The right app can help you doze off faster—but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a sleep app.
True, there are approximately eight million sleep apps out there (and some of them are awesome—more about that later!). But there are also plenty of apps that serve non-sleep purposes—like exercise, eating right, and even drowning out distracting noises—that can help you get a better night’s snooze, too.
Here, eight of our favorite non-sleep sleep apps, plus the three sleep-specific apps that we can’t live without.
To totally conk out, quiet is crucial. But between car horns, loud neighbors, or someone blaring the TV in the other room, it’s almost impossible to achieve total silence.
The next best thing? White Noise, a doctor-recommended app that streams soothing ambient sounds to help you relax and drown out distraction. It offers a whopping 40 sounds to choose from (how about “frogs at night?”), and even has brightness controls to keep your phone’s screen light sleep-friendly. ($1.99, iTunes)
Working in a daily sweat session—even at night!—is proven to help you reach dreamland faster and stay there longer. If you’re an exercise newbie, build up a consistent jogging habit with Couch-to-5K, a running app that helps you through three 30-minute workouts over the course of nine weeks with virtual coaching and music-synching programs. ($1.99, iTunes)
Already in shape, but need some extra motivation? You’ve never heard of anything like the running game and audio adventure Zombies, Run! Put your headphones on, press start, and start running. Soon, you’ll start hearing zombies that you need to outrun in order to win the game. Creepy, but also kind of brilliant, no? ($3.99, iTunes)
True, any type of physical activity can make it easier to fall asleep. But a nighttime yoga session has added benefits, since many poses are inherently calming. With YogaStudio, you’ll get access to 65 readymade classes, a library with more than 280 poses, plus the ability to customize or create your own relaxation-inducing classes. Best of all, it’s great for both beginners and experienced yogis. ($3.99, iTunes)
Whole Foods Market Recipes
Loading up on certain good-for-you foods—like carrots, coconut oil, walnuts, yogurt, and coconut oil—can improve the quality of your sleep. Which means that you probably want to eat them on a pretty regular basis. But if you’re not a creative cook, it can get easy (and boring!) to end up stuck in a major culinary rut.
The solution? Whole Foods Market’s Recipes app. With over 3,000 healthy recipes that are searchable by special diet, course, cuisine, or more, you’ll find endless ways to work more sleep-friendly foods into your diet. (And probably eat better overall, which is always a good thing!) (Free, iTunes)
File under weird but true: Studies show that people sleep worse—and get less sleep overall—when the moon is full. And though we sadly can’t change the lunar cycle, keeping track of it is a cinch with MoonPhase.
The app tracks the phases of the moon (obviously!) but is also packed with other cool astronomy info like eclipse indicators, moon rise and set times, and when you can expect a Blue Moon (that’s two full moons in one month).
Once you know that full moon is on it’s way, you can try doing things to make yourself extra tired and up your odds for a great night’s rest, like planning an extra vigorous workout or skipping your afternoon coffee. ($1.99, iTunes)
It can be tough to nod off if your brain is still throttling at full speed. Happily, mental techniques abound to turn down the noise in your noggin so you can get some rest.
One such tactic? Guided imagery, where your aim is to induce calm by imagining yourself in a peaceful setting. And Guided Mind, a stress-relieving meditation app packed with 34 soothing meditations, helps you do just that. (Free, iTunes)
Feng Shui Bagua Map
According to the ancient Chinese practice of feng shui, the way your bedroom is decorated has a lot to do with how well (or poorly) you sleep.
Enter Feng Shui Bagua Map, an app that gives beginners everything they need to know about Westernized feng shui and how to get the right energy flowing in your bedroom. You can even import a photo or sketch of your room or floor plan, and the app will superimpose furniture arrangement suggestions over top. ($1.99, iTunes)
Bonus: Sleep apps you don’t want to miss
Of course, you don’t want to discount the effective, expert-backed sleep apps out there. Three great ones that are new or updated for 2014:
- Insomnia Cure: This insomnia treatment cure boasts hours of audio content, plus 40 pages of invaluable insomnia tips and learning tools. ($2.99, iTunes)
- Deep Sleep: Listen to hypnotherapist Andrew Johnson’s soothing voice take you to a peaceful place where you’ll relax—and quickly fall asleep. ($2.99, iTunes)
- Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock: Place your phone under the sheet on a corner of your bed, and let this insanely smart app graph your snooze quality to help you get on the right sleep-wake cycle for your body. ($.99, iTunes)
What apps do you use to sleep better? Do you keep your device within arms reach at night? What other ways do help yourself fall asleep?