We’ve all been there – lying awake at night, staring at the ceiling, desperate for the Sandman to come and sprinkle some of that sleepy dust over your eyes in the hope that you’ll eventually drift off to sleep. Sadly, he doesn’t always come on request – unlike apps.Although the Sleep Council suggests leaving all technology completely out of the bedroom, it’s unlikely many of us can resist a quick flick through Instagram before bed, so why not put those prods and presses to good use and download a sleep app, which might help you doze off quicker than one more video on YouTube…
Anybody who has been in the immediate vicinity of any child in the last 10 years will probably be all too aware of Moshi Monsters, which are cute little virtual pets that get kids all excited about dressing up, playing games with and generally showing off to their friends.Not exactly a restful pastime you might think, but their creator has moved into the meditation space with the app Calm, and with it adapted the soothing bedtime stories for adults into Moshi-filled (but relaxing) sleep stories for children.
Each tale is filled with melodic tales and soundscapes, designed to capture the attention of your child and help lull them off into a dreamlike sleep.
If you’re after a seriously science-backed sleep app, Sleepio was co-founded by world sleep expert Professor Colin Espie from the University of Oxford.
It provides a course of evidence-based cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help treat insomnia, which gets to the core of sleeplessness by analysing your thoughts, daily schedule, lifestyle and bedroom.
The eight-week course builds a new sleep pattern and strategy for your night time routine, which claims to help you sleep up to 50 per cent faster, reduce time awake by up to 60 per cent and boosts daytime energy by up to 50 per cent.
Although £400 sounds a lot, insomniacs in Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire will be able to download the app on the NHS from this October as part of a pilot scheme.
The world is not short of mindfulness apps, which help you switch off from the world around you by taking you through sessions of meditation from your phone, but the Buddhify app is the one currently helping us through our long, cold commutes.The interface is centred around a colourful circle much like the dharmachakra (Buddhist wheel), from which you select what your current circumstances are (walking, eating, at the gym etc), and gives you the option of a number of different meditation sessions based on the amount of time you have.
There are also different wheels, so you can have a collection of meditations based on what you want to achieve, like getting through tough time or, unsurprisingly given its place in this feature, more sleep.
To anybody who has had one, the expression “sleeping like a baby” is one of the most nonsensical things they have ever heard (I should know, I have a 20-week old currently trying to put this expression to bed).
But just because your baby doesn’t show any inclination of ever wanting to go down, they do, and although it might be hard to believe, they will get better at it over time.
That’s where apps like Nod come in, which helps you track sleeps and feeds so that you can get an idea of what rhythm your baby (and you) are in. With this data, the app will suggest new things to try to help you achieve your goals, like sleep with the lights off or reduce nighttime feedings, and you can also set up routines so that you don’t forget to do something in your baby-brain state of mind.
If there were one app that would dominate the King-size bed that is the world of sleep apps then Sleep as Android would be the one. Think of it as a sleep hub (oh what a wonderful place that sounds), which tracks the quality of your sleep using your phone or a supported wearable, and uses this data to build sleep patterns, smart alarms, sleeping tips and an overall sleep score to measure the quality of your snoozing over time.
On top of this, there’s a few novelty features like one that requires you to snap a CAPTCHA before the alarm switches off, a lucid dreaming function to help you take actual control of your dreams, and the app can integrate with your Hue lights to make your whole sleeping experience a little more smart-home integrated.
Alexander is the Online Editor at BBC Science Focus and is the one that keeps sciencefocus.com looking shipshape and Bristol fashion. He has been toying around with news, technology and science on internet for well over a decade, and sports a very fetching beard.