The best sleep apps to help you snooze better

17 July

According to NHS statistics, almost a third of us suffer from insomnia or sleep concerns. What’s more, if you don’t get enough, you can’t function at 100% which leads to worry about getting to sleep and before you know it, a vicious cycle has started and can often lead to ill health, mentally,  physically, or both. It has been connected to lowered immunity, obesity, depression, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. 

Getting enough sleep is crucial for our health and wellbeing and it is recommended that as adults we get at least seven hours of shut-eye every night. However, according to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three of us do not achieve this. This is partly due to our busy lives, increasingly it is exacerbated by stress and our inability to switch off.  

In the past decade, developments in technology – particularly smartphones – has taken a huge amount of the blame for our growing insomnia problem and the internet is awash with tips on how to help you kick the technology habit. Studies have shown that things like blue light from your phone can affect your sleeping patterns, but if you’re careful there are ways in which using your phone might actually aid your sleep.

Here are some we think are worth trying – some people struggle to get to sleep, some wake after an hour or so, some drift in and out and never get a good stint and these apps cater for a range of types of insomnia.

FOR MONITORING YOUR SLEEP PATTERNS

App: Pillow

Pillow is an app with a sleep tracking alarm system, that uses your sleep patterns to help you wake up feeling refreshed.Many people ask ‘why am I not sleeping?’ which can create more stress and even less sleep, so if you want to understand what your body is doing at night, you might want to try Pillow. It’s a sleep tracking alarm system, that uses your sleep patterns to help you wake up feeling refreshed. It can gauge the quality of your sleep and offers a heart rate analysis as well as in-app purchases such as audio recordings to enhance sleep.

This app is free with in app purchases on iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch.

 App: Sleep Cycle

Sleep Cycle analyses your sleep in order to wake you up during your lightest sleep phase.Similar to Pillow, the Swedish-designed Sleep Cycle app analyses your sleep in order to wake you up during your lightest sleep phase. The idea is that this will help you feel less groggy during the day. This app is great if your main focus is waking up feeling good, but it doesn’t have any ‘going to sleep’ aids. That said, it must be doing something right when you get reviews like this one from The Guardian: “The result is so gentle and lovely it feels like being woken up by a mermaid stoking your hair or a unicorn nuzzling your toes.”

This app is free with in app purchases on iPhone and Android.

FOR DE-STRESSING AND RELAXING

App: Relax Melodies

Relax Melodies app helps you sleepWith more than 30 million users, this app must be doing something right – it combines more than 100 relaxation sounds, melodies, binaural beats, mindfulness meditations and white noise to allow you to create your own relaxing soundscape; you can set a timer so it plays all night or for a set time.

It is free on iPhone and Android.

App: Relax & sleep well

Relax and Sleep WellThis is the creation of clinical hypnotherapist and author Glenn Harrold and is excellent for helping you set up healthy sleep habits, especially if your sleep trouble is connected to anxiety and stress.

It has four free stress-busting meditations, plus a further 80 that can be purchased , covering anxiety, mindfulness, weight loss, confidence and self-esteem. There are background sound effects designed to help you fall into a deep relaxation and Glenn’s renowned calming voice helps ease you into a calm and quiet state.

This app is free on iPhones and Android.

App: Digipill

DigiPill is an app which uses a branch of psychology called psychoacoustics that focuses on our perception of sound and its impact on the brain.Digipill uses a branch of psychology called psychoacoustics that focuses on our perception of sound and its impact on the brain. Study in this area isn’t new – the Prussian scientist H.W. Dove was experimenting as far back as 1839 and in 1996, Dr Raymer Diston-Sommer worked with a number of Olympic athletes to study the impact of sound on sporting performance. 

The Digipill app takes typical behavioural changes that people want to make, such as better sleep, giving up smoking, relaxation and creates an audio ‘pill’ specifically designed to address the issue in question. You get one complimentary pill and then top up as you wish.

This app is free with optional in-app purchases on iPhone and Android. 

TO WIND DOWN

App: Headspace

Headspace is a meditation app will help you calm an overworked mind, which in itself can lead to a better night’s sleep.

If getting to sleep is your problem, it might be worth trying a meditation or mindfulness app such as Headspace. Although not specifically designed for sleep, this meditation app will help you calm an overworked mind, which in itself can lead to a better night’s sleep. It was set up by former monk Andy Puddicombe and is now used by millions of people all over the world.

Start with the free 10-day trial and then from there you can choose a monthly, annual or lifetime subscription to unlock specific medication packages to help you manage all sorts of day-to-day stresses.

This app is free with in app purchases on iPhone and Android.

App: Recolor

Recolor app is free with in app purchases on iPhone and Android and there are many free pictures to choose fromIf you loved colouring books as a child, then this is the app for you - you can choose from thousands of pictures to colour in on your phone. Adult colouring books have really taken off in the past few years but this way you’ve always got one in your pocket.

This app is free with in app purchases on iPhone and Android and there are many free pictures to choose from, or you can have unlimited access to all the pictures for $2.99 a month.

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