According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society, adults should get at least 7 hours of quality sleep1 each night to maintain optimum health. Children2 have their own special sleep needs, which vary with age. Research3 indicates that one in three Americans report subpar sleep, representing almost 110 million of the country's total population4. On a global scale, Americans are among the top five nationalities5 that experience sleep issues.
Problems sleeping can be due to various factors, including excessive light or noise, stress or anxiety6, an uncomfortable sleeping environment or one of more than 80 sleep disorders7. Indeed, estimates suggest that between 50 and 70 million Americans8 have a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea, insomnia and narcolepsy9.
Aside from medical treatment, there are several tactics you can try to help improve your sleep, including improving your sleep setting and routine, limiting stimulants, and using aromatherapy. Additionally, several apps can help improve your sleep quality, including those that help you fall asleep, those that help you remain sleep and those that monitor your sleep and vital signs. The most popular and top-rated sleep apps include:
The Calm10 app is compatible with most Apple and Android phones and tablets. The app features a wide choice of relaxing stories to lull listeners to sleep. All tales feature a peaceful story line and soothing narration. They promote a sense of comfort and security11, allowing listeners to switch off from other thoughts and focus on the story before drifting off into a peaceful sleep.
Similar to bedtime reading12, specially designed bedtime audio stories can provide a distraction from daily stresses and strains, improve sleep quality, help people stay asleep for longer and ease insomnia. Audio books have the added benefit of being more widely accessible. People can also snuggle in bed with the lights off, getting comfortable for sleep, rather than needing to keep a light on, hold a book and focus on actually reading. Bedtime stories also help to create beneficial sleep routines for people of all ages.
The easy-to-use Noisli15 app is available for Apple and Android devices. It provides access to an array of sounds that help listeners block out other noise or simply focus on sounds they find pleasant and soothing. While some sounds are designed to boost productivity and help listeners focus on work, others are geared toward relaxation. Sounds include the gentle whooshing of a train, the chatter of a coffee shop, the lull of the ocean and tinkling rain. Known as pink noise16, studies have found that such noise can promote deep sleep17.
The app also features white noise18, which combines sounds at different audible frequencies for a uniform sound, like the static buzz-hiss of a TV or radio. This type of noise can mask other distracting sounds, such as traffic or pets, and may help listeners feel more in control of their sleep environment. Research suggests that listening to white noise can enhance the quality of sleep. 19
Developed by a team of sleep experts at Rise Science, the RISE app20 focuses on creating healthier daytime habits for better quality sleep. Using circadian rhythms21 and the concept of sleep debt22 as a starting point, the app monitors sleep patterns to calculate an individual's sleep debt and inform on sleep needs. The app makes tailored recommendations throughout the day to encourage healthier decisions for sleep. For example, it will advise when users should last consume caffeine during the day so as not to be too alert come bedtime23. It tells people when they should start winding down their day and preparing for bed, promoting a healthy sleep schedule24. Recommendations are based on a user's biology, and the app aims to improve lifestyle choice for better sleep to ultimately improve daily energy levels and wellness.
Sleeptracker - AI
The Sleeptracker – AI app works with several monitors, one of which is necessary for the app to function; it doesn't work as a standalone app. Among the best companion apps for sleep equipment users, Sleeptracker AI (when used with a sensor) monitors heart and respiratory rates and movement while sleeping. Data allows users to easily see if there are any problems they need to address with their physician and check all is normal when they are sleeping. Real-time monitoring is also possible.
Easy-to-read sleep graphs help users understand their sleep stages. The app produces tailored tips for enhancing sleep quality and breathing, and the alarm sounds at the best time of the sleep cycle25 for a refreshing start to the day.
Apps for Better Sleep
When used alongside good sleep hygiene practices26, such as avoiding stimulants, removing distractions and ensuring the bedroom is at an optimum temperature27, these apps may help improve the quality of your sleep.
- Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine: Recommended Amount of Sleep for a Healthy Adult
- Nemours KidsHealth: Kids and Sleep
- Gallup: Casper-Gallup State of Sleep in America 2022 Report
- United States Census: QuickFacts
- Statista: 39% Of Americans Can’t Sleep
- University of Utah Health: Stress can affect your sleep
- Cleveland clinic: Sleep Disorders
- National Library of Medicine: Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem
- Mayo Clinic: Narcolepsy
- CNN: Sleep Stories
- Healthline: How Cozying Up with a Good Book Before Bed Might Just Improve Your Rest
- Harvard Health Publishing: Mindfulness meditation helps fight insomnia, improves sleep
- National Library of Medicine: The effect of mindfulness meditation on sleep quality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials
- Healthline: What Is Pink Noise and How Does It Compare with Other Sonic Hues?
- Frontiers in Human Neruoscience
- howstuffworks: What is White Noise?
- National Library of Medicine
- National Institute of General Medical Sciences: Circadian Rythms
- CDC: Sleep Debt
- National Library of Medicine: Effects of caffeine on sleep quality and daytime functioning
- News in Health: Good Sleep for Good Health
- Medical News Today: The best time to sleep and wake up
- SoClean Sleep Talk: Everything you need to know about sleep hygiene
- Cleveland Clinic - What is the ideal sleeping temperature for my bedroom?