Most people have to wake up to an alarm each morning to get to work on time, regardless of how much sleep they got (or didn’t get) the night before. For those who could use a few more ZZZ’s before facing the day, the sting of rising early is particularly rough.
Luckily, a host of applications can help you make the most of whatever amount of sleep you get, whether by strategically waking you up in a way that doesn’t interrupt your REM sleep, or by gently easing you into a sleep schedule that’s easier to optimize and maintain. While this quintet of sleep aids is non-medicinal, they might be just what the doctor ordered for those in need of a few extra winks before that first cup of coffee.
For iOS – Free
Designed by three Oxford University professors using the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy, Sleepio builds a customized sleep improvement program for each user. Drawing on their background in circadian neuroscience, they combined 35 years of research to come up with an app that’s been shown to help people fall asleep 50 percent faster, boost daytime energy by more than half, and reduce involuntary sleep interruptions up to 60 percent.
Once a week, you log in and consult with “the prof,” a virtual sleep expert who walks you through a 20-minute session to set your sleep goals for the week. Between sessions, the app provides a digital toolkit to help you reach your targets and enjoy deeper sleep each night, waking up rested and ready for the day.
For iOS and Android – Free with option to upgrade
Focusing on the cyclical nature of sleep, which tends to occur in 30-minute waves alternating between light and deep slumber, Sleep Cycle uses a simple trick to optimize your wake-up time and greet the day feeling rested even on very little sleep. By initiating the app and placing your phone on your nightstand (for iOS) or under your fitted sheet (for Android) overnight, your movements are tracked through the phone’s accelerometer, which tells the app what cycle of sleep you have entered.
Since waking up from a REM cycle is way less pleasant than being roused from a light sleep, the app triggers its alarm during a specified window of time when you’re in the lightest possible phase of sleep, making it easier to rise and shine.
Developed by the research team that helps astronauts get enough sleep, Sleep Genius takes a layered approach to helping you get your rest. Incorporating multiple elements into its sleep optimization program, it helps you identify the perfect bedtime each night, relax as you fall asleep and wake up gradually to its progressive alarm; a series of gentle sounds will increase in volume as the minutes pass and you reach a state of wakefulness. To help you track your sleep over time, there’s also a reporting function to improve your sleep quality for the long haul.
For iOS and Android – Free with purchase of $49 Jawbone band
For those on the go who want to wake up bright-eyed and feel healthier each day, Up combines sleep tracking with nutrition and activity trackers to give a holistic view of how your days and nights affect one another. Knowing that what you eat and how you expend energy can affect your sleep each night, while how you sleep impacts your energy levels while awake, its founders joined forces to give users a fuller picture.
Used in tandem with a Jawbone band, the app monitors your heart rate while you doze and prompts you to make wise food and activity choices by day, helping you achieve deep sleep on a more consistent basis. Likewise, feeling rested during the day helps your decision-making process at mealtimes, keeping you in a cycle of health-minded thinking and ensuring overall wellness.
For iOS – Free with purchase of $99 sensor
Another hardware/software combo working together to help you sleep tight is Beddit, which stretches a long, thin band across your mattress to track your slumber and assign a daily sleep score. Given a seal of approval from Apple itself and sold in the Apple store, it syncs with Apple Health to give you a snapshot of data including sleep time, heart rate and respiration.
Particularly useful for cranky risers whose undiagnosed sleep apnea or other irregularities might be reducing their sleep quality and making it tough to spring out of bed, Beddit identifies issues and seeks out solutions to make early mornings a little less harsh.