On the surface, it might sound quite fancy that some apps promise to sell you a good night’s sleep and charge you money for it. But certain free apps have been doing the same thing, and from user experiences, quite successfully so. These are the apps that fall under the category of sleep-trackers. They track the pattern of your sleep, provide you with agencies to improve your sleep quality, guide you into a smooth awakening experience in the morning and even teach you a thing or two about how to improve your sleep.
We tested some of the popular sleep-tracking apps and handpicked the best one in the market for you. These apps aren’t a replacement for a medical sleep study, but they’ll help you to identify trends in your sleep patterns and decide whether you should consult an expert.
How we chose the best sleep-tracking apps?
Accuracy of sleep analysis: The comparative accuracy in analysis was the primary criteria based on which we short-listed our top apps. Most of the other apps we tested failed to deliver the promised quality in analysing sleep.
Method of sleep-tracking: The apps we chose offer you more than one way in which you can track your sleep, giving you more control over what aspects of your sleep are being tracked.
Cross platform compatibility: We made sure that the apps were available on both Android and iOS to ease your experience in case you were to make a switch.
How we tested the apps
Unlike a smart band or watch in which sleep-tracking is convenient as the device is worn on your wrist, sleep-tracking apps on smartphones can only be used by placing the phone near you. If the app uses an accelerometer to track your sleep, the phone needs to be placed beneath your pillow. Since the apps we tested had the microphone option too, we used that method during our trials. When microphones are used to track sleep, the phone needs to be placed next to your bed, with the microphone closer to your body so that your sleeping patterns can be accurately tracked by analysing your audio picked up by the microphone.
A word of caution: Most apps ask you to put your phone on charge while sleeping, so as to prevent missed alarms due to phone discharge. You can consider switching to Airplane mode if you’re concerned about the health risks of having the phone next to your face for the whole night.
Your sleep is detected using either a microphone or accelerometer, as per your choice. For the microphone, which is the option recommended by the app, the phone needs to be placed on your bedside table. The app analyses your movement and tracks your snoring when you sleep. If you have opted for the accelerometer option, the phone will have to be placed near your head on the mattress or beneath your pillow. We do not recommend this, considering the potential health risks.
You can choose whether or not to use the ‘Snore detection’ option and you also have control over the period of time you want the snore detection feature to be enabled. Visual guides called ‘Placement reminders’ remind you to correctly position the phone to use the app correctly.
Instead of setting up a particular time for waking up, Sleep Cycle encourages you to set a period of time for waking up through the feature called ‘Wake up phase’. This feature gives you a window of time starting from 10 minutes to a maximum of 45 minutes to prepare to wake up. The Snooze option can also be customised to your liking. The app recommends the ‘Intelligent’ option, which “gives you dynamically paced moments until your wake up time,” while with the ‘Regular’ option, you can adjust the interval of time you need between each snooze. You can also choose whether to set the ‘Vibration’ option with the alarm.