Does anyone actually get a good night’s rest anymore? Everyone complains about being tired, forced to stay up late, waking up during the night, tossing and turning, and other issues. Sleep just doesn’t come easy.
And if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re desperate for better sleep.
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
Sleep as Android
Not only is Sleep as Android one of the best sleep tracking apps, 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, it can play lullabies to help relax your mind, it has CAPTCHA wake-up verification so you don’t snooze back to bed, anti-snoring measures, sleep talk recording, sleep apnea pre-screening, and more.
Other notable features include integration with smartwatches and wearable devices, Philips Hue smart bulbs, social media, and Spotify.
Download: Sleep as Android for Android (Free, premium version available)
Sleep Cycle was once a paid-only app but now has a free version, which is great because it’s easily one of the best sleep tracking apps currently available. And even better, it’s 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 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 feel more refreshed.
But don’t worry: if you’re still sleeping by your wake-up time, it’ll force you awake.
With a premium plan, you can track long-term sleep trends, take sleep notes to see how various factors affect your sleep quality (like caffeine, diet, and stress), compare your sleep data against world sleep stats, back up your sleep data online, and more.
Good Morning does basically the same job as Sleep Cycle. The app tracks how well you sleep using your phone’s sensors, then tries to wake you up during your lightest sleep phase so you feel a refreshed as possible.
So why would you choose Good Morning over Sleep Cycle?
Good Morning has detailed statistics that are presented in a more visually pleasing manner. You can also create sleep goals and reminders that nudge you toward a healthier sleep routine. Nightstand mode is nifty if you want to use your phone as a bedside clock.
The Best Blue Light Filter Apps
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 day turns to night.
The goal is to eliminate (as much as possible) the “blue light” that’s emitted by your screen during the hours before you sleep. Blue light has been shown to disrupt the body’s circadian rhythm, which can cause difficulties falling or staying asleep.
Blue light filters really do work. In fact, not only should you install Twilight on your Android devices, you should also install F.lux (a similar app) on your desktop and laptop. 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 for Android (Free)
CF.lumen is an app that’s actually designed to control Android screen brightness, but it includes a blue light filter feature (similar to Twilight) that automatically warms the screen color based on the device’s light sensor.
While CF.lumen is free to use, you’ll encounter some limitations unless you purchase the premium version. The option to auto-launch the app when the device boots is disabled, none of the notification options are available, and there are minor nags to upgrade.
Download: CF.lumen for Android (Free, premium version available)
There aren’t any reputable blue light filter apps for iOS, because apps can’t access the parts of the OS necessary to filter blue light. However, starting with iOS 9.3, iPhones have 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. You can also set a custom Night Shift schedule if you want more control.
The Best Sleep Meditation Apps
Calm is one of the apps we frequently recommend for destressing and relaxing. It’s not specifically meant for improving sleep, but clearing your mind before going to sleep can work wonders.
In short, Calm is a guided meditation app. Just play one of the many programs available and let it lead you towards 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.
A Soft Murmur
Equipped with individual sound loops, A Soft Murmur allows you to mix and match many kinds of white noise and background sounds to create your own soundscapes and atmospheres.
You can also customize each individual sound’s volume, which is something a lot of white noise apps can’t do. In addition to using it as a sleep aid, A Soft Murmur comes in handy when studying or even just lounging.
Four base sounds are free, with six extra sounds available as a single in-app purchase.
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. (Read the science of how Pzizz works.)
Using it 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 use headphones or earbuds for the best experience. While Pzizz is free, the paid subscription comes with many more dreamscapes and a few extra features.
Note: Pzizz is a massive app with a download size of 550MB due to all the sound files it contains. Make sure you’re on Wi-Fi when you download and install it!
More Tips to Help You Fall Asleep
Science is still catching up, but current evidence does support the idea that apps, sounds, music, and guided meditations really can help with falling and staying asleep. The most relaxing songs according to science are good examples.
But you can do more.
See our tips on effective relaxation techniques, and if you still can’t fall asleep, we recommend checking out some devices and gadgets to help you sleep better. For example, the ResMed S+ Sleep Sensor sits on your nightstand, monitors your sleep, and gives suggestions on what you can do for better sleep!