RISE Sleep Tracker
One of Apple's Best Apps of 2024

Best Sleep App for Apple Watch? The RISE App

The RISE app is the best sleep app for Apple Watch as it works out how much sleep you need and gives you personalized advice to get more sleep and energy.
Written by
Jeff Kahn, M.S., Rise Science Co-Founder
Reviewed by
Chester Wu, MD, Rise Science Medical Reviewer
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What’s the Best Sleep App for Apple Watch?

  • If you want more sleep and better energy, the best sleep-tracking app for the Apple Watch is the RISE app. RISE works out how much sleep you personally need, focuses on sleep debt and circadian alignment (the two metrics that make the biggest difference to how you feel), and gives you daily guidance to improve these metrics for better sleep, productivity, health, and energy. 
  • RISE pulls sleep-tracking data from your Apple Watch to inform its metrics. And with the RISE Apple Watch app and complication, you can see all of RISE’s insights on your wrist and get personalized daily reminders designed to improve your sleep.
  • You can track sleep through the Apple Watch’s native app called Sleep, but you won’t get any personalized insights or advice to help you get more sleep and energy.
  • There are a selection of third-party apps that work with the Apple Watch to fill these gaps, but many of them aren’t that accurate or they don’t focus on the metrics proven to make a difference to how you feel during the day.

You want to improve your sleep and energy levels, but your Apple Watch just isn’t cutting it. There are third-party Apple Watch apps out there to help, but many of them aren’t much more useful than your watch alone. 

The RISE app is different. 

RISE tracks key metrics proven to make a difference to your energy levels and gives you daily advice, based on your own biology, to help you get better sleep and more energy. 

Below, we’ll dive into what to look for in a sleep-tracking app for the Apple Watch and how RISE can help.

Buyer’s Guide: How to Find the Best Sleep App for the Apple Watch 

Here’s what to keep in mind when choosing a sleep app for the Apple Watch:

  • Does the app have an Apple Watch app? This one sounds obvious, but many sleep-tracking apps don’t come with Apple Watch apps or complications.
  • RISE has a dedicated Apple Watch app and complication to make the most of your Apple Watch.
  • Does the app focus on the right metrics? Research shows sleep debt (how much sleep you owe your body) and circadian alignment (how in sync you are with your circadian rhythm, or body clock) are the two biggest factors affecting how you feel. Apple Watch’s own sleep tracking doesn’t focus on these metrics, nor do many sleep apps.
  • RISE focuses on sleep debt and circadian alignment and puts these metrics front and center in the app on your phone and on your watch.
  • Does the app help you improve those metrics? You probably want to track your sleep because you want to do something about it. Apple Watch and many apps that work with it don’t give you any advice on improving your sleep or energy levels.
  • RISE gives you personalized advice — based on your own circadian rhythm and how much sleep you personally need — to help you lower your sleep debt and get in sync with your circadian rhythm. You’ll get this advice on the RISE app on your phone and on your watch.
  • Does the app come with any other useful features? Sleep sounds, heart rate tracking, a smart alarm, audio recordings — there are many additional features to look out for, some more useful than others. When looking for a sleep app for the Apple Watch in particular, look out for features that take advantage of the Apple Watch itself, rather than just being a standalone sleep-tracking app on your phone that pulls data from your watch.
  • RISE has sleep sounds, a smart alarm, a suggested wake and bedtime, and features like personalized sleep hygiene notifications delivered to your wrist. You can check your sleep debt and upcoming energy predictions from your watch and set your alarm from your watch as well.
  • How much does the app cost? Consider prices, subscription models, and free trial periods when comparing sleep apps for your Apple Watch.
  • RISE costs $69.99 a year, which works out at $5.83 a month. There’s a seven-day free trial in which you can find out how much sleep you need and see how much RISE can help you improve your sleep and energy in just one week.
  • Does the app have good reviews? See what others think of any app you’re considering. Look for positive reviews, awards, and recognitions.
  • RISE has thousands of 5-star reviews, industry awards and recognitions, including from Apple itself.
  • Does the app need an Apple Watch to work? Some sleep tracker apps don’t work without an Apple Watch. This means if you forget to wear or charge your watch (battery life can be an issue), or you simply want a night off wearing a smartwatch to bed, you’ll lose out on sleep data. You might also want to change wearables in the future.
  • If you don’t wear your Apple Watch, RISE automatically tracks your sleep through tappigraphy, or phone use. RISE syncs with your Apple Watch — of course — but also other wearable devices should you change up your devices in the future. It syncs with Garmin, Fitbit, and Oura Ring directly and devices like Whoopand Eight Sleep indirectly through Apple Healthkit.

