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Mobile App Review: Smartphone Tools For Getting To Sleep
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Mobile App Review: Smartphone Tools For Getting To Sleep - Executive Leadership Articles

Mobile App Review: Smartphone Tools For Getting To Sleep

Executive Leadership Articles

Mobile App Review: Smartphone Tools For Getting To Sleep

While researching an article on how smartphones are ruining our sleep—and therefore ruining other aspects of our lives—it occurred to us to consider the other side. In what ways might our phones be helping us with sleep? Nothing here is especially scientific (and therefore shouldn’t be taken as medical advice), but we came up with a pretty good list.

Relaxation

You can set podcasts on sleep timers now, depending on which app you’re using, but even if your podcast app doesn’t have a timer, you can set it to play just one podcast. The gentle sounds of podcast conversation in the distance is soothing for some, as long as the topic isn’t super interesting. Keep a few good ones in your phone, rather than deleting them when you’re finished listening, and use these “repeat” podcasts to relax you into sleep. Try to select one that’s long enough to get you to la-la land but not so long that it might wake you later.

Similarly, you can find white noise tracks in your streaming services or similar ambient sounds. We especially like the recordings of ambient airline cabin sounds. Who can’t fall asleep to that? In fact, just type “sleep noise” into an app search and you’ll find several apps designed specifically to lull you into calming sleep.

Mindfulness and Meditation

We’ve discussed mindfulness apps in the past, and here is one example of how the practice of mindfulness can affect your whole day and overall health. Headspace is the big-name app getting the most attention, but we liked Calm until the free one-week trial expired. Peace of mind is worth a great deal, but at $70 per year, we thought we could do as well with something free.

We were wrong. Everything that looked reputable came with a price after a trial period, or offered free courses followed by paid courses.

Sleep cycle alarms

We were gung-ho to try these apps, which supposedly use your phone’s built-in microphone and accelerometer to keep an eye on your movement and sound during sleep. Entering your desired wake-up time in the app (say, 7:30 to 8:00), the app wakes you when you’re in the optimum wake-up cycle, so you feel more rested. Waking during REM sleep (rapid eye movement) is unhealthy, you see, so the app wakes you when you’re not in REM.

Then we found a 2013 article in Psychology Today that convinced us these apps either don’t work or work by the placebo effect. There is too much variation in sleep patterns from person to person and from night to night for an app to be reliable this way.

Reading

Of course there is the old stand-by, in its updated form. It seems pretty clear that spending time on our devices right before bed (some sources say up to two hours before bed) reduces our levels of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness. Our devices (even our side-lit Kindles) emit blue light, which is the melatonin-decreasing culprit. There are screen filters out there to block the blue light, but reviews are mixed at best, so we suggest no reading at all right before bed. Instead, fire up that already-listened-to podcast, turn out the lights, set the phone a fair distance away from your head, and fall into peaceful sleep with the passive aid of your digital gadgetry, just as nature intended.

Reference link:
Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/brain-babble/201310/sleep-cycle-app-precise-or-placebo

 

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Mobile App Review: Smartphone Tools For Getting To Sleep - Executive Leadership Articles

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