Is anyone actually getting a good night’s rest anymore? It seems like everyone I know complains to some degree about being tired, forced to stay up late, waking up during the night, tossing and turning, etc. Sleep just doesn’t come easy.
Just look at all of the sleep-improving smart gadgets that are out there — as well as all of the sleep-related mobile apps on the Play Store, App Store, and even Windows Store. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you’re desperate for better sleep.
But can a mobile app really help you sleep better? They sure can, under the right circumstances. Keep reading. The first half of this post explores apps that directly track your sleep while the second half explores apps that may help you in other ways.
Sleep Tracking Apps
A sleep tracking app does exactly what it sounds like: sits next to you on your bed as you sleep and records your movement using your device’s built-in accelerometer. The method isn’t perfect, but it’s a great first step if you aren’t sure how good your sleep quality even is.
1. Sleep as Android
4.3 rating over 218,564 reviews.
Not only is Sleep as Android one of the best sleep trackers currently available, but it’s also one of our favorite alarm clocks for Android. This behemoth of an app is so much more than just a sleep tracker — to the point where we recommend that you give it a shot even if you never use it as a sleep tracker or an alarm clock.
Notable features include integration with smartwatches and other wearable devices, integration with Philips Hue smart bulbs, social media integration, snoring detection, sleep talk recording, soft and natural lullabies, Spotify integration, and even jet lag prevention.
Download: Sleep as Android (Free, $4)
2. Sleep Cycle
4.5 rating over 25,495 reviews.
The lack of a free version is a big reason why people tend to overlook Sleep Cycle, yet even so, it’s used by nearly a million users. There are thousands of anecdotes out there of how Sleep Cycle actually works. They can’t all be wrong, can they?
In short, Sleep Cycle tracks your sleep cycles and attempts to wake you up during the lightest phase of sleep — at least within a 30-minute window prior to your desired wake-up time. If you don’t enter a light sleep phase during that time, it’ll wake you up anyway.
Download: Sleep Cycle ($1)
3. Good Morning
4.4 rating over 6,844 reviews.
Good Morning is basically the same thing as Sleep Cycle — except free. I’ve been using Good Morning for several weeks now, and I’m impressed by what it can do, though at the end of the day, it’s functionally the same as other sleep trackers.
You set a wake-up time, place your device near your head, and go to sleep. It’ll wake you up as close to your desired wake-up time as possible while making sure you’re in as light a sleep phase as possible. Also, I prefer the way it visualizes your sleep quality through the night more than Sleep Cycle.
Download: Good Morning (Free)
4. Sleep Better
4.1 rating over 90,366 reviews.
Runtastic has put out a lot of Android apps over the years, and in doing so has earned a lot of trust from users who are conscious about health and fitness — and being maintained by Runtastic is one of the main reasons to pick Sleep Better over the other apps.
In addition to sleep tracking, Sleep Better lets you enter other daily variables (e.g. caffeine and alcohol consumption) and analyzes whether those things have an impact on your sleep quality. The Premium version introduces other features like a smart alarm, sleep history, and filtering analyses based on daily variables.
Download: Sleep Better (Free, $2)
5. Sleep Time
4.1 rating over 27,028 reviews.
By now, it should be pretty clear that all of these apps operate in the same basic way: you sleep, they track, and you learn about how well you’re sleeping. Which one you should choose simply comes down to which one you feel most comfortable using.
Sleep Time has a unique and clean interface that makes it straightforward to use. I actually like it a lot, and I’m thinking of switching from Good Morning to Sleep Time because of it. Other than that, it doesn’t have many distinguishing features — perhaps the sleep-tracking algorithm better, but that’s hard to judge without seeing the source code.
Download: Sleep Time (Free, $2)
Sleep Improving Apps
Sleep tracking is best for figuring out whether or not you’re getting good quality sleep. If you aren’t, then these next few apps will take you in the right direction towards rectifying that.
Twilight is a must-have app for every Android user. You input your location (or let it figure it out based on your GPS data) and Twilight will “warm up” your screen as day turns into night. The goal is to eliminate as much “blue light” in the hours before you sleep because that can interfere with your circadian rhythm (“biological clock”).
Does it really work? It absolutely does. In fact, not only should you install Twilight on your Android devices, you should also install F.lux on your desktops and laptops. The “warm” screens will look weird during the first few days, but once you get used to it, you won’t notice at all.
Download: Twilight (Free, $3)
Download: F.lux (Free)
Pzizz’s claim to fame is that it will “deliver sleep at the push of a button”. That may be somewhat hyperbolic, but the basic concept of this app really does work. Whether you want better nights of sleep or more satisfying power naps, Pzizz is the app you’ll want.
All you have to do is set a time limit on how long you want to sleep, with limits ranging from 10 minutes to 12 hours. During that time, Pzizz will play music and sounds that are optimized for good sleep. Headphones or earbuds are recommended, but speakers work fine too.
Download: Pzizz (Free)
Warning: Pzizz is over 140 MB so make sure you only install it over Wi-Fi. The large size is due to all of the music and sounds that are played by the app.
Calm is one of those apps that we frequently recommend for mindfulness meditation and for destressing your mind. It’s not specifically meant for improving sleep, but clearing your mind before going to sleep can work wonders.
You can either use Calm prior to sleeping, or you can listen to it while you sleep. If you don’t like the music and sounds offered by Calm, consider one of these other similar apps instead.
Download: Calm (Free)
Do you snore? If your answer is no, have you considered that maybe you do snore and you just aren’t aware of it? And for those of you who already know that you snore: Have you had any success in reducing how often and/or how loudly you snore?
Snoring isn’t just annoying for those around you — it’s actually quite bad for your health. It disrupts your sleep throughout the night, thus impacting sleep quality, and it can lead to more serious ailments like sleep apnea, heart strain, and low oxygen levels in your blood.
SnoreLab records and tracks your snoring every night. This lets you hear just how bad your snoring is and see at what time the snoring happens most often. The app even offers suggestions on ways to reduce your snoring, though it’s obviously no replacement for the advice of a medical professional.
Download: SnoreLab (Free)
10. Sleep Calculator
One of the more commonly-accepted theories of sleep is that we go through multiple “cycles” every night, and that these cycles tend to last about 90 minutes. If you wake up during the wrong part of a cycle, it could leave you feeling groggy for the rest of the day.
Using this theory, Sleep Calculator can:
- Tell you the best times to go to sleep if you want to wake up at a certain time.
- Tell you the best times to wake up if you go to sleep right now.
- Tell you the best duration if you took a nap right now.
You can customize your sleep cycle (not everyone has the same cycle length) and you can also tell the app how long it usually takes for you to fall asleep after getting in bed, which it will incorporate as part of its calculations. Note that this app doesn’t have an alarm clock of its own.
Download: Sleep Calculator (Free)
Website: Sleepyti.me (Free)
Other Ways to Improve Your Sleep
Let’s be clear: all of these apps can certainly prove useful, but if you think one or two apps will magically turn your sleep quality from “crap” to “heavenly”, then you may be overestimating their effects. At best, an app will bump you up about one level — say, from “unpleasant” to “okay”.
If you’re consistently getting poor quality of sleep, take a step back and consider whether you’re overworking yourself. Look into your device usage and computer habits too. Are you relaxing and blowing off steam with hobbies? All of these things matter, perhaps more so than using an app or two.
How bad is your own sleep quality? Have you ever tried one of these apps? Which ones worked well and which ones didn’t? What other methods do you use to improve your sleep? Let us know in a comment below!