can Apple Watch Detect Sleep Apnea?

Yes! Newer Apple Watches track a range of health information that can be used to detect sleep apnea. A 2017 study from UCSF found that the Apple Watch could accurately detect sleep apnea with 90% accuracy when paired with the Cardiogram app. 

Here are some of the data points that the Apple Watch is capable of tracking!

  • Heart Rate
  • Heart Rhythm (ECG)
  • Blood Oxygen Levels
  • Physical Movements
  • Sleep Stages
  • Respiratory Rate
  • Number of Hours Spent Asleep
  • Detects Loud Snoring (When Paired With Outside Apps)

Can Garmin Detect Sleep Apnea?

Like most new-generation smartwatches, Garmin is capable of tracking your sleep health. This includes reporting information that alerts you to sleep apnea. This data can be accessed via the Advanced Sleep Monitoring feature on Garmin Connect. 

Garmin’s sleep apnea tracking features are very similar to the Apple Watch and include the following: 

  • Heart Rate
  • Heart Rhythm (With the Venu 2 Plus)
  • Blood Oxygen Levels
  • Physical Movements
  • Sleep Stages
  • Respiratory Rate
  • Number of Hours Spent Asleep
  • Detects Loud Snoring (When Paired With Outside Apps)

For a list of Garmin watches that are compatible with the Advanced Sleep Monitoring feature, check here!

Can Fitbit Detect Sleep Apnea?

Newer Fitbit watches are capable of detecting sleep apnea! While it cannot be used to officially diagnose sleep-disordered breathing, the newest oxygen sensor feature makes Fitbit a useful tool for alerting you to potential warning signs of sleep apnea.

Below is a list of the information that Fitbit tracks that can be used to identify possible cases of sleep apnea!

  • Heart Rate
  • Heart Rhythm
  • Blood Oxygen Levels
  • Physical Movements
  • Sleep Stages
  • Respiratory Rate
  • Number of Hours Spent Asleep
  • Snoring

Can Oura Ring Detect Sleep Apnea?

Although it cannot officially diagnose any condition, the Oura Ring offers several features that make it perfect for keeping you informed on changes to your sleep health, including detecting signs of sleep apnea. 

The Oura Ring offers the following sleep apnea-related functions:

  • Heart Rate
  • Blood Oxygen Levels
  • Physical Movements
  • Sleep Stages
  • Respiratory Rate
  • Number of Hours Spent Asleep

Best Apps for Tracking Sleep Apnea

Third-party apps play a big role in smartwatch sleep apnea detection and, in some cases, may even be able to detect signs of sleep apnea without using a smart device!

Research suggests that some smartphone apps can be quite accurate when it comes to identifying sleep apnea. A 2015 study conducted by the University of Washington found that their mobile app, appropriately titled ApneaApp, was able to accurately detect sleep apnea events 98% of the time by measuring participants’ breathing movements throughout the night. 

It seems as though ApneaApp is only available for certain Android devices. However, there are other reputable sleep-tracking apps available for both iPhone and Android platforms, many of which collect information relevant to tracking sleep apnea, such as pulse, respiratory rate, snoring, and more. 

Examples include: 

  • SleepTracker-AI: monitors heart rate, breathing changes, and nighttime movements. 
  • SnoreLab: great for tracking snoring.
  • Sleep as Android: tracks your sleep cycle and heart rate and detects snoring. 

To learn more about using apps to detect sleep apnea signs, check out our guide to the best sleep apnea apps!

FAQs About Using Smartwatches to Diagnose Sleep Apnea

What Apps Detect Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

There are many reputable sleep-tracking apps available for both iPhone and Android platforms, such as SleepTracker 24/7 and SnoreLab, that can provide insight into your sleep health. None of these apps are rated to detect sleep apnea, but some may be able to provide other data about your sleep health that could indicate sleep apnea. 

Is There a Watch That Monitors Sleep Apnea?

Many wearable devices are equipped with advanced sensors that can track sleep stages, oxygen saturation levels, and heart rate, but none are FDA-approved to detect or diagnose sleep apnea. At best, the data collected by these devices may indicate that further sleep testing is needed. 

Can a Smartwatch Tell if You Have Sleep Apnea? 

Smartwatches and fitness trackers collect an impressive amount of health and wellness data, much of which can be used to identify certain sleep-breathing patterns that are associated with sleep apnea. However, these devices are not FDA-approved to provide an official diagnosis. 

What Is the Best Smartwatch for Sleep Apnea?

