As many as 30% of Americans have been found to suffer some kind of sleep disorder according to the National Sleep Foundation, which means that it’s likely that you, dear reader, have suffered some sort of sleep malfunction in your life. There are tons of blogs and articles that focus on collecting tips on how you can improve your sleeping habits. On top of that, your meddling aunt constantly insists that if you just gave up caffeine, heavy meals, and did nothing but mediate two hours before bedtime while drinking Yerba Mate, then you’re bound to break that insomnia cycle! If none of the typical approaches work for you, don’t worry. There’s an app for that…several actually.
Don’t Go Into The Light!
Surely you’ve heard that your electronics are out to get you, specifically by ruining your sleep by constantly shining that LED blue light everywhere. It’s been proven that the typical blue light that all electronics seem to have suppresses your production of melatonin, which is the chemical in your brain that helps you go to sleep. Short of using a permanent marker to scribble out all those blue lights, you can download F.lux for your Windows, Linux, iPhone, and iPad.
This app is supposed to help you avoid the negative effects of artificial lighting, specifically when it comes to your computer and handheld devices. Just by telling the program what kind of lighting you have and where you live, it will automatically adjust your screen’s lighting to match the time of day. So if it’s morning, your screen will match the sunlight outside and if it’s nighttime, your screen will assume a warmer colour that will be easier on your eyes and sleeping habits.
Your Personalized Sleep Study
Waking up at just the right time can really make a difference in how you feel for the rest of the day. But how do you know when is the right time? That’s where Sleep Cycle comes in. This app is available for iOS and Android. You download it and keep your phone on your bed (the website shows someone tucking it under the mattress cover) while you sleep. It tracks your sleep patterns as shown on this nifty little graph:
In the morning, using a 30 minute alarm window, Sleep Cycle will wait until you are in your lightest sleep phase and wake you up. Then you can check out your personal data and see how well you slept and whether or not you need to change some things about your routine to get a better rest.
Train Your Brain
Sleepio is an app that was created by a Professor of Sleep Medicine, Colin Espie, who works at the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neuroscience at the University of Oxford. This helpful (but rather expensive) app follows a sleep improvement method based on the evidence-based. Even Peter Palmero at Top Mattress uses this app.
It works off of weekly 20 minute sessions with “The Prof,” where you learn a bunch of cognitive and behavioural techniques to help you sleep. Then you practice those techniques throughout the week and your results are recorded by your UP, Fitbit, or Bodymedia tracker.
The website claims that this app can help you fall asleep 50% faster, reduce your nighttime awakenings by 60%, and improve your daytime energy by 50%.
If you’re interested in trying it out, you can check out its seven day trial and get unlimited free help (only available for iOS). After that, you’ll need to pay $10 a week.
Meditate, Meditate, Meditate
It’s long been said that to get a good night’s rest, you should avoid anything exciting for up to two hours before you need to hit the sack. If that doesn’t work, then experts say that meditation might be what you need. Simply Being is an app for iOS and Android that promises to make mediation easier. It offers step-by-step voice instructions, customizable meditation lengths, and soothing background sounds. The creators of this app, Mary and Richard Maddux, are best known for their Meditation Oasis podcast and CDs.
Or maybe you want to stretch into the Upward Butt Raised Dog (that’s a position, right?) before bed? Don’t worry, there’s an app for that too. Yoga for Insomnia is an app based on Hatha yoga and combines stress reduction techniques with exercise to help “calm and tranquilize the mind,” which is supposed to help you get to sleep better. It’s available for iOS and Android.
Listen To All The Sounds
If mediating doesn’t do it for you, you can try listening to certain sounds that most people find relaxing and soothing. There are multiple apps that offer this service like Sleep Pillow, which boasts of having over 70 sounds you can fall asleep to, as well as giving you the ability to make your own customized combo of sounds. Some of the sounds it offers are; wind-vane blade, outside bonfire, blue noise, and temple atmosphere. I’m assuming the grumpy owl as its mascot is supposed to attest to its effectiveness…
There’s also Sleepmaker Rain (available for iOS and Android), an app that offers “real” rain sounds to help block distracting noises while you sleep. The app description cheerfully exclaims: “We can’t help with Global Warming but we can help you fall asleep at night, relax at work, or escape the city crowd. Designed for any eco – conscious person or rain starved victim of global drought.” (What?!)
The app offers a programmable sleep timer and three levels of rain-pour that each have several types of rain sounds to choose from: gentle (rain falling onto canvas), medium (rain falling onto your car roof), and heavy (torrential downpour).
If Nothing Else Works, Try Magic!
So the soothing sound of rain while you hold that Upward Butt Dog pose in yoga isn’t helping you sleep? Then you have nothing to lose – it’s time to try hypnosis. No, I’m not kidding. The Relax and Sleep Well app promises “high quality hypnosis and mediation app by bestselling self-help audio author Glenn Harrold.”
The hypnotherapy session lasts 27 minutes and it is supposed to take you on “a relaxing journey into the deepest levels of self-hypnosis.” This, combined with soothing music and Glenn’s voice, is supposed to de-stress you and help you fall asleep.
Feeling a bit cynical? Of course you are, but you shouldn’t! I mean look this wonderful celebrity endorsement by someone we all can trust for advice!
“Feels good to wear headphones and listen to Glenn Harrold’s Complete Relaxation.” – Lindsay Lohan