We all know how important a good night's sleep is for our health. When we get enough (adults should be getting a good 7 to 8 hours per night) we know it's a good thing. We look better, and most importantly, we feel better, but thanks to ever-changing work schedules, all-night Netflix binges or stress, the desired amount of shut-eye can elude many people – especially these days with the ever-changing news of the coronavirus. Nevermind the usual thing of battling sleep anxiety even without this. But there are things you can do to help curb this. A successful method is the concept of sleeping apps, from meditation pointers to soothing sounds, these are designed to lull you into a restful slumber.
The trick is to use them repeatedly to see the full effect. And, hey, you probably sleep next to your phone anyway, right? So, why not make full use of it and try out these five apps if you struggle to drift into the land of nod each night:
This free app enables you to listen to custom mixes of sounds from a selection of over 50 ambient melodies, subtle enough to relax your senses while not being irritating. This sleep assistance app includes two binaural beats, an alarm, and a timer system. You can also save, name and replay your favourites easily.
This one was created by Colin Espie, Professor of Sleep Medicine and Professor at the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neuroscience at the University of Oxford, and follows an evidence-based CBT sleep improvement programme. Once a week, you log on for a personalised twenty-minute session with the Prof, and learn a range of cognitive and behavioural techniques to help you sleep. You then practise those techniques during the week. This digital sleep programme aids recovery not only from insomnia but also from depression and anxiety according to an informal NHS study. From a personal, point of view, I found this the most effective; it takes time and technique practice but is worth the effort.
Developed following research to help astronauts fall asleep, this one aims to train you to fall asleep, without depending on white noise or similar. It claims to be especially good for sleep deprivation and I particularly liked its relaxation programme, which focuses on your and release of body tension.
I love the concept of this app, the soothing sounds of rain while one is snug, cosy and set to sleep is a great idea and the very premise of how it works. There are 20 audio clips available that range from gentle, medium and heavy sounds of realistic rainfalls so plug in your earphones and zone out to the gentle (or torrential if that's your preference) tones of rain. Yes, I know we get enough rain as it is but as a sleeping mechanism, it's on point.
As a newbie to meditation, I loved this app in that it's distinct from other similar apps as it offers step-by-step voice-guided sessions. Meditation lengths can go from 5, 10, 15, 20 to 30 minutes, and you can choose whether or not to have music or nature sounds in the background. It's all about relaxing the mind and body and focusing purely on the task at hand, which is to sleep.
Main photograph: Unsplash