There are several great smartwatches that can detect signs of sleep apnea, such as the Apple Watch, Garmin, and Fitbit. These devices offer similar features, including the ability to track blood oxygen levels, sleep stages, heart rate, and breathing rate. 

Will My Doctor Put Me On CPAP if My Apple Watch Says I Have Sleep Apnea?

Apple Watches cannot officially tell you if you have sleep apnea, but they can tell you if you are exhibiting signs of this condition. If you are concerned that you may have sleep apnea and need a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine, it is best to see your healthcare provider, who can order an official sleep test to provide you with an official diagnosis. 

How Is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed? 

An official sleep apnea diagnosis must be made with a traditional sleep test or a Home Sleep Apnea Test. In order to qualify for a mild sleep apnea diagnosis, you must experience at least five apnea episodes per hour of sleep. Once your sleep study is completed, your healthcare provider will review the results and determine whether the findings are consistent with sleep apnea.

Final Thoughts

So, to recap– can smartwatches detect sleep apnea? Yes, but if you think you could have sleep apnea or any other sleep disorder, you will still need to speak with your healthcare provider about having an actual medical test performed, such as a Home Sleep Apnea Test or a traditional sleep study. 

Although smartwatches and fitness devices are not FDA-approved for officially diagnosing sleep apnea, they can provide you with an excellent look at the state of your sleep health, including whether or not you are exhibiting signs of sleep-disordered breathing. 

For example, the Apple Watch, Garmin, and Fitbit can tell you whether your oxygen levels are dipping throughout the night due to breathing pauses. They can also tell if you are experiencing regular fluctuations in your heart rate, which are associated with sleep apnea episodes. Additionally, they can identify moments when you may have been startled awake while gasping for air. 

So, while smartwatches are able to detect signs of sleep apnea, they’re not FDA-approved to diagnose sleep apnea. However, with the exciting future of rapidly-developing technology ahead of us, we feel that it’s only a matter of time.

  • Kenzie Dubs

    Kenzie is a science-based content writer who has a passion for educating the public on the healing powers of sleep! She graduated with a bachelor's degree in biology in 2016 and went on to earn a second degree in nuclear medicine shortly after. She has several years of professional experience in healthcare, including emergency medicine, radiology, and general care. Along with her unique background, Kenzie also has personal experience with sleep apnea, including loved ones who have recently begun their own CPAP journeys. With each article, she aims to provide our readers with honest, accurate information that they can use to improve their health and wellness!

Need Help With Sleep Apnea?

Table of Contents

7 Responses

  1. Thanks, this is helpful info, I’m trying to figure out which wearable to buy to make an initial assessment – I can’t afford the full sleep study thing and hopefully I won’t need it.

  2. My Fitbit Alta HR records the number of times I wake up during the night. Since that number is under 30, can I assume that I don’t have apnea? Or does the Fitbit not record every time I stop breathing as a time awake? I am often tired.

    1. Hey Katherine, my apologies, but we don’t sell the Fitbit therefore, we don’t have information as to what the reading equates to. Please speak with your doctor to confirm if your Sleep Apnea diagnosis is still relevant. Also, I would recommend you letting your doctor know that you are still feeling tired, they may want to adjust some of the settings on your CPAP machine.

      Please feel free to reach us at: 1-800-356-5221.

      Enjoy your evening!

  3. Can you please rank the wearables as the best for sleep apnea monitoring. I use Android. I heard Fitbit charge 3 was good. Which one watch would you buy your love one? I’m disabled so money is tight and I want to get the best one once not return because another was better. I know Fitbit charge 3 are awaiting fda approval.

    1. Hey Alex, i’m sure there are many different wearable options to track your CPAP therapy. CPAP.com, only have 2 available. Please see the links below for the options we carry. The links aren’t listed in any particular order, as they are both pretty new to our company.



      If you think of any questions, or concerns, please feel free to reach us at: 1-800-356-5221, or you may e-mail us at: cpap@cpap.com.

      Have a wonderful weekend!

  4. With the release of Apple Watch Series 6, which has a built-in Blood Oxygen sensor, this could tie in very well with the sleep tracker function introduced in WatchOS 7. Based on your Article, have blood oxygen measured whilst asleep will increase accuracy of detecting sleep apnea > care to share some light on this?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Need Help? 


Need more help? Contact us!

Get help from an expert like Liz

Our experts know CPAP inside and out. Give us a call today and one of our 5 star customer service representatives will help you.

or Text "Help" to 832-308-2219

or Text "Help" to 832-308-2219

Mon-Fri 8am-8pm CST, Sat-Sun 8am-5pm CST