Struggling to sleep right now? Well pick up your phone, because we know just what might help. Picking up your phone to help you sleep may sound counterintuitive—we’re usually telling you to stay away from your phone, after all—but there are actually a number of phone apps out there which do just that. Oh, the irony. And while you think this list may simply be the best sleep apps related to your wind down routine, it’s much, much more—as you will soon see.
Best Wearable Sleep Tracker: Fitbit
Considering Fitbit is one of the best known wearable tech brands out there, any list of the best sleep apps would be naive to exclude them. Since 2019, their inbuilt Sleep Score has provided insights into sleep duration, sleep depth and even revitalisation to users across the globe. These metrics are compared against averages for your age and gender, plus your own benchmarks, helping you deduce what’s working for your sleep and what’s not. And of course, your Sleep Score can be compared against family, friends and co-workers—perfect for those who love a little friendly competition. All in the name of a good night’s sleep, right?Price: From $159
Best Non-Wearable Sleep Tracker: Pillow
Another leader of the pack, Pillow can be used to tack your sleep either by placing your phone next to your bed or by using your Apple watch. Monitoring sleep quality via depth, time spent in NREM/REM sleep and the time it takes you to fall asleep, unique features include a morning mood rating and audio tracking. The former grants insight into what sleep conditions you need to wake up feeling great, and the latter is ideal for sleep talkers, snorers or those (potentially) suffering sleep apnea. Finally, the ‘Snooze Lab’ shares personalised tips to improve your sleep, based on your sleep profile.Price: Free, with premium options
Best Morning Alarm: Sleep Cycle
Ever woken up despite sleeping eight hours and felt disastrously groggy? Most likely, you were woken up from stage 3/4 NREM sleep, your deepest stage of sleep. Jolting you out of this stage
contributes to sleep inertia—the feeling of being drunk upon waking. Avoid this problem with Sleep Cycle, which monitors your sleeping patterns and the time you spend in NREM/REM sleep by recording your breath and movement as you sleep. Just hit ‘start’ on the app before you close your eyes and put your phone on your bedside table. The app will listen in while you snooze (or snore) and is even sophisticated enough to tell your breath from your bed partner’s. Sleep Cycle will wake then you in your lightest stage of sleep, within a 30 minute window you select. Cue less morning fatigue, less morning brain fog and feeling more refreshed. Great for naps too.
Best Pre-Bedtime App: Headspace
A good night's sleep doesn't start from when you close your eyes. If you’re wanting to branch into the meditation world, Headspace is for you. First up, they offer a free 10 days basics course—which is actually how I learnt to meditate myself. Outside of that, their themed one, three, five and 10 minute meditations feel like they speak to you and your specific needs, with topics ranging from finding focus, stress relief and mindfulness. A final benefit of the app is their sleep section: complete with ‘Sleepcasts’ (storytelling), breathing techniques and sleep music.Price: Free, with premium options
Best Sleep Stories App: Calm
Along with being the spot where you’ll sleep stories ready the dreamy Matthew McConaughey (giver of both sweet dreams and day dreams), this app is perfect for those seeking a little daily Calm. Akin to Headspace, they offer meditations around relationships, emotions and mindfulness, ranging from three to 30 minutes in length. Experienced users will love the ‘breathe’ section: unguided meditations lasting for several hours and Calm Masterclasses. And then there are their sleep stories are read by everyone from actor Cillian Murphy to basketball legend Scottie Pippen. Cillian Murphy with me in my bed? That’s what I call a good night (sleep).Price: Free, with premium options
Best White Noise App: Relax Melodies
Find total silence uncomfortable? If the sounds of your Bunnings fan in the corner don’t send you off to dreamland, Relax Melodies has over 200 different sounds and melodies to block out any ambient noise—or cover up the silence. Nature sounds, ASMR, white noise, rainfall or healing music, whatever it takes, you’ll find it in their catalogue of sleepworthy noises. You can even set them to turn off after a set amount of time, so you don’t get interrupted once you’ve fallen into a deep, dreamless sleep.
Price: Free, with premium options
Olivia Arezolo is a Sleep Expert. With over 9 years of academics, she has been featured on The Today Show, writes with Daily Mail, and partnered with global brands Sealy Posturepedic and Ikea. Olivia’s expertise is delivering straightforward, science based strategies to improve sleep. Connect with Olivia via her website.
Image credit: Duncan Shaffer