What does an ideal night’s sleep look like for you? Do you dream of a solid eight-hour block or would you settle for six, as long as it was free from twitching or sleep talking? Perhaps you’d take any sleep you can as long as you feel more rested when you wake up?
App and gadget developers have taken aim at sleep issues. A wealth of products have been created, geared towards improving our sleep. Do they really work and could they help you? Today we’re seeing if you can really find an app-y ending for your sleep woes.
What the experts think
It's easy to be sceptical about the usefulness of sleep apps, as the software is designed to monitor only a few aspects of sleep. This is nowhere near as extensive as sleep studies carried out in labs.
Brain waves, oxygen levels and a whole heap of other data should be collected in order to analyse sleep more fully. An accelerometer app that only tracks body movement, or a heartbeat monitor around our wrist are not equipped to give us a complete picture.
However, apps can provide some interesting insights into our sleeping habits. This information can highlight issues for individuals to work on. These insights are largely around getting to sleep, analysing sleep and waking you up a little more smoothly.
Apps that help you sleep
We recently wrote on the blog about the amazing sleep-inducing powers of lullabies. If you’re looking for apps that help you sleep, you could hunt out one that focuses on soothing you with music. You’ll find an abundance of choice when it comes to sleeping apps. Along with lullaby options, there are apps that play sounds like waves crashing on the beach, or even rainforest noises.
All are designed to act as a cue for sleep to help you nod off more easily. Before you bed down for the night with a full background playlist, you should consider that our brains are wired to try to guess the next part of a tune, so playing music all night could actually wake you up. So, if you are going to use an app to help you get to sleep, make sure you use a timer!
To help you analyse your sleep, many apps record periods of movement and potentially sounds too. This helps you identify when you are most wakeful, when you sleep soundly and what could be disturbing your sleep. However, if you sleep with a partner your app could pick up on their movement too. This could impact how accurate your data is.
One useful feature common to sleep apps is that they can produce charts to help you look for patterns in your sleep. Some also allow you to keep a journal or add notes of how you feel about your night's sleep. This helps you identify problem periods of sleeping and pinpoint factors that make sleep more difficult.
By looking at your sleeping habits as an overview like this you may even find that you don’t need quite as much sleep as you think!
How often do you curse the way you’re rudely interrupted by your alarm clock in the morning? Some sleep apps aim to wake you up when you’re in a lighter sleep cycle. Thus you wake up feeling better rested and in a brighter mood.
Some even let you set a window of time within which you would like to be woken. So you know that you won’t miss the bus! As these apps generally use movement as an indicator of your sleep they may not be 100 per cent accurate. If you’re struggling with alarm rage though, they may well help you out.
Have you used a sleep app to help with your sleep in any way? Was it a success or did you end up feeling more sleep deprived?