Insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic, the Centers for Disease Control says. Not getting enough shuteye can lead to trouble concentrating, remembering and even operating a vehicle. Adults need 8 hours of sleep each night, but most Americans report an average of 6 hours. Luckily, technology can help. Check out this collection of apps from sleep trackers, sleep therapy apps and lucid dreaming tools to help you get a restful night's sleep and ready for the next day.
Sleep Cycle takes the scientific approach to waking you up after a good night's rest. Using the iPhone's accelerometer to record your sleeping habits, the app uses sleep cycle theory and aims to wake you at just the right time to ensure 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.
Pillow takes a similar approach with sleep tracking, using your phone or Apple Watch sensors to track your sleep duration and quality. It then offers breakdowns as to different sleep stages such as REM and deep sleep, along with heart rate recording and sleep quality assessment, in combination with Apple's built-in Health app. A smart alarm feature 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 $4.99 in-app purchase 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.
Sleep As Android is another excellent sleep cycle tracker and alarm that uses your 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 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.
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 the Apple Watch to bed, the app can still at least record your sleep duration, starting when you plug in your watch to charge.
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. iOS 9.3 and later comes with a Night Shift mode that reduces blue light on the display. For Android users, the Twilight app does the same by automatically adjusting 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.
Sleep Time+ (Android, iOS) by Azumio is another solid combination of sleep tracking and smart alarm clock, using your phone's sensors to measure the quality of your sleep and wake you up at the optimal time. In addition to the detailed metrics and smart alarm features, Sleep Time+ comes with soundscapes to help you sleep and HealthKit integration.
Even if you can't get as much sleep as you'd want, you might still be able to supplement that with a good power nap. Sleep Cycle Power Nap is a spinoff app that focuses on helping users get short, comfortable naps. Users can set the app for a Power Nap (~20 minutes), Recovery Nap (~45 minutes), or a full sleep cycle (90 minutes), settle down somewhere comfortable, and the app then uses your phone accelerometer to determine when you've fallen asleep, setting your alarm automatically to wake you. The app comes with 17 different alarm melodies and a soothing sound generator to help lull you to sleep.