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When’s the last time you got enough sleep? If you are like many Americans, it’s probably been a while. In a recently released policy statement, the American Thoracic Society advised that “good quality sleep is critical for good health and overall quality of life,” and that while the amount of sleep needed varies by individual and across one’s lifespan , “the optimal sleep duration for adults for good health at a population level is 7 to 9 hours.”
Unfortunately, many of us fall short. An estimated 70 million Americans suffer from a sleep disorder. The CDC has called insufficient sleep a public health epidemic—one that can increase one’s likelihood of suffering from chronic diseases (e.g., hypertension, diabetes, depression), as well as reduced quality of life and reduced productivity.
There is no shortage of sleep apps that aim to help consumers get a good night’s rest. They can help you relax, track your sleep rhythms and even wake you at the optimal moment. We’ve created a roundup of five top apps that offer various sleep-related solutions. They are available for Android and iOS devices and range in price from free to $3.99.
1. Classic tracker and smart alarm: Sleep Cycle
Sleep Cycle from Northcube AB is a consumer favorite—according to the App Store, it has been the No. 1 top paid app in the United States and many other countries. One reason might be its intelligent alarm. Using your smartphone’s accelerometer, Sleep Cycle determines which sleep phase you’re in and wakes you during your lightest phase. This app serves as more than an alarm clock. Its additional functions include a sleep aid to fall asleep, heart rate monitoring, and graphs that track sleep quality over time, among others. You can also sync Sleep Cycle with your Apple Health App.
App Store: $1.99
Google Play: $1.69
Requires iOS 7.0 or later and Android 4.0 and up
2. Slumber-time soundtrack: White Noise
White Noise from TMSOFT offers a serious selection of soothing sounds to help you sleep or simply relax amid life’s day-to-day chaos. The full, paid version includes 40 ambient sounds and access to free downloads. You can also record and loop your own, as well as mix and share your creations. In HealthTap’s 2014 AppRx Report—in which doctors choose the year’s best health and medical apps—White Noise ranked No. 1 in the Sleep & Dreams category for both Android and iOS devices.
App Store: White Noise Lite is free; White Noise is $1.99
Google Play: White Noise Free is free; White Noise is $1.99
Requires iOS 5.0 or later; Android requirements vary by device
3. Power nap companion: Pzizz
A nap can feel quite decadent, but short naps (20 to 30 minutes) also offer some benefits in terms of improving mood, alertness and performance. Touted as “the world’s most advanced sleep and power nap system,” pzizz (pronounced puh-ziz) incorporates “inspiring words, enchanting music, delightful sound effects and binaural beats” to relax and calm users’ minds., The app’s algorithm ensures that the soundtrack varies—there are more than 100 billion—which helps it remain effective. Use the power nap module for quick daytime refreshment and then use the sleep module for a solid night of slumber.
App Store: Free
Google Play: Free
Requires iOS 7.1 or later and Android 4.0 and up
4. Sidekick for snorers: Quit Snoring
Do you share a bed with a snorer? It might be worth your while to gift that individual the Quit Snoring app, developed and brought to you from a snorer himself. This clever app may not “cure” you, but it can help monitor and record your sleep. When you snore, the app will play a message and nudge you with a vibration—you can adjust the length, volume and intensity. It also graphs the incident and summarizes your night of sleep; you can add notes and answer questions about sleep quality and wakefulness. This is another app recommended by doctors in HealthTap’s 2014 AppRx Report.
App Store: $1.99
Google Play: $3.99
Requires iOS 5.0 or later and Android 2.2 and up
5. Pre-Slumber Soother: Yoga for Insomnia
Even if you aren’t plagued by insomnia, Saagara’s Yoga for Insomnia app can help you unwind and find calm before bedtime, as well as improve your sleep patterns and quality. The app “draws upon traditional hatha yoga and was formulated by an expert in ancient yogic practices.” It guides you through a series of HD animated yoga poses that are traditionally recommended for sleep disorders. You can adjust the difficulty level, customize your session, and learn more about each pose and yoga itself.
App Store: $2.99
Google Play: $2.99
Requires iOS 4.3 or later and Android 2.3.3 and up
1American Thoracic Society. “ATS Issues Recommendations on Healthy Sleep.” June 2015. http://www.thoracic.org/about/ats-perspectives/ats-issues-recommendations-on-healthy-sleep.php
2Firger, Jessica. “What Can You Learn From a Sleep Tracking Device?” CBS News. July 25, 2014. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/what-can-you-learn-from-a-sleep-tracking-device/
3U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Insufficient Sleep is a Public Health Epidemic.” Last updated Jan. 13, 2014. http://www.cdc.gov/features/dssleep/
4Availability and cost are subject to change.
5Apple App Store. June 23, 2015. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sleep-cycle-alarm-clock/id320606217?mt=8
6HealthTap. “HealthTap AppRx: Doctors Choose the Best Health Apps of 2014.” https://www.healthtap.com/top_health_apps_2014
7National Sleep Foundation. “Napping.” N.D. http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/napping
8App Store. “pzizz.” https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/pzizz/id915664862?mt=8
9pzizz. “What it is.” http://pzizz.com
10Saagara. “Yoga for Insomnia.” http://www.saagara.com/apps/yoga/yoga-for-insomnia