We all know that sleep is such an essential part of performing effectively, but it can be so hard to do, right? Below I’m going to show you my top 5 favorite apps that can help you sleep better.
While I am not perfect at getting in my sleep, I’ve come a LONG way. I used to get hardly any–I was running on fumes & when my kids would wake me up in the morning I was incredibly exhausted. I constantly felt behind before the day even started.
Not only that, but I knew sleep had such a signifiant impact on my day-to-day living. Kelly McGonigal, PhD, writes in her book The Willpower Instinct,
“Being mildly but chronically sleep deprived makes you more susceptible to stress, cravings, and temptation. It also makes it more difficult to control your emotions, focus your attention, or find the energy to tackle the big ‘I will’ power challenges”
Does any of that apply to you? I know that certainly has applied to me.
But don’t lose hope—I found that there are some fantastic apps out there that can help you sleep better.
The first phone feature I want to show you isn’t really an app, so I won’t count it in my list. It’s a more recent iPhone feature called the “Night Shift.” Basically this allows you to significantly reduce the level of blue light emitted from your phone at night (the blue light is what tends to keep you up late when staring at your phone).
Simply swipe up from the bottom of your phone and select Night Shift.
It will allow you to determine what time night mode will shut off:
As you can see–the blue light is diminished significantly. Now it’s more of a yellow tone:
1 | iPhone Bedtime
What is it:
The newest iOS 10 update is the Bedtime feature, and I absolutely love it. Basically what this app does is it helps you to identify a consistent bedtime & wake time for yourself. This consistency is going to help you sleep better over time.
Why I Like It:
We rely on phones to wake us UP, but there’s zero accountability as far as going to bed. This allows me to reverse engineer my goal to wake up at a particular time, but still get in enough sleep. I can customize what time I go to bed & what time I wake up, and ensure that I’m getting in enough hours of sleep. An alarm goes off in the evening to remind me to get my booty to bed.
I also like that it encourages me to have consistent sleep habits. I notice that when my body is in a rhythm of going to bed/waking up at the same time, I wake up easier.
OK there was one bad side effect, you get used to waking up early, even on the weekends. That sounds delightful, right? But my mom took the kids for the weekend and I thought, “Sweet, first time I’ve been able to sleep in in years.”….and then I woke up…at 6am. Well, I slept in a half an hour. Success?
How to Use It:
Sidenote: Does it drive you bonkers too that I have so many notifications on my phone? My husband goes crazy looking at my phone–it doesn’t phase me one bit!
Next, click on Bedtime.
This will show you your bedtime, wake time, and it tells you how many hours of sleep you are getting.
See that picture of the moon with the zzz’s? I can hold down on that and drag it to change the time I want to go to bed. Then in the center, the number of sleep hours will automatically adjust:
I can also drag that small bell symbol to the time I want to wake up. Again, the hours in the middle will adjust
If I click on the Options tab, I can adjust settings like days of week I want the alarm to go off, if I want a Bedtime reminder, I can select what sound I want my alarm to be. I love it because the alarm wakes me up so softly–it starts out quiet and gets louder. Since usually by 3am my son has wandered into my room to snuggle his Daddy, I love that I can catch the alarm going off before it wakes them up.
I can also customize the days of the week that I want to be awakened–what’s awesome about this is I don’t have to remember to set my alarm each night, it’s already set for me.
The app gives me a History of how I’m doing, so I can see any trends on when I am going to sleep & when I am waking up. I can adjust accordingly. But the #1 rule for me: be in bed 9 hours before I want to get up. Normally it takes me an hour before I actually FALL asleep, so being in bed for a total of 9 hours gives me that buffer.
What Is It:
I have been SWEARING by the Insight Timer lately. This app features over 2,000 meditations. Meditation has helped me get to sleep and to sleep better.
Why I Like It:
This app is crazy awesome, there are over 2,000 meditations on here. My favorite part: most of them have Australian accents–it’s pretty much like Hugh Jackman is lulling me to sleep. I flipping love it. I tried the American peeps who have meditation on there–nope, not the same. Wolverine & Thor are far more effective at helping me catch some ZZZs.
How To Use It:
Once you download it, click on Guided at the bottom of the app:
This then takes you to a page full of various meditations–I personally pick the Playlists option & select the Sleep category. Then you can browse which ones you want to try.
You can bookmark your favorite meditations on there by selecting Bookmarks in the top left.
