Sleep deprivation has been linked to numerous health problems, including heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Even just one night of poor sleep can have a profound impact on cognitive function the next day, leading to workplace accidents and car wrecks. The problem is so widespread that the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) has declared poor sleep a public health crisis.
How Can You Get Better Sleep?
Sleep quantity and quality are both important. Practicing good sleep hygiene consistently is the best way for most people to improve both of these factors. Sleep hygiene includes behaviors like maintaining a regular bedtime, going to bed in time to get enough sleep, and creating a sleep-promoting environment. While that sounds like a lot of work, technology can make it easier. There are hundreds of new sleep apps available for virtually every device and platform to help with many of the aspects of getting better sleep.
Best Sleep Apps
With app designers racing to capitalize on the need for sleep assistance products, the market is flooded with apps and gadgets all claiming to help you attain snooze nirvana. We’ve waded through features and reviews to make it easier for you to find the perfect app solution for your sleep problems.
Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock
One of the newest trends in sleep technology is the sleep cycle app. It accesses your phone’s microphone and analyzes the sounds of your sleep--breathing, snoring, tossing and turning--to track your sleep cycle, the REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM phases that make up each night of sleep. It helps you pinpoint problems, such as sleep apnea, and it gives you the option to wake during the lightest sleep phase, so you don’t start your day feeling groggy and disoriented.
iPhone’s “Bedtime” Feature
This free feature is built into the newest iPhone operating system. It lets you set a bedtime and reminds you when it’s getting close, and it lets you select peaceful wake-up music as your daily alarm.
Sleep As Android
This sleep cycle app and alarm combo offers a few bonuses in addition to standard sleep app features. You can choose from several nature-themed wake-up sounds, and there’s an optional setting that tests your awareness when shutting off your alarm--no more accidental oversleeping because you turned it off in your sleep!
More than just a sleep app, SmartWake is a sleep monitor system. It uses cutting-edge medical monitoring technology to monitor vital stats during sleep, including heart rate, breathing, and movement, giving you a comprehensive picture of your sleeping habits. It also has an alarm component that wakes you during the lightest phase of sleep.
Sleep Easily by Shazzie
Rated by Healthline as one of the best apps for insomnia, this sleep music app contains 26 minutes of meditative music designed by a sleep guru. These tunes promote deep relaxation that can help you drift off to dreamland.
A word of caution: tech devices, like smartphones, can contribute to sleep problems. The blue-toned light their screens emit inhibits melatonin production. Some smartphones have a programmable “night mode,” which shifts the screen to a yellowish shade intended to cut down on the negative effects of blue light near bedtime. The jury is out on how much this helps, so it’s best to limit your exposure to screens for at least 90 minutes prior to bedtime.