Apps to Help You Sleep Healthier
Your smart phone just got even smarter. Most phones and tablets now support apps that can help you keep track of your sleep. Staying conscious of what's going on while you're sleeping can help you understand potential issues with your sleep health (and with your body's health in general) with the simple touch of a button. Here are a few of our favorites.
SnoreLab has garnered attention both in the tech and medical communities for being one of the first of its kind. It generates charts of your snoring, records sound samples for you to play back, and allows you to track the impact of outside factors on your snoring (a cold, alcohol before bed, etc).
Users of the app say that the snore charts and information logs have given them a valuable tool in terms of sharing data with their doctors. If your snoring is the result of a serious problem like sleep apnea, your doctor will be able to consult the data from your Snore Lab app and possibly diagnose the problem sooner than he or she might have otherwise.
The app on the Apple Store is $3.99. Our recommendation? Worth the small price. If you or someone you love has a serious snoring issue, this app can't substitute for a real sleep test or a consultation with a medical professional. But it might very well help you start on the path to fully addressing the problem.
CPAP users could also benefit from the Snore Lab app. Though hopefully you're not snoring through your CPAP therapy, the app may be able to detect sounds of an air leak and help you get the most out of your sleep.
Sleep Cycle (iOS)
The Sleep Cycle app functions as a biological alarm clock. Using your iPhone's accelerometer (the part of your phone that can sense motion, normally used to tilt the screen) the app senses your movement in bed and uses that information to determine what phase of sleep you're in. The alarm then gently wakes you up when you are in your lightest sleep phase, which allows you to avoid the feeling of disorientation that comes with waking up out of a deep sleep.
Like SnoreLab, this app also allows you to make notes about what might have contributed to changes in your sleep patterns.
The app focuses less on the hours of sleep, which is normally what people blame for feeling tired, and more on the quality of the sleep. If you slept for 9 hours but never entered deep or REM sleep, you're likely to feel tired regardless. On the other hand, if you only slept for 6 hours, but entered REM sleep two or three times, you'll probably wake up feeling refreshed even though you didn't sleep for the recommended number of hours.
If you don't wake up feeling refreshed, the app can tell you what's taking place during sleep. You place it in the bed with you and give it an hour or half-hour window in which to wake you.
Sleep Cycle is available on the Apple Store for $0.99. Forego one morning cup of coffee and spend that dollar on this app. You may find you don't need the coffee after an analysis of your sleep quality.
This app provides the most comprehensive sleep data of all the apps on the market. It measures sleep, heart rate, and records talking, snoring, and apnea events. It's not as sophisticated as a home sleep test, but for $0.99, it's a great short-term indicator.
Like an activity tracker, this app also tracks your steps throughout the day and can help you be healthier and more active in general. Sleep better, wake up refreshed, and then be more active throughout your day.