We all know how important sleep is for our health. Yet, no matter how hard we try, there are nights when we just can't seem to quiet our minds and catch those elusive zzz's.
Although there are myriad reasons why we have trouble falling asleep, the use of technology—cellphones, TVs, and computers—is notoriously detrimental to our sleep. The bright screens reduce melatonin (the hormone that controls your sleep cycle) and keep you feeling alert instead of sleepy.
Ironically, however, these same devices can also be used to help us fall asleep. And although there are plenty of expensive gizmos and gadgets available to help induce sleep, the tools listed below are free, easy to use, and easily accessible on your smartphone.
When it comes to sleeping, meditation podcasts are by far the most useful. These are obviously meant for meditating, not sleeping, but the soothing nature of guided meditations is extremely helpful. There are quite a few out there, including The Meditation Podcast, Qigong Meditation Podcast, and Meditation Oasis. There are other non-meditation podcasts, like the Sleep With Me Podcast, that are also helpful on those restless nights. Try one out; it can't hurt!
2. Bedtime alarm on iPhone
The new bedtime feature on iPhone's iOS 10 software is intended to help you get more sleep. Here's how it works:
- Set a wake-up time.
- Enter how many hours of sleep you would like to get. This will dictate your bedtime. For example, if you want seven hours of sleep and your wake up time is 6 a.m., the iPhone will set your bedtime to 11 p.m.
- Set up a bedtime reminder.
Your phone will then alert you to start getting ready for bed at your selected reminder time. It's an easy way to develop better sleeping habits, and over time, your body will grow accustomed to a new bedtime that'll ultimately leave you more rested and healthy. So take advantage of this cool new feature!
3. Insight Timer
I love this app because unlike most other meditation apps, it's free. It includes hundreds of guided meditation recordings that range in length, style, language, and more. They even have a playlist category called "sleep." Simply choose a recording, close your eyes, and let the guided meditation take you out.
4. White noise playlist
Although you can buy a white noise machine, I've found that the white noise playlists on Spotify work just as well. It's perfect for when there are external sounds, like sirens or neighbors, keeping you awake. Just press play and turn it up loud enough that it drowns out all external noise, and you'll soon be asleep.
Technology gets a bad rap when it comes to self-care, but you can make technology your friend and use it in a way that is beneficial for your sleep. And by extension, you will feel happier, more rested, and more able to tackle each day's unique challenges.
Your Best Sleep Ever.
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Anna is a New York City-based health and fitness blogger. She grew up in Tokyo, completed her undergrad education in Pennsylvania, and currently resides in Brooklyn. When not writing, you can find her running, cooking, or scoping out the newest vegan spots in NYC and beyond.