We could all do with more sleep. Not just more, we also need to improve sleep quality to get enough of it.
But more sleep is not always good. Too much sleep makes us feel tired in the morning. Before smartphones, alarm clocks were the only piece of tech that could help us sleep. Nowadays, there are apps that can wake you up so that you don't feel tired. (Ensuring you get enough of it is another story.)
These apps use the phone's movement sensor to detect your sleeping phases. We know you're careful about what permissions to give your apps, but there's nothing nefarious here.
If you're having sleep trouble, try one of these apps out. Most of them have a trial version, but if you are getting some benefit, consider buying the paid version. It helps the developer out.
PS, don't worry about falling asleep next to your phone, it won't give you cancer.
[Image source: Freepik]
Sleep Cycle (Free)
Sleep Cycle by Northcube AB is the Android port of the well-known iOS app. (Not to be confused with the other app of the same name.)
It's simple to use: just follow the instructions. It's important to note that these apps use your wake-up time more as a reference point. After specifying your wake-up time, the app wakes you up in the 30-minute window before your wake-up time. The exact timing depends on the sleeping phase at which you're most easily woken up, the light sleep phase. Waking up in the other sleeping phases can leave you feeling tired or unrested.
Sleep Cycle has all the features of its iOS predecessor, including a tool to calibrate the placement of your phone, so that it can pick up your movement (side note: apps determine your sleeping phase with this feature).
Only one alarm at a time can be set. The app lacks the ability to set multiple alarms, unlike other apps on this list. However, you do get access to a wide variety of alarm sounds.
An app for advanced sleepers. Sleep as Android is the most fully featured app out of the bunch. It even has nap settings. Not only can you set your wake up time, you can also use the app to document your sleeping habits.
A paid add-on allows you to back up your data to Dropbox or Google Drive as well as to upload your data to Google Fit. The app also supports the use of wearables for movement detection, as long as your phone is in Bluetooth range. Using a wearable like Asus ZenWatch or Pebble Smartwatch is one solution, albeit expensive, to using these apps with another person in the same bed.
The developers, Urbandroid, have packaged the Sleep as Android premium features into mini-apps. The add-on to backup your sleep data was mentioned above. Also available is a lullaby add-on to help you go to sleep.
Sleepbot has many of the same features as Sleep as Android. Set more than one wake-up time at the same time (in case you don't trust the snooze feature) and wake-up times can be assigned to different days of the week. That's great for people who want to wake up later on weekends.
The app contains tips on going to sleep, staying awake and more. For instance, did you know that an ounce of espresso has as much caffeine as eight ounces of brewed coffee? Whereas bottled tea has less than a quarter of the caffeine than either of the two. Most of this information is only a Google search away, but it's nice of the developers to put it where you need it the most.
SleepTime is a bit like Sleep Cycle in its simplicity, you only need to set the wake-up time (sorry, all you weekend warriors).
Setting the alarm is more intuitive and elegant than Sleep Cycle though. Where Sleep Cycle uses a scrolling interface, SleepTime uses a 12-hour clock face, also giving you the number of hours you would sleep if you went to sleep right away. The free version is supported by banner ads. To remove them, upgrade to the paid version.
The app also comes with the usual sleep tracking statistics, if not a little bare bones in this department. Maybe a simple timeline is all you need. Other apps, however, like Sleep as Android offer comparisons with other users and finer granularity in data presentation. If you are all about the quatified self or lifelogging, you would be better off taking one of the other apps over SleepTime.
Sleep Better (Free)
This app asks you to sign in when you first open it. Clicking on "remind me later" option at the bottom of the screen lets you skip sign-in.
You need to pay for the premium version to change the wake-up window or the snooze timer. The premium version also unlocks over 30 alarm sounds. The free version gives you access to just two, which are surprisingly good, especially "Seaside Sunrise," which will make you think you fell asleep on the beach.
I liked the way you can tag your night's sleep before setting the alarm with info like "worked out," "stressful day," "not my bed," and so on. Most apps ask you to do this kind of tagging after waking up, which is one extra thing to worry about in the morning, so it never gets done.