Tech a rest: apps to help you get a good night’s sleep

Much as technology can keep us awake at night, some gadgets hold the secret to sleep success


Technology has a growing part to play in the science of sleep.

As technology rapidly progresses we know, with incredible detail, what happens when we close our eyes at night, but as society delves deeper into the cyber sphere we are finding it harder than ever to turn off with the lights.

From smartphones to iPads, laptops or a Sky box in the bedroom, there are a multitude of distractions that prevent us from embracing slumber.

But, as much as our gadgets and gizmos play a key role in killing a good rest, they can also hold the secret to sleep success.

Sleep apps
There is an endless number of apps designed to improve and enhance sleep for the growing numbers who find themselves in difficulty.

Both the Google Play store and Apple’s iTunes Store have a range of apps that will track and record a detailed account of your sleep pattern to allow you to have a more in-depth understanding of how you rest.
Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock, €.0.89 from iTunes
: This highly rated app analyses sleep patterns and monitors movements during rest using a sensitive accelerometer.

The app breaks down a night into the various phases of sleep allowing you to differentiate between light and deep sleep, and also shows how long it takes you to drift off, which can help you to understand your pattern better.

The app also has an alarm function, which wakes you in your lightest sleep segment within a 90-minute period to help you wake at an optimum time and maximise the benefit of your sleep.
Sleepbot, free on Google Play:
For android smartphones, this is a great tool for tracking sleep with a vast array of uses. Like the Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock, it tracks your sleep and monitors your night movements as well as recording any sounds, addressing issues such as sleep talkers and snoring.

There are also a few hints and tips to help you fall asleep easier.

Both Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock and Sleepbot work by placing your phone on the corner of your mattress, face down, on charge, to allow it to record your pattern without being a distraction.

Sleep easier
These days gadgets don’t just provide information, they also offer effective solutions and there are a number of apps designed to help people looking to improve their quality of sleep through relaxation, meditating or hypnotherapy techniques.

Relax and Sleep well by Glenn Harrold, free on iTunes: Fall asleep to the soothing tones of self-help author and hypnosis expert Glenn Harrold on this app, designed to send you off to the land of nod in a jiffy. The app has a 27-minute hypnotherapy session, delivered by the dulcet tones of Mr Harrold himself.

The app uses a self-hypnosis method with background landscape noises to help the fatigued drift off a little easier.

Sleep Soundly Hypnosis, free on Google Play: Using guided imagery and deep relaxation techniques, clinical expert Kym Tolson gently lulls android smartphone users to sleep thanks to her methods formed from years of experience.

The app supplies a 39-minute session, but many reviewers claim the therapy to be so effective they find themselves drifting off in just 10 minutes.

Note your noise levels
Whether it’s a problem with snoring or sleep talking, no sleeper knows their own issues unless someone tells them and often in relationships, where one person snores or talks, the protagonist may refute such claims from a loved one.

Thankfully there is an app to provide evidence quickly and easily which could also get you a few laughs.

Sleep Talk Recorder available free on Google Play and on iTunes , €0.89: This handy app will record any noise you make in the night, but it is not an ongoing recording. It activates in a millisecond to sounds and saves the recording on an easy-to-use timeline.

The programme has settings to enhance or reduce sensitivity and filtering levels and, if you discover you are a prodigy comedian in your sleep, there is a function to share these funny clips on Facebook or Twitter to make the most of your new-found skill.

Wearable technology
Sleep is just one segment of your life and in many ways to truly understand your difficulties drifting off, an overall assessment of your daily routines could be helpful.

Monitoring wristbands, which connect to your smartphone can track your nutrition, activity and sleep, leaving you with an in-depth breakdown of the pressures you are putting your body and mind under.

UP by Jawbone, €129.99: A handy little bracelet, available in many shades, that uses motion sensors to track your sleep at night and activity during the day, including a synopsis of active versus idle time, total distance moved and calories burned.

The wristband syncs up to a correlating UP app which compiles the data into charts to allow you to compare and contrast your daily levels, weekly and monthly.

There is also a function to log your meals and a handy little camera facility that lets you record a snack by just taking a picture of the package.

The app also generates a few helpful tips each day, depending on your data, that offer some guidance for living improvements.

Fitbit One by Fitbit, €99: The Fitbit One is another bracelet that tracks your sleep, although it is more focused on the fitness side of things. The monitor comes as a free entity with a bracelet to slot into.

The main difference to the UP is that there is a digital display that has a flower symbol which grows as you become more active.

The data is logged online and on an app, using Bluetooth or a connector, just like the UP, but the data breakdown is slightly more specific than what is provided by Jawbone.

The Fitbit One is available in only two colours – burgundy and black – and the battery lasts five days without charge, whereas the UP lasts 10 days and comes in a wide range of colours.

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