Attempting to juggle work, family, friends, extracurriculars, exercise, household chores—and oh yes, the stress of a global pandemic—means that it often feels like there’s barely enough time to take a deep breath, not to mention get adequate rest. As a result, more than 1 in 3 American adults are “short sleepers,” according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (This is defined as sleeping less than 7 hours per night.)
While numerous studies have suggested that subjecting our eyes to the blue light emitted from our computers, phones and tablets close to bedtime decreases the amount of restful REM sleep and may impact the body’s natural circadian rhythms, tech can actually be a beneficial R&R tool if used correctly. Lower the light output and listen instead of look, and these podcasts and apps might make it easier to sleep more soundly. Utilizing white noise, meditation techniques and more, these rest-related apps and podcasts offer serenity now.
THE BEST APPS AND PODCASTS FOR SLEEP
White Noise Lite App
If you can’t wind down using the automated white noises most machines offer, this is the sleep app for you. It allows you to build your own combo of soothing sounds to create a personalized sleep soundtrack. Layer and loop 40+ sounds already on the app, or record your own to add to your mix. Use it at night for sleep or while working during frazzled moments to help your brain focus.
WAVE Sleep App
We don’t bat an eyelash when it comes to booking a meeting, setting up a dinner with a friend, or even scheduling a workout. But when it comes to sleep, booking a time to rest isn’t remotely on our radar. Well, we’d like to introduce you to WAVE Sleep. It’s the first sleep app that allows users to book a bedtime with live and on-demand guidance set to sleep inducing music. Because there is someone else on the other end of the screen, it encourages users to hold themselves accountable. Each sleep session includes science-based relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, body scanning and dreamy visualizations all set to soothing music.
WAVE Sleep: Free in the App Store until March March 12th, 2021 (after that the app will be $0.33 a night, or $9.99 a month)
Sleep with Me Podcast
Inspired by host Drew Ackerman’s own childhood insomnia and with episodes dating back to 2013, each episode of Sleep with Me will talk you through long, subdued and tangent-filled stories. His uber-soothing and monotone voice will likely ease you off into dreamland far before the 60+-minute episode wraps up. Don’t sweat it if you’re still awake, though. There are more than 940 episodes of Sleep with Me in the archives.
sleepwithmepodcast.com: available through Apple Podcasts, Spotify and on most major podcast streaming services
Sleep Cycle App
Do you ever feel like your alarm rings just as you were finally getting into your sleep groove? Stop hitting “snooze” and start tracking your sleep patterns with Sleep Cycle. Instead of abruptly jolting you awake at the same set time each day, this app uses movement and sound recording and sleep pattern analysis to wake you up gently during a lighter sleep period.
Nothing Much Happens Podcast
This podcast’s name describes the concept perfectly. In each episode, yoga and meditation teacher Kathryn Nicolai shares a bedtime story where, well, not much actually happens. Fans say tuning in helps calm their ruminating or racing minds at the end of a long, tense day. If you’re a stickler for a story’s ending, fear not: Nicolai tells the tale once all the way through, then again at a slower pace so you know how it ends (and can drift to sleep before the final word).
nothingmuchhappens.com: available through Apple Podcasts, Spotify and on most major podcast streaming services)
Scroll through a library of meditations, stories, soundscapes, and songs custom-made to quiet a busy brain. Each of the techniques used in the audio options—including guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation and breath control—are specifically chosen because they are recommended by research-based organizations like the National Sleep Foundation. The app is updated weekly so you can stick with what you love or hop around to something new.
(Photo credit: Shutterstock)