Struggling to get to sleep at night? Finding it hard to switch off the day? Head so filled with anxieties, worries and work stress that having a good night’s sleep feels like an impossibility? We feel you and we’re here to help with our review of the most popular sleep apps available to download right now.
For all of the mental health and self-care issues that have become prevalent during the pandemic, insomnia and sleep troubles seem to be the most common occurrences affecting the population right now. ‘Coronasomnia’ is the new term coined by some experts to describe the sleep issues affecting us all. The ongoing disruption to our normal routines, the erasure of a sensible work/life balance and concerns about the future are keeping us up at night and turning quite a few of us into insomniacs.
Back in March 2020, we entered Lockdown with many of us working from home for the first time. Where we used to have set points of reference throughout the day with regular meetings, lunchbreaks and an aspiration to leave the office and finish up by 6pm at the latest, we now have blurred lines instead. Many of us have struggled to maintain clear boundaries whilst working from home, often finding ourselves working later into the evenings than we thought possible, answering emails at all hours and taking work calls on the weekends. Disconnecting from work and relaxing at home is practically impossible. So impossible, that we can’t fall asleep!
As we noted in our previous sleep blog, Overcoming Sleep Sabotage, a consistent lack of sleep can have a severe impact on your health and cause you to experience depression, anxiety, stress and potentially you could even end up suffering from cardiovascular disease or diabetes. Sleep is important and we want to help you get as much of it as you need.
For ongoing sleep troubles, as with all things in life these days, there’s ‘an app for that’. We’ve certainly noticed many more apps popping up this year that claim to help you get a good night’s sleep. With so many to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to start. We have taken a look at what appear to be the most popular sleep apps available right now to help you decide what could work best for you:-
Loona is a lovely looking app that claims to be ‘the first app that lets you quickly disconnect from a long, stressful day and get in the right mood for sleep’. It certainly looks very appealing. The app menu is filled with colourful images and has the usual lists of calming sounds and meditative playlists.
Where it differs from the others is it’s use of ‘sleepscapes’. These are guided sessions that combine ‘activity-based relaxation, storytelling and sounds, in a unique way’. Basically, you interact with a beautiful image whilst the narrator engages you in a story before bedtime. Loona works on the basis that it is our moods that ultimately effect our ability to sleep and aims to prepare you emotionally for sleeping through the night.
But does it work? I certainly found using it to be very calming and it helped me to establish a bedtime routine as I looked forward to completing the daily sleepscape.
Did it help me to switch off? Yes, I found the whole experience to be quite immersive and it left me feeling quite mellow.
Prices:- Loona Plus 1 Year Membership – £29.49, Loona Plus 1 Month Membership – £12.49, Loona Plus Lifetime Access – £64.99
Slumber is an app that presents a ‘collection of ultra relaxing sleep inducing stories and meditations designed to beat insomnia and help you fall asleep quickly every night’. It’s got a good layout with pretty imagery and very simple navigation. The ‘Sleep Library’ is fairly broad including stories, historical tales, stories for kids, music, soundscapes and meditations.
The library also includes a collection of something called ‘ASMR’ – I haven’t got a clue what it means! Slumber describes them as ‘ whispered stories and sounds that tingle’. Since you have to pay to listen to them, I didn’t bother trying them….But now I feel guilty about it and have just signed up to the free trial and listened to a few! I honestly don’t know what’s so special about them compared to the other stories. Maybe a bit more of a hushed tone?
But does it work? I think having a bedtime story read to you generally works. They’ve got a great bedtime story narrator called Thomas Jones whose voice worked wonders in helping me drift off!
Did it help me to switch off? Yes but it’s not brilliant. I liked the stories but they have a limited selection of narrators. The soundscapes were good but I ended up playing them whilst I was working for some background noise! They certainly helped me focus and stopped me getting stressed.
Prices:- Slumber Premium – £45.99 (including 1 week’s free trial)
Sleep is an app that claims to have ‘worked with experienced professionals in the field of behavioral psychology and sleep medicine’. When you open it, you’re asked to fill in a questionnaire about how it can help you. I chose ‘Improve Sleep Quality’ and ‘Deal with Snoring’…then I had to tell it my gender and I could choose whether to enter my date of birth. Where I found this app to differ from the others is that it asks you to listen to a selection of voices and choose which one you find the most relaxing. It then gets you to pick from a selection of sounds and stories – basically ensuring that you have a tailored, personal experience. Nice idea!
You can choose to customise your menu screen with a relaxing image and sound (I chose whales in space). Then you’ve got a tailored play list of sleep meditations and stories, plus access to the rest of the library. The stories are similar to the ones on Slumber, with ‘Classics’ replacing ‘Historical’ and the addition of ‘Documentaries’. They also have the ‘ASMR’ category which I’m still clueless about. They have a huge ‘Sounds’ library with everything from ‘Sea Storm’ to ‘Cutting paper’ to ‘Brahms- Lullaby’. Generally, quite impressive!
But does it work? Yes – the sleep sound catalogue is fab and a nice break from bedtime stories. You can also layer the sounds – I drifted off to ‘Rain on car’, ‘Rain on window’ and ‘Thunder’. The stories are a bit limited but you can change the narrator for all of them which makes them a bit more interesting.
Did it help me to switch off? Yes – there’s so much customisation that I quite lost myself in it and found myself relaxing without really noticing.
Prices:- Sleep Premium – £2.79/week (including 1 week free) Bargain!
The app that started it all! I remember all of my friends downloading Calm when it first came out. The tagline of ‘Sleep more. Stress less. Live better’ appealed to us all and still does! Calm has so much to offer. It’s the no. 1 app for Sleep, Meditation and Relaxation. It’s got everything you could possibly need to help you sleep and improve your mental health and wellbeing.
Calm has bedtime stories galore (read by everyone from Matthew McConnaughey to Jerome Flynn), guided meditation sessions, mindfulness exercises, music, sounds, Calm masterclasses with professionals, exercise videos, inspiration videos and so much more that I’d spend the whole blog listing them! There’s a reason that it’s recommended by ‘top psychologists, therapists and mental health experts’ – there’s truly something for everyone.
But does it work? Yes – I’ve been lulled to sleep by Stephen Fry, Jerome Flynn, rain sounds and guided meditation (never been good at that).
Did it help me switch off? Completely – once you open the app, you can’t help but be immersed.
Prices:- Calm Premium – £49.99
So there you have it, a small selection of sleep apps reviewed and outlined for you and honestly, I’d probably recommend them all. There’s something for everyone so I would suggest you do some exploring of your own to see what works best for you. For me, I love the ‘sleepscapes’ of Loona, the ‘sounds’ library from Sleep and the unbelievable amount of content on ‘Calm’. We just hope that we’ve helped you to discover an app that will help you to fall asleep.
I’ve also just done a bit of googling and have discovered that ‘ASMR’ means ‘Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response’. Apparently it’s a ‘relaxing, often sedative sensation that begins on the scalp and moves down the body. Also known as “brain massage”, it’s triggered by placid sights and sounds such as whispers, accents and crackles’. So there you go. I can’t say that I experienced any of those feelings myself when listening to the ‘ASMR’ stories these apps had to offer but I’ll give it another go and see what happens. I quite fancy a brain massage….