Your mobile device can be used to monitor your sleeping patterns as you sleep. There are many sleep tracking apps available that can help improve the way you sleep, so you wake up feeling refreshed each day. These are the top 5 best sleep tracker apps you can get for your phone or wearable device.
Top 5 Sleep Tracking Apps
- Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock (Android, iOS)
- Fitbit (iOS, Android, Windows)
- Sleep Genius (Android, iOS)
- Pillow (iOS, Apple Watch)
- Sleep as Android (Android, Android Wear OS)
For some of us, getting to sleep and staying asleep is tough. Some people believe that sleeping poorly is a simple fact of life, and they may even rely on sleep medicine to get through the night. But there are a great many factors that affect our sleep that we don’t notice since we’re asleep when they occur.
Sleep tracking apps can help you discover which internal and external factors are affecting your sleep while you’re soaring through dreamland. Once you’re able to see your sleep trends in colorful graphs on your phone or wearable device, you’ll be able to track your breathing, hone your sleep patterns, and learn how to get the good sleep you deserve.
How Do Sleep Tracker Apps Work?
Most sleep tracker apps can measure the duration and quality of your sleep from under your pillow. So how do these things work, anyway? Let’s take a look at how this smart tech tracks your ZZZs.
Sleep tracking apps understand when you’re sleeping and which sleep state you’re in based on your movements while sleeping. Your phone has a nifty piece of hardware in it called an accelerometer. This allows it to monitor movement, acceleration, and the force of gravity. If you have a wearable device, it’s likely equipped with an actigraph sensor, which tracks movement more precisely than an accelerometer.
You tend to move more during some states of sleep (early sleep stages) and less during deep sleep (the later sleep stages and REM sleep), so by tracking your movements, your device understands which state of sleep you’re in and its duration.
Wearable devices can monitor your heart rate, providing even more information about your sleep state.
When you fall asleep, your heart rate slows down and your blood pressure drops. Then, when you hit REM sleep, your heart rate can go up again as you dream. By measuring these fluctuations, you can get a much clearer picture of your sleep cycle.
Many sleep apps activate your microphone at night to capture any noises that might be interrupting your sleep (with sometimes hilarious results). What you want to listen for here are the sounds coming from your body. You might have unknown issues with sleep apnea, restricted breathing, or snoring that are preventing you from achieving satisfying sleep.
Some sleep trackers monitor environmental changes such as the brightness and temperature in your bedroom. The app will then correlate these factors to your sleep cycle to tell you how to improve your sleep.
Sleep trackers can do a lot without your help, but one of the most important tasks is up to you. Most apps ask you to document lifestyle factors and things you’ve done throughout your day to determine what could improve your sleep. For example, an app might ask how many coffees you drink, when you eat dinner, whether you smoke, etc.
What you do during the day can have a huge impact on your sleep at night, so inputting these lifestyle choices is crucial to understanding the big picture.
Why Should I Track My Sleep?
Apps already take up most of our day, so do you really need one to ferry you to dreamland too? If you have trouble sleeping, you should give one of these apps a try (and it’s not like you don’t already bring your phone to bed every night). Here’s why.
Get More Sleep
The biggest benefit of sleep trackers is that they help you sleep more. Recognizing patterns in your sleep cycle and daily habits can help you change your environment and your schedule to maximize sleeping hours. Or, you might find out about sleep disorders you didn’t even know you had and then be able to seek a medical solution.
Studies show that getting more sleep reduces the risk of illness, improves mood, boosts the immune system, and helps regulate your weight.
Improve Your Sleep Quality
Getting more sleep is good but improving your sleep quality is just as important. If you find that your sleep cycle is irregular, it could be causing a lot of havoc in your life. You might find that natural light in your room is affecting your sleep patterns and that going to bed earlier will help you sleep more soundly. The first step to improving your sleep quality is to analyze your sleep cycle with the data generated by these apps.
Understand What Causes Poor Sleep
The microphone and movement trackers in your device can help you understand what’s causing problems with your sleep. Whether it’s snoring or breathing problems, a partner tossing and turning, or temperature fluctuations, you can get to the bottom of it pretty quickly with these sleep tools.
The lifestyle tracker can also help you understand if your choices during the day are affecting your sleep at night. When you see the trends laid out clearly, you can make effective changes to your routine.
Wake Up Rested
Most sleep trackers come with a smart alarm that can wake you up when you’re in a light stage of sleep, rather than during deep sleep. This makes waking up easier and will leave you feeling less groggy and more energetic. Alarm features also come in soothing wake-up sounds to usher you into a new day.
Sleep Tracking Apps Work
The best reason to use a sleep tracking app is that they work. According to The Johns Hopkins University, sleep tracking apps are useful in recognizing sleep patterns and sleep habits, and a study by the Sleep Research Society found that sleep trackers accurately track sleep stages.
The 5 Best Sleep Tracking Apps
Sleep tracking apps have helped millions of people sleep better, and because of that, it seems like there are millions of apps available to download. From Nokia Sleep to Beddit Sleep to the Health Mate app, sleep trackers have become a fad. Which app is best for you? Don’t hide under the covers just yet — we’ve weeded out the bugs and the bots to bring you the 5 best sleep tracking apps.
1. Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock
Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock keeps things simple for the average app user and offers complex analytics for the data nut all in one package. This may be why it’s one of the highest-rated sleep tracking apps.
Compatibility: iOS, Android
Cost: Free; $1.99/month or $9.99/year subscription for premium
- Wake gently to soothing sounds
- Intelligent snooze
- Decent free analytics
- Great premium features
The primary use of the Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock app is its alarm clock function. You set the alarm for the latest time you can feasibly get up, and the app will wake you up at the most advantageous time according to your sleep cycle (within the 30 minutes before your set time).
