If you struggle to get enough high-quality sleep, you may benefit from using a sleep app. These apps vary in terms of functionality. Some track your sleep data and issue daily reports. Others include relaxing music and stories, guided meditations, breathing exercises, and other activities to help you relax before bed. In order to appeal to a wide range of sleepers, many sleep apps are compatible with both iOS and Android smart devices.
While many sleep apps are free to download, you may need to purchase a monthly or yearly subscription in order to unlock all the features and programs. Free trial periods are common for first-time users, though these trials may require you to sign up for a subscription that will begin when the trial ends.
Our team has tested dozens of popular sleep apps. We’ll discuss our picks for the best sleep apps across a variety of categories, then cover everything you need to know about acquiring and using apps that help you sleep.
Sleep Doctor’s Picks
Sleep Tracker Type: Monthly, yearly, lifetime
- Library includes sleep stories, guided meditation, and stretching
- New content added each week
- Free seven-day trial for new users
- Adults and children who enjoy listening to relaxing stories
- Those who enjoy meditating before bed
- People who are interested in breathing or stretching exercises to unwind in the evening
Calm specializes in audio and video programs intended to help you relax before bedtime. The app’s library includes a wide selection of soothing sleep stories. Fiction and nonfiction readings are available, with noteworthy narrators including celebrities such as Matthew McConaughey and Stephen Fry. The library also features kid-friendly bedtime stories and lullabies to help your child unwind in the evening. In addition to sleep stories, Calm offers guided meditation as well as breathing and stretching videos.
After signing up for a subscription, you’ll be able to create a profile with your favorite programs on the app. Calm uses this profile to recommend readings and videos to you. New content is added on a weekly basis, and subscribers receive access to the full library. The app does not track sleep data.
Calm is compatible with most Android and iOS devices. You can try the app free of charge for one week before committing to a monthly or yearly subscription.
Sleep Tracker Type: Monthly
- Users receive coaching and tutorials based on their specific sleep needs
- Library includes guided breathing and meditation programs
- One week of free access before subscription begins
- People who are unsure how to tackle their sleep problems
- Those who enjoy meditation or breathing exercises before bed
- Anyone looking for information on sleep science and sleep hygiene
Sleep Reset is home to a wealth of sleep-related content, but each user’s experience is tailored to their specific sleep issues and needs. You’ll begin with a full sleep assessment to pinpoint why you struggle to get enough high-quality sleep. Based on the results, you’ll receive coaching to address various factors in your daily life that may be causing sleep problems.
All of the app’s sleep improvement programs have been approved by certified sleep clinicians. Subscribers also gain access to tutorials about topics such as sleep science and sleep hygiene. Additionally, you can download videos for guided meditation and breathing exercises to help you relax in the evening.
The app allows you to track when you normally fall asleep and wake up, the number of times you awaken during the night, and other basic sleep data that can be used to create a healthy nighttime routine.
Sleep Reset comes with a free seven-day trial, during which you can quit at any time without incurring extra charges. Subscriptions are billed monthly. The app is compatible with most iOS and Android devices.
Best for Meditation
Sleep Tracker Type: Monthly, yearly
- App library includes hundreds of meditation programs
- “Move Mode” programs promote physical activity during the day
- Free trial periods for monthly and yearly subscriptions
- Anyone who wants to explore different meditation programs
- People who frequently experience stress or anxiety
- Apple Health users
Whether you’re new to guided meditation or a seasoned veteran, Headspace provides you with an extensive library of programs dedicated to promoting healthy habits during the day and restfulness in the hours leading up to bedtime.
More than 500 meditation programs are available, many of which are focused on specific activities. “Move Mode” workouts guide you through light physical activity, while “SOS” meditations are intended for people experiencing stress and anxiety. If you’re short on time, the library also includes mini meditations that only last a few minutes.
In addition to meditation programs, the app includes tutorials for yoga and other physical activities to help you unwind in the evening. You can also listen to white noise, nature sounds, and soothing music. Since Headspace is compatible with Apple Health, you can integrate the app into how you track your daily activities.
You can use Headspace on most iOS and Android devices. A monthly subscription comes with a free seven-day trial, or you can opt for a yearly subscription with a free 14-day trial.
Best for Sleep Sounds
Sleep Tracker Type: Monthly, yearly
- App features guided video tutorials for relaxing pre-bedtime activities
- Audio library includes white noise, ASMR, nature sounds, and soothing music
- New subscribers qualify for a seven-day free trial
- People who are interested in yoga, breathing exercises, or guided meditation
- Anyone prone to stress or anxiety before falling asleep
- Those who like listening to music or sleep sounds in bed
The Yours App is ideal for anyone who enjoys listening to soothing sounds prior to falling asleep. After creating an account, you can customize your dashboard with recordings from the app’s vast audio library. Your options include white noise, autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), nature sounds, and instrumental music, as well as relaxing sleep stories and lullabies.
The app also includes articles about various sleep-related topics and video tutorials for yoga, guided meditation, and breathing exercises. In all, there are hundreds of programs to read, watch, or listen to. The app is further enhanced by a user-friendly interface, simple controls, and strong production values for the videos and recordings.
You can sign up for monthly or yearly subscriptions, the latter of which saves you some money in the long term. New subscribers receive a free trial for seven days. The Yours App is compatible with most iOS and Android devices.
Best for Stress and Anxiety
BetterSleep Relax Melodies
Sleep Tracker Type: Annual, corporate
- Extensive audio library features adult- and kid-friendly selections
- SleepMoves program helps you create a healthy, relaxing bedtime routine
- Corporate subscription available for businesses and organizations
- Those with stressful jobs or households
- Adults and children who enjoy bedtime stories
Stress and anxiety can lead to sleep problems even if you take extra measures to get enough rest each night. The BetterSleep app contains a wide range of programs designed to help you unwind and relax as bedtime approaches.
Our team was particularly impressed with the app’s recording library. You can choose from white noise, nature and ambient sounds, binaural beats, and soothing instrumental music.
Subscribers gain access to video tutorials for guided breathing and meditation — two relaxation techniques that are often effective for stressed-out sleepers. You can also build a healthy bedtime routine through the SleepMoves program, which helps you optimize your evening activities based on sleep hygiene principles.
BetterSleep is one of the most kid-friendly sleep apps we’ve encountered. The sleep story library includes many readings intended specifically for young sleepers. The app also contains lullabies aimed at children.
You can use BetterSleep on most iOS and Android devices. By signing up for an annual subscription, you’ll receive a free seven-day trial to test out the app and decide if it’s right for you. BetterSleep also offers a corporate package for employers with at least 31 workers who are interested in using the app.
Best for Sleep Tracking
Rise Science Sleep Tracker
Sleep Tracker Type: Yearly
- Tracking technology monitors time spent asleep to calculate sleep debt
- App is compatible with any cell phone or sleep tracker
- No wearable components needed
- People who don’t currently own a sleep-tracking device
- Anyone who struggles to get enough sleep on a nightly basis
- Those seeking an app with a subscription they can cancel at any time
Many sleep apps offer coaching, guided relaxation techniques, audio programs, and other resources to help you get the sleep you need. Rise Science’s Sleep Tracker app goes straight to the source of nightly struggles by monitoring how much sleep you get. The app then uses this metric to calculate your sleep debt, or the difference between the amount of sleep you need and the amount of sleep you actually get.
The app is free to download and compatible with any Android or iOS smartphone. If you use a wearable sleep tracker, Rise Science also pulls data from that device, but you don’t need to wear anything extra to use the app. Based on your sleep debt, the app assists you in creating nighttime routines that are conducive to a healthy night’s rest. Following the app’s advice can yield positive results in a matter of days.
Rise Science lets new customers try out the app for seven days. After the first week, you’ll need to pay for an annual subscription. Members can quit their subscription at any point by following instructions for cancellation. They’ll have free access to the app until their subscription renewal date.
Best for Apple Watch Users
Sleep Tracker Type: Monthly, yearly
- App uses machine learning to track various sleep metrics
- Users receive daily sleep data reports
- Inexpensive monthly and yearly plans
- People who use an iPhone and Apple Watch
- Those looking for a sleep app with comprehensive data tracking
- Anyone seeking an app with affordable subscription rates
Designed exclusively for Apple Watch wearers, NapBot is an app that tracks different sleep metrics and generates daily reports to keep you informed about your nightly patterns. The app uses innovative technology to detect these metrics and “learn” more about your sleep patterns to improve its accuracy over time.
NapBot tracks your heart rate, light and deep sleep phases, and time spent asleep and awake. In addition to daily reports, the app’s data accumulates over time to give you an overview of your sleep history. This feature is particularly useful if your sleep quality or duration has fluctuated due to stressors or new habits that negatively impact sleep. Another slick feature is the Environmental Sound Exposure sensor, which helps you optimize your bedtime routine by rating the noisiness of your sleep environment.
In addition to the Apple Watch, you’ll need an iPhone or iPod with an iOS 14.0 or higher operating system and Apple’s Health app installed to receive data from NapBot. The app is very inexpensive compared to other sleep-tracking apps, and you can choose between monthly or yearly subscriptions. There is no trial period available at this time.
What Are Sleep Apps?
A wide range of sleep apps are available for today’s smart device owners. While these apps vary in terms of purpose and functionality, they all share the same goal of helping you fall asleep more quickly, get enough rest each night, and wake up refreshed in the morning.
The type of sleep app you find most appealing largely depends on your personal needs and preferences. If you enjoy audio recordings as you fall asleep, you should consider an app with white noise, nature sounds, soothing music, or relaxing bedtime stories. Other apps track your heart rate, the time you spend in each sleep stage, and other data to help you optimize your sleep routine. You’ll also find sleep apps with tutorials for relaxing pre-bedtime activities such as yoga, breathing exercises, and guided meditation.
To download a sleep app, first check the system requirements to ensure compatibility with your preferred device. You can often download sleep apps directly from the original brand, and most are available through the Apple and Google Play app stores.
Can Sleep Apps Improve Your Sleep?
Using an app to track your sleep data may improve your sleep over time. That said, the efficacy of sleep apps has been questioned, and some tracking apps have been shown to produce inaccurate results. We recommend thinking of sleep tracking apps as motivational tools. You can use your personal data to better understand how sleep cycles and patterns work, then take the steps needed to ensure adequate rest each night.
Sleep apps with audio and video content intended to promote relaxation and restfulness can be more effective at improving your sleep, though these apps may require some trial and error on your part. If a sleep story doesn’t help you fall asleep, try white noise or nature sounds. Yoga and guided meditation can help some people wind down in the evening, but the effectiveness of these exercises may vary from person to person. Try different activities and strategies to determine which ones work best for you.
Why Do People Use Sleep Apps?
Sleep apps serve different purposes. You may use a sleep app to track sleep data, learn about relaxing pre-bedtime exercises, or a bit of both. Common issues among adults include falling asleep quickly, staying asleep throughout the night, and getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night. The right sleep app can help resolve these issues.
Most sleep apps fall into three general categories: sleep tracking and monitoring, sleep health and education, and relaxing activities. Some apps incorporate multiple categories into their interface, while others specialize in one category.
Sleep Tracking and Monitoring
Sleep tracking and monitoring apps vary in terms of scope. Some measure basic metrics such as time spent asleep and awake. Others track more advanced data such as heart rate and time spent in specific sleep cycles.
How Do Sleep Apps Know You’re Asleep?
Some sleep tracking apps automatically detect sleep through physical cues such as heart rate. Most trackers of this nature require a wearable device or monitor. With other sleep apps, you’ll need to manually record the amount of sleep you get each night.
How Accurate Are Sleep Apps?
Sleep tracking apps with wearable monitors tend to be more accurate than those that detect sleep patterns through other means, such as movements in bed or audible breathing changes. However, even the most advanced tracking apps have limitations. You should interpret your data as a general overview of your sleep stages and their duration rather than a perfectly accurate measurement.
Sleep Health and Education
Sleep health and education apps aim to improve your sleep through articles and video tutorials. Some apps connect you with sleep specialists, sleep coaches, and other experts in the field of sleep science. These professionals can help you optimize your daily habits and nighttime routines to ensure you get enough high-quality sleep, which in turn can boost your physical health and overall happiness.
Apps may also feature articles published in scientific and academic journals, as well as original written content. These readings can supplement your coaching by giving you additional ideas for setting sleep goals and maintaining a healthy sleep schedule and routine.
Some sleep apps specialize in helping you relax in the evening and prepare for sleep. These apps may feature tutorials for yoga, light stretching, and other soothing activities. Guided meditation and breathing programs and are also featured on many sleep apps.
Relaxing audio programs are another way sleep apps can help you unwind. Sleep stories have become a popular app addition in recent years. Most of these stories involve anecdotes about inherently peaceful topics such as travel, cooking, or spending time in nature. Sleep apps may also feature calming music, white noise, ambient sounds, and lullabies for children.
What to Look For in the Best Sleep Apps
The functions, features, and costs of sleep apps vary from platform to platform. Before committing to a sleep app, we recommend taking your personal needs and interests into account. You may also need to create a budget if a sleep app you’d like to download requires a monthly or yearly subscription.
Common Features of Sleep Apps
While functionality varies from app to app, many sleep apps feature tools for tracking sleep data, sleep and lifestyle coaching programs, and libraries of audio and video content.
Sleep Cycle Analysis
Some tracking apps use physical cues such as heart rate and breathing to determine how much time you spend in each stage of your sleep cycle. All four stages of sleep play a key role in your physical and mental health, so spending enough time in each one is important.
Smart Alarm Clock
Smart alarms are designed to wake you up during the lightest stages of your sleep cycle. Waking up during deep sleep or REM sleep can leave you feeling groggy and poorly rested. Apps with smart alarms use software to pinpoint the different stages of your sleep cycle. You can usually set a window of time ranging anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour to ensure the alarm goes off during the right stage.
White Noise and Sleep Sounds
White noise contains all frequencies across the sound spectrum, resulting in a sound similar to television or radio static. Some people find white noise relaxing. Others prefer natural or ambient sounds such as lapping waves, birds chirping, or chatter in a crowded location.
Lullabies and Music
Lullabies are primarily found on kid-friendly sleep apps. Those geared toward adults tend to feature classical, ambient, and other types of instrumental music with calming beats and slow tempos.
Many people meditate to relax. With guided meditation, another person leads the session. Sleep apps may include videos and audio recordings for guided meditation.
Common on sleep apps aimed at both adults and children, bedtime stories typically involve relaxing content narrated in a soft, soothing tone. Calming background music is often included to enhance the storytelling.
Heart Rate Monitor
Your heart rate varies during different stages of your sleep cycle, so this metric helps optimize your data’s accuracy. Sleep apps with heart rate monitors typically come with a wearable device. With others, you press your index finger on your phone or tablet screen and the app records your resting pulse.
Sleep apps can monitor snoring through audio recording software. These apps often feature snoring tips and solutions. When snoring is detected, some produce a light alarm designed to stop the snoring without waking you.
Sleep Journal and Log
A sleep journal can be an effective tool for sleep management. Many sleep apps feature journals or logs for recording how much you sleep each night, how many times you wake up, and other patterns. These apps can also help you interpret the records so you can make necessary changes.
Sleep Tips and Coaching
Most sleep apps feature some sort of tips or coaching. You may be connected with a dedicated sleep coach or specialist via online chat, or the app may feature recorded videos you can watch at any time.
Sleep App Cost
The vast majority of sleep apps our team has encountered are free to download onto your preferred device. However, many require subscriptions for long-term use. Monthly and yearly subscriptions are fairly common. Monthly subscriptions are better if you don’t expect to use the app for more than a year. These typically cost $5 to $15 per month.
Most annual subscriptions cost $50 to $80 per year, making them a higher upfront cost but less expensive than a monthly subscription in the long run. Lifetime subscriptions are also available with select apps.
Many apps come with free trials lasting one or two weeks. We recommend using these trial periods to experiment with the various functions and decide if the app is worth the investment for you.
Are There Free Sleep Apps?
Some sleep apps are free to download and use, but these tend to have limited features and rarely match subscription-based sleep apps in terms of performance and functionality. Additionally, free sleep apps often include advertisements that can be frustrating and disruptive to your overall experience.
Should You Use a Sleep App?
You might be a good candidate for a sleep app if you continually struggle to get enough sleep, wish to engage with a sleep coach or specialist, enjoy relaxing audio programs before bed, or want to learn more about sleep science and relaxing pre-bedtime activities.
Many sleep apps we’ve tested are user-friendly and relatively easy to operate. However, some sleep apps perform better than others, and most high-quality apps require monthly or annual subscriptions. We recommend vetting each app you download by testing different features and functions during free trial periods.
Are Sleep Apps Better Than Fitness and Activity Trackers?
If you’re interested in tracking a wide range of sleep data, a dedicated sleep or activity tracker with a companion app will probably meet your needs better than a standalone sleep app. However, apps offer additional features you won’t find on many trackers, such as relaxing audio programs and guided yoga or meditation. Apps also tend to cost much less than trackers.
Do You Need Wearable Devices to Use Sleep Apps?
Most sleep apps that track data include some sort of wearable device, though some monitor your sleep patterns through audio recording software and don’t have any wearable components. Apps that don’t track sleep data almost never require wearable technology.
Can Sleep Apps Detect Snoring and Sleep Apnea?
Some apps detect snoring with recording software. Snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea, but you should never use an app to determine whether you have this medical condition. Talk to your doctor if you believe you have sleep apnea.
Ask the Sleep Doctor
Have questions about sleep? Submit them here! We use your questions to help us decide topics for articles, videos, and newsletters. We try to answer as many questions as possible. You can also send us an email. Please note, we cannot provide specific medical advice, and always recommend you contact your doctor for any medical matters.