As a nation, we’re not getting enough sleep. According to a 2016 study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three adults in the United States is not able to get the recommended seven hours a night of peaceful shut-eye, which can actually have a major impact on health and overall well-being. But sometimes, no matter what you do to fix your sleep schedule and catch up on some much-needed z’s, training your body to get enough rest remains a tricky and sometimes frustrating process.
If you’re not able to hire a sleep coach or another health professional to help you on your way to a better night’s sleep, there are plenty of sleep apps (with both free and paid-for, subscription-based versions) that use the power of technology to help you fall asleep, track your sleep cycles, and stay informed about your body and what it needs. Next time you find yourself tossing and turning, try one of these apps to get a better night's rest. Sweet dreams!
Sleep apps to try:
The Calm app is packed with features designed to help you achieve your wellness goals, including getting better sleep. You can choose from a variety of relaxing guided meditations of all different lengths (ranging from three to 25 minutes) as well as try out their “Sleep Stories” feature, which is a compilation of soothing bedtime stories.
Additionally, Calm has a great selection of breathing exercises that often include visualizations to sync your body and mind, which can be helpful additions to your daily wind-down routine.
2. Relax Melodies
Particularly if you’re a light sleeper and small sounds bother you or you find it hard to fall asleep in complete silence, Relax Melodies is a helpful app that allows you to create custom sound mixes to drift off to. Mix and match over 150 soothing sounds (including nature sounds, white noise, ASMR, and more) to create your perfect soundscape.
Learn more about your personal sleep biology with Rise, an app that uses data from your phone and/or wearable tech (like an Apple Watch) plus biomathematical models from sleep science to calculate things like your melatonin window, your daily energy peaks and dips, and more. Then, it will give you customized routines to help you overcome sleep challenges and get a better understanding of your typical sleep cycles. Plus, this app allows you to talk to expert sleep guides for additional advice when you need it.
4. Sleep Cycle
If a loud alarm clock is too jarring a wake-up for you, consider the Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock app, which tracks your sleeping patterns and gently wakes you up during your lightest sleep phase, which makes it easier for you to feel more naturally rested without the suddenness of an abrasive conventional alarm clock. An intelligent snooze feature lets you snooze through your wake-up phase to gently wake you up by your desired rise time. Plus, you can view your average sleep cycle with helpful graphs, too.
Curious how much good sleep you’re actually getting? Pillow is an app that turns your smartphone into a sleep tracker and helps you better analyze the quality and quantity of sleep you’re getting each night. Simply place your phone near your bed and open the app before you'd like to sleep to signal that it’s tracking. You’ll be able to explore your sleep trends, including wake cycles and your REM sleep, and keep track of additional factors like what mood you’re in when you wake up.
If you need a little bit of motivation to go to bed and wake up at a more reasonable hour, this quirky sleep app is for you. After setting a bedtime and wake-up goal, you can open the SleepTown app before bed and it will start constructing a building to show how long you're not on your phone. Make sure not to scroll on your phone past that bedtime goal, though, or your building won’t be made! Then, wake up at or before your wake-up goal to see the finished building. Seeing a new building in the morning will motivate you to wake up! Repeat these steps every day to maintain a regular sleep cycle and create a lovely "SleepTown.”
7. Relax and Sleep Well
This app combines powerful hypnotherapy techniques with state-of-the-art recording technology. You can choose from four free hypnosis and meditation sessions lead by expert Glenn Harrold that use soothing background sound effects, helpful affirmations, coaching, and hypnotherapy techniques to ease your mind and calm your body into a more restful state before bedtime.
Another app that’s great for falling asleep is Noisli, which lets you choose from a ton of high-quality ambient noises (like thunder, rain, the ocean, or even the buzz of a coffee shop). These sounds can help you focus while working, relieve anxiety, and, of course, help you relax while reading or before going to sleep.
You’ve probably heard of Headspace as a meditation app, but it has some great sleep features, too. Each night you can listen to a different “Sleepcast,” which is an audio experience that helps you visualize a calming story or experience (like walking through a garden, for example). You can also play some relaxing music or try out a guided meditation course that’s specifically made for sleep and stress.
Designed to encourage sleep, this app has several helpful features, including guided sleep meditations lead by experts, soothing stories told by a therapeutic hypnotist, and peaceful soundscapes designed to lull you to sleep.