While we all instinctively know that sleep is vital to a balanced life, logging those essential hours may, at times, seem impossible. When merely falling asleep is a challenge of its own, you can begin to worry that regular, high quality sleep is somehow out of reach.
Today, we live in an era of digital devices where apps are available for nearly everything. Because we believe that great sleep should be the obvious product of positive self-care, we don’t typically encourage the use of gadgets in the bedroom. However, if our typical recommendations for lulling yourself to sleep with a calming sleep routine aren’t enough–such as taking deep breaths, relaxing more, implementing a meditation practice, taking a warm bath before bed, and creating a sleep sanctuary–there are apps that can help as a last resort.
Here are our top four, favorite apps to help you sleep better, live better, and wake rested and rejuvenated each morning:
Lauded as the “#1 app for mindfulness and meditation to bring more clarity, joy, and peace to your daily life,” the Calm app offers meditations of all shapes and sizes – an array of guided meditation sessions, breathing bubble visual meditations, and a timer for silent meditations. Their new 10-minute, pre-sleep program, Daily Calm, can help you to unwind before bed though you must be a subscriber to unlock these guided sessions.
Price: $12.99/month, $59.99/year, or $299.99 for a lifetime subscription
Reviews: 1,177 current version, 19,662 all time – five star
Interesting features: For beginners, intermediate, or advanced users, the app experience begins with users choosing their top goal: learning to meditate, reducing stress, sleeping better, increasing happiness, improving focus, reducing anxiety, building self esteem, or developing gratitude. Additionally, Calm’s “Sleep Stories”–which are the equivalent of adult bedtime stories– will lull you to sleep in no time.
Potential concerns: Some users complain that recent versions have locked much of the free content that had been previously available.
By tracking your sleep using only the microphone already installed in your cell phone, Sleep Cycle doesn’t require any additional hardware. Instead of rousing you from a period of deep sleep, this app gently awakens you from your lightest sleep cycles within thirty minutes of your desired wake-up call.
Price: 1 month free, $29.99/year
Reviews: 1,254 current version, 105,478 all time – five star
Interesting features:. While in the app’s early stages you needed to place the phone under your pillow, now placing it on your nightstand is enough to fully track your sleep. However, if you do feel uncomfortable having your phone close to you when you sleep, you may set it to Flight Mode without any interruption to its efficacy. Added bonus: snore detection.
Potential concerns: Some users feel that non-movement related periods of wakefulness are not adequately accounted for with this app.
Though this app has substantially fewer reviews than the previous recommendations, it’s been featured by some highly respected sources including WIRED, Lifehacker, Gizmodo, and Mashable and boasts “the most accurate tracking algorithm” of any sleep app available. Like the Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock, this sleep tracker is also a smart alarm that wakes you in your lightest phase of sleep…but, in addition, it functions as an ambient sound machine.
Reviews: 468 current version, 1,675 all time – four star
Interesting features: Some teeth-grinding-reviewers use the audio recording feature to monitor the severity of their sleep grinding at night.
Potential concerns: The app doesn’t appear to recall your alarm time, so you need to reset the alarm each night before bed.
With no shortage of high quality sleep sounds, this app has 74 sounds and counting. From rain falling on a tent to the sounds of a windy storm, this app allows you to mix tracks and individually control their volume levels. (For example, you can customize the sounds of ocean waves mixed with the sounds of a thunderstorm. Very soothing!) Additionally, their sleep timer allows sounds to fade out after a predetermined length of time.
Reviews: 3,602 current version, 14,056 all time – five star
Interesting features: Though it’s called Rain Rain, it has all types of nature and non-nature sounds.
Potential concerns: According to some reviewers, it could be a major battery-suck if your phone isn’t plugged in and charging overnight.
Do you have a favorite sleep app? Tell us in the comments!