We usually tell you to leave your phone outside the bedroom when it's time to hit the hay.
In a 2012 Time/Qualcomm poll, 68 percent of people ages 18 to 44 said they keep their phones next to their beds at night. Not only is there the urge to check nearby devices, there's also the light (and sounds) they give off to worry about.
The blue wavelength of light given off by cell phones, as well as laptops, tablets and other gadgets we typically suggest banning from the bedroom, triggers alertness, and, according to Harvard research, may even fight fatigue. As such, experts recommend powering down at least an hour before bed, and establishing a relaxing bedtime routine that's free of technology.
But despite the bad news, a handful of apps want to actually help you get more and better sleep. Below are a few of our favorites. Just be sure to turn on the "Do Not Disturb" function or airplane mode on your device first.
This "bio-alarm clock" ($0.99, available for iOS) uses the motion sensors in your iPhone to track your movements while you're asleep, then estimates what stage of sleep you're in. You program the alarm for the latest time you'd like to wake up, and the app rouses you at the point when you're sleeping the lightest around that time, so as not to totally jolt you awake.
Sleep As Android
This app (available for Android, free two-week trial, then $2.99) provides Android users with a similar option to Sleep Cycle. Sleep as Android also allows easy comparisons between different nights over time, helping you evaluate your whole sleep history. It comes equipped with lullabies to rock you gently to sleep and can even record your snoring or midnight mumbling.
Sleepbot (free, available for iOS and Android) also tracks motion and sounds to paint a visual picture of your sleep and wake you at the least disturbing time. A detailed long-term history is available to help you recognize patterns in your sleep, and the app will even make suggestions for how you can get higher-quality shut-eye, like what to eat (or what to avoid) before bedtime or sleep-promoting exercises.
Ignore the funny name and focus on the 100 billion(!) possible combinations of lulling sounds this app can serve you when you can't seem to nod off. The pzizz app ($5.99 for iOS, $9.99 for Android) mixes quotes, music, sound effects and binaural tones into a new playlist every time you press "start." Set it for anywhere from 10 to 60 minutes and you'll never get bored.
Another white noise app, Sleep Pillow (available for iOS, free or full version for $1.99) boasts 70 high-quality recorded sounds like wooden wind chimes, a bubbling stream or even a dryer, that you can mix into 300,000 personalized combinations. Set the timer for sleep and the sound will slowly fade out. Or set the alarm clock in the full version of the app, and sound will gently fade in to wake you.
Have you ever used an app to help you sleep? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!