Upon waking, the app provides an assortment of data on your nighttime activity, allowing you to see at a glance if you got a good night’s sleep. Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock also tracks your lifestyle choices and can even integrate with your smart home to turn on your lights automatically, start the coffee, and adjust the thermostat.
The premium version unlocks a host of environmental features and measurements like heart rate, daily steps, fitness, weather, and moon phases.
Fitbit is a wearable device that goes on your wrist. It was originally designed as an activity tracker to count your steps and help you get fit. New and improved models, such as the Fitbit Flex, Fitbit Charge, and Fitbit Ionic come with advanced features like the Fitbit Sleep Tracker.
Compatibility: iOS, Android, Windows
Cost: From $59.95
- Tracks heart rate and movement
- Data and analytics in the Fitbit app
- Easy to wear and great battery life
- Accurate monitoring
- Some data-synching issues
- Fitbit Ionic sometimes doesn’t track sleep
- You are required to purchase a Fitbit device
Studies show that Fitbit is one of the most accurate sleep trackers when it comes to identifying sleep stages. It uses a heart-rate sensor and movement sensors to monitor sleep and sends that data to the companion app on your phone. There’s no need to keep your phone by your bed to use this app — just wear your Fitbit on your wrist while you sleep.
Fitbit comes with a bunch of cool sleep features, and all of them are free once you buy a Fitbit device. It allows you to personalize your sleep schedule, create sleep goals, and set an ideal bedtime and wake-up time. Fitbit will help you to achieve these goals gradually by sending you notifications.
3. Sleep Genius
Sleep Genius may be the most advanced sleep tracker available. In fact, the app is used by NASA to help astronauts sleep better in space.
Compatibility: iOS, Android
Cost: Free; $4.99 for premium
- NASA’s sleep tracker
- Clinically tested
- Trains your brain to wake up refreshed
- Power Nap feature
- Free version is basic
- Android version is glitchy
This app doesn’t just track your sleep with advanced metrics and graphs — it also helps you fall asleep faster. Its “genius” relaxation programs use clinically tested sounds to lull you into a deep sleep faster. When it’s time to wake up, it uses a super-advanced alarm that combines neurosensory algorithms, binaural beats, and more to literally retrain your brain to wake up refreshed.
Sleep Genius is one of the only apps that can help you to be proactive about getting better sleep. If it’s good enough for astronauts, it’s good enough for us, right?
Pillow is a sleep tracking app made for the Apple Watch and iPhone (but we recommend using it with Apple Watch). Using an Apple Watch instead of your smartphone means you’ll get more accurate data, as the watch can measure your heart rate, audio, and highly precise movements thanks to the Apple Watch’s gyroscope. The new Apple Watch has a great battery life, allowing you to wear it to bed and charge over breakfast.
Compatibility: iOS, Apple Watch
Cost: Free; $4.99 for premium
- Lots of features
- Very easy
- Monitors heart rate, movement, and audio
- Detailed and easy-to-read charts
- Recommended only for Apple Watch
We love the ease of access to data from Pillow. Everything is color-coded and highly intuitive, making this an ideal choice if numbers and data are enough to put you to sleep.
Pillow has some unique lifestyle factors to help you understand your sleep, such as mood measurement. It asks you to rate your mood when you wake up so it can learn the type of sleep that’s right for you instead of basing your analytics on one-size-fits-all research.
The premium version unlocks some nice features, including personalized sleep recommendations, a power nap mode, and detailed sleep history analytics. If you have an Apple Watch, this is the sleep tracking app for you.
5. Sleep as Android
Sleep as Android might not be the most comprehensive sleep tracking app out there, but its versatility with Android wearables and impressive features earn it a place on this list.
Cost: Free 2-week trial, then free every other day; $6 for premium
- Sends sleep deficit notifications
- Works with many Android wearables
- Anti-snore feature
- Custom alarms
- You need to manually turn it on when you go to sleep
- Only free every other day
Several wearable devices use Android Wear OS, but not many decent sleep trackers are compatible with the software. Sleep as Android syncs with Android wearable devices like Pebble, Garmin, Wear OS, and Tizen. This allows for more accurate heart rate, noise, and motion monitoring. You can also use it with your smartphone alone, though the app will be slightly less accurate when used with a device that’s not attached to your wrist.
Your sleep data is sent to your phone, and you can expect all the standard analytics for sleep tracking.
There are some great features to be unlocked here too. An anti-snore feature triggers a vibrating function if you start snoring, personalized sleep recommendations are sent to your phone, and notifications will be sent to help you make up your sleep deficit. Pretty cool stuff.
The only drawback to this app is that the free version is only available every other day. It’s a bit odd, but you don’t necessarily need to track your sleep every day to get good data.
The Best Sleep Tracking App for You
Now that we’ve narrowed down the 5 best sleep tracking apps, you’re all set to start eavesdropping on your subconscious. To find the best app, just pick one from the list that’s compatible with your phone or wearable device. Most apps have free versions, so there’s no harm in trying them all out. If you’re on the fence about a certain app, we’d recommend sleeping on it (see what we did there?).
Remember that smartphone apps will require you to keep the phone in bed with you, and that wearables will give you more accurate readings. If you find that you have chronic issues with your sleep cycle, REM sleep, or breathing issues, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. Sleep tracking apps are not a substitute for medical attention if you have any sleep disorders.
Tracking your sleep can help you achieve deeper sleep at night and better overall health when awake. So, instead of lying awake scrolling through social media, download one of the best sleep tracking apps and start getting a great night’s sleep.