It wasn’t long ago that wearable devices did little more than track how many steps you took in a day. Now Samsung’s Galaxy Watch is getting ready to keep an eye on your (possibly undiagnosed) sleep apnoea. As with most new features from the South Korean company, it’ll turn up in its home country first before heading to the rest of the world.
Sleep apnoea tracking is coming to the company’s wearables early in 2024 following approval by Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS). This regulatory approval process is something the feature will have to clear in other countries before the Galaxy Watch family can (officially) keep an eye on your nocturnal rumblings.
Galaxy Watch you sleep
Sleep apnoea, in case you’re fortunate enough to have never encountered it, is when your breathing temporarily stops while you’re sleeping. It’s obviously very hard to diagnose this since you’re sleeping when it happens. Unless you’ve got someone sitting by your bed watching you sleep, it’s difficult to spot when it’s happening. Samsung reckons that the Bioactive sensor that lives in its Galaxy Watch lineup (from the Watch 5 onwards) can be of assistance.
The tracking won’t give you exact moments of stoppage and their length. That’s hard to do with a wrist-mounted device. Instead, Samsung’s sensor is supposed to estimate a number called an apnoea-hypopnoea index (AHI), which is the average number of times apnoea occurs in an hour. The Bioactive sensor inside the Galaxy Watch will track changes in blood oxygen levels over a tracking period in order to generate this number. In this case, a lower number is better.
Like most specialised tracking features, users will have to activate it. Specifically, users concerned about their night-time breathing will have to track at least four hours of sleep on at least two occasions over a ten-day period to learn their AHI. If it doesn’t look great, it’s off to a pulmonologist with you. The upside is that you’ll look a bit like Tom Cruise in Top Gun Maverick while you sleep. Or the WWE’s Big Van Vader. So there’s that.