Tales of whacky dreams and restless nights have hit the headlines recently as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a recent survey by The Sleep Council, an astounding 43% of participants claimed they are finding it harder to fall asleep and 75% said that their sleep has been affected by the unease of the current situation. Many of us are sleeping less and when we do finally nod off, our quality of sleep is much worse.
Luckily we are not alone and there are a number of incredible resources out there to help you manage the stress and work towards a more peaceful nights sleep. Have you found your sleep has been more disturbed recently? In the first of our new Sleep Series, we have collected our top apps to encourage you to create healthier sleeping habits, and drift off with ease.
Whether you are looking to quiet down your mind, gain some meditation skills or learn some insights about your nighttime habits, we hope one of these apps will you get a peaceful nights sleep, ready to take on a new day.
For those of us who want to get a little geeky with our nighttime habits, Sleep Cycle will become your new addiction. Place your phone on your bedside table, and using sound analysis Sleep Cycle tracks your movements in bed and identifies which sleep state you are in. It uses this data to then produce you a nifty graph on your quality of sleep. If that wasn’t interesting enough it also has a smart alarm clock function. Set your wake up time and in the morning within a 15-30 minute window, the app will measure when you are in your lightest sleep and sound the alarm. This prevents that sudden shock and groggy feeling you get when you are pulled out of a deep sleep to the real world, promoting a better start to your day. Being able to track your quality of sleep is handy for a number of reasons. If you stick with it long enough you can start to identify factors which impact your time between the sheets and consequently work towards eliminating these things, leading to you living your best sleep life.
Not so much an app, but a function. There has been a lot of research into the effects of technology and our ability to get some rest, for example, some claim the blue light from our screens keeps us awake for longer. More simply, our busy tech-centred lives means we are constantly connected to each other and the world from the minute we wake up, right until we close our eyes. Spending this much time plugged in means we find it hard to switch off when it comes to sleep, therefore leading to a more disturbed nights rest. Many phones now have a Screen Time function where you can set limits on the amount of time you spend on certain apps a day and you can also lock your access for a certain amount of time. Try locking your access for an hour before you go to bed and read a book or have a bath instead. It will help your brain slowly wind down and reduce the amount you spend scrolling through Instagram endlessly.
It will come as no surprise that if you go to bed feeling stressed or anxious, your sleep quality will not be at its best. Our minds run through every detail of a stressful day, what we could have said or done or even keep us up worrying about a big presentation the next day. Keeping all of these anxieties bottled up wreaks havoc on our precious sleep, which is what Reflectly tries to unpack. Reflectly is a personal journal and diary which helps you deal with negative thoughts and build a habit of positivity. Using artificial intelligence it guides you through the journalling process asking you questions about your wellbeing and provides you with motivational content. Releasing all these stresses and tensions before you go to bed will help to clear your mind and enable a more peaceful nights sleep.
If you have trouble getting to sleep, Rain Rain is designed to help with the power of high-definition endless sounds. Having relaxing and repetitive sounds in the background has been shown to calm down the brain and help you drift off. Rain Rain offers a number of sounds such as rain on car windows, waterfalls, fire, white noise, thunderstorms and more. It certainly gives an ‘ASMR’ feel, which has grown heavily in popularity in recent years as the ultimate ‘tingle giving’ relaxation method. Rain Rain allows you to set a fade out timer so it stops playing after you have fallen asleep, or equally you can leave it playing continuously throughout the night to comfort you.
As soon as you say ‘meditation’ a lot of people roll their eyes and claim "I just can’t do it". Enter Headspace, the only app you need to help you dispel any preconceptions about meditation and get you taking time out for yourself on the daily. Meditation has been shown to help reduce stress, allow people to focus more and eventually sleep better. They have a number of different guided meditation series designed to target specific concerns such as anxiety, self confidence, happiness and of course, sleep. With a mix of breathing exercises, visualisation and calming affirmations you are sure to drift into a peaceful sleep. They are designed to give you the tools to eventually meditate yourself without guidance, but are always there if you prefer the support. They now also offer ‘Sleepcasts’ a series of soothing stories, sleep music and ‘SOS’ recordings for when you wake up in the middle of the night and just can’t settle.