Learn more about the best non-wearable sleep trackers here, including why you can trust sleep apps for sleep analysis.

RISE app's energy insights on watch
See RISE’s sleep and energy insights on your Apple Watch.

What Metrics Does RISE Track? 

Here’s what the RISE app tracks — and doesn’t track — and how this works with your Apple Watch. 

Sleep Debt 

Sleep debt is the amount of sleep you owe your body. Alongside circadian alignment (more on that soon), it’s one of the biggest factors affecting how you feel and perform. 

The lower your sleep debt, the better your energy, productivity, mood, health, and performance. 

RISE works out your sleep debt by calculating how much sleep you need — known as your sleep need — and comparing this to the hours of sleep you get each night. 

Sleep debt is then measured over 14 nights for an accurate representation of how past sleep affects today’s energy levels.

Sleep debt tracking is something many sleep trackers — including Apple Watch — don’t do. Those that do (like AutoSleep), don’t do it accurately as they use generic guidelines or self-set sleep goals to work out your sleep need. Apple, for example, lets you choose your own sleep goal with the default being eight hours. 

But we don’t all need eight hours. For example, among 1.95 million RISE users aged 24 and up, we found sleep needs ranged from five hours to 11 hours 30 minutes. 

RISE works out your sleep need based on a year’s worth of your phone use behavior and sleep science algorithms. You’ll get a number unique to you. 

The RISE app can tell you how much sleep you need.
RISE users’ sleep needs.

RISE then tracks your sleep duration via one of three methods: 

  • Data from wearables: When you wear your Apple Watch (or a Garmin, Fitbit, or Oura Ring if you decide to switch things up in the future), RISE pulls your sleep data from the wearable. 
  • Tappigraphy: Phone use, which may be more accurate than movement. 
  • Mattress-based actigraphy: Movement from your phone’s accelerometer. 

If your Apple Watch runs out of battery or you leave it at home when traveling, RISE will automatically use tappigraphy to track your sleep.

Instead of complicated graphs, overly detailed sleep reports, or not-that-useful sleep trends, you’ll get one clear sleep debt number to focus on. 

You can view your sleep debt number in the RISE app, on a widget on your iPhone home screen, on your iPad, or on your Apple Watch. This helps you plan your day, knowing whether you should schedule a nap or an early night to catch up on sleep.

Learn what makes RISE the best sleep debt tracker here.

Image of RISE app tracking sleep debt on phone and watch
RISE tracks your sleep debt.

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can view their sleep need here and view their sleep debt here.

Circadian Alignment  

Circadian alignment, where your body's internal clock is in sync with environmental cues like light and dark, supports consistent sleep timing, better sleep, and low sleep debt. You can get out of sync by having an irregular sleep schedule — among other things — and syncing up can improve your sleep, energy, performance, and health. 

Syncing up with your circadian rhythm also involves syncing up your tasks to match your natural fluctuations in energy throughout the day. This can boost your productivity. 

Just like with sleep debt, Apple Watch and many apps that work with it — like SleepCycle — don’t tell you anything about your circadian rhythm. 

Apple Watch’s native Sleep app shows you information about your sleep consistency and gives you a recommended bedtime, but this is based on your self-set sleep goal and sleep schedule, and may not be what your body really needs. 

RISE predicts the timing of your circadian rhythm each day so you can get and stay in sync with it. 

To do this, RISE uses your recent sleep times, inferred light exposure, and algorithms built on the SAFTE model, which was developed by the US Department of Transportation and the Department of Defense. 

