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May 26, 2014

Sweet Dreams: Windows Phone Apps for Better Sleep

Are you getting enough sleep? Chances are, if you’re like most people, you’re not.

And that’s bad news since quality shut-eye equates to healthier and longer lives. Compound that with new research showing that rest is further hindered when viewing devices (such as smartphones) with lighted screens in the hour before bed, and it’s no wonder most of us need that morning jolt of caffeine.

Here’s a novel idea: Instead of keeping you from sweet dreams, why not let your Lumia device help you sleep better? There are a plethora of Windows Phone apps that can lull you to Dreamland, track your zzzz’s, and even wake you gently. Rest assured.

Sleep Bug app

Sleep Bug is my go-to app if I’m having trouble falling asleep. The free version has 12 themes, including “Zen Garden,” “Classical,” and “Lullaby,” perfect to help soothe a little one to slumber. You can also add accent sounds such as guitar strum, woodland flute, and thunder. And Sleep Bug has a timer, which runs from three minutes to two hours, so you don’t have to worry about turning off the app.

The app’s paid version (US$1.99) features 12 more themes, including “Underwater” (“sonar, whale and bubble”) and “Sci-Fi” (static noise, flare and “U.F.O.”) for you Trekkies out there. May the (sleep) Force be with you!

SSleep appleep is another very good white-noise app. The free version also has 12 themes, which include “Fire,” “Birds,” and my favorite, “Soothing Rainy Driving,” which emulates the shushing sounds of car tires on wet pavement and the soft, metronomic click of windshield wipers.

You can also mix and match additional sounds including chimes, crickets and foghorn. If you opt for the app’s premium pack (US$1.29), you get six more themes, including “Soothing Snowfall” and “Train.” Like Sleep Bug, this app also has a timer, although you can only set it from five to 30 minutes.

SleepJournalThere are a number of apps out there that track your snooze time, but I prefer Sleep Journal (free) because it is simple and straightforward.

Under “My Sleep,” you manually enter the time you go to bed and the time you wake up and the quality of your rest (great, normal, or poor). You can also write notes in the app’s “dream journal” section and view a history and graph of your sleep over time.

SleepTrackerIf you prefer a more in-depth app to log your sleep, try Sleep Tracker (free). It features a movement tracker and a journal where you manually log your sleep, medications, and anything you eat or drink before bed, as well as symptoms upon waking.

No blaring alarm sounds here — this free app uses gentle nature sounds such as rushing water, rain, and crickets to wake you up. Note that you need to keep your Lumia or other device connected to a charger; otherwise, the app will drain your battery.





Sleep tips

And to further prevent you from tossing and turning, here are three non-tech-related ways to help you catch your forty winks:

1. Manage stress. When you have too much to do and think about, your sleep can suffer. One way to address that is by keeping a small journal on your bedside table. Unload your brain by jotting down what’s on your mind, then set it aside for tomorrow.

2. Follow a bedtime ritual. Relaxing activities such as listening to soothing music or taking a shower or bath prep the body and mind that slumber time is near.

3. Create a restful sleeping environment. A dark, cool and quiet bedroom is best. If your room isn’t dark enough, or if your bed partner snores as if Mt. Vesuvius were about to erupt, spring for quality eyeshades and earplugs.

Do you have other tips or apps for a good night’s sleep? Let us know in the comments below.