Best Sleep Apps + Wearable Sleep Trackers

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Want to track your sleep at home? The best sleep apps (with or without wearable sleep technology) can give you a picture of your sleep quality and how it changes over time.

As an additional sleep-boosting aid, you may also try white noise apps. The noise they produce can help you sleep longer, more deeply, and less sensitively to unexpected noise.

I’m a sleep medicine dentist, so I’ve not only written a book on sleep quality but also spend a lot of time helping patients improve theirs. That’s also why I spend time testing out the latest available tech that can help you see how you’re sleeping and if there’s an app that can help.

Let’s take a look at the best options for sleep apps, as well as their limitations. I’ll also tell you which white noise apps to try first and explain when it might be time to talk to your doctor about your sleep.

Best Wearable Sleep Trackers + Tech

Wearable sleep trackers and similar technology are relatively new to the market. While a decade ago, a wearable device that could tell you how your heart rate changed overnight was a major luxury item, there are now options for most budgets.

Keep in mind, cheap wearable technology is unlikely to provide accurate information about your health data (heart rate, etc.).

Here are my recommendations for the best sleep trackers you can wear to bed. Check out the specifics to see what might work best for you.

#1: Oura Ring

sleep apps

What it is: A stylish ring you can wear throughout the day and overnight

Compatible with: Apple, Android

Rating: Not available

Cost: Starting at $299

Charging and battery life: Induction charging; 30-60 minutes to charge fully, lasts 2-3 days on a 100% charge

How it works: Oura Ring uses a body temperature sensor, infrared LEDs, and a 3D accelerometer and gyroscope to track your physical activity. This allows it to get an idea of your temperature, heart rate, and movement changes. It also tracks heart rate variability (HRV), which is an indicator of true rest and recovery under stress.

What it tracks: Compatible mobile apps for Oura Ring track a very large number of factors to calculate your nightly “sleep score.” These include markers like how quickly you fall asleep, how long you’re actually asleep at night, how often you’re aroused/disturbed, sleep timing (circadian rhythm), and how long you’re in REM, light, or deep sleep. Some reports also claim Oura Ring is beneficial for tracking temperature deviations over time, which can help women track menstruation and fertility.

Pros:

  • Scientifically proven to accurately track sleep similarly to polysomnography (PSG) tech, which is what sleep doctors use in lab sleep studies (1)
  • Least invasive wearable sleep tracker
  • Simple, elegant styling
  • Syncs with Apple Health
  • Offers a “notes” feature in-app
  • Uses induction charging
  • Offers detailed analytics without additional paid subscription (unlike many apps compatible with other wearable tech)

Cons:

  • Does not track snoring
  • Android app does not sync with Google Fit
  • User ratings not available from Oura Ring’s site, nor from another online retailer

Get Oura Ring

#2: Apple Watch (Series 3 or 4)

 

sleep apps

What it is: A smartwatch that fully integrates with iPhone

Compatible with: Apple

Rating: 4.7/5 on Amazon (Series 4), 4.8/5 on Amazon (Series 3)

Cost: Starting at $199 (Series 3) and $399 (Series 4); older models begin at $172

Charging and battery life: Induction charging; 1.5-2 hours to charge fully, lasts 18 hours on a 100% charge

How it works: Depending on the third-party app you use, Apple Watch tracks your sleep using a combination of its built-in gyroscope, accelerometer, and electric heart rate monitor.

What it tracks: Like similar smartwatches, Apple Watch has built-in hardware that keeps track of your physiological changes during wear time. Some apps offer snore tracking and haptic feedback to stop snoring. Specific tracking data differs between Apple Watch sleep apps.

Pros:

  • Syncs with Apple Health for basic sleep information, like time spent in bed
  • Contains an internal microphone to allow for snore tracking as well as physiological data
  • Uses ECG (electrocardiogram) heart rate monitor, similar to what a doctor might use to test for heart rate issues—although some cardiologists are wary of the implications
  • Fully compatible with iPhone and acts as a functional extension of smartphone

Cons:

  • Requires third-party sleep tracking app rather than a built-in sleep tracker for detailed analytics
  • Shorter battery life and longer charge time than comparable products—and you can’t charge it overnight if you’re tracking sleep
  • Does not sync with Google Fit or Android devices

Buy on Amazon

Buy on Apple.com

#3: FitBit Charge (2 or 3)

sleep apps

What it is: A smartwatch wearable fitness tracker with slim touchscreen

Compatible with: Apple, Android, Windows Phone

Rating: 3.1/5 on Amazon (Charge 3), 4.1/5 on Amazon (Charge 2)

Cost: Starting at $106 for Charge 2 and $149 for Charge 3

Charging and battery life: Wired charging; 1-2 hours to charge fully, lasts 5-7 days on a 100% charge

How it works: FitBit uses an accelerometer and optical heart rate monitoring (a proprietary tech called “PurePulse”) to record your motion and heart rate.