You’ll find out when your body wants to wake up and go to sleep and when you’ll have peaks and dips in energy across the day.  

View these on the RISE app on your phone or, with the RISE complication, at a glance on your Apple Watch face. You’ll know whether to do focused deep work, take a nap, or wind down for bed, depending on your circadian rhythm. You can tap for more energy insights to plan further ahead in your day. 

We cover more about how RISE predicts your circadian rhythm here.

RISe app on watch predicting circadian rhythmn
RISE predicts your circadian rhythm each day.

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can see their circadian rhythm on the Energy screen here

Time Spent in Sleep Stages 

Apple Watch and apps like SleepCycle track the amount of time you spend in the different stages of sleep: deep sleep, REM sleep, and light sleep. Although, Apple calls light sleep “core sleep” — a nod to how this sleep stage is just as important as the others.

This sounds like a useful feature, but, unfortunately, it’s not all it's cracked up to be. 

Research suggests the amount of time you spend in different sleep stages doesn’t really impact how you feel during the day. There are no set guidelines for how long to spend in each sleep stage, and the ideal amount will be different for everyone and changes nightly. 

So, tracking won’t help you get enough of each sleep stage, but getting enough sleep overall on a regular schedule (aka low sleep debt and circadian alignment) will.

Even if tracking was useful, research shows sleep trackers aren’t that accurate at figuring out which sleep stage you’re in. Even in polysomnography (sleep studies), experts agree on results only about 80% of the time. 

If you’re interested purely from a curiosity point of view, RISE pulls Apple Watch’s built-in sleep stage tracking into the app, so you can view sleep stage data alongside RISE’s sleep tracking.

Sleep Quality 

Apple Watch’s native app tracks your sleep quality, as do many apps that integrate with it, like Sleep++, Pillow, and SleepWatch.

Again, this sounds useful to track, but there are a few problems. 

Firstly, there isn’t an agreed-upon definition for sleep quality. Sleep trackers use their own scoring systems to give you an opaque sleep score based on multiple metrics. This makes it hard to know how to improve the score, and improving the metrics the score is based on may not even make a difference to your sleep and energy levels in the first place. 

How you feel about your sleep has been shown to make a difference, though. This is why you can self-rate your sleep quality in the RISE app. You’ll get a reminder on your Apple Watch 90 minutes after you wake up. This should give you enough time to shake off sleep inertia (grogginess) for a more accurate rating.  

Heads-up: Time spent in sleep stages and sleep quality can’t help diagnose sleep disorders like insomnia or sleep apnea. Sleep debt can show sleep loss and Apple Watch’s blood oxygen levels can signal sleep apnea, so you can bring these metrics to a doctor or sleep specialist. 

We dive into sleep tracking metrics in more detail here, including why it’s not worth tracking sleep stages or sleep quality. 

How Does RISE Improve Your Sleep and Energy? 

RISE — both on your phone and Apple Watch — can improve your sleep and energy, and, let’s face it, this is probably why you’re looking for a sleep app to begin with. 

Here’s how RISE can help: 

  • 20+ sleep hygiene reminders: These are the good sleep habits that help you get a full night’s sleep. RISE tells you the best time to do each one based on your circadian rhythm. You can get notifications to your phone or Apple Watch. Learn when to have your final coffee, when to get and avoid bright light, and when to finish up dinner by each day. 
  • Sleep sounds and guided relaxation exercises: Listen to white noise or nature sounds and follow diaphragmatic breathing and progressive muscle relaxation exercises to wind down and drift off faster.
  • A prediction of your energy levels across the day: See when your energy peaks and dips will be each day. Get insights on your watch, so you can quickly adjust your day to match. You’ll know when you’ll be at your most productive and when you’re better off taking a break or a nap.  
  • A smart alarm clock: As you’re setting your alarm, RISE will tell you if your wake-up time will add to your sleep debt. Set your alarm from your Apple Watch and get woken up by gentle watch vibrations. 
  • Recommended sleep and wake times: Follow these recommendations for an easier time falling asleep and staying in sync with your circadian rhythm. You can also use RISE’s circadian rhythm insights to shift your sleep patterns to become a morning person or get over jet lag faster.
RISE app's smart alarm on watch and phone
RISE’s smart alarm tells you if your wake time will add to sleep debt.

Other Features of RISE 

Here are more ways RISE can help you improve your sleep and energy:

  • Partner Connect: Sync up with a partner or friend and keep each other on track.  
  • Calendar integration: See your energy peaks and dips in your calendar and plan your day to match.
  • Access RISE on other devices: Beyond your phone and Apple Watch, see RISE’s insights and advice on your iPad or an iPhone home screen widget.
  • Syncing with wearable devices and sleep apps: We know you’re using an Apple Watch now, but should you want to change devices in the future, RISE syncs with Garmin, Fitbit, and Oura Ring directly and with devices like Eight Sleep Mattress and Whoop indirectly through Apple HealthKit. You can also pair RISE with sleep apps like Sleep Cycle and AutoSleep.

These complement what the Apple Watch can do. Useful features include Sleep Focus (a wind-down period before bed when notifications are silenced), workout and respiratory rate tracking, smart notifications, and — of course — it’s a watch.

Plus, the upcoming Apple Watch Series 10 may be able to detect signs of sleep apnea by tracking snoring, breathing rate, heart rate, movement, and sleep patterns. 

If you want to have a sleep tracker that works just as well with Apple Watch as it does without it, we’ve covered the best trackers without a watch here.

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RISE Cost 

RISE costs $69.99 a year, which works out at $5.83 a month

You’ll get access to all of RISE’s features with no hidden costs. As you don’t need an Apple Watch — or any other wearable — to use RISE, you can access all of RISE’s insights and tracking even if you decide to stop using your Apple Watch in the future. 

RISE has a seven-day free trial so you can take the app for a test drive. 

During this free trial, you’ll find out: 

  • Your sleep need
  • How much sleep debt you have
  • Your daily circadian rhythm predictions 

You can see for yourself how RISE’s suggested bedtime, smart alarm, and sleep hygiene reminders sent straight to your Apple Watch can improve your sleep and energy. 

The biggest difference comes from consistently keeping sleep debt low and staying in sync with your circadian rhythm, but 80% of RISE users feel more energy within five days!

We dive into whether RISE is worth it here (spoiler: we think so!).

RISE Reviews 

Thousands of users love RISE and the RISE Apple Watch app: 

  • “I’ve been using RISE for a month and it has been the best month of my life. I feel more energetic, calm, and positive. Sleep is more crucial than I thought. RISE helped me to understand and respect my body, my mind, and my energy cycles…This app actually makes your Apple Watch and iPhone very useful tools for your well-being.” Read the review.
  • “Apple Watch can do a lot of health stuff, but I think RISE is super useful for people who just want to know when to focus. It gives me great insight on when I’ll be most focused and when I need to take a break.” Read the review.
  • “Honestly, RISE changed my life, more than a fair price. I’ve tried lots of these apps and this is the best one. It works really well with sleep tracking on the Apple Watch.” Read the review.

Beyond the thousands of 5-star reviews, RISE has awards and industry recognition, including from Apple, who nominated RISE for a design award and named it an Editor’s Choice app. 

Plus, both Sleep Foundation and Sleep Doctor named RISE one of the best sleep apps of 2024. 

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The Apple Watch Sleep App That Makes a Difference 

You don’t necessarily need a sleep app for the Apple Watch. Apple Watch’s in-built app is great for tracking time asleep, but it’s not so great when it comes to making changes to get more sleep and energy. 

That’s where RISE comes in. 

RISE works out how much sleep you personally need and gives you daily guidance to help you lower your sleep debt and get in sync with your circadian rhythm.

It pulls data from your Apple Watch for its sleep tracking and sends you personalized sleep hygiene reminders straight to your wrist. You can view your sleep debt and upcoming energy predictions from your watch, and get woken up with gentle watch vibrations. 

All this will help you get more sleep and energy to enjoy each day.

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The power behind your next best day

RISE makes it easy to improve your sleep and daily energy to reach your potential

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