Not everyone is lucky enough to get 8 hours of quality sleep each night. If you don’t wake up fresh, a sleep tracking app can explain why and help you improve the quality of your sleep.
How do sleep tracking apps work?
Sleep trackers work by using your smartphone or smartwatch to measure multiple data points. Smartphone apps allow you to plug in your phone before you doze off, then set it on your bedside table or bed so it can easily track movement and audio. Mobile applications (such as Fitbit or Apple Watch) track movement and audio and your heart rate, and they do it more accurately and precisely.
Movement is the most important measure that these apps follow, and over time there will be enough data to display your average sleep patterns and, in turn, a snapshot of the quality of your sleep. During sleep, we move less generally, but we still tremble from time to time and change position. Sleep trackers are more effective on portable devices because movements are detected more accurately and precisely using the device’s accelerometer and actigraphy, unlike a smartphone that only has an accelerometer.
A little word…
Sleep tracking apps are not a substitute for professional medical advice and are intended for additional use only. If you think you have serious sleep problems, talk to your doctor about professional sleep study or other options.
What to look for in a sleep tracking app
While each of these apps uses your smartphone or portable device to collect data on your sleep patterns, each has its own approach and other unique features. Before looking at them individually, here’s what to expect:
Precise metric tracking: The best sleep tracking apps use a wide variety of metrics to get as much information as possible. The three main measures are movement, heart rate, and snoring, but they can also track when you fall asleep, how long you sleep, when you go through different stages of sleep, and if you wake up at night. Some trackers even take notes on environmental factors like the temperature or the level of ambient light in your room.
Data easy to interpret: Because sleep trackers are not everyday objects, they must be kept simple so that everyone can understand them. The data should be presented to you with simple graphs or paragraphs that you can understand at a glance, such as the average length of your sleep each night, whether you get enough REM and deep sleep and whether or not you snore. .
Practical advice: Identifying potential problems is only half the battle; these applications should also tell you what to do with the data they provide to you. Do you need to go to bed earlier? Change which side you sleep on to stop snoring? Keep your bedroom cooler at night? By knowing the issues you may be facing and having a plan of action to resolve them, you can be well on your way to getting a better night’s sleep.
Useful extras: How and when you fall asleep and wake up are also something that these apps should deal with (and they do). Some also offer tools like relaxing music, bedtime stories and even optimally synchronized alarm clocks to help you do both with greater ease.
Best overall sleep tracking app: SleepScore
SleepScore (Free) wants to help you improve your sleep, not just follow it. Through the app, you set sleep goals (like staying asleep longer or feeling more energetic when you wake up), and in turn, it offers helpful and realistic advice for achieving those goals. SleepScore gives you, as the name suggests, a sleep score of 0 to 100 based on several factors, with the aim of increasing your number until your sleep improves. The app is available for iOS and Android and uses your phone’s contactless sonar technology to capture your breathing rate and movement.
The free plan pretty much tracks your sleep and provides an optimized alarm and seven-day sleep history, but if you want to get the most out of the app, consider switching to the premium plan ($ 5.99 / month or $ 49.99 / year). This gives you a more complete sleep history, personalized recommendations, sleep information, and other features. SleepScore even has a section within the app dedicated to recommending expertly selected products to help you get a better night’s sleep – like pillows and a snoring solution – which has helped other people with a number sleep similar to yours.
SleepScore offers helpful tips on how to go back to sleep if you wake up at night. Likewise, its smart alarm function helps you wake up refreshed at just the right time in your sleep cycle so you don’t feel groggy all day. Fun daily surveys let you answer questions related to sleep and see how other users in the SleepScore community have responded. Overall, SleepScore is a comprehensive application that provides interesting information on how you sleep and how you can improve the quality of your sleep.
Best Premium Sleep Tracker App: Sleep Cycle
Sleep cycle ($ 29.99 / year) aims to help you get the best night’s sleep possible. Not only does it track various data points about your sleep patterns and habits, but it also helps you fall asleep easily and wake up gently at the optimal time depending on where you are in your sleep cycle . It tracks your sleep just by lying on your bedside table – no need to place it under your pillow or sheets like other smartphone apps.
The app offers relaxing stories and sounds to help you fall asleep faster and easier, with options such as ocean sounds or bedtime stories. And while you sleep, the sleep cycle takes note of parameters such as how long you sleep, whether you snore, etc. All of its graphics are colorful, easy to understand and fun to read. You can also see at a glance the day, the week or the past month.
The sleep cycle finds the optimal time at the end of your fifth cycle to wake up with a gentle morning alarm (you can choose one from over a dozen pleasant, high-quality options), and its integration at home smart means you can pair your Philips tint bulbs, which will mimic the sun with a gradual brightening of your room. The app includes mood tracking, saves your sleep data online and lets you take notes on your day regarding exercise, diet, weather and anything else that could impact how which you could sleep on.
Ideal for Galaxy Watch users: sleep on Android
Sleep like Android ($ 9.99) is a complete sleep tracker for Android smartphones and Samsung Galaxy Watch users. The Galaxy Watch has native sleep tracking via the Samsung Health app and monitors light, deep and REM sleep cycles. However, Sleep as Android is a good alternative if you want more robust and precise features.
The smartwatch version of the app has a clean, modern interface and many features that make it easy to use. It uses motion detection to track the length of your sleep, if you snored, if your sleep cycles were irregular, as well as your light, deep and REM sleep. Because it spends the night tracking your sleep cycles, Sleep as Android is then able to find the optimal time during your fifth light sleep cycle to wake you up gently from sleep. The alarm clock has pleasant sounds of nature (like the sea or a storm), and it offers sounds of nature similar to lullabies to help you fall asleep (or, okay, you can choose to use your favorite Spotify playlist instead). It also integrates with Philips Hue and other smart bulbs via IFTTT, if you want your room to lighten gradually over the morning.
One of the best features of Sleep as Android is its excessive sleep prevention tool, which requires you to solve a CAPTCHA puzzle or shake the phone to turn off the alarm. It’s not a default feature, but if excessive sleep is something you’re struggling with, it’s great to have the ability to switch it off, as in most cases, just enough to wake up your brain for the day. It also tracks conversations and snoring while you sleep and can help you avoid jet lag with LED flashes if you’re going to travel, so you can get a good night’s sleep wherever you go.
Ideal for Apple Watch users: pillow
If you want to track your sleep using your Apple device, Pillow (Free) is the best app to do so. While it also works for iPhones, you’ll get the most out of the app if you’re using it on your Apple Watch, so it can track your movements, heart rate, and audio (you know, snoring or sleep talk about which you are totally don’t even if your partner tells you). Pillow also makes many of its premium features temporarily free (which normally costs $ 4.99 / month or $ 27.49 / year) due to COVID-19, including the three nap modes, heart rate analysis via Apple Health resource comparisons and all of its sleep aid content.
The pillow has an attractive and easy to use colorful interface. Just wear your Apple Watch in bed and it does the rest. In addition, it automatically synchronizes your data with Apple Health. In addition to tracking sleep measurements, the app also allows you to record your mood when you wake up, so it can provide personalized sleep improvement tips.