What it tracks: You’ll get sleep insights on the FitBit app each night based on your movement and heart rate changes.

Pros:

  • Offers insights for how to improve sleep quality in-app
  • Uses sleep schedule and bedtime reminders to help keep your sleep times similar
  • Has “normal” and “sensitive” sleep modes, so users who constantly wake up tired can see if they have smaller movements indicating longer periods of restless sleep
  • Automatically logs naps
  • Built-in vibration alarm clock
  • Shows texts (and offers response options) with compatible Android devices
  • Syncs with Apple Health
  • Syncs with Google Fit
  • 4.3/5 stars on iTunes App Store
  • 3.9/5 rating on Google Play store
  • Offers detailed analytics without additional paid subscription (unlike many apps compatible with other wearable tech)

Cons:

  • Does not track snoring
  • Uses wired charging rather than induction
  • Does not offer the same smartphone integrations with Apple devices as with Android
  • Many early reviews of FitBit Charge 3 reported major connectivity issues, although those seem to be mostly resolved (this is why their Amazon store rating is relatively low)

Buy on Amazon

Buy on FitBit.com

#4: Beddit Sleep Monitor

sleep apps

What it is: A non-wearable sleep tracking device that’s placed under your sheet or mattress; may be used in conjunction with Apple Watch

Compatible with: Apple

Rating: 3/5 on Amazon, 2.5/5 on Apple.com

Cost: $149.95

Charging and battery life: N/A, stays plugged into power adapter

How it works: Unlike any of the other devices on our list, Beddit was designed as a thin strip that can be placed under your sheet or mattress. This allows it to track a vital part of sleep health: your movement. Unfortunately, Beddit’s acquisition by Apple and subsequent update have resulted in poor customer satisfaction. While I’m a huge fan of the concept and its original design, I would suggest you proceed with caution when purchasing the most current version of Beddit.

What it tracks: Beddit tracks heart rate, movement, snoring (via iPhone), and environmental factors like temperature. Similar to Oura Ring, Beddit offers a sleep score based on factors like time to sleep, sleep time, sleep efficiency, sleep cycles, breathing, and more. Depending on whether or not you’re also using an Apple Watch, the heart rate measured by Beddit may be somewhat inaccurate.

Pros:

  • Syncs with Apple Health for basic sleep information, like time spent in bed
  • Offers noise detection from connected iPhone to track snoring
  • Works as an auto-tracking sleep app as soon as you lie down, no app starting required
  • Can connect to Apple Watch for more detailed health data from wearable tech (as well as bedtime reminders)
  • Only sleep tech that tracks temperature and humidity
  • Offers suggestions to improve sleep and regulate circadian rhythm

Cons:

  • Low customer ratings of product and companion app due to connectivity issues
  • Disrupts other audio functions, like “Hey Siri” and the use of white noise apps
  • Newer version has removed the ability to track light sleep vs. deep sleep, so sleep phases aren’t clearly defined
  • Newer version has removed the smart alarm from the strip
  • Does not sync with Google Fit or Android devices

Buy on Amazon

Buy on Apple.com


Best Sleep Apps for Apple + Android

#1: SnoreLab

sleep apps

Available on: App Store, Play Store

Rating: 4.7/5 (App Store), 4.3/5 (Play Store)

Cost: Free 3-day full trial, free to use with limited functions, $6.99/month for full version

Pros:

  • Measures snoring, a key indicator of poor sleep
  • Records snoring episodes for playback
  • Offers ambient noise within app
  • Allows you to record “remedies” you use any particular night to track effectiveness (nasal spray, anti-snore pillow, night guard, etc.)
  • Gives suggestions for getting a good night’s sleep
  • According to one study, can be a great addition to sleep tracking and help those who sleep alone track their snoring after a sleep apnea diagnosis (2)

Cons:

  • Can only be used if you sleep alone, as it can’t detect who is snoring between you or your partner
  • Does not start automatically (to protect privacy); updates are being developed to allow for voice-activated start with specific commands
  • Not compatible with wearable tech to integrate information other than snoring
  • On Apple devices, calls/notifications are silenced during recording

Download (iPhone)

Download (Android)

#2: SleepScore

sleep apps

Available on: App Store, Play Store

Rating: 4.2/5 (App Store), 3.2/5 (Play Store)

Cost: Free version with limited functionality, $5.99/month subscription for full version

Pros:

  • Measures snoring, a key indicator of poor sleep
  • Records snoring episodes for playback
  • Offers ambient noise within app
  • Allows you to record “remedies” you use any particular night to track effectiveness (nasal spray, anti-snore pillow, night guard, etc.)
  • Gives suggestions for improving sleep based on individual goals
  • Backed by scientists and scientific studies
  • Offers companion apps to track snoring and use a bedside monitor for environment tracking
  • Simple, easy-to-use interface
  • Built-in alarm based on your sleep cycles
  • Tracks detailed analytics about sleep phases
  • Allows you to track lifestyle habits (drinking, smoking, etc.) to see how these impact sleep quality

Cons:

  • Lifestyle habits are not customizable and aren’t available in-app (must log in to website to view)
  • Not compatible with most Android phones (other than Samsung)
  • Only compatible with iPhone 6 and higher

Download (iPhone)

Download (Android)

#3: SleepCycle

sleep apps

Available on: App Store, Play Store

Rating: 4.7/5 (App Store), 4.5/5 (Play Store)

Cost: Free version with limited functionality, $29.99/year subscription for full version

Pros:

  • Large user base with very high app ratings
  • Simple, easy-to-use interface
  • Built-in alarm based on sleep cycles
  • Compatible with Apple Watch
  • Tracks detailed analytics about sleep phases
  • Uses accelerometer in smartphone when placed on bed to track movement
  • Tracks snoring
  • Includes a “snore stopper” feature that uses haptic feedback when synced with Apple Watch to disrupt snoring
  • Intuitive insights on how your sleep changes by location

Cons:

  • Does not publish scientific information about effectiveness
  • Limited data on actual sleep cycles

Download (iPhone)

Download (Android)

#4: Pillow

sleep apps

Available on: App Store

Rating: 4.4/5

Cost: Free version with limited functionality, $4.99/month subscription for full version

Pros:

  • Offers an automatic mode so you don’t have to remember to start the app before bed
  • Simple, easy-to-use interface
  • Built-in alarm based on sleep cycles
  • Compatible with Apple Watch
  • Tracks detailed analytics about sleep phases
  • Can record sounds to track snoring and apneic events
  • Offers ambient noise within app
  • Has the ability to track naps
  • Offers “notes” and “mood” for you to add
  • Includes SnoozeLab (swipe right to view) with personalized insights as well as recent sleep science articles

Cons:

  • Not available for Android

Download (iPhone)


Best White Noise Apps

If you have an Amazon Alexa, Google Home, or Apple HomePod, you should be able to give verbal commands to play ambient noise through the device. Depending on which one you use, you may be able to request specific types of white noise (ocean sounds, rain, etc.).

Want to listen to white noise through your phone or earbuds? Try a white noise app.

White noise apps generally have a lot in common. They’re often going to cost money to unlock premium sounds (although free sounds can be great!), they likely allow you to mix sounds to create a unique atmosphere, and they include timers for fade out.

Here are some great white noise apps to try:


Limitations of Sleep Tracking Apps

The major issues with sleep apps and wearable technology are accuracy and inconvenience.

First, a sleep study at a clinic or your home is using professional equipment to test many facets of your sleep. On the other hand, what you can buy as a consumer are often somewhat inaccurate predictors of sleep quality.

In my experience as a sleep medicine dentist, I’ve found that snoring is the most accurate way to test for poor sleep ability when using a sleep app. Although your heart rate, breathing effort, and other factors are important parts of a full sleep study, snoring is simple to test for.

The biggest limitations of snoring as a testable factor are a partner who snores (because the app may not show accurate results) and a lack of data about other physiological changes.

However, wearable technology products like Apple Watch or FitBit don’t track snoring, which is very important, but can give fairly precise data about physiological changes. (3) According to a study from Dartmouth College, users seem to complain more about inconvenience—it’s uncomfortable to sleep wearing a device, for example. (4)

The only way to truly know if you have a sleep movement disorder like obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep test prescribed by your sleep doctor.

No app on the consumer market can tell when your sleep breathing has definitely been interrupted and should only be a more preventative measure for basic sleep quality.

Sleep App FAQs

Q: Should I track my sleep?

A: I often say that sleep quality is just as important as the tests you get during an annual physical, so, yes! Your sleep ability directly impacts your overall (and dental) health, and you need to know if yours is poor.

Q: My sleep tracker says I’m not getting good sleep. What should I do?

A: There are many simple ways to improve the quality of your sleep. Some of my most highly recommended ones include:

  • Using mouth tape to induce mouth breathing and improve nitric oxide production
  • Turning down the blue light on your devices after about 6 PM (blue light is bad for a proper circadian rhythm)
  • Going screen-free for a few hours before bed
  • Creating a sanctuary environment in your bedroom