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Staving off springtime lethargy: Just how useful are sleep apps?

28. February 2019 Published by Raphael Doerr

Spring is around the corner and that unfortunately means springtime lethargy for very many of us. But what causes it? And can sleep apps for the smartphone actually help us get a better night’s rest?

Healthy sleep is one of the most vital aspects when it comes to leading a healthy life. It’s not only studies that consistently prove that. We also notice it ourselves: A bad night’s sleep and we feel absolutely whacked, lack concentration and are simply less up to it than usual. Unfortunately, many people suffer from what is termed springtime lethargy early in the year – reason enough for us to deal with the topic of sleep in a bit more detail.

Sleep quality: a real challenge

34% of Germans say they have a moderate or even poor sleep quality1. That’s a pretty alarming figure when you think that long-term sleep problems may cause serious health disorders, such as high blood pressure, or even mean you’re unable to work. But how can we get a better night’s rest? The most popular ways people use to fall asleep are to air the bedroom (58%), go to bed at set times (55%), black out the room (40%), read (37%), take a relaxing walk in the evening (25%), go through rituals such as listening to music or drinking a glass of warm milk (20%) and use relaxation techniques (12%)2. More and more people prefer to use smartphone apps or a smart watch to help them fall asleep, sleep through the night or wake up – as can be seen from the many different apps available in the Google Play Store. Although every sleeper is different and we all have our own ideal conditions, sleep apps can definitely be a sensible aid. We’ve tested five Android apps and now present what you can expect.

Falling asleep

Apart from various apps such as Spotify, Audible, Deezer and the like, which you can use to listen to audio books and plays or podcasts, we tested Lightning Bug for you. You can use the app to create soothing backgrounds from more than 200 sound samples to help you switch off. We compiled our own mix of a rainstorm and ocean waves from the library, but you can of course also choose normal white noise. The app is free in the Google Play Store. Additional plug-ins come with different price tags and offer an even greater choice. The only shortcoming: The app is only available in English at the moment, which doesn’t always make it easy for non-English speakers to use it.

Sleeping through the night

Most sleep apps focus on analyzing your movements or ambient noises. Of course, you should be aware that a smartphone can only record your movements to a limited extent. Your smartphone’s motion sensors are used for that – but they haven’t been designed for that purpose. Moreover, many of us are not alone on a mattress, so the results may be slightly falsified. Nevertheless, the analysis apps are a help if you want to become more aware of your sleep/wake cycle and so take a good first step to improving your sleep quality.

We were especially enthusiastic about the Sleep as Android app. It first analyzes your movements and ambient noises and then uses the recorded data to find the best time for you to wake up. In particular, we loved the fact that it can be integrated with wearables, smart lights or Spotify. One special feature is CAPTCHA wake up verification: You accomplish particular tasks to show your smartphone you’re awake – which is the only way to turn off the alarm. And once you’re in the bathroom to scan a QR code, you might as well stay awake and clean your teeth.


Waking up

Our recommendation so that you wake up rested and relaxed is also an app that can motivate you the whole day: Fabulous: Self Care. The app helps you develop an efficient morning routine, as well as greater attentiveness in general – or even lose weight. The integrated personal coach ensures you also stick to your goal long term – well, it worked for us at any rate.

Please feel free to write about your experience with our app recommendations in the comments – or let us know which apps you’ve already tried out.

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