It shouldn’t shock anyone to learn that we as a population are not good at maintaining healthy sleep patterns. According to the CDC, more than one-third of Americans get less than the recommended amount of sleep nightly. Not getting enough quality sleep on a regular basis can lead to a number of health issues, including obesity, depression, asthma and type 2 diabetes.
Despite a number of reports in recent years pointing to this epidemic, many Americans still prioritize sleep much lower than other daily events like work or personal fitness. We’re at a point where renewed appreciation of sleep’s benefits should be at the forefront of our daily routine. And the tech industry recognizes this. A vast number of apps meant to help you improve sleep quality and rhythm are available, and we’ve compiled the ten best to help you bust those bad habits.
Where many of the apps on this list help track sleep habits while in bed with a bevy of tools, Snap Me Up offers a fun approach to the hardest part of sleeping: waking up. No one enjoys that moment of awakening. Most of us only do so to hit the snooze button. But this app helps users avoid that practice by forcing them to move to a lit area and take a selfie or video in order to shut off the alarm. You might not look your best, but shoving your sleepy eyes into a well-lit room definitely helps anyone avoid those early morning micro-slumbers. Users can even share their bedhead images. A lack of tools and Android exclusivity keep it low on the list, but it’s an inventive way to get you out and keep you out of bed in the morning.
PrimeNap is great for those wanting a straight-forward app with the necessary tools to track sleeping habits without the bells and whistles of other apps. With easy-to-read data reports and a good selection of quality-of-life features, this app serves its purpose for basic users well enough. But learning how to navigate the app will definitely frustrate most users. It suffers from a severe lack of intuition. The graphs seem easier to read than its menus at first glance, which should never be the case. PrimeNap is a quality option if you don’t want your hand held, but other apps’ ease of operation supercede this one rather easily.
All you Apple heads should be familiar with this one already. Bedtime comes preinstalled on iOS devices at no extra cost, making a good option available from the moment of purchase. The app’s main use is as an alarm clock that helps you plan a healthy amount of sleep. But it also includes sleep tracking. Bedtime’s sleep tracking lacks the depth of other apps focused on that data, but it makes up for that depth with seamless integration with Apple Health. That and a simple interface makes Bedtime the best basic option for iOS users.
Much like Snap Me Up, SnoreLab is laser-focused on treating one detriment to quality sleep: snoring. The app records user’s snoring data in an effort to reduce its prevalence. It does so by providing a number of remedies based on collected data and personal factors that impact snoring. SnoreLab measures how those remedies affect user’s snoring habits, created a quality feedback loop. The ability to easily email audio files makes it a valuable tool for anyone participating in sleep studies as well.
Pillow is the first app on this list that dives deep into the usual array of features present on sleep tracking apps. Featuring automatic and manual tracking, Pillow makes it easy to add sleep tracking into your bedtime routine. The app records and analyzes sleep habits, breaking its data down by individual sleep stages. It also analyzes a user’s heart rate while sleeping, though this feature is only available to those using an Apple Watch. In fact, the app only functions if you have an Apple Watch or if you sleep with your phone on your bed. This seems somewhat archaic as other apps move toward sonar tracking. Apple Health integration is useful, but Pillow’s absence from Android limits its ranking. Not to mention keeping a good chunk of its tools behind a $27.99 yearly subscription.
Sleep Away is the best baseline tool for users not wanting the bells and whistles of other apps. This app’s sole focus is helping users calculate optimum sleep cycles no matter your sleeping situation. Its simple interface allows anyone to build better sleeping habits with ease. It even has an option specifically for optimizing naps. Sleep Away also features a white noise generator, but it clearly isn’t the star of the show. It can’t compete with more in-depth apps, but this is the best entry-level tool for those not ready to break down graphs and sift through algorithms.
Platform exclusivity is usually a heavy strike in the con column, but Sleep as Android breaks that tenet. This Android exclusive boasts a massive collection of sleep tracking tools that blows Bedtime out of the water. The app provides data readouts that are easy to dissect, active alarm systems that force users into physical activity or critical thinking and sonar tracking. Integration with a wide range of wearable tech, Google Fit and Spotify is also appetizing. Users will eventually have to pay a one-time $6 fee to use the app, but that price tag is extremely cost-effective compared to its competitors.
If science makes you feel good, then Sleep Genius is the way to go. The app boasts a focus on neuroscience when developing its offerings, positioning itself as a treatment for sleep deprivation specifically. Sleep Genius provides in-depth sleep tracking with added focus on training the brain back into a natural circadian rhythm. Its Power Nap tool also helps those of us that love a good 30 minute round of shuteye during the day. The only real drawback to the app is that it offers no tools for free. The app costs $4.99, which honestly isn’t that much for a NASA-affiliated sleep aid.
Sleep Cycle is the most user-friendly sleep tracker on the market today. Its detailed analysis of users’ sleeping habits is easy to decipher. Flowing through its UI feels breezy compared to other apps. The app is even gentle in practice by only waking up users during the light sleep phase, ensuring a better exit from the sleep cycle. Sleep Cycle also provides logs for users to track factors that could impact sleep quality. Some features are locked behind a $29.99 yearly subscription, but users are given a free trial to see if its right for them. No other app is as good a mix of robust options and ease of operation as Sleep Cycle.
SleepScore takes Sleep Cycle’s presentation to a more specific, data-driven end. Built on the back of extensive research, SleepScore implements multiple algorithms that separately analyze each sleep cycle to insure the best quality sleep. The ease in setting and meeting sleep goals is unrivaled, providing extensive advice on lifestyle changes that can improve sleep as well. The app is constantly working on updates as well, which is needed considering that its sonar tracking system isn’t available on every Android device. SleepScore offers even more detailed reports within its $49.99 yearly subscription, but its assortment of free tools is enough to satiate anyone looking to improve their sleep.
Brian Bell is a queer freelance writer covering tech, pro wrestling, esports, games, comics and TV. Co-host of the Mr. Videogames Super Show podcast. Find and follow him on Twitter @WonderboyOTM.