What is Respiratory Rate on Apple Watch and How to Use It?

After the conclusion of the WWDC 2021 keynote, Apple also revealed watchOS 8 for the Apple Watch, which includes new portrait watch faces, mindful app upgrades, and more. The new sleeping respiratory rate tracking on Apple Watch is one of the most practical features included in watchOS 8. So, if you’re curious to learn more, we’ve covered the definition and application of sleeping respiratory rate on Apple Watch in this article.

Apple Watch Respiratory Rate Tracking

It’s likely that if you own an Apple Watch, you’ve already been using it to track your sleep. And it’s rather adept at it. Additionally, the Apple Watch lets you monitor your blood oxygen levels, sleep duration, and more when you wake up. You can now track your breathing as you sleep. This page will discuss respiratory tracking in detail, including what it is, how it differs from SpO2 monitoring, how to use it, and other topics.

As always, you can navigate between sections by using the table of contents.

What is Respiratory Rate on Apple Watch?

Let’s first gain a fundamental knowledge of what respiratory rate tracking on the Apple Watch entails before getting into any of the specifics of how to make use of the capability. With watchOS 7, your Apple Watch currently monitors things like your heart rate, blood oxygen level, and amount of time spent sleeping at night.

The respiratory rate tracking feature in watchOS 8 tells the number of breaths you take per minute while you are asleep.

All watchOS 8-compatible Apple Watches will be able to monitor your breathing rate as you sleep. In essence, your sleeping respiratory rate is the number of breaths you take each minute while you’re asleep. This figure is normally lower when you are resting, especially while you are asleep, and higher when your body needs more oxygen, such as when you are exercising.

How is Respiratory Rate Different from SpO2?

You might be asking at this point what makes the new sleeping respiratory rate on Apple Watch different from the SpO2 numbers that the Apple Watch Series 6 can detect. Simply explained, respiratory rate is a measurement of how quickly you breathe, whereas SpO2 is a measurement of concentration. This means what follows.

Your blood’s oxygen saturation (or concentration) is indicated by SpO2 measurements on your Apple Watch. A higher score is preferable since it indicates that your blood can carry oxygen to your muscles and organs more effectively. A lower value, particularly one that is excessively low, is typically indicative of a medical problem, so we advise that you see a doctor to find out what might be wrong.

The respiratory rate displayed by your Apple Watch, on the other hand, is just the number of breaths you take each minute. When awake and not working out, an adult typically breathes between 12 and 20 times per minute. This number increases as you exercise and typically decreases when you are sleeping.

How to Use Sleeping Respiratory Rate Tracking on Apple Watch?

So now that you’ve read all that, if you’re wondering how to use sleeping respiratory rate tracking on Apple Watch, here’s how.

  • Make sure you have sleep tracking enabled on your Apple Watch. If you don t, you can check out our article on how to enable sleep detection on Apple Watch.
  • You will also need to update your iPhone to iOS 15 and update Apple Watch to watchOS 8 to get the feature. By the way, if you are not a developer, you can still update iPhone to iOS 15 without a developer account as well.
  • Now, you just need to ensure that you are wearing your Apple Watch to sleep, and it will start tracking your sleep respiratory rate.
Image Courtesy: Apple

How to Check Sleeping Respiratory Rate?

We have thus begun to monitor our sleeping respiration rate, but how can you access your data? On your iPhone, you can do it in the Health app. The steps are listed below.

  • Open the Health app on your iPhone and tap Browse on the bottom navigation bar.
  • Tap on Respiratory under Health Categories, followed by Respiratory Rate to see your sleeping respiratory rate data.

What are the Benefits of Sleeping Respiratory Rate Tracking?

Let’s look at the advantages that sleeping respiratory rate can provide us now that we understand what it is and how to use it. After all, there must be a purpose for using the feature.

A human adult breathes 12 to 20 times each minute on average while at rest, as I described above. When you exercise or push yourself, that number increases, and when you sleep, it decreases.

However, it could indicate diseased lungs if your sleeping respiratory rate is higher than usual when you are asleep. On the other side, if you have sleep apnoea, your breathing may stop and start periodically during the night. So monitoring your sleep breathing rate can help you make sure your lungs are in good shape.

Keeping track of sleeping respiratory rate on Apple Watch in watchOS 8 can help ensure your lungs are healthy

Sleep respiratory rate tracking can also help you determine how much REM and deep sleep you’re getting since our breathing slows down to deeper breaths at highly regular intervals during deep sleep and accelerates up to shallow, less regular breaths during REM periods.

Use Respiratory Rate Tracking on Apple Watch

A valuable new function that has been added to Apple Watches is the tracking of sleeping respiration rate. Since watchOS 8 has the capability, Apple Watch Series 3, Series 4, Series 5, SE, and Series 6 should also have access to it. Additionally, it will undoubtedly include it when the new Apple Watch Series 7 debuts later this year in the fall. Have you used the new respiratory rate tracking feature on the Apple Watch yet? What have you learned so far? Please tell us in the comments.