You may know that tweeting and texting in bed isn’t great for sleep—the stimulation of these activities can keep us wound up, and the blue light from our phones can even interfere with circadian rhythm. But your phone is also the gateway to hundreds of apps, podcasts and YouTube channels that can help you sleep better. Here are some of the best ways to use your phone’s power for good, and a few example downloads in each category.
Health and sleep advice
Let’s start with some sleep education:
· The Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris podcast explores the calming effects of meditation, teaching you how to do it, and providing practical wisdom to inspire you to try it yourself.
· The iBreathe app provides a simple interface to guide you through deep-breathing exercises, which you can use before bed or at any time to teach yourself how to use the breath for relaxation.
· Arianna Huffington has transformed herself from media mogul to wellness mogul, and her Thrive Global podcast and website offers free practical advice for living a more fulfilling life through the power of sleep.
Soothing sleep sounds
If you want to drown out ambient noise—or the oppressive quiet—there are a huge variety of soundscapes available:
· The Sleep Meditation Podcast provides 30- to 60-minute clips of soothing sounds. No matter what you find soothing, it’s probably here, with everything from airplane cabin noises to the rumbles of a purring cat.
· The Relax Melodies app has a large suite of tools to help you relax, and its sleep sounds are incredibly customizable—you can even integrate music from your own library into the perfect mix of calming sounds or guided meditations.
· The Sleep Sounds app lets you choose and customize your relaxing sounds, and it has a timer to let you fade the mix in or out as you like.
Guided meditations can either ease you into sleep or teach you valuable tools for unwinding:
· The Daily Meditation Podcast is a library of guided sleep meditations, featuring breathing techniques, affirmations and lessons on managing stress.
· The Insight Timer app has a customizable timer for your self-guided mindfulness, as well as hundreds of guided meditation offerings, with a huge sleep-focused category.
· Calm is a popular mindfulness app with guided meditations to manage stress, along with nature sounds and sleep stories to use as you drift off to sleep.
Sometimes a good story is exactly what you need to take your mind off the worries of the day:
· Snoozecast is a podcast featuring excerpts from public domain literature. New stories are added several times a week, so it has a large library to choose from.
· The “Sleep with Me” podcast aims to bore listeners to sleep with rambling, sometimes strange stories told in a deep, sonorous voice.
· Headspace is best-known as a meditation app, but its free version also offers a selection of “Sleepcasts”—little stories that help you visualize a calming activity, told in soothing voices.
· English Fairy Tales is a popular YouTube channel offering over 200 classic tales in its library.
Sleep tracking devices and apps can give you valuable information about every night’s sleep, and track trends over time. You can use any of these with just your smartphone:
· The Sleep Cycle app uses your phone’s accelerometer (you place the phone under the fitted sheet at the corner of your bed) or microphone to detect when you’re in deep or light sleep. The app gives you a readout of your sleep patterns and has an alarm clock designed to gently wake you while you’re in your lightest sleep phase.
· The SnoreLab app helps you monitor and track your snoring. It records you as you sleep and provides a breakdown of how long you snored and at what levels. If you’re interested in learning what causes you to snore, you can make notes about things like alcohol consumption to see how different factors affect your snore score.
· The SleepScore app uses your phone’s microphone to measure your breathing rate and body movement, and in the morning provides an in-depth analysis of your sleep quality. Once you have your starting “score,” you can use the app’s tailored recommendations to try to improve it.
Could a clean bedroom help you achieve better sleep? Read our blog post.