Here are is my favorite meditation for sleep:
Only ONCE have I not fallen asleep in 20 minutes with this one, and that’s because my husband came in, shook me, and said, “Are you awake?” because he wanted me to look at the floating candle Harry Potter decorations he put up that he thought were pretty awesome (NOTE: as awesome as Harry Potter is, floating candles are NOT awesome when one is minutes away from sleep). Other than that situation, I seriously fall asleep every time.
I don’t know what it is, but this one works for me. It may not work for you, so don’t get mad! But keep trying to find the right one.
OK so maybe guided meditation isn’t for you, but how about trying even just 5 minutes of breathing?
Just 5 minutes of deep breathing could help you sleep better. One Study conducted at Brown University Medical School found that 5-minutes of breath-focus meditation each day helped recovering addicts to fall asleep faster. It ended up adding 1 hour a night to their sleep time (and reduced the risk of a relapse).
The Deep Breath app is so incredibly simple, which is what I love about it. No fancy bells and whistles. You enter in how long you want to breathe deeply:
Then you press Begin.
It will get lighter as you breathe in:
Then darker as you breathe out:
I just stare at the phone and breathe in & out. Now heads up—blue light emitted from phones does impair sleep cycles, so this is not something that I do RIGHT before bed. Perhaps right before I read.
Another app that is similar to this one is Breathe Deep – Personal Assistant for Breathing, Meditation, Pranayama Breath and Ujjayi. It’s not as simple, but I like that I can customize it to have me hold my breath for a few seconds on the inhale and exhale.
4 | Kindle
What Is It:
An app that allows you to read books from your phone.
Why I love it:
I love the Kindle app because I can easily read books with the lights out–this helps relax & gets me to sleep faster.
How to Use It
Lay with Head ON pillow: If I’m propped up, I’m not dosing off. I stay awake and alert
Have Lights Out: I turn off all lights in the room, the only light I have is coming from my phone (more on that in a second)
Adjust Visibility Settings: From my app, I adjust the settings in my Kindle to the absolute lowest brightness. Just tap on the center of your screen while reading, then a menu will pop up with the letters Aa at the top–select that:
You can then drag the key to adjust the brightness (notice below how it changes). I also recommend turning the background to black:
Look at how dark this becomes (see below). Now it still emits some blue light that could interfere with sleep, but not nearly as much as the blaring screen coming at us when we surf Pinterest until the wee hours of the night! (but remember, if you just can’t live without Pinterest-surfing at night, you could use that Night Shift feature I talked about earlier—but goodness, I bet that yellow tone would make food posts look pretty un-appetizing!).
Aaaaah I could shout about this app from the rooftops! It seriously SAVED me. I was in such a habit of sleeping in. My kids would always come in & wake me and I was so grumpy towards them! Yikes! I knew something needed to change, but try as I might to wake up early, I just couldn’t.
But then Sleep Cycle happened.
What Is It:
Sleep cycle is an alarm clock app that detects your movement and wakes you up when you’re in the lightest phase of your sleep.
You to set a half hour time window that you want to be awakened in, and it wakes you up when you’re in the lightest stage of sleep in that window.
Why I love It:
How many times have you woken up from your alarm and were in SUCH a deep sleep? It’s tough to wake up, right? This wakes me up in my lightest sleep cycle—I’m practically awake when it goes off.
Want to know something weird? I don’t use it anymore. WHAT?! Yep, you heard that right. I don’t NEED to use it. My body is now trained to get up at that time. I do, however, use their Power Naps app–I love that for a Power Nap!
How to Use It:
You set a timer for when you want to wake up:
Notice that you are not picking a specific time–you are picking a window. So it could wake you up at 8:00am, 8:05am, or even 8:30am. It all depends on your body’s cycle.
Then you put your phone under a sheet. Be careful here, don’t bury it under a pillow where it gets no air, you want to give it some circulation so it doesn’t overheat. It then detects movement & sound throughout the night. It’s CRAZY how accurate it is. I’m pretty sure Big Brother is spying on me or something 😉
Another great feature, which you see above, is it analyzes your sleep for you too. I’m a total analyzer, so I love this!
Those are my favorite apps to help me sleep better, but do you have some suggestions? I’m always looking to try new apps! Right now my focus for my Piece-Ful Pursuit Challenge is getting in better sleep. If you are someone always itching to grow & improve, you may want to check out the Free Piece-Ful Pursuit challenge.