The Sleep Apps You Need If You Have Trouble Catching Some ZZZs

photographed by Michael Beckert; produced by Sam Nodelman; modeled by Selah Fong; produced by Yuki Mizuma.
If you're trying to sleep better, getting off your phone before going to bed makes a lot of sense. While it may be addicting to have HQ Trivia and Instagram right at your fingertips, staring and scrolling gleams blue light into your eyes, suppressing your body's natural melatonin production, which makes it harder to fall asleep.
But your phone isn't all evil, and it can be used to help you understand your sleep habits and ultimately sleep better. In fact, there are tons of sleep apps available that you can use to listen to white noise before bed, track your sleep throughout night, and set alarms that you'll actually stick to.
So, whether you're trying to revamp your sleep for the new year, or you have insomnia and are looking for new ways to cope, we found the best smartphone apps that will help you get your sleep schedule on track. Keep in mind that these are just smartphone apps with varying degrees of scientific accuracy — so they're not necessarily going to cure your sleep issues. If you are concerned with how your sleep is impacting your health and daily life, it's important to talk to a doctor who can really pinpoint what's going on.
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If you're someone who likes to fall asleep to music or a podcast, consider the Sleep Meister app. When the app senses that you've fallen asleep (based on motion), it will turn off the selected music. You can link the app to your iTunes songs, or choose one of their built-in tunes.

Best for: people who already use a white noise machine.

Sleep Meister Lite, free, available on iTunes.
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Like other sleep apps, Good Morning Alarm Clock times your wakeup based on when it detects you're in the lightest sleep stage. But what sets this app apart is that it takes this information and provides customized tips for you to improve your sleep quality.

Best for: people who want help developing good sleep hygiene.

Good Morning Alarm Clock, free, available on iTunes.
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The charts on this app make it easy to see how your sleep varies throughout the night and week. It summarizes each night with an "efficiency" percentage based on how long you were actually asleep in bed. They also have workouts built into the app that you can do before bed if you need help winding down.

Best for: those who want to analyze their long-term sleep habits.

Sleep Time+, $1.99, available on iTunes.
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Photo: Courtesy of Sleep Cycle Power Nap.
You know that feeling when you wake up from a nap, and don't know what time, day, month, or year it is? Well, this app is designed to help prevent that. It'll wake you up right before you fall into deep sleep (which it detects through the accelerometer), so you feel more energized after your nap.

Best for: people who are known to take a nap, and end up sleeping all day.

Sleep Cycle Power Nap, $1.99, available on iTunes.
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Photo: Courtesy of Pzizz.
The unique sounds that they use on this sleep app aren't like your usual white noise machine. Instead, they've developed "human composed, algorithmically remixed sounds" that include voiceovers and music. The result is a very hypnotic, soothing track that's supposed to help you fall asleep easier and faster. (Also, J.K. Rowling says she loves it.)

Best for: people who like listening to ASMR or falling asleep to the sound of someone talking.

Pzizz, Free to download, $9.99 per month, available on iTunes and Google Play.
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Place your phone on your bedside table, and this app will detect sounds that determine what stage of sleep you're in: light sleep, deep sleep, or REM sleep. The point of this is to wake you up in the morning when you're in a light stage of sleep, so you feel more awake and less like a zombie. Unlike some other apps, which require you to put your phone underneath your pillow, Sleep Cycle allows you to get some distance from your device.

Best for: people who hate waking up in the morning.

Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock, Free, available on iTunes and Google Play.
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Sleep Better uses sensors on your phone to track movement throughout the night and determine your quality of sleep hour by hour. You can also sync other daytime variables that impact your sleep, like activity, caffeine consumption, and alcohol intake. Plus, there's a section where you can jot down notes about your stress levels and dreams, which may help you kick that recurring nightmare once and for all.

Best for: figuring out what's keeping you awake.

Sleep Better, Free, available on iTunes and Google Play.
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Ever wonder what your own snoring sounds like? Well, there's a feature on this sleep app that allows you to record sound while you sleep. In addition to the audio recordings, you can also use Pillow to listen to white noise or select "wakeup melodies" in lieu of an alarm.

Best for: those who snore or talk in their sleep.

Pillow, Free, available on iTunes.
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Napping is an art, and learning the right way to take a snooze can be helpful. Power Nap comes set with a nap timer that only goes up to 30 minutes long (any longer, and experts say you'll have trouble waking up), and includes built-in calming sounds to help you fall asleep faster.

Best for: people who are bad at naps.

Power Nap App, Free, available on iTunes.

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