Skip to Content
© Andrey Popov | Dreamstime.com
Lifestyle

10 ways to get better sleep: Apps, podcasts, gadgets and more

Social distancing and hand sanitizing have become requisite practices as we pass a year into the pandemic. It’s important to stay safe and clean, but our health is our first defense against any malady.

While you might not be able to go to the gym, you can still find countless ways to stay in shape. Fitness trackers are great tools to remind us to move around, eat and even sleep properly. Tap or click here for 10 Fitbit tips and tricks you may not know about.

Staying active during the day is important, but you also need rest. Your sleep habits have an impact on your immune system, which is important during these difficult times. That’s why we’ve put together this list of 10 tips to help you get a good night’s sleep.

1. Consider your sleep schedule

Your body goes through sleep cycles when you rest. These cycles average 90 minutes and it’s important that you complete a cycle rather than wake up in the middle of one. This gives you the best benefits of sleep. Who wants to do math when they’re tired? Luckily, there’s a site that crunches the numbers for you.

Visit sleepyti.me and enter the time you want to wake up. The site will tell you when you should go to bed based on the average time it takes a person to go to sleep, which is 14 minutes. The calculator counts backward from your wake-up time in 90-minute intervals and gives the optimal time to fall asleep. This may not be a fancy sleep app, but it can’t hurt to try.

2. Make some adjustments to your phone

You have enough to worry about without filling your head with negativity or doomscrolling at bedtime. Even if you keep browsing light and easy, playing with your phone negatively impacts sleep. Fill your head with thoughts and ideas and watch how much you toss and turn.

If you must get some phone time in before bed, keep it short. It would help if you also lowered the screen brightness, as the blue light stimulates your brain into thinking it’s daytime. Here’s how to keep things dark and easier on your eyes.

  • On your iPhone, go to Settings > Display & Brightness and select Night Shift. On the next screen, slide the toggle next to Scheduled on. Then tap the From, To section and choose the time you want Night Shift to be active. This adjustable setting warms the light temperature and filters out blue light. You can also darken the screen from the Display and Brightness screen.
  • On Android phones, go to Settings > Display and look for the Night Light or Blue light filter option. Use Brightness level under the Display screen to adjust brightness.

3. Just put down your phone

Sleep tracking devices and apps can be very helpful, but if you want to take your phone out of the sleep equation, try a printable sleep tracker. Visit yoursleep.aasmnet.org/pdf/sleepdiary.pdf and print out the sheet.

You can fill in the type of day (work or day off) and any consumed caffeinated beverages, medication and alcohol. What you’ll get is a detailed chart of your sleep habits over a period of two weeks. You can see what was different each day and make adjustments accordingly.

4. Relax with some sleepy podcasts

While you shouldn’t stare at your phone in bed, you can put it aside and indulge in some easy listening. Check out these podcasts:

  • Get Sleepy is a storytelling podcast run by creative writers, voice artists and meditation experts. They consult with sleep experts to provide stories to help you drift off to dreamland. Visit getsleepy.com to hear stories such as Walking with Ants and Night at the Aquarium.
  • Sleep With Me stories combine humor and deep plots to lull you to sleep. You may find yourself lost in the story, which is the whole point. Visit sleepwithmepodcast.com to relax to the sounds of episodes like Steam Genie and More Than Waffles.

5. Sleep apps

Though there are alternatives to being glued to your phone, the end goal is sleep. If an app can help you, go for it.

  • Headspace: Meditation & Sleep teach you meditation and mindfulness to help relax your body and mind. A subscription gets you small lessons and exercises you can use throughout the day. You can try a free 7-day trial before making a decision. Choose a monthly subscription for $12.99 or an annual plan for $69.99. Check it out at the App Store or Google Play.
  • Sleep Cycle will track and analyze your sleep and wake you up at the best time. It tracks the sounds of sleep as well as your movements to identify your sleep state. When it’s ready to wake you up, it does so in a smooth manner over a period of 30 minutes rather than blasting you with an abrupt alarm. The freemium version gives you graphs, different alarm melodies with intelligent wake-up, snooze and integration with your phone’s health apps. Upgrade to premium ($39.99 per year) for features like snore detection, sleep stats and notes, wake-up weather reports, more alarm tones and the option to use your music library in place of the alarm. Get Sleep Cycle on iOS here or Android here.

