The 9 Best Sleep Apps For Your Most Restful Night Ever

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You need sleep. (Yeah, you already know that.) What isn’t always intuitive is how to get it. Between all of the stress the world has served up this past year and the temptation to doom scroll (a.k.a. nonstop surf the craziness your social feeds have to offer), we completely understand why you might be struggling to get your rest. One simple ritual that could help: using a sleep app.

Some of these digitally-available apps allow you to access meditation sessions or white noise recordings that you can play next to your pillow. Others monitor your sleep behaviors (like breathing and time spent tossing and turning) to help you make adjustments to your bedtime routine. “All of these apps have similar principles built into them,” says Rafael Pelayo, MD, professor at Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine and author of How to Sleep. At the end of the day, they’re designed to help you reach your sleep goals.

Pelayo’s pro tip for getting the most out of your app: Stick with it. After you’ve established your baseline (you do this the first time you use your app), use it enough times to identify trends in your sleep. (Note, if you find that your sleep declines, it might be worth checking in with a doctor.)

Pelayo notes that sleep apps can be “convenient, practical, and effective,” tools for getting a good night’s rest. Learn more about some of our favorites, below.

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1

Unplug Meditation

According to Pelayo, meditation apps help you fall asleep by making you feel safe and less alert to the happenings around you. Clicking into the Unplug app reveals a library of recorded meditations dedicated to upping your relaxation prior to sleep. Our recommendation: the 23 minute-long Meditation For Serious Sleep (that our tester swears she fell asleep to in under 10 minutes).

$12.99/month or $69.99/year; Mac App Store, Google Play

2

Calm

This app does exactly what it says it does. It’s loaded with countless hours of meditations and soothing tracks that help you wind down and practice mindfulness. If meditation isn’t your thing, give the app’s Sleep Stories a listen. The collection includes bedtime stories read in relaxing tones by a roster of familiar celebrity voices (like Harry Styles, Mandy Moore, Idris Elba, and more).

Pelayo says many of his patients have found success with this app—and the next one—because of how accessible and easy-to-use it is.

$12.99/month or $69.99/year; Mac App Store, Google Play

3

Headspace

Headspace had its cult-following way before it made its way to your Netflix watch list. The meditation app is easy-to-use, with a library divided by your meditation goals (e.g. concentration, balance, sleep). Our tester loved its sleep-specific meditations, as the recordings’ mix of soft narrations and ambient tracks never woke her after she’d fallen asleep—despite her being a light sleeper who is very sensitive to sound.

$12.99/month or $69.99/year; Mac App Store, Google Play

4

Wave Sleep

You can experience a live meditation as easily as you would a virtual workout class. The Co-Founder and Creative Director of Y7 created Wave to give you guided sleep sessions in real time. Each stream combines calming narration, ambient sounds, and satisfying visuals to help you wind down.

The best part: The app offers after-session music—calming recordings of soothing sounds that you can set to play after your meditation so that you don’t have to worry about anything disrupting your zen.

Free; Mac App Store

5

Unwind

If you look to the great outdoors for a reset (*raises hand*), hit download on Unwind. The app helps facilitate sleep by bringing the sounds of nature to your bedroom. (Think: falling rain and crashing waves.) Flip through the app’s numerous meditations, sleep stories, and breathing techniques.
$59.99/year; Mac App Store

6

Inscape

This app captures the relaxing effects of Inscape’s IRL meditation sessions into a gorgeous, easy-to-navigate app. Just position your phone next to your pillow and let the app’s tranquil tracks lull you to sleep.

$9.99/month; Mac App Store, Google Play

7

White Noise

“The need for sleep is biological, but the way you sleep is learned,” says Pelayo, who explains that once you’re accustomed to the sounds of your bedroom, introducing a new, novel sound (like a car passing or a cell phone buzzing) can disrupt your slumber. White noise raises the level of background noise so that you’re less likely to notice out-of-place sounds.

This is exactly what the White Noise app does. It plays looped ambient sounds (like the crackling of a campfire and falling rain) to keep you asleep. Like multiple tracks? The app allows you to cut and combine them for the ultimate sleep experience.

Free; Mac App Store, Google Play

8

Sleep Score

This hardworking app assesses how much quality sleep you’re getting à la its patented Sonar technology that utilizes your phone’s built-in microphone. It monitors your movements and breathing to grade you on how well you’re sleeping at every stage. It also gives you the tools to adjust your sleeping habits, providing you a library of soothing sounds and tips from sleep experts.

$7.99/month or $49.99/year; Mac App Store, Google Play

9

Pillow

This app uses your iPhone’s built-in microphone and accelerometer (you know, that nifty tool that senses your movements and inputs them into your fitness apps) to assess how well you’re sleeping. It picks up on the amount of time you spend in various sleep phases, as well as how often you’re waking up.

$7.99/month; Mac App Store, Google Play

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