Apple Watch may lock after going to sleep

AppleWatchIf you have an Apple Watch and are finding you need to unlock it regularly after it has gone to standby mode while still on your wrist, then you are not alone. Recently the Apple Watch was found to have troubles reading heart rates, especially for those with tattoos and other obstructions on their wrists, but the problems that cause the watch to miss heartbeats may also have the watch assume it is no longer on your wrist, and thereby lock itself for security.

The Apple Watch senses a connection to your skin by emitting green and infrared light pulses and then measuring the spectral response from your wrist; however, the threshold for this response is low enough that in some conditions, the watch does not find what it is looking for. In some cases, heavily inked tattoos have been the cause for this problem, but this may happen more with the Space Gray watch, suggesting there might be interference with how the color of this watch affects the spectrum emitted from your wrist. In addition, other dark objects you may have close to the contact point of your wrist and the watch may affect the connection.

This has affected the reliability of the heart rate monitor of the watch, but in addition may affect the watch’s detection of your wrist altogether. This in turn may trigger the watch’s security features, requiring you to enter your passcode often when you need to check something.

As with the heartbeat monitor, this may require several software updates for Apple to adjust the way sensor data is handled, but in the mean time there are several things you can try to prevent this problem from occurring:

1. Adjust the watch on your wrist

If the watch is somewhat loose on your wrist, then try going one notch tighter to ensure the back of it stays pressed against your skin. Conversely, if the watch has a death-grip on your wrist, then consider loosening it a touch. In addition, while not a practical option for some people, if you do not mind wearing the watch on the under-side of your wrist, then you may have better results with it there than in the classic position.

2. Unlock the watch before wearing it

When you unlock your watch, it may calibrate its connection to your wrist, and if you are wearing it, then this may adjust the watch’s threshold for detecting when it is removed. Therefore, remove it from your wrist, unlock it, and then put it back on to see if this helps.

3. Apply pressure to the watch sensors

While somewhat of a hack approach, some have found the sensors appear to work better if you remove the watch and then apply pressure to the back of the watch. To do this, hold it in both hands with the watch facing outward and with both thumbs on the back of the watch, and then press down on the back and squeeze the watch firmly. Try this several times and in several different angles, and then see if the watch’s sensors are more reliable.

4. Disable wrist detection

The watch’s wrist detection is one of its main security features, and is recommended to keep active especially if you use the watch for Apple Pay and any other confidential purposes; however, if not then you can bypass this problem by disabling wrist detection. To do this, open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, then go to My Watch > General, and toggle the Wrist Detection switch.

5 thoughts on “Apple Watch may lock after going to sleep

  1. Tony Lindsey

    One extra possibility: The Apple-brand straps with the magnetic closure (like my Milanese Loop) LOOSEN as you wear them. Three or four times a day, it challenges me for the passcode, after I have to tighten it, AGAIN.
    Luckily, the cheap, Chinese-made Apple Watch Adapters are EVERYWHERE on eBay and, and they allow you to use any one of millions of non-Apple-brand straps, all of which have excellent buckles that don’t loosen.
    I have at least a dozen non-Apple straps now, and adapters on each set. I can swap-out the straps in mere seconds.

  2. Gregor (@gregor_r)

    And I thought, I’m the inly person WITHOUT a tattoo that has this issue. The problem is that when you disable wrist detection it also “forgets” that it is worn after a few seconds and then you get no notifications at all. So unfortunately this does not help.
    Nevertheless, unfortunately all the other tricks don’t seem to change anything on my watch :/

  3. Bryan

    Did you ever find a solution? I sent mine into Apple for a warranty repair but they sent it back unchanged because they could not “reproduce the problem.”

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