6. Try a smartwatch

Modern smartwatches track all sorts of data, including that which can help you sleep. These devices can track your heart rate, movement and sleep stages, providing you with useful information. Check out what some of these smartwatches can do:

  • Apple Watch can track you while you sleep and give you sleep trends over 14-period intervals. You can set sleep goals for what time you sleep and wake up. Turn on sleep mode to cut down on distractions before bed and during your sleep cycles.
  • Some Garmin Watches use an optical heart rate sensor that tracks sleep stats while you’re asleep. Various sleep stages are recorded to give you insights into your sleep and you are given a score from 1-100 on how restful your sleep was.
  • Fitbit smartwatches track your movement and heart rate to determine what stage of sleep you’re in throughout the night. Use the Sleep app to get your sleep score and trends and compare your stats with others. Create sleep schedules with bedtime reminders and try Fitbit’s non-audible alarm for a calm wake-up call.
  • Oura Smart Ring measures your pulse from your finger, rather than your wrist, for more accurate readings. This extends to tracking your body temperature, respiratory rate, movement and sleep cycles. More accurate readings mean more accurate metrics and scores.

7. Non-wearable sleep tracker

The Withings Sleep Tracking Pad fits under your mattress and tracks your sleep cycles and heart rate. It can also detect snoring and breathing disturbances. When you wake up, check out your sleep score to see how you can make things better. This sleep pad works with Alexa, so you can ask about your sleep trends at any time.

8. Give a white noise machine a listen

The Magicteam Sound Machines White Noise Machine does more than white noise. Its catalog of 20 non-looping sounds includes brown noise, pink noise, blue noise, fan, brook, rain, ocean, bird and bonfire. Set the volume and timer to customize your sound experience. This sleep machine is powered by USB or an AC adapter, both of which are included.

9. Or use your smart speaker

Your smart speaker can tell jokes, remind you of an appointment and play music, but did you know it can help you sleep?

  • If you’re using an Amazon Echo, open the Alexa app on your smart device and tap the hamburger icon in the upper left corner. Select Skills & Games and search for sleep sounds. You’ll get a range of sleep and relaxation skills to choose from.
  • The second-generation Google Nest Hub uses motion and sound to monitor sleep without the need for a wearable. The device knows when you go to bed, when you wake up and how long you slept. It can sense light and temperature settings in your room and let you know how it’s impacting your sleep. Use your Google Fit app to view your sleep data and get tips. Pre-order the Google Nest Hub (2nd gen) here.

10. Block out all the noise

Headphones are good for gaming and music, but they can also help you get a good night’s rest. Check out two of our picks below.

  • Bose Sleepbuds II earbuds deliver relaxing noise to help you sleep. Use the Bose Sleep app to choose from 50 sounds and download your favorites to the buds. There is an alarm to wake you up and the buds last 10 hours on a charge.
  • The HoomBand Wireless gadget is not a pair of headphones but a headband. It connects to the HoomBand app via Bluetooth to deliver stories, role plays, documentaries, hypnosis, meditations and sounds. You can also connect it to your music apps and the battery lasts 10 hours.

By clicking our links, you’re supporting our research. As an Amazon Associate, we earn a small commission from qualifying purchases. Recommendations are not part of any business incentives.

Stop robocalls for good with Kim’s eBook

Robocalls interrupt us constantly and scam Americans out of millions of dollars every year. Learn Kim's best tricks for stopping annoying robocalls in this handy guide.

Get the eBook