10 of the best sleeping apps

If you’ve been having restless nights recently, then you might be interested in trying a sleeping app. These days, there are so many different sleeping apps available, each one promising to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep for longer. But with so many to choose from, it can be tricky to figure out which ones are worth trying. 

With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of 10 different sleeping apps that you’ll hopefully find useful and will put you on the road to a better night’s sleep.

1. Calm

Free, with in-app purchases available 

Calm is an easy to use app that can help improve your quality of sleep. It features a ‘sleep stories’ section with various bedtime stories (for children and adults), which are read to you calmly by soothing voices. You can access a few stories for free, however, a paid subscription will allow you access to a larger range of meditations specifically designed for sleep.

Calm can also help with other things like stress, anxiety, self-esteem, and focus. Even if these aren’t specifically trouble areas for you, working on them will often subconsciously benefit your sleep quality because you’ll be able to relax better.

2. Pzizz

Free, with in-app purchases available

Pzizz is an NHS app that addresses the common issue of a ‘busy mind’ that keeps many people up at night. The app features voiceover narrations which are based on clinical sleep practices. There’s also calming music which can help you to switch off racing thoughts, relax your mind, and send you into a deep sleep.

Other features include a specialised three-minute morning alarm which is designed to wake you up gently and gradually. You can also select the option to play calming music throughout the night in order to prevent you being disturbed by external noises.

You can find out more about the Pzizz app on the NHS website.

3. Naturespace

Free, with in-app purchases available

If you enjoy a David Attenborough documentary every so often, then you’ll be a fan of the Naturespace app. Naturespace uses high-resolution 3D sound to transport you to different natural spaces across the planet, sending you into a deep state of relaxation. 3D sound is fairly new on the scene and works by tricking the brain into placing different sounds in different locations, even though it may be coming from just one area.

3D sound might sound a bit technical, but you don’t need any specialised equipment at all; just headphones and a comfy bed. Naturespace has a vast catalogue of natural environments to choose from which are great for managing stress and anxiety, tinnitus, PTSD, and insomnia. It can also help to improve focus, and fuel imagination andcreativity.

4. Headspace

Free, with in-app purchases available

If you’ve heard of Headspace before, you probably know of it as a meditation app. But it’s also great for sleep too. You can access long audio experiences for free, which are essentially adult bedtime stories. These last between 45-55 minutes and help you to visualize calming experiences, such as walking through a meadow. New stories are released to the app every night, so there’s always different variations to try.

If you decide to upgrade to the paid version of the app, you’ll also be able to access over 40 themed meditation courses too.

5. Sleep Cycle

Free, with in-app purchases available 

Our bodies make their way through a sleep cycle multiple times throughout the night, which consists of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, and non-REM sleep. Sleep Cycle is a great app for getting to grips with this cycle and understanding our own sleeping patterns. By using sound analysis, it identifies different sleep stages and tracks your movements in bed. With this information, Sleep Cycle can help you to understand how you can improve your sleep quality.

Other features include a smart alarm clock that’s channelled to wake you up in the lightest phase of sleep which can help to leave you feeling refreshed.

You can learn more about the different stages of sleep in our article The 5 stages of the sleep cycle explained.

6. Reflectly

Free, with in-app purchases available

If racing thoughts are keeping you up at night, then establishing a relaxing routine can help you to relax your mind before bed. Journaling is a great way to get your thoughts out in the open and off your chest before sleeping. But if you’re not sure where to start, then why not have a go at using Reflectly?

Reflectly is an intelligent journal app. It asks you guided questions which are intended as prompts to help you reflect on your day and record your thoughts. This can help provide a time window dedicated to moving past certain worries that would otherwise have kept you awake. You can learn more about the benefits of journaling in our article The power of journaling as a life habit.

Other features of the app include positivity reminders, a mood tracker, and gratitude diary.

7. White Noise Lite

Free to use

Throughout the night, our brains continue to process sounds, which if loud can affect the quality of our sleep. White noise is often recommended to people who struggle to sleep because it contains soundwaves with one audible frequency. To us, this sounds like a steady humming sound, for example, a fan, or humming air conditioner. These have been shown to mask loud sounds that can stimulate the brain during the night. You can utilise this with the White Noise Lite app, which offers a range of white noise sounds to listen to, including waves, rain, and vacuums.

One study found that white sound machines increased the sleep time of people with chronic sleep conditions from 4.75 hours to 7.08 hours after three days, compared to those without who saw no improvement. Other benefits of white noise include its ability to help build a night time routine by training the body to expect sleep when it hears white noise. It can also help people stay asleep and offer comfort to those who don’t like complete silence.

8. Slumber

Free, with in-app purchases available

Slumber offers a range of experiences that are designed to help you fall asleep. You can meditate, listen to bedtime story series, or fall asleep to comforting sounds, like that of a warm bubbling jacuzzi. To help you enjoy a deep restful sleep, the app also allows you to choose from a range of background noise (such as light rain or ocean waves) that will play for up to 10 hours after the main track finishes.

The app offers new sleep-inducing stories and meditations each week. You can listen to many of them for free, however, to access them all you’ll need to upgrade to the premium version.

9. Audible

30 day free trial, £7.99 per month subscription thereafter

Reading before bed has long been a popular method of calming the mind and shaking off the stresses of the day. However, it’s no secret that reading also requires concentration, effort, and a certain amount of self-disciple. If this sounds familiar, then you might be interested in trying an audiobook on Audible.

Audible has a large choice of audiobooks ranging various genres that you can plug into and enjoy before bed. It also features a sleep timer which automatically switches off the app by the time you’ve fallen asleep. Audiobooks can also help to reduce pressure on our eyes, address negative thinking, and reduce disturbance to others in the room (for example, by turning a side lamp on to read).

10. Ten Percent Happier

Free first session, paid for thereafter

Ten Percent Happier offers a wide range of guided meditations, including ones for sleep. These range from three to 45 minutes in length and are great for helping you to relax, de-stress, and fall asleep easier. The app can also help address feelings of stress, anxiety, and improve overall happiness and wellbeing.

Various meditation courses are available spanning various genres, and there’s also the option to message an expert coach for extra support and guidance if needed.

Final thoughts…

There’s nothing much more frustrating than not being able to sleep. Sometimes the stress and worry of everyday life can cause insomnia and leave us lying awake in bed turning our thoughts over.

Luckily, technology has stepped up to the mark, and there’s now a whole range of different sleeping apps available at our fingertips. Whether you’re looking to fall asleep to relaxing sounds, record the quality of your sleep, or establish a night time routine, there’s a sleeping app for you. Plus, since sleep is so essential for a healthy lifestyle, you’ll be working on your overall health and wellbeing too.

What are your favourite sleeping apps? What impact have they had on your sleep quality? We’d love to hear about your experiences. Join the conversation on the health section of the Rest Less community forum, or leave a comment below.

Links with an * by them are affiliate links which help Rest Less stay free to use as they can result in a payment or benefit to us. You can read more on how we make money here.

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