Can’t sleep? Want to fall asleep to the sound of waves crashing on a serene beach?
There’s an App for that. Seriously, there are. After all, it’s not just babies that need sleep sounds. But with so many noise-making apps available, which ones will help you drift off into deep slumber and avoid waking up in the middle of the night to an otherworldly “whoop” from your pet hamster?
So we put together this list of what we think are the best apps for sleeping. Some are designed to monitor and track sleep, while others will play calming sounds to help you achieve lights out quicker.
The Top 12 Best Apps
1. Sleep Cycle
This one is just fun in general, but it comes with a few benefits that could be useful. First of all, this is a sleep tracking app, not one that plays ambient sounds. The app tracks your sleep cycles throughout the night and gives you statistical information about how much of your sleep you spent in various stages of wakefulness, dreaming or light sleep, and how long each phase took. It’s an excellent app for monitoring sleep patterns and promoting healthy sleep habits. The creator says the app will…
“Use the data directly to give you better quality sleep and improve your overall health. It’s a more holistic approach to monitoring your sleep to help you get the quality sleep you need.”
2. Sleep Stream 2
This is a relatively new app that’s gotten some great reviews so far and is certainly worth checking out. When it comes to nodding off, this app has numerous different modes and sound effects. Our favorites are “rain” and “nature sounds.” If the crashing of rain in the background doesn’t do the trick, you can switch over to some other noises like “fireplace,” “tide,” and even a soothing voice telling you that everything will be all right. And as this one is free, it’s definitely worth checking out before bedtime.
Download for: iOS
3. White Noise Lite
So you really want to hear the ocean in all its crashing glory, but think that sounds a little too stressful? This app offers a variety of “white noise” options, which are sounds of varying volumes that relax your brain and let it know it’s time to sleep. You can even mix some of the sounds together and make your own recordings, and playback all night long.
Some classic choices include falling rain and waves, but if that tickles your fancy, there’s also a “calming waterfall” and “nature sounds” for an urban setting. This is a great pick if you want to drown out background noise or for hearing some basic sounds to quietly lull you off to dreamland. The app is free and doesn’t have any annoying ads midway through the night.
Download for: Android
4. Sleep Sounds
This is another free app, so if you’re low on cash, it’s worth checking out. But it’s also one of the most popular apps for noise-makers out there, with more than 100 different options and the ability to even mix your own from a variety of individual noises. It does come with a handful of white noise options, but there are also sounds of nature like waves crashing on the beach or rain in the forest—good for when you’re feeling a little bit more adventurous at bedtime.
5. Sound Oasis
This company has a variety of different sleep apps aimed at different people. For example, their site features an app for tinnitus therapy, which Targets major masking frequencies from 900 – 3,200 Hz.
They have another app with sleep sounds for babies, which is very interesting; the developer says..
“This scientifically and acoustically correct sound, developed by the world-renowned Dr. Jeffrey Thompson, is what a fetus hears in the womb.”
Lastly, there is an app which specialises in just white noise, and another which focuses just on noises from nature, such as tropical storms and waterfalls. All of their apps have free and paid-for editions, which come with various levels of functionality.
This is a sleep app that focuses primarily on meditation and mindfulness (as opposed to sounds) to get the best possible chance of feeling refreshed in the morning. Nothing beats some good ole meditating to detox our brains and stay asleep longer. With Headspace, you’ll get all the mental guidance you need to get just that.
Sadly, this is one of the more expensive apps in this niche, considering most are free. There is a 14-day free trial at the moment, which can be cancelled at any time. So it’s worth checking out for a couple of weeks for sure.
Download for: iOS
Okay, so if you’ve heard of anything about falling asleep with relaxing sounds before, then you’ve probably heard of this one. It’s a great way to make your own playlist as you fall asleep, so if you don’t want any background noise, this is a good choice.
But in addition to that, the app offers a handful of pre-set options with numerous sounds. For example, “Traditional Asian Sounds” has flutes, Om and temple sounds, while “Zen Garden” has rake and tea ceremony sounds.
Download for: Android
8. Sleep Machine
This app from SleepSoft LLC has some nice features, like the ability to mix and match from up to 3 of different sounds to play together, but what makes it stand out is the ability to select from a handful of different “zones” which are supposed to be useful in different parts of the night.
From “rain on the tent” to “whale sounds,” there are 71 wonderful ambient sounds for everyone, and each phase of sleep, so that you can get more out of your time (and money). But if you don’t want any extra bells and whistles, this app also has a selection of white noise and other ambient noises that can be played on their own or mixed with others. Although many apps offer similar stuff for free, at $3.99, it’s not too much of an investment risk if you’ve tried others to no avail.
Download for: iOS
9. Sleep Time: Cycle Alarm Timer
This free sleep app comes with a bunch of different features that offer some impressive technological advancements and various analysis methods to ensure you get better sleep. For example, it offers an unconventional alarm clock in the form of a timer. It monitors the length of your sleep cycle based on when you nod off and lets you know whether you have had enough sleep or have woken up before the cycle is completed.
Additionally, you’ll also find monthly and weekly graphs and a heart rate integration to detect your pulse after waking up.
Lastly, it wouldn’t be a sleep app without some calming sounds, which are aplenty.
Download for: iOS
10. BetterSleep (Previously Relax Melodies)
This is one of the most advanced and in-depth out there. It is frequently reviewed as one of the best sleep apps for both smartphone platforms and, according to the publisher, has been named Apple’s “App of the Day” over 65 times.
Since the change from Relax Melodies, the BeterSleep app has come a long way. It offers not only a plethora of sounds but also bedtime stories, a sleep tracker, nighttime recorder, music, and other guided content on getting a good night’s sleep. To get started, you’ll need to create an account on their website, though, which can be a pain, but worth it once it’s done.
11. Deep Sleep with Andrew Johnson
This paid-for sleep app is a little different from the others we’ve shown you so far because it doesn’t have sounds or music to help you knock out—it actually has meditation instructions. So you can relax and meditate; have complete peace and quiet until nighttime rolls around, and then follow the instructions to help you get a well-earnt restful sleep.
This would definitely be a good choice if you’re looking for some soothing bedtime listening that’s different to the above sounds and sleep stories.
It is always good to experiment with different things to see what helps you fall asleep easily, and ultimately improve your sleep quality. So, if you are suffering with insomnia, or simply struggling to sleep in a noisy environment, then try some of the apps that I have mentioned above and see which one works best for you. There is no one single app that works for everyone, which is why so many apps exist. So don’t be afraid to keep trying different downloads until you find the best sleeping app for you.