Is Garmin gearing up for a new blood oxygen feature?

A few users have noticed a new Sleep Pulse Oxygen widget in the Garmin Connect app which introduces an enigmatic category called “Events.” This addition has sparked curiosity and speculation among users, raising questions about the company’s future plans for sleep health tracking.

Garmin blood oxygen tracking: The basics

Many Garmin watches have the ability to provide blood oxygen data. Compatible watches utilise a combination of red and infrared lights along with sensors on the back of the device. These sensors determine the percentage of oxygenated blood (SpO2%) available in your bloodstream. Generally, this value should be 95% or higher but can vary based on factors like altitude, physical activity, and individual health conditions.

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Users have several blood oxygen modes to choose from, including spot check, all-day, and sleep mode. It’s worth noting that enabling Pulse Ox tracking for sleep or all-day use will reduce the battery life between charges—a trade-off to consider when activating this feature.

While the data is insightful, it’s crucial to remember that Garmin does not diagnose any medical conditions. Most users utilise this feature for general informational purposes, but it seems Garmin is planning to elevate the utility of this functionality in the near future.

The new “Events” category

Recent updates to the Garmin Connect app show a new section labeled “Sleep Pulse Ox,” which includes a mysterious “Events” category. This term is deliberately vague, opening the door to various interpretations. For the moment, the category is there for a handful of users – but it is not populating with any data.

Garmin blood oxygen

One plausible explanation is that “Events” could track significant fluctuations in blood oxygen levels during sleep. These fluctuations might be an indicator of an underlying health condition such as sleep apnea. Although Garmin watches are not FDA-cleared for medical diagnosis, having a record of such “events” could serve as a preliminary data point for users considering professional medical consultation.

The feature could potentially capture other sleep-related occurrences, such as periods of rapid heart rate, sleep disturbances, or irregular breathing patterns. This would allow users to have a more nuanced understanding of their sleep health, beyond just blood oxygen levels.

Athletes aiming to optimize sleep for performance enhancement would find this feature particularly useful. Understanding the various “events” during sleep could inform decisions about training schedules, rest periods, and nutrition.

Moreover, for individuals with specific health concerns, such as respiratory issues or cardiovascular conditions, the “Events” feature could offer a more detailed picture of their sleep health. This could be particularly useful for preemptive health management, allowing users to take timely action before minor issues escalate into more serious conditions.

The caveat to all of this is that it is difficult to track such events with precision from something sitting on your wrist. The data can be thrown off by a range of factors, for example body positioning.

Next quarterly update might focus on sleep metrics

Perhaps the feature may come with the next quarterly update. This will, most likely, begin to land in the weeks ahead.

Hopefully, along with the new “Events” feature, the nap tracking and Sleep Coaching functionality from the Venu 3 and Vivoactive 5 will trickle down to Fenix, Forerunner and other Garmin timepieces. For years, the company has trailed behind in the sleep tracking field, but Garmin now appears to be shifting its focus toward offering a more detailed and sophisticated understanding of sleep health and recovery.

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Marko Maslakovic

Marko founded Gadgets & Wearables in 2014, having worked for more than 15 years in the City of London’s financial district. Since then, he has led the company’s charge to become a leading information source on health and fitness gadgets and wearables.

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