How Apple's iOS Update Is Helping Me Get a Better Night's Sleep
A simple new feature in iOS 10 is designed to get you to bed on time.
The iOS 10 software update that Apple pushed to iPhones and iPads this week comes with clever new features that encourage you to stick to your healthy goals. But there’s one in particular that has already helped me make a simple but meaningful tweak to my routine: The Bedtime feature in the Clock app.
I've been using this feature for a few days, and I've already broken my habit of scrolling Instagram into the wee hours. And, I've actually started going to sleep (and waking up) at the same time every day.
The feature allows you to set a recurring bedtime reminder and morning alarm based on the amount of sleep you want to get. The idea is to nudge you into a regular routine, since a consistent sleep-wake cycle can help you nod off faster, and log higher-quality slumber.
There are a few steps involved: You need to choose which days of the week you want Bedtime enabled, how many hours of sleep you want each night (I chose seven), the timing of your hit-the-hay reminder (I kept the default of 15 minutes before my desired bedtime), and which sound bite that wakes you up (I chose "birdsong").
At first, I was worried the alarm wouldn't be aggressive enough to get me out of bed. I was used to being jolted awake by a harsh beeping. So, the first night I set a back-up alarm to go off a few minutes later.
But the chirping birds did indeed wake me up, and it was a much more peaceful experience than my usual delirious shuffle across the room to grab my blaring phone off the dresser.
Just like with a regular alarm, I can "snooze" the birds, and they will start tweeting again about eight minutes later. But unlike with a regular alarm, I never feel like snoozing it.
For me, the 15-minute bedtime reminder has served as a good prompt to put my phone away and turn the lights out. (I know, I know: I should really put my phone away an hour before bed. But with Apple's Night Shift feature, I don't feel that bad.)
Bedtime also includes a sleep analysis chart at the bottom of the screen, so you can track how much rest you're actually getting. Apple recommends that you keep the vertical bars (representing each night of sleep) centered between the horizontal bars (the top one shows your ideal bedtime, the bottom one, your goal wake time). This allows you to view your sleep time at a glance, and try your best to be consistent.
The redesigned Health app is pretty cool too
Aside from trying to get you into the sack earlier, Apple is also making it easier for you to access all your tracking data in the Health app. What's more, the app now goes beyond your daily step count to take a more well-rounded approach to wellness.
When you launch it, you're presented with four main categories: Activity, Mindfulness, Sleep, and Nutrition. For the Activity and Sleep categories, the app automatically collects some data from your phone, such as the distances you travel and the hours you spend in bed (recorded in Bedtime). But the app also pairs seamlessly with an Apple Watch and third-party apps to collect more data in all four categories. (There are recommended third-party apps for each category.)
Aside from your fitness, mindfulness, sleeping and eating habits, you have the ability to track other important data as well, from your your body fat percentage and cervical mucus quality to medical data like your blood pressure and blood glucose levels.
The Today tab gives you a quick overview of the data you're collected. And the Sources tab provides a list of the other devices and third-party apps that are feeding information to the Health app. (So if you have a fitness tracker that you've permitted to communicate with your phone, it'll show up there.)
The Medical ID feature hasn't changed much. You can add emergency contacts and info like your blood type, medical conditions, allergies, and medications—all of which is accessible on the lock screen in case of an emergency. But there's one new addition that's literally life-saving: The ability to register as an organ donor with Donate Life America, with just a few taps on your phone.