Approximately 5 million Americans suffer from short-term and chronic sleep difficulties, according to a 2019 study by the University of Iowa . Poor-quality sleep undeniably has a knock-on effect on people’s day-to-day lives, making it difficult to be productive at work, spend quality time with family, or complete basic everyday chores.
Ironically, the stress associated with such daily responsibilities may be partly to blame for a lack of shut-eye. So what can you do to break free from this vicious cycle? Well, one solution could literally be in the palm of your hand.
Sound apps for sleep are rising in popularity. These apps are designed to help you sleep better through a combination of techniques that turn the prospect of a good night’s sleep from a dream into reality.
Keep reading for a round-up of the best sleep apps for your iPhone to try tonight so you can finally get the slumber you’ve so desperately been seeking.
With features like ambient music, natural sounds, and white noise to help ease the mind and relieve stress, countless people swear by the sleep-inducing benefits of soothing sound apps. But we want to know: what is the science behind this seemingly simple tech?
Researchers of a 2021 study found that white noise can effectively help to get people to sleep and stay asleep . White noise creates a uniform sound using the full range of frequencies audible to the human ear to block out loud disruptions that can disrupt the duration and quality of your sleep.
Ambient music has also been proven to help people achieve a better night’s sleep in a 2009 study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing . The key is to play music that disengages your mind, rather than stimulates it. So, basically the exact opposite of what you would typically listen to during the day.
Another 2017 research study published in Scientific Reports found that listening to nature sounds helped enhance sleep by switching the brain from a stress-induced ‘fight-or-flight’ response to ‘rest-digest’ mode, which helps the body relax and prepare for sleep .
Using a range of clinically tested techniques, Pzizz’s patented system plays you a sleep-optimized mix of music, voiceover, and sound effects-or ‘dreamscapes’-to quickly quiet your mind, put you to sleep, keep you asleep, and wake you up feeling refreshed.
The app’s sophisticated algorithm lets you generate a different soundtrack each time you use it, and there are two different settings depending on whether you’re using the app for a deep sleep at night or a power nap during the day.
With sleep mode, you can customize your sleep sessions with different genres of narrations and dreamscapes, all designed to invoke deep relaxation and rest, while nap mode uses specially-designed nap narrations to get rid of that groggy feeling and boost energy levels.
When it comes to free sleep apps for iPhone, Sleep Sounds and White Noise is one of the best on the market. Thanks to its extensive library of sleep solutions, there’s something to help every user achieve a sound night’s sleep.
Choose from hundreds of deep sleep audio, including meditation and ambient music, white noise, or soothing lullabies for children. You can even compose a customized mix by selecting a combination of different sounds to help you enter a relaxed state in preparation for sleep.
Rated the most effective and highest-quality sleep app, Sleep Sounds by Sleep Pillow features an advanced set of up to 300,000 ambient sounds designed to create a relaxed environment and gently ease you into a cyclical sleep pattern.
Accompanied by nature images to set the right mood, your chosen soothing sound can run for as long as you like, or you can set a timer from anywhere between one minute and 75 minutes.
Its handy fade-in and fade-out features, the ability to run in the background and while the device is locked, and the option to create your own mixes are some of the reasons why Sleep Sounds is the go-to app for so many sleep-deprived people.
Previously rated the best insomnia app in 2020 by Healthline, Relax and Sleep Well Hypnosis combines powerful hypnotherapy techniques with state-of-the-art sound recording technology to induce deep relaxation to cure insomnia and alleviate stress and anxiety.
The app features six free recordings, including day and nighttime versions of a hypnotherapy session, as well as special background sound effects recorded in specific keys and frequencies to help you safely and effectively enter a deep state of mental and physical relaxation.
This free white noise app for iPhone offers 50 pre-programmed looped sounds from an entire array of frequencies to choose the one you find most relaxing, including rain and water, fans and air conditioners, animals and nature, and many more. There’s also the option to set timers to sounds and a gentle alarm to wake you up in the morning.
If you’re struggling to find the right sound to drift off to sleep from the built-in library, you can layer sounds to create a unique mix, record your own combination of original sounds, or download mixes created by other users and save them to your playlist.
Slumber is another free app to help you sleep. With its vast collection of super-calming music, a personalized nature sound composition, and meditation and hypnosis guides, Slumber is a top choice for those experiencing sleeping disorders who need a fast and effective way to fall asleep each night.
Choose a calming nature sound to play for up to 10 hours as the perfect background noise to fall asleep and stay asleep to, or listen to a series of bedtime stories that help to have you dreaming in no time.
