IF YOU FIND yourself tossing and turning at night, could your smartphone be the key to finally getting a good night's sleep? Wearable sleep monitors and sleep apps for your phone promise just that. The idea is that by tracking your sleep patterns and gathering all kinds of data on how deeply you slumber, you'll be able to make targeted adjustments to sleep better in the future.
Not all sleep apps are created equal, though. Some don't give you as comprehensive a picture because they don't measure as many parameters, such as movement, heart and respiration rates, while others require you to wear them (which can be uncomfortable) or keep your phone in bed with you.
Here are some of the best sleep apps and sleep monitors that are worth checking out to get greater insight into what your brain and your body are up to while you're dreaming:
Best Sleep Apps
Some of these these apps require that you take your smartphone to bed with you to track your sleep patterns.
- Sleepbot: This app has a sleep tracker that measures motion and sounds (like snoring) so you can track any disturbances. It also features a smart alarm that will go off during a window of time to catch you during light sleep, which should help you feel less groggy in the morning. The app also shuts off your phone and sounds to keep disturbances at bay while you rest.
- Sleep Time +: This app has similar sleep tracking and smart alarm functions, but it also offers several gentle alarm sounds to choose from as well as a menu of white noise and nature sounds to help you relax and fall asleep more easily. You can also take notes on sleep disturbances to compile a sleep diary for greater insight into your patterns.
- Sleep Cycle: If you don't want to have your phone in bed with you, Sleep Cycle is a good choice — it can be set to use the microphone to track your sleep patterns, which allows you to keep your phone on your nightstand instead of under the covers. The smart alarm wakes you during your lightest phase of sleep, and the smart snooze can be used to gradually wake you up by your morning deadline.
Best Sleep Monitors
Sleep monitors are separate pieces of equipment that are placed in, near or under your bed to track your sleep. Some are wearable bracelets as well.
- SmartWake: This new-to-the-market sleep monitor is actually a smart alarm clock that uses your sleep cycles to your advantage. The sensor (shaped like a thin disc) slides under your mattress to measure your sleep cycles by monitoring your breathing, heart rate and body movements. It sends information to your smartphone via Bluetooth, where the SmartWake App calculates the optimal time to wake you – which is during a light sleep phase – nearest the time you set for your alarm. It also helps you monitor your sleep patterns and provides sleep tips and alerts for improving your sleep quality. SmartWake is so sensitive that partners sharing a bed can each have one — without worrying about getting signals crossed.
- Sense: This sleep tracker is a decorative white globe that sits on your bedside table and monitors your sleep environment, including temperature, noise and air quality. It also comes with the Sleep Pill, a motion detector you use on your pillow. Sense is voice activated and can be connected to a Nest thermostat and smart light bulbs to control your bedroom environment. White noise and a smart alarm round out the package.
- Fitbit: Fitbit bracelets allow you to track your sleep by measuring your motion during the night. The corresponding app or computer program allows you to see the data and use it to set sleep goals, bedtime reminders and decide on target wake-up times to get better rest as you change your patterns. Fitbit also tracks physical activity to help reach exercise and fitness goals.
No sleep app or monitor can provide instant results, but you can use the data and smart alarms to better understand your sleep patters and craft a better sleep plan for transforming your slumber.