Your Garmin watch can now track naps, but it's still sleeping on something important

Sleep data on Garmin Venu 3 watch
(Image credit: Future, Cat Ellis)

Garmin's newly updated and enhanced sleep tracking is a big improvement, but it's still missing something compared to its rivals: a smart alarm to wake you during light sleep so you don't feel groggy first thing in the morning.

I'm currently testing the Venu 3S, which is one of the first Garmin watches to come with Sleep Coaching installed by default. Don't worry if you don't want to upgrade your watch, though – the feature is now also rolling out to older devices too and is in public beta testing for Fenix 7, Epix, and Quatix 7 devices.

First impressions are great, and the new watch really ticking me off for my frankly terrible sleep hygiene this week. I'll feel quite justified having a lie-in tomorrow morning to get my recommended hours. Who knows, I might even earn the 'Mythical Sleep' badge for achieving a sleep score of 100. I love a badge – check out my list of 23 easy ones to earn this weekend if you do, too.

My extra sleep need is down to shorter than usual sleep last night, and insufficient REM (largely due to somebody programming the washing machine to start a cycle at 6:30am). The Venu 3S warned me that I might be particularly tired or moody today as a result, though I might just feel more irritable because it's suggested that I should be.

Rise and shine

But perhaps I'd be less grumpy if, rather than being wrenched out of REM by the gurgling of pipes, I'd been gently woken by a soft chime during a light sleep phase. It's something that many other fitness trackers and sports watches offer, including those by Fitbit and Amazfit, but so far Garmin has yet to implement it.

The idea is that you set a time by which you want to be awake, and around 15 minutes before this period, your wearable will begin watching out for periods of light sleep when you can be roused easily and gently. If you stay stubbornly fast asleep until your set time, the watch will wake you anyway so you aren't late for work.

Such alarms aren't everyone's cup of tea, but they would be nice to have as an option, especially considering the alternatives during the dark months.

A few years ago I received a wake-up light for my birthday. Unfortunately, rather than a subtle simulated sunrise, it seemed to have three settings: off, bright (which would jolt me awake like a cold shower), and really bright (which could give you a decent tan).

If you wanted, you could enjoy this experience alongside a synthetic dawn chorus: a high-volume, low quality recording of a robin that looped every five seconds. It was a very poor imitation of waking when camping in the spring, gradually becoming aware that the canvas above you has begun to glow and hearing the first few chirps overhead build into a wonderful cacophony.

It's very hard to replicate that experience in the middle of a city, particularly in the middle of a city in the fall, but a smart alarm on my wrist might be the next best thing. Hopefully Garmin will give it a try soon.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.