If you are somewhere between 30 and 35 years old, you probably know from experience how important and vital a good night's sleep is for you. Those times when you could drink until dawn, then sleep for a couple of hours and wake up ready to keep parting are over. Now you need at least 6-7 hours of sleep in order to just function. At the same time, the older you get, the more stress factors add to your life, and stress is one of the first things that influence your sleep negatively.
Luckily, here you are, reading about tools that can help the situation.
Sleep Cycle is an app that helps you sleep better. It combines functions of a smart alarm clock, sleep tracker and nature sounds to help you fall asleep. It also stores all your sleep data: duration, quality, sound records, and lets you export it if you upgrade to the Premium version.
The app has 3 main modes: a smart alarm clock, a regular alarm clock, and no alarm.
The smart alarm clock tracks your sleep patterns so that it can wake you up during the light sleep stage when it’s the easiest. You can choose a time window (30 minutes recommended) within that you would like to be awakened.
The regular alarm clock that goes off at a certain time you set it to.
The third mode only tracks your sleep, records sounds, and in the morning shows you how well you have rested during the night.
The paid version has a 30 days free trial and then costs $29,99 per year. It gives you access to your sleep data statistics illustrated in diagrams: the time you went to bed, the time you woke up, the duration of sleep, the quality of sleep, the time you spent in bed.
How Sleep Cycle works
Your movements vary during different stages of sleep and the Sleep Cycle has two modes to monitor them: microphone and accelerometer. You can switch them in Settings -> Advanced -> Motion detection. During the set time window the app uses sound analysis to detect which sleep stage you are in to wake you softly.
For the Sleep Cycle to work accurately you need to make sure you place your phone correctly. The placement of your phone depends on which monitoring mode you chose.
For the microphone, mode put your phone next to you on the nightstand facing up. It is advised that you plug it in as the app might use a lot of the battery juice overnight.
For the accelerometer mode the phone needs to be on the matress, facing down, also plugged in.
Do not put your phone under your pillow, a thick cover or mattress as it can get overheated while plugged in.
Another feature of the Sleep Cycle is a sleep aid. These are nature sounds like ocean, wind or rain. You can set up the time for how long you want the sounds to play and relax.
The sound records of you sleeping (not creepy!) are available in the paid version of the app. I didn’t find this feature particularly useful unless you need evidence that you indeed do not snore or talk in your sleep.
You probably are familiar with this app for meditation, but here we are going to talk about its sleep meditations specifically. These are available with an annual app subscription, which is going to cost you $99.00.
Aside from simple nature sounds like in the Sleep Cycle, Headspace has tracks involving musical instruments and nature sounds (Cloudy Concerto — Rain sounds, Organ), as well as meditations that they call “wind downs” to train your brain to relax and fall asleep faster. But the best are the sleepcasts. It’s like you’re 6 again and someone’s telling you a bedtime story. Only the stories are not the fairytales you know by heart, but very interesting descriptions of places, like the Island Market, the Treehouse, the Compass Garden, etc. One meditation is about 40–50 minutes long and if after it’s over you still can’t sleep the app will suggest additional meditations.
Tise is a simple app with a clean interface that already calls “zen”. It provides nature sounds and some music tracks to help you focus, fall asleep or meditate. The main screen greets you with an inspirational quote and a picture of a calm scenery. Below you’ll find buttons “Sleep”, “Focus”, Relax”, “Breathe”.
Sleep tab has 2 options: Nap and Sleep, which differ in duration. It also has an alarm function where you can set your normal alarm, a light wake-up which is a variation of a smart alarm, or a bedtime reminder. There is also a button with an inhumane name “Wake-up Challenge”, but I don’t recommend trying it.
The library of the tracks is big enough but not overwhelming. The last thing you need is trying to choose which sound to fall asleep to from the two hundred available. You can download new tracks that are free or buy the Premium membership and expand your choices. Membership costs $12 per month, $79.99 for 12 months or $399.99 for the lifetime.