Does anyone actually get a good night’s rest anymore? Seemingly everyone complains about being tired, needing to stay up late, waking up during the night, tossing and turning, and other issues. Sleep just doesn’t come easy.
If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re desperate for better sleep, too. But can mobile apps really help you sleep better? Under the right circumstances, yes they can. Let’s look at the three types of apps that can help you get better sleep: sleep tracker apps, blue light filter apps, and sleep meditation apps.
The Best Sleep Tracker Apps
These three apps help you work on your sleep and track it nightly to discover how you can make improvements.
1. Sleep as Android
Not only is Sleep as Android one of the best sleep-tracking apps, but it’s also one of the best alarm clock apps for Android. It does a lot more than that too, and we recommend you install it even if you never use it as a sleep tracker or alarm clock.
For example, this app can play lullabies to help relax your mind and has CAPTCHA wake-up verification so that you don’t snooze back to bed. It also has anti-snoring measures, sleep apnea pre-screening, and more. Other notable features include integration with smartwatches, wearable devices, and music from Spotify.
Download: Sleep as Android for Android (Free, in-app purchases available)
2. Sleep Cycle
Sleep Cycle is easily one of the best sleep-tracking apps available on both Android and iOS. In short, Sleep Cycle tracks your sleep cycles and attempts to wake you up during the lightest phase of sleep that’s closest to your wake-up time.
Waking up during deep sleep can leave you groggy for the rest of the day, while waking up during light sleep can help you get started feeling more refreshed. But don’t worry: it’ll still force you to wake up at your scheduled wake-up time, so you won’t oversleep.
With a premium plan, you can track long-term sleep trends and take notes to see how various factors, like caffeine, diet, and stress, affect your sleep quality. Then, you can compare your sleep data against world sleep stats and back up your sleep data online.
Sleepzy does basically the same job as Sleep Cycle. The app tracks how well you sleep using your phone’s sensors and then tries to wake you up during your lightest sleep phase so that you feel as refreshed as possible. So, why might you choose Sleepzy over Sleep Cycle?
Sleepzy has detailed statistics that are presented in a more visually pleasing manner. You can also create sleep goals and add sleep notes that nudge you toward a healthier sleep routine. The downside: you have to bear with some intrusive ads now and then.
The Best Blue Light Filter Apps
These three apps can optimize your phone’s screen to help you fall asleep faster.
Twilight is a must-have app for every Android user. Just input your location or let it decide based on your GPS data and it will automatically “warm up” the color of your screen as the day turns to night. The goal is to eliminate blue light that’s emitted by your screen as much as possible during the hours before you fall asleep. Blue light can disrupt the body’s circadian rhythm, which can cause difficulties falling or staying asleep, according to Harvard Health.
If you’re not convinced, read more about how blue light filters really do work. Not only should you install Twilight on your Android devices, but you should also install F.lux, a similar app for your desktop or laptop computer. The warm screens will look weird during the first few minutes of use, but once you get used to it, you won’t notice at all.
Download: Twilight for Android (Free)
2. Blue Light Filter
This app is similar to Twilight, but you might prefer Blue Light Filter if you don’t want too many options to tinker with. There is a certain simplicity to Blue Light Filter that makes it really easy to use. Blue Light Filter is also an Android-only app. iPhone users will want to try the next entry in the list.
Download: Blue Light Filter for Android (Free)
3. Night Shift
There aren’t any reputable blue light filter apps for iOS because apps can’t access the parts of the operating system necessary to filter blue light. However, since iOS 9.3, iPhones have had a built-in blue light filter feature called Night Shift.
Night Shift is simple but effective: it changes the warmth of the screen color depending on the times of sunrise and sunset, just like the above apps. You can also set a custom Night Shift schedule if you want more control. This is just one tip for making iOS more pleasant to use at night. You should also know that Night Shift is available on Mac devices, too, so you should utilize it everywhere if you use your computer at night.
The Best Sleep Meditation Apps
Here are some useful sleep meditation apps that help you fall asleep.
Calm is a guided meditation app, and one of the apps frequently recommended for destressing and relaxing. It’s not specifically meant to improve sleep, but clearing your mind before going to sleep can work wonders.
Just play one of the many programs available and let it lead you toward relaxation. In addition to meditation, Calm can play music, help you breathe, and read out “sleep stories” that are designed to help you fall asleep. While Calm is free to use, a paid subscription unlocks many more programs, guided meditations, and sleep stories.
2. Sleep Sounds
As the name suggests, Sleep Sounds plays a number of sleep-friendly sounds to help you fall asleep. You’ll find some default soothing sounds to listen to on the app’s home page. In addition to that, you also have the option to create custom sounds, which can be one or more sounds combined. The app offers a lot of its sounds for free. However, you need a premium version to unlock a bunch more sound options.
Pzizz claims that it can “deliver sleep at the push of a button,” and thousands of users swear that it really works. Here’s the idea behind how it works: by combining voiceover narrations with techniques like guided imagery, mindfulness, progressive muscle relaxation, and even hypnosis, Pzizz creates psychoacoustic dreamscapes that actually help you fall asleep. Check out the science behind how the app works on the Pzizz website.
Using the app is simple. Just set a time limit for how long you want to sleep and let Pzizz do its job. Every session is unique, so you won’t adapt and cause it to become less effective. Speakers are fine, but using headphones or earbuds is ideal. While Pzizz is free, the paid subscription comes with many more dreamscapes and a few extra features.
Use Your Phone to Sleep Better
Each of the apps listed above is effective in its own way. However, you might need to use a combination of two or more apps to make it work for you. And as sleep science keeps evolving, these apps will likely evolve with it.