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How to use Apple Watch’s fantastic nightstand mode

Have you heard of the Apple Watch’s nightstand mode? I knew about it from digging through the settings in the iPhone Watch app, but I never tried it out. I wear my watch while sleeping, mostly so I get a nice haptic alarm in the morning instead of an audible iPhone alarm. But if you charge your watch overnight, you should almost certainly be using nightstand mode, aka bedside mode.

Nightstand mode

Nightstand mode turns your Apple Watch into a bedside clock. When your watch is charging on your bedside table, it will show the time, full-screen, along with the date and current charge level. If you have an alarm set, it will show the time of that, too. Like this:

Charge your Apple Watch in nightstand mode, and it becomes a tiny alarm clock.
Charge your Apple Watch, and it becomes a tiny alarm clock.
Photo: Apple

The display will switch off, until you touch the watch or tap the surface it’s sitting on. Mine lights up when I make a move toward it — that’s how sensitive the Apple Watch’s motion detection is.

Snooze your Apple Watch alarms

When the alarm time approaches, the Apple Watch screen will light up, getting brighter as the target time approaches. Then, a calming alarm will sound. You can then choose to snooze or dismiss the alarm, using the Digital Crown or the side button. As these both appear on the top of an Apple Watch in nightstand mode, it’s easy.

Snooze or stop an alarm in Apple Watch nightstand mode.
Snooze or stop an alarm in Apple Watch nightstand mode.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

If you snooze the Apple Watch alarm, you get a new countdown in amber, below the green time readout, along with a Zzz icon in blue. (You can see this view at the top of this post.)

Nightstand mode alarms only work if you set them using the watch’s own Alarms app. The excellent feature where the watch takes over iPhone alarms, and alerts you with a haptic tap instead of the audio alarm, is only available when you are wearing the watch. This includes the iPhone’s Bedtime feature. In short, if you want to use the Apple Watch’s alarm when it’s in nightstand mode, you have to set that alarm on the watch itself. You can of course do this using Siri.

How to enable Apple Watch nightstand mode

Swithc on nighstand/bedside mode in the iPhone Watch app.
Switch on nighstand/bedside mode in the iPhone Watch app.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Nightstand mode is a great Apple Watch feature, and I might even switch to using it over wearing the watch in bed. To enable nightstand mode, also known as bedside mode, just head to the Settings section of either the watch itself or the iPhone Watch app. You’ll find it in the General section. Sweet dreams!

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