Why is Garmin still sleeping on smart wake-up alarms?

Couple waking up in camper
(Image credit: Getty)

Much like Santa, your Garmin watch sees when you're sleeping and knows when you're awake. It also knows when you're sound asleep or just snoozing, but unlike many other sports watches and fitness trackers, it doesn't have a smart alarm that only wakes you during light sleep.

It seems like a strange omission, particularly considering how much work has gone into Garmin's new morning report. This is a tool that appears on your watch first thing in the morning, and gives a brief rundown of how well you slept, the day's weather, training suggestions, and calendar events, all rounded off with a nice little positive affirmation for the day. It's all totally customizable too, which is a welcome touch.

However, you might not appreciate that report so much if you've been dragged out of deep or REM sleep, groggy and unwilling. 

Fitbit introduced a Smart Wake tool in 2020. Set when you'd like to wake up, and your Fitbit will monitor your sleep for the 30 minutes beforehand and wake you with a gentle vibration if it detects that you've entered a phase of light sleep, rousing you without waking your partner.

The idea is that you start the day feeling fresh and rejuvenated, even if you've woken a few minutes earlier than you would with a regular alarm. No more groaning and hitting the snooze button in an attempt to scrounge a few extra minutes.

Worried about oversleeping? If you're still deeply asleep or in the middle of a REM cycle when your set time rolls around, your watch will wake you anyway.

Wakey wakey

Garmin watches have excellent sleep tracking and programmable alarms for set times, so it seems like an odd omission. It's therefore no surprise that third-party app developers have stepped in to fill the gap.

Smart SleepTracker and Alarm is one of the best-rated examples, and uses changes in heart rate variability to determine the optimum time to rouse you. However, it does have its limitations; because it's not native, you have to start the app running before going to sleep, and it will affect your watch's battery life.

Sleep is a huge part of training for any athlete, so I've got my fingers crossed that a major update for Garmin's rest and recovery tools will arrive on our wrists before long. I'd also like to see the ability to track naps or polyphasic sleep, and perhaps even some simple mindfulness tools to help with falling asleep at night.

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.