Sleeping Smarter

Everyone has had trouble sleeping at one time or another. Some suffer from sleep disorders such as insomnia or sleep apnea which make getting a full 8 hours difficult. There are numerous medications available over the counter which can help make it easier to sleep, but it’s not ideal to take medication every time you need to hit the hay. As someone who recently began treatment for sleep apnea, I found the multitude of apps and resources available to be empowering and encouraging.

Technology first made it harder to sleep with notifications going off and blue light shining in our eyes. Recently that’s improved with turning off notifications and blue light filters pre-installed on most phones. These modifications from past models have helped aid in the wind-down process, but many people still struggle with sleep.

When you can’t sleep it impacts every area of your life. The American Sleep Association (ASA) has multiple resources for those seeking better sleep. On their site they state “Sleep apps… all work to help you fall asleep, stay asleep, and monitor your sleep patterns…”

There are also several apps which help calm the mind and invite that elusive slumber. ● Sleep Cycle

○    Free and premium versions available.

○    Tracks sleep habits to learn your sleep cycles. “Using the Sleep Cycle Theory, the alarm wakes you during light sleep. To achieve this, you set a window of time to wake up. The sleep app senses your sleep movements and rings to wake you at the optimal time in your sleep cycle. This allows you to wake up feeling refreshed.”

○    Knowing more about your sleep cycles can help improve your overall health as you get better sleep. ●       Relax Melodies

○    Free to use

○    This app is unique because it “combine sounds and melodies with guided meditation and brainwave beats to help you unwind and ease into sleep. You’ll never get bored with the same sounds because there are so many combinations you can create.”

  • Sleep Cycle Power Nap
    • Costs $1.99

○    It “allows you to set the time for a short 20-minute power nap or a full nap of 90 minutes. Your phone’s accelerometer senses when you fall asleep then sets the alarm to wake you up. This sleep app also has various sounds to help you fall asleep.”

○    Sometimes a good nap is all you need. It’s rejuvenating and helps you take on the rest of your day. With this app you can have an even better nap experience as it helps you get the sleep you need.

  • Pzizz
    • Free Trial, $9.99 per month or $69.99 per year.

○    “Combines music, sound effects, and binaural beats… and an algorithm to generate a slightly different soundtrack each time you use it…”

○    For those of us who get irritated by repetitive sounds, this algorithm prevents that.

  • White Noise Lite
    • Free

○    Many people find ambient and white noise to be soothing or relaxing. It’s used for babies and adults alike.

○    The ASA says it “comes loaded with several looped sounds, such as a burning campfire, swaying boat, and thunder. You can also set a gentle alarm (guitar strum, chime, violin, and more) to wake you up.” ●    Relax & Sleep Well – Hypnosis and Meditation

○    Free with in-app purchases

○    “Some people also use self-hypnosis to treat insomnia or other sleeping problems… Hypnosis won’t put you in a trance. Instead, hypnosis is used to help you get into a deep state of relaxation… combines voice-led hypnosis and relaxing sounds to lull you to sleep.”

○    Hypnosis and meditation may seem like they wouldn’t be effective, but it’s certainly worth a try if you’re having trouble sleeping.

According to, one of the best relaxation apps for helping you sleep is Calm. It “includes sleep stories and relaxation techniques… white noise or nature sounds as you sleep… and it tracks how long you use the apps…so you can monitor your progress.”

My personal favorite is Noisli. It doesn’t track sleep, but the choices of white noise and customization options make it great for when you’re studying or trying to sleep. You get to choose which sounds you want, their volume, and if you subscribe there’s no listening limit.

Regardless of your current sleep habits or problems, you might benefit from an app to enhance your snooze experience. Given the benefits of a good night’s sleep to your overall health, I encourage you to try one of these apps and comment about how it helped you.

By Gretchen Hendrick Gardella, MLIS

Gretchen Hendrick Gardella is a Librarian with administrative, research, and vast technical skills. Ms. Gardella brings over 16 years of experience working in academic and public libraries to the discussion.