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Best sleep apps in 2021

best sleep apps
(Image credit: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock)

Your sleepless nights may not be over when you turn to the best sleep apps. But at least you can get valuable data that helps you get an idea of what's causing all that tossing and turning.

After, sleep is an important part of any healthy life. Most of us need 8 hours of sleep — and most of us are not getting anywhere close to that. So anything the best sleep apps can do to help us pinpoint why we're not sleeping is a step in the right direction.

You've got a variety of apps at your disposal — sleep trackers, sleep therapy apps and other tools that aim to help you get a restful night's sleep. Smartwatches and fitness trackers are taking more of an interest in sleep-tracking, too, with the Fitbit Charge 4 offering better sleep tracking tools and this fall's watchOS 8 update adding the ability to track respiratory rate, which pinpoint sleep problems. 

But a good app may be all you need to get better sleep. Here are the best sleep apps we've found in our search of the Android and iOS app stores.

The best sleep apps for Android and iOS

1. Sleep Cycle

best sleep apps: sleep cycle

(Image credit: Sleep Cycle)

Sleep Cycle takes the scientific approach to waking you up after a good night's rest. Using your smartphone’s accelerometer and other sensors to record your sleeping habits, the free app uses sleep cycle theory to wake you at just the right time, ensuring you’re getting optimal rest. 

Users set a window of time (say a 30-minute stretch) instead of a traditional pinpoint alarm time, and when the app judges that your sleep movement is just right, it will ring the alarm to wake you. In addition to the smart alarm, Sleep Cycle records your sleeping habits for tracking sleep quality over time.

2. SleepScore

best sleep apps: sleepscore

(Image credit: SleepScore Labs)

SleepScore takes a different approach to recording your sleep quality than some of the other best sleep apps we've included here. It ditches wearables or the need to place your phone on the mattress to record your movement, instead using your phone’s microphone and speakers like a sonar station to record your sleep movements. That helps the app generate a sleep score and record a variety of other metrics that show your sleep quality.

You can also access tips through SleepScore for how to prepare for better sleep, as well as a smart alarm clock. Premium subscribers get access to longer-term data tracking and more in-depth analysis, as well as a sleep report that you can share with your doctor. A premium subscription costs $7.99 a month.

Note: On Android, the sleep sonar feature is only certified for certain phones like the latest models of the Samsung Galaxy, Note, and Google Pixel.

3. Headspace

best sleep apps: headspace

(Image credit: Headspace)

Headspace is more than just one of the best relaxation apps for mindfulness and guided meditation. The app also has a dedicated sleeping aids section, with soothing guided meditation “Sleepcasts” — wind down exercises designed to prepare your mind for rest, and relaxing music to help give you a good night’s rest. That’s all on top of Headspace’s rich library of free and premium guided meditations. 

Free Headspace users get a limited library guided meditations and Sleepcasts, with premium subscribers who pay $12.99 a month getting access to the full library with more than 40 different courses and shorter meditations.

4. Calm

best sleep apps: Calm

(Image credit: Calm.com)

Calm is another relaxation app that finds a place on our list of best sleep apps. This download for guided meditation and mindfulness features a variety of programs to reduce stress and anxiety, which includes helping you get better sleep. 

Meditations run a variety of lengths, from 3 to 25 minutes, and Calm also comes with a daily meditation, "Sleep Stories" designed to help you fall asleep, breathing exercises and more. The app is pretty feature packed, which might explains its correspondingly pricey monthly subscription of $14.99.

5. Pillow

best sleep apps: pillow

(Image credit: Neybox Digital)

Pillow turns to the sensors on your iPhone or Apple Watch to track your sleep duration and quality. From the data it collects, Pillow can provide breakdowns showing different sleep stages, such as REM and deep sleep, along with heart rate recording and sleep quality assessment. Naturally, as an iOS app, this integrates with Apple's built-in Health app. 

A smart alarm feature in Pillow lets the app gently ease you to wakefulness at the best time based on your sleep activity and the time you've set. 

The app comes with a wealth of tracking features, and a $6.99 monthly fee unlocks more, such as the option to export your sleep sound recordings, detailed sleep statistics tracking over time, and a power nap mode for shorter bursts of sleep.

  • Download Pillow: iOS

6. Sleep As Android

best sleep apps: Sleep as Android

(Image credit: Urbandroid)

Sleep As Android is another excellent sleep cycle tracker and alarm that uses your Android phone's on-board sensors to track your sleep and help you wake up at just the right time. 

In addition to the usual smart alarm and sleep logging features, Sleep As Android offers such extras as a library of soothing sound lullabies, natural sound wake-up noises and Captcha-style wake-up tests that make sure you've properly woken up, instead of clumsily fumbling for the alarm button.

You can use the app for free for a trial run, but to get the full features, you'll need to pay $15.99 for the unlocked version.

7. Loona

best sleep apps: loona

(Image credit: Loona)

The makers of Loona would balk at their app being described as a sleep tracker. But it's certainly designed to get you in the right mood to sleep, and that's enough to land it on our list of the best sleep apps. (A recent Apple Design Award win helps convinces us this is one to pay attention to, as well.)

The idea behind Loona is to get you to break free from the emotions of the day with playlists and immersive stories aimed at putting you in a relaxed state of mind. These "sleepscapes," as Loona puts it, involve guided sessions with activity-based relaxation, sounds and stories, all designed to prepare your mind for a restful night.

