5 of the best sleep apps

20 April 2017 by
First published: 12 March 2016

Most of us would agree that we don’t always get as much sleep as we’d like. So whether it’s work stresses and strains, family commitments or personal worries that are keeping you awake, getting the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep a night (according to the National Institutes of Health) isn’t always possible. For some of us, even once finally in bed, it’s the actual getting to sleep part that proves difficult. And a lack of sleep doesn’t just mean you’ll find it harder to peel yourself out of bed the following morning. Not having enough sleep can actually cause a whole host of mental and physical health implications, from a lack of concentration to a grouchy mood.

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that a lack of sleep for just one night had quite an impact on our ability to regulate emotions. The study showed that while participants who had a good night’s sleep could differentiate between neutral and emotionally-charged images, those who were sleep-deprived showed similar reactions to both types of images, proving that (among other things) sleep impairs judgement. ‘It turns out we lose our neutrality. The ability of the brain to tell what’s important is compromised. It’s as if suddenly everything is important,’ said Professor Talma Hendler, who led the research.

Furthermore, researchers at the University of California found that people who sleep six hours a night or less are four times more likely to catch a cold when exposed to the virus, compared to those who sleep for more than seven hours a night. A study by The Endocrine Society also stated that a disruption in sleep routine – such as waking up early or stirring at night – may raise the risk of developing illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.

But don’t fear – if you struggle to clock up the hours in dreamland, there are plenty of mobile apps that can aid a more restful night of sleep and, luckily for you, we know just the ones to look out for.

Deep Sleep and Relaxation Hypnosis by Mindifi

Tried and tested, this one has us falling asleep before the end is up every time. We don’t know where they found this guy, but he has one of the most soothing, most beautiful and downright hypnotic voices around. The app is grounded loosely in hypnosis, but don’t let that put you off – each session involves techniques to allow you to relax, such as imagining a glowing light at your feet slowly travelling up your body, relaxing each area as it goes.

Free (with in-app purchases), iPhone and Android


Using a combination of relaxing sounds, binaural beats and soothing voice cues, Pzizz works to lull you into sleep gently and calmly. The beauty of this is that you can tailor it completely to you, so whether you’re in need of a 10-minute nap or a full night’s sleep, it will cater for all of your sleepy needs. Sounds also change every time you use it, meaning you won’t get bored night after night. We love!

Free, iPhone and Android

Relax Melodies

Described as ‘a white noise ambience for sleep, meditation and yoga’, if it’s outside noise that is plaguing your sleep-time, this one’s for you. Offering 82 different sounds, you can have up to 10 of them playing at once – from the ocean, wind and rain – depending on what you favour. Or, pick a programmed combination for an easy, ready-to-go compilation. A great way to zone out from outside noises such as dogs barking, cars or house mates and be truly absorbed in calming audio.

Free (with in-app purchases), iPhone and Android

Yoga for Insomnia

It’s no secret that yoga is known to aid sleep, namely through its meditative, steadying nature. So if you’re out of ideas when it comes to drifting off, how about giving it a try? If you don’t know where to start, this app is sure to become your new best friend by providing a structured series of beginner poses from traditional hatha yoga. Formulated by an expert in ancient yogic methods, these short routines involve stress reducing techniques used in meditation and a focus on good breathing. This, coupled with the effects of consistent exercise is sure to improve sleep patterns and quality.

£2.29, iPhone

Sleep Cycle

Not necessarily an app to aid sleep as such, but certainly one highly praised to monitor it. By placing your iPhone beside your pillow, the app serves two functions. Firstly, by tracking your movement through the night, it can plot your sleep patterns onto a graph to observe the following morning – giving you greater insight into how deeply you slept and how many times you were disrupted. Secondly, it works as an alarm clock. But with a twist. By using the accelerometer inside your phone (the bit that knows when you turn it sideways) to detect your movements as you sleep, it can gently wake you at the optimal time in your ‘wake up phase’. Clever, huh?

Free (with in-app purchases), iPhone and Android