There are several sleep apps that have hit the market with the goal of helping you to fall asleep, stay asleep, and monitor your sleep. It seems like we utilize technology for everything from tracking fitness to staying in touch with friends on social media. So why not consider sleep apps to help you sleep?
In today’s busy world, many adults don’t get the sleep they need. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 35 percent of adults in the United States report they do not get enough sleep. Between work, family responsibilities and everyday chores, sleep may take a back seat. But getting enough shuteye is vital for overall health, which is where a sleep app may help.
Need to Sleep? There are sleep apps for that
Sleep apps can do everything from tracking your sleep patterns to helping you relax so you can fall asleep. Keep in mind, even the best app cannot replace good sleep hygiene habits. But if you can use a little extra help getting quality sleep, consider the following sleep apps:
Awoken: If you’re like most people, you’re not aware when you’re dreaming or even remember most of your dreams. On the other hand, lucid dreaming involves being mindful you’re dreaming when it is occurring. Awoken is a sleep app which combines a journal and practice exercises to help you achieve lucid dreaming and dream awareness. (Android; Free)
Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock: Normally, your alarm clock is probably set for a specific time. You may be jolted awake at any point during your sleep cycle. The Sleep Cycle Alarm app records your sleep habits and using the sleep cycle theory; the alarm wakes you during light sleep. The way it works is you set a window of time to wake up. This sleep app senses your sleep movements and rings to wake you at the optimal time in your sleep cycle, so you wake feeling refreshed. (Android, iOS; $0.99-$1.99)
Relax Melodies: It can be hard to relax before hitting the sack. Relax Melodies allows you to combine sounds and melodies with guided meditation and brainwave beats to help you unwind and ease into sleep. You’ll never get bored with the same sounds since the combinations that you can create are vast. (Android, iOS; Free)
Sleep Cycle Power Nap: Sometimes a nap can do a world of good. The Sleep Cycle Power Nap app allows you to set the time for a short 20-minute power nap or a full nap of 90 minutes. Your phone’s accelerometer senses when you fall asleep and then sets the alarm to wake you up. The sleep app also has various sounds to help you relax so you can fall asleep. (iOS; $1.99)
Pzizz: For some people, it’s difficult to turn off all the activity of the day and unwind. Pzizz is a sleep app that combines music, sound effects and binaural beats. Pzizz uses an algorithm to generate a slightly different soundtrack each time you use it. But the sounds are similar enough that your mind associates them with sleep, helping you relax and get your zzz’s. (Android, iOS; Free)
White Noise: If you like to fall asleep to the sounds of ocean waves or other soothing sounds, White Noise may be a sleep app to try. The app comes loaded with several looped sounds, such as a burning camp fire, a boat swaying and thunder. You can also set a gentle alarm to wake you up, such as a guitar strum, chime or violin. (Android, iOS; Free)
Relax & Sleep Well Hypnosis: Although it may not work for everyone, hypnosis has been used to treat a variety of issues, such as pain, alcoholism and smoking. Some people also use self-hypnosis to treat insomnia or other problems sleeping. If the idea of hypnosis sounds strange, don’t worry. Hypnosis won’t put you in a trance. Instead, hypnosis is used to help you get into a deep state of relaxation. Relax and Sleep Well Hypnosis is an app that can guide you through the process. The app combines voice led hypnosis and relaxing sounds to lull you to sleep. (Android, iOS; Free)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Getting Enough Sleep. https://www.cdc.gov/features/getting-enough-sleep/ Retrieved December 2016.
Sleep Apps Revealed – Study ShowsThere’s Room for Improvement
A new study analyzed 35 of the most popular phone sleep applications and found that, while they all help people make sleep goals and manage their sleep habits, very few employ additional methods that would help those with chronic sleep deprivation.
Some of the apps use methods like colors and images, calming music, and nature sounds to soothe the listener. Others use white noise, hypnotic techniques, and guided meditation imagery. Interestingly, fewer than half of the apps offered any information about sleep. Less than 15% of apps listed risks of sleep deprivation and the benefits of a good sleep pattern. Researchers reported these findings in the journal, Preventive Medicine Reports.
Diana Grigsby-Toussaint, Kinesiology and Community Health Professor at the University of Illinois, reported being surprised by some of the apps, especially since they did not mention anything about the recommended amount of sleep one should get on a regular basis. She was particularly surprised by the lack of information about sleep benefits. Grigsby-Toussaint led this research with scientists from the New York University School of Medicine.
Initially, researchers started out screening 369 of the most popular sleep apps that are available on iPhones and Androids. They then chose English language apps, apps with more than 1000 reviews, and a monitor or tracker app that had at least 100 users.
Furthermore, the research team looked at apps that had components that were shown to benefit people who were looking to improve the duration, regularity, and quality of sleep. For instance, they looked for apps that had reminder messages that helped users reach their goals. They also looked for those that offered positive reinforcement techniques on social media. They gathered information on whether the app provided user education about sleep habits and how they interfered with or enhanced restful, quality sleep. Design and functionality were considerations as well.
Researchers are generally more inclined to pay attention to the accuracy of sleep apps with regards to tracking sleep patterns; however, Grigsby-Toussaint and the rest of her team wanted more. They wanted to find out if any of the apps were helping users improve their sleep habits.
It is important to determine these factors from a population health standpoint so that they can recommend better ways to design sleep apps so that they offer the most benefit. Additionally, the team wanted to determine ways the apps could increase engagement and help users get to the point where they are ready to make positive changes to their sleep habits.
Generally, the apps were well-designed and easy to use. Most of them helped with tracking sleep patterns and making goals; however, very few of them had additional features that would encourage and support behavior changes. For instance, only four of the apps analyzed provided users with information about the risks of sleep deprivation, such as diabetes, obesity, depression, and high blood pressure. Four apps offered users information about habits that interfere with sleep, like caffeine or alcohol and screen time before bed. Only six of the applications offered reminder messages. Just one of the apps offered positive reinforcement with rewards or praise for reaching a goal.
This research shows how much room there is for improvement in popular sleep apps that could improve the health of a growing population.
We hope that these sleep apps will help you to better monitor your sleep giving you the tools to sleep better.