Sleep is as important for your health as food, air, and water. Without it, you risk a range of symptoms, ranging from the relatively harmless, such as fatigue and irritability, up to the life-threatening, such as obesity, depression, and illness – even death.
Yet many of us don’t sleep enough. In the U.S., over a third of people don’t get the minimum recommended seven hours. Left untreated, mild sleep loss can quickly become chronic (insomnia), leading to hallucinations, premature aging, and worse.
Thankfully, there are many smartphone apps out there that can help you get a good night’s sleep. We’ve split them into three different categories and chosen the best app for each one.
1. Preparing for sleep – Buddhify – $4.99
At its heart, Buddhify is a meditation app, but it’s so much more than that. Designed to be simple, intuitive, and easy to use, the app lets you choose different meditations based on what you’re doing or feeling. Tapping a segment of meditation wheel opens up a choice of meditations all designed to fit your present mood and circumstances.
You’ll find categories like Traveling, Stress & Difficult Emotion, and Work Break. But most importantly, there are a number of sleep-inducing meditations, including Can’t Sleep and Going to Sleep. You can also choose different meditation wheels, each curated by the Buddhify team (or you can make your own), including a whole wheel dedicated to sleep called Sleep Issues.
Buddhify is an excellent way to prepare your mind for sleep. It calms intense emotions, stops rumination, and relaxes your body – the perfect conditions for a great sleep.
2. Falling asleep – Noisli – $1.99
It’s no secret that many of us find it easier to sleep with background noise. I don’t mean the repetitive thump of a rave next door or the wailing of some drunkard on a karaoke machine, but the sounds of nature, or the proven memory and sleep-enhancing benefits of white or pink noise.
Noisli is a noise generator, and includes sounds such as rain, rustling leaves, railroad tracks, forest, waves, and white, pink, or brown noise. Noisli helps you fall asleep by grounding your brain in a simple sound instead of the tiny, variable noises that interrupt the silence of your bedroom and cause your brain to react.
One of Noisli’s best features is being able to combine different sounds, allowing you to recreate a stormy night, or an island retreat with just a few taps. It’s also got a timer that turns Noisli off after a set period of time, so you won’t wake up to a lifeless smartphone in the morning.
3. Waking up and sleep tracking – Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock – Free
Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock improves sleep in two different ways.
First, Sleep Cycle helps you wake refreshed and well-rested by only waking you during a light sleep phase.
During the night, your brain goes through different phases of alternating deep and light sleep. If your alarm goes off during a deep sleep phase, you’ll wake feeling groggy and grumpy.
To prevent this, Sleep Cycle analyses sound and movement through your smartphone’s speaker and accelerometer to decide the best time to sound its alarm (during a 30 minute window before you need to get up).
Second, Sleep Cycle tracks your sleep patterns, giving you graphs and statistics on your time in bed, different cycles, total hours slept, and many other factors. You can then use this data to improve your sleep.
There’s nothing quite like a good sleep. You feel it in your body and brain, and it can help you start the day with positivity and confidence. If you’d like to know how well you’re sleeping, take the World Sleep Survey. Then download the apps above and enjoy blissful nights of restful sleep.