Download BetterSleep-formerly known as Relax Melodies-and take advantage of its 200+collection of nature sounds, ambient music, white noise and healing meditation audio to help you get the best night’s sleep.
If the app’s pre-programmed categories of soothing sounds don’t take your fancy, you also have the option to download pre-made mixes to fall asleep to. It’s also super simple to layer your own sounds to create a personalized soundscape; once you’re happy with the mix, save it to your playlist so you can listen to it again.
Immerse yourself in the healing sounds of nature with this free sleep aid app featuring over 100 3D binaural soundscapes conveniently organized into ten albums.
Pure Nature was developed by Lang Elliott, a professional nature recordist who has curated the finest, most immersive pure-nature soundscapes from remote wild regions across the world to soothe you into a restful night’s sleep.
With its simple interface and extensive range of free sleep sounds available without a subscription, this app is perfect for lulling you to sleep with calming background effects to block out unwanted noise.
There are plenty of sound categories to choose from, including rain, thunder, fire, ASMR, mechanical sounds, colored noises, birds, and many more, to help you form a sleep association that cues you to fall asleep with ease.
You can mix multiple sounds to create a personalized soundscape, use the convenient Widget feature to play the most recently used sounds, and let music run in the background while using other apps.
Noisli features 28 high-quality ambient background sounds that you can play individually or mix and match to create the perfect audio environment for sleeping.
The great thing about this app is it lets you play all the sounds even when you don’t have an internet connection. You can save your unique sound combinations to replay them whenever you like, and there’s even an option to set up a free account so you can sync your playlist to all your devices, making Noisli a great tool to block out disruptive noises and help you relax before going to sleep whenever and wherever you like.
Mesmerize is a unique visual meditation app designed to help you relax and clear your mind in preparation for a good night’s sleep.
The engaging hypnotic visuals and soothing psycho-acoustic music, paired with expertly-crafted guided meditations make Mesermize the perfect accompaniment to your nightly routine.
The app features a huge library of ‘functional sounds’ (that’s white noise to you and me) and sleep music, as well as sleep stories and nature sounds based on clinically-proven techniques with the purpose of helping people achieve better relaxation and sleep, among other things.
Packed full of awesome features like timers, audio fusion, offline mode, a ‘mindful minutes’ tracker, and Siri Shortcuts integration, it’s hard to find a reason not to like Mesmerize.
With ultra-relaxing sounds and stories designed to elevate your sleep experience, Doze may be the last app you’ll download for a peaceful night’s sleep.
The psycho-acoustic music and guided meditations are specially designed to calm your body and mind, helping you to fall asleep quickly, stay asleep throughout the night, and wake up feeling refreshed.
Unlike conventional sleep sound apps that offer you an endless playlist of sounds to choose from, Doze lets you select your own ambient sounds as the backdrop to your chosen sleep story, narrated by a voice you find the most soothing. You pick the scene; Doze tells the tale.
If you’ve been struggling to find an app that features premium-quality sounds to help you get to sleep, then Sound Machine may be the solution to your problem.
Each of the 1000+sounds in the app’s audio library is recorded and produced by a team of audio experts alongside a psycho-acoustic researcher to ensure that each sound is developed following state-of-the-art research to effectively induce sleep.
Enjoy easy customization by crafting your unique soundscape, and infinite looping where you don’t have to worry about any annoying pops, clicks, or hisses interrupting the soothing melodies as they lull you to sleep.
Sleep Orbit features over 100 unique, high-quality sounds from 17 unique audio categories, all professionally recorded to bring you the perfect combination of ASMR sounds to fall asleep to.
When used with headphones, the app's intuitive binaural controls give the effect of sounds orbiting around your head and changing directions randomly.
Perks include the ability to use the app offline when you can’t access the internet, import your own audio, and layer as many sounds as you like together to create a mix that automatically saves to your playlist.
The music-sleep connection has been supported in numerous studies. Playing music before bed can improve sleep efficiency, resulting in increased rest and fewer disturbances throughout the night. The key is to listen to music that disengages your brain when preparing for sleep.
Leaving white noise on throughout the night isn’t considered harmful to your health, provided the volume is set to a level low enough to not disrupt your sleep. With that said, all-night use of a white noise app can drain your phone’s battery, so make sure the one you’re using has a timer that you can program before going to sleep.
While complete silence is scientifically proven to help people sleep better, sleeping with white noise or ambient music has also proven to work well for those who are surrounded by environmental noise that causes sleep disturbances. The key is to do what works best for you.