How Does Snapchat Know You‘re Sleeping?

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Have you ever wondered how Snapchat seems to know when you‘ve dozed off for the night? You‘re not alone – Snapchat‘s sleep tracking abilities have long fascinated users.

Let‘s explore exactly how Snapchat determines sleep patterns, why they track this info, and how to stop the slumber snooping if desired.

The Short Answer – Analyzing Activity

In short, Snapchat makes an educated guess that you‘re asleep based on detecting periods of inactivity on your phone. It combines that idle time with factors like your location and time zone to make the sleep determination.

But there‘s more to it than that simple explanation. Let‘s dive deeper into how Snapchat knows when you‘re sawing logs.

Monitoring Phone Activity and Screen Time

The primary signal Snapchat relies on is phone inactivity. For example, if you stop using Snapchat, texting, emailing, or any apps on your device for an extended period, say 60-90 minutes, Snapchat takes note.

This inactive screen time, particularly late at night, is a strong indicator that you‘ve drifted off to dreamland. But again, Snapchat doesn‘t definitively know if you‘re asleep or just not handling your phone during that time.

According to 2021 data from RescueTime, average daily phone screen time is 3 hours, 45 minutes. And that time is concentrated in usage sessions of less than 5 minutes. So prolonged inactivity of 60 minutes or more is statistically likely to mean sleeping.

Additionally, Snapchat can detect if you aren‘t playing music via Spotify or another app during inactive periods. Lack of audio input is another clue that your eyes are closed.

Location, Location, Location

Assuming you have location services enabled, Snapchat leverages your physical location to make the sleep assessment.

If your phone is inactive around your typical home location, especially late at night, Snapchat will infer you are in bed. Out and about town locations paired with inactivity may be chalked up to things like waiting in line versus sleeping.

They also track location changes. So if you start the night at a restaurant but transition to home, then go inactive, chances are high you called it a night.

Time Zones and Sleep Science

Snapchat factors in time zones to estimate normal sleeping habits. The average adult sleeps 6-8 hours per night, often between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

So prolonged inactivity between, say, 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. aligned with your time zone makes it highly probable you‘re unconscious. Snapchat combines all the contextual signals – time, place, inactivity – to make an educated bet on whether or not you‘re sawing logs.

Why Track Sleep at All?

You may be wondering why Snapchat even bothers building in sleep detection. After all, Facebook and Instagram don‘t tell the world when you‘re dreaming.

The feature emerged as part of Snap Map‘s location sharing capabilities. Snapchat wanted the map to feel alive and reflect what friends were actually up to in real-time.

Your Bitmoji sitting statically at home all night wasn‘t very engaging. Enter the sleeping Bitmoji to show your status when inactive for long periods.

The Bitmoji sleeping also aims to provide social context to friends checking the map. They can quickly see who‘s awake and available versus unconscious if they want to send a Snap.

User Concerns Around Sleep Tracking

While clever, Snapchat‘s sleep tracking capabilities have also raised user concerns:

  • Privacy – Some find 24/7 tracking of activity and location invasive, even if data not shared publicly.

  • Accuracy – Algorithms aren‘t perfect. Inactivity doesn‘t always mean sleeping. Can misrepresent user state.

  • Security – Location data presents risks if accessed by bad actors.

Ultimately it comes down to user choice and individual comfort levels. But it‘s good to understand what‘s being monitored and why if you opt into Snapchat‘s social maps.

Stopping Snapchat‘s Slumber Snooping

If the thought of Snapchat reporting your sleep habits freaks you out, there are a few ways to stop it:

Disable Snap Map Location Sharing

The simplest option is to toggle off Snap Map in your Snapchat settings. This prevents your Bitmoji from appearing altogether. But it also stops you from accessing maps to see friends‘ locations.

Enable Ghost Mode

Ghost Mode specifically hides your location from others while still letting you see friends. Great for maintaining access to maps while keeping your sleep patterns private.

Restrict App Background Access

Modify system settings to restrict Snapchat‘s ability to run in the background and monitor activity when not actively using the app. This limits its ability to track inactive time.

Turn Off Location Services for Snapchat

Via phone settings, you can disable location sharing specifically for Snapchat. Without location access, Snapchat won‘t have the context to make accurate sleep assessments.

Use Airplane Mode at Night

Putting your phone in airplane mode disconnects all network access when you‘re asleep. This prevents Snapchat from syncing any usage data during inactive periods.

The Bottom Line

While Snapchat‘s sleep tracking capabilities may seem creepy, the app is upfront about monitoring factors like activity, time, and location to enable social map features.

Ultimately it comes down to user choice to opt in and personal comfort with data being leveraged, even if anonymized. At least now you know exactly how Snapchat determines your sleep patterns should you wish to disable the slumber snooping.


Written by Alexis Kestler

A female web designer and programmer - Now is a 36-year IT professional with over 15 years of experience living in NorCal. I enjoy keeping my feet wet in the world of technology through reading, working, and researching topics that pique my interest.