Garmin Nap Detection – Insights & An a Explainer


Garmin nap detectionNap Detection: An Insight into how Garmin incorporate this new feature into Its Wellness Ecosystem

Naps are simply short daytime sleep sessions. Garmin claims that one-third of adults indulge in a nap at least once a week and that these brief rest periods have advantages. Furthermore, its new nap technology is starting to appear on top-end Garmin watches to detect, monitor and then provide insights on napping.

Garmin Sleep Coach – An Explainer – It’s BS tho!

Claimed Benefits of Napping

Garmin claims that a well-timed nap has the potential to improve alertness, reduce fatigue, and enhance mood.

Garmin says that naps don’t typically include REM/Deep sleep stages but I think that’s wrong as the following table shows for naps under an hour.

Nap Architecture, Nap architecture from infancy to older adulthood. The dimmed region represents extrapolated data. [,,,]

Thus naps DO have a real benefit to athletes. However, my understanding is that the scientific literature also shows that naps reduce the quality of nighttime sleep. So any gain from a nap could well be lost later that night.

Defining a Nap – When is a nap, not a nap?

It’s worth noting that Garmin and some of its competitors continuously record your metrics. This is important as there is no instant when the start of a nap can be recognised in real-time. Thus once Garmin’s nap triggers are met it can assign the recent history as a nap and keep recording the same nap.

Generally, Garmin says that its naps have 2 characteristics

  1. Sub 3-hour duration. anything longer is a ‘sleep’
  2. Must not occur near a sleep. So it must end at least 60 minutes before sleep and start 30 minutes after waking from sleep.

Garmin implies that it treats a nap as only being in the light sleep stage. Perhaps its algorithms cannot determine other sleep stages over shorter durations. (Actually, they can’t determine them over longer durations either but that’s another point)

Note: Oura requires 30 minutes before it starts logging a nap

Nap Advice

Garmin also provides nap coaching to a degree in that it can advise you to take naps if your Garmin calendar shows a travel event spanning multiple time zones.

General Nap Recommendations

  • Take a nap midway between your nighttime waking and sleeping
  • Optimise your sleep hygiene for your nighttime sleep first, including regular sleep/wake schedules
  • Garmin claims a 10-20 minute nap is ideal and that it should be kept under 30 minutes. Doing this minimises the impact on nighttime sleep quality.

Q: Is Garmin the best Sleep Tracker?

A: Probably not but it’s generally good at correctly logging sleep metrics (excluding sleep stages). I’d trust tech like Oura and Eight Sleep more.

Eight Sleep Review ♥ Rubbish? Accurate? Eightsleep Pod 3 discount

Take Out

It seems to make sense that Garmin should recognise and record naps as its technology is capable of doing that well.

However, extrapolating the same information to determine recovery benefits and the precise impact on nighttime sleep seems to me somewhat dubious. Furthermore to add jet-lag coaching on top seems a step too far. Sure it sounds great…but is it based on science and is it actually great in the real world? Or is it just more pretty smoke and mirrors in software form?

That said I can envisage a sleep-deprived new parent whose sanity can only be maintained by grabbing every last minute of rest in between feeds and changes. A simple, quantification by the tech of your day’s total rest periods makes some sense. In the end, though, a new parent just knows when they are completely knackered and need more sleep. They don’t need a watch to tell them to sleep more nor can a watch tell them when to sleep if life’s factors get in the way (kids).


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5 thoughts on “Garmin Nap Detection – Insights & An a Explainer

  1. Naps are great and supposedly confer longevity benefits as long they don’t interfere with your “normal sleep”.

    I think categorizing them as light sleep only is a mistake, in fact the brain sometimes uses naps to compensate for certain sleep stages you’re missing (eg. If you have been missing REM sleep lately, you might start dreaming almost straight away during a nap).

    Anyway in the end what usually matters is the total hours of sleep you get, IMO the sleep stages just introduce a layer that ends feeding more garbage to the system. I trust Whoop sleep data more than Garmin (currently wearing both during sleep), and some days it seems like my left and right arm are 2 different people. 🙂

  2. This article provides a fascinating insight into Garmin’s nap detection technology. Understanding the science behind it helps me appreciate the depth of innovation. As an athlete, monitoring sleep patterns is crucial for recovery, and this feature seems like a game-changer.

  3. Now that it’s been awhile since the nap feature was added to the 965, I guess I am pretty underwhelmed?

    I use the nap recording for my occasional naps, but I don’t see anywhere that it’s added to my sleep time or affects any other metrics, maybe I am not looking in the right place. I only see it in the Nap widget, and that’s only on the day I took the nap.

    Further, there doesn’t appear to be any automatic nap detection like there is on the Fenix/Epix?

    I do like the feature of adding the alarm, but otherwise meh.

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