Have you been having trouble sleeping? If so, you’re far from alone. A recent study in the journal Sleep Health indicated there are almost 5 million Americans who currently struggle with getting to sleep or staying asleep. The reasons for this can range from stress to using devices too late at night to eating too much at bedtime, but the result is usually the same: Another sleepless night that can lead to a lack of focus, irritability, or, worst of all, the next day. So, what can you do?
Enter sleep apps. All you need is your phone and some headphones for many of these, as they are often free or available for download for just a small fee. And depending upon what exactly helps you sleep (meditation, white noise, lullabies, etc.), there are numerous kinds available. Let’s explore some of the best apps to help you sleep.
Sleep apps: Which are the best?
Sleep experts have reviewed and ranked the best apps for sleep, and we went in for a roundup of the highest-rated. Here’s what we came up with, split into their proper categories.
White noise apps
Rainmaker: Considered to be among the best sleep sounds apps, Rainmaker is available for Android free of charge. Enjoy the pitter-patter of rainfall in the forest, on the porch, against windows, or into puddles. There are also many other rain sounds to listen to as you drift off to sleep.
Noisli: Combine a variety of sounds to create your individualized and tranquil sleep soundtrack. Choose from wind, thunderstorm, cups clattering in the hum of a bustling cafe, white noise, and more, and then save your selections in the app for the next night. Using the website is free of charge, but the app is $2 on iOS and Android.
White Noise: This app combines white noise, pink noise, and brown noise with other relaxing sounds, offering users the option to create their own soundtrack using up to five different sounds together. Choose from a crackling fire, dripping icicles, ocean waves, a fan, crickets chirping, a cat purring, and more. Set a timer to turn off the soundtrack when it’s time to start waking up, or set an alarm. Give White Noise a listen here. Get it on either iOS or Android for 99 cents.
Sleep cycle apps
Sleep Genius: Used by NASA, the Sleep Genius app is considered one of the best sleep cycle apps and can be purchased for both iOS and Android for $4.99 (premium). The basic version is free. Created to help astronauts sleep in space, this app trains your brain to fall asleep faster and wake up rejuvenated. It also comes with a Power Nap feature.
Sleep Cycle: Free on both Android and iOS, Sleep Cycle tracks your sleep patterns using a microphone and analyzes which sleep phase you are in, displaying graphs of your sleep cycles and waking times, etc. It eventually arrives at your ideal wake-up time and wakes you up during your lightest sleep phase, allowing you to feel refreshed.
Pillow: Also free of charge in the Apple store, Pillow provides advanced sleep tracking that automatically senses and monitors your sleep. Its algorithm creates a complex sleep stage diagram that features the length and times of each sleep stage entered during your sleep session. It’s integrated with Apple’s Health app as well, so you can know how your health and weight statistics factor into your sleep quality.
Headspace: Created by co-founder Andrew Puddicombe, a former Tibetan Buddhist monk, Headspace is free for basic content and $95 annually for full access on both iOS and Android. Use the free version to hear 45-minute audio experiences to help you relax and sleep, while the paid option gives over 40 themed meditations, plus a lot of sleepcast and music alternatives to thoroughly chill you out before bed.
Calm: The Calm app features a vast library of meditations made for sleep and lowering stress, as well as bedtime stories for both kids and adults featuring the gentle voices of celebrities like Laura Dern and Matthew McConaughey. Calm is free for certain features and $70 annually for the full gamut. Get it on iOS and Android.
**Note: Calm is currently free for teachers and schools.
10% Happier: This is one of the most varied apps for sleep, featuring assorted meditations ranging from just a few minutes to almost an hour, a vast array of courses on various meditation genres, and even the option to get help from a coach. You’ll get 10% Happier for both iOS and Android free of charge for the first session. After that, you can pay $15 per month or $100 per year for full access.
Other relax and sleep apps
Awoken: For anyone who has trouble with waking up due to dreams or has an interest in lucid dreaming, this app looks promising. Available free of charge with an in-app purchase for Android, Awoken helps dreamers become aware of their dreaming through journal and practice exercises.
Relax Melodies — Sleep Sounds: Free on both iPhone and Android, Relax Melodies combines music, relaxing sounds, brainwave beats, and guided meditation to create the ultimate personalized sleep app combination. One of the most unique free sleep apps, the sleepless will find countless combinations of sounds to suit their needs.
Pzizz: A favorite of NBA star Roy Hibbert as well as author J.K. Rowling, Pzizz offers insomniacs a treatment using psychoacoustics divided into over 100 billion sequences. The sequences, called focuscapes in the daytime, help users stay alert during the waking hours. Then, dreamscapes chime in to lull you to sleep at night. Get classic Pzizz for free, or spring for the premium paid version. Find the apps on iOS and Android.
Reflectly: For those who enjoy reflecting on their day, take a peek at Reflectly. It’s a journaling app, but you don’t even need a journal to use it. Use Reflectly as an intelligent journal instead. Let it ask you questions about your day, your thoughts on various subjects, and about any problems or issues you’re up against. With this as part of your bedtime ritual, you’ll likely find that you sleep better after releasing your worries into the journal. Another among the best free sleep apps (for the free trial portion, at least), Reflectly is available for $24 for three months and $48 per year after the free trial is over. Get it on either iOS or Android.
If you haven’t found what you need here, consider other options to see what might help you sleep better. Those who sleep hot or wake up with night sweats might do better with some cooling bedding or sleeping with the window open, a fan running, or the air conditioning turned up a notch. Your sleep position may not be a good match for your mattress or pillow, too. Don’t hesitate to pop into our sleep section for additional guidance.
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