You only get one sleepscape including three stories and three playlists with the free version of Loona. For more, you've got to subscribe to a subscription costing $12.99 a month. (Lower rates are available if you opt for an annual subscription.) It's not an insignificant cost — though it compares well to Headspace and Calm — but if you're going to bed frustrated with the day you just had, Loona might be able to put you in the proper frame of mind.

8. Sleepa

best sleep apps

(Image credit: Sound Sleep)

If you've given Sleepa a try before, it's worth revisiting the app, which now features a revamped interface. Previously, an Android exclusive, there's an iOS version of Sleepa now, too.

Otherwise, it's the same simple, helpful app as before, where the emphasis is on soundscapes that you can mix and match to create the best background noise for falling asleep. The free app comes with a variety of sound categories, such as Rain & Water, Nature & Forest, and more technical sounds like white, pink, and brown noise. 

Sleepa is ad-supported, but a $2.99 monthly subscription unlocks all current and future features.

9. Sleepzy

best sleep apps: Sleepzy

(Image credit: Apalon Apps)

Apalon’s Sleepzy takes the old Good Morning Alarm Clock app and introduces expanded sleep-tracking and sleep aid features. But the alarm clock feature is still there — in fact, now it uses your sleep rhythms to find the best time to wake you up. 

Like many other best sleep apps , Sleepzy uses your phone's sensors (or the Apple Watch) to track your sleep, allowing you to view your sleep quality, cycles, and sleep debt over time; you can also log a Sleep Diary and set your target sleep goals. 

The app is free and ad-supported, with a $6.99/month subscription removing advertising and adding extended data tracking and sleep noise recording.

10. Noisli

best sleep apps: Noisli

(Image credit: Noisli)

Noisli has won raves for its browser-based white noise generator that helps you focus and relax. Why not get the same effect with a dedicated app for your phone?

The $1.99 mobile version of Noisli comes with an offline soundboard of various types of white noise that you can mix, and then save as your own custom soothing sound combos or sleep aids. You can fire off your custom mix and then set a sleep/fade out timer; the app syncs with your Noisli account.

11. Pzizz

Best Sleep apps: Pzizz

(Image credit: Pzizz)

Pzizz helps users slip gently into sleep by combining music, words, sound effects and binaural beats to help you de-stress. Once users set a listening duration (10 minutes to 10 hours), Pzizz generates a unique sleeping soundtrack from its library of built-in media. 

You're able to adjust the volume levels of music, sound effects and vocal tracks to achieve the sound you want. And Pzizz's makers estimate that there are some 10 billion possible combinations of audio elements, so you shouldn't run out of choices.

Pzizz also features Sleep and Nap modules, with premium subscriptions unlocking richer soundscapes and a Focus module.

12. AutoSleep

best sleep apps: autosleep

(Image credit: Tantsissa)

AutoSleep is another sleep tracking app for iOS that takes advantage of your Apple Watch sensors to both track sleep and assess the quality of your slumber. 

If you wear your watch to bed, then the app tracks your sleep activity and quality with the onboard sensors. The app then sends you a notification in the morning when you unlock your iPhone with a report of your night's sleep quality and activity. 

Even if you don't wear your Apple Watch to bed, the app can still at least record your sleep duration, starting when you plug in your watch to charge.

  • Download AutoSleep: iOS

13. Digipill

Best sleep apps: Digipill

(Image credit: Digipill)

Digipill features a variety of purpose-built guided meditation sessions and soundscapes called "digipills", each designed for a variety of purposes, with the relaxing T-Break digipill coming free, and the rest as in-app purchases. 

Of particular interest to light sleepers and insomniacs is the Sleep Deeply module, which costs $3.99. It's designed to help you relax and drift off to sleep. Monthly subscriptions for access to all the modules are also available.

14. Lucid Dreamer

best sleep app: Lucid Dreamer

(Image credit: Guardians)

Lucid Dreamer helps sleepers achieve the lucid dreaming state by triggering an audio and visual cue onscreen that trains sleepers to make a reality check; that in turn, inspires lucid dreaming or so the app claims. There's a built-in dream log where you can jot down their dreams and store them, or share with the app's community. 

An in-app purchase of $6.99 unlocks a toolkit of additional features to aid sleepers, such as a sleep cycle adjustment tool, options for custom music and sounds and pre-sleep visuals and cues to help sculpt your dreamscape.

15. PrimeNap: Sleep Tracker

best sleep apps: PrimeNap

(Image credit: Boston IAB)

PrimeNap: Sleep Tracker might not have the most creative name or sharpest interface, but it does come with some solid features. With an in-app purchase, you can add an alarm clock to the mix.

PrimeNap does the usual sensor-assisted sleep logging, but it also includes a customizable activity log so that users can record how their daily activities might affect their sleep. This best sleep app also includes a dream journal, cinema mode, and red filter. 

16. Twilight

Best sleep apps: Twilight

(Image credit: Urbandroid)

The bright, backlit displays of smartphones and tablets radiate a lot of blue light that's said to mess with your body clock and sleep cycle. Twilight is here to take care of that for Android users.

The app automatically adjusts the colors of your phone's display based on the time of day, gently toning down the blue and introducing a red filter as evening approaches and night falls. This results in a softer display that's easier on the eyes and less likely to mess with your sleep cycle.

Philip Michaels
Philip Michaels is a senior editor at Tom's Guide. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics and old movies. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.