Garmin’s Beta firmware 18.12, initiating the Q1 2024 software update cycle, introduces a notable feature to the Forerunner 255, 955 and 965 watches: the Sleep Coach. This release is part of Garmin’s shift to a quarterly update schedule, a change implemented approximately a year ago.
In the last quarter of 2023, the focus was on adding nap tracking capabilities. Now, with this latest update, the emphasis is on improving sleep quality through the newly integrated Sleep Coach feature.
Understanding Garmin’s Sleep Coach
The Sleep Coach, powered by Firstbeat Analytics, is an important tool. First introduced on the Venu 3 a few months ago, it’s a personalized sleep guide adapting to your lifestyle and training needs.
Here’s how it elevates your sleep experience:
- Personalized Sleep Baseline: It starts with a baseline sleep requirement, adjusted for age, and then dynamically changes based on your daily activities, recent sleep patterns, naps, and heart rate variability (HRV). For instance, a 35-year-old’s baseline starts at 7 hours and 50 minutes.
- Activity and Sleep Interplay: Your daily physical exertion significantly influences your sleep needs. A rigorous workout day might increase your sleep requirement, while a relaxed day could reduce it. The Sleep Coach takes into account both your daily and long-term activity levels.
- Heart Rate Variability (HRV) Insights: HRV, a measure of the variability between heartbeats, plays a crucial role. Higher HRV indicates better recovery and readiness, while lower levels might suggest stress or incomplete recovery.
Alongside the Sleep Coach, Garmin’s Nap Detection automatically tracks and integrates your naps into your overall health metrics. It offers guidance on the optimal duration and timing for naps, enhancing your recovery and daily energy levels. Your naps also influence the Sleep Coach recommendations.
Each evening, you can check how much sleep you need to put in to fully recover for the next day. Sleep Coach is shown as a widget on your Garmin watch. You can also view the recommendations in the Sleep section of Garmin Connect. Next to the Sleep Score you will be able to see a Sleep Coach tab.
Interestingly, Garmin has released version 4.74 of its iOS Connect app today. Most likely this is in order to support the new devices with the Sleep Coach feature. So if you are updating to the latest Beta on your watch, make sure to update your smartphone app as well.
As this is an early Beta, you need to be part of the Beta programme – and you need to initiate the download of firmware 18.12 manually from your watch. Further down the line, it will transition to the regular Beta – this will automatically install for those enrolled in the Beta program.
Why this matters for athletes and active individuals
For athletes and fitness enthusiasts, balancing training with adequate rest is vital. The Sleep Coach and Nap Detection provide a comprehensive view of how daily activities impact sleep and performance. They offer actionable insights, helping you optimize your training and recovery.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
Garmin has just published the change-log for firmware 18.12. Here are all the changes.
- Adds Auto Activity Detect transition for multisport profiles.
- Adds Lap Undo.
- Adds Sleep Coach glance.
- Adds database of 400m running tracks all over the world.
- Adds Jump Rope activity profile.
- Improved turn point course navigation.
- Improved headset compatibility (255 Music versions only).
- Fixed strength profile set weight now remembered in structured workout.
- Fixed backlight brightness level when using real time settings.
- Fixed truncated text on map navigation data fields.
- Fixed touch screen settings when in sleep mode.
- Various bug fixes and improvements.
It will be interesting to see what other models get the Sleep Coach feature. Most likely it will extend to the Fenix 7 series, Epix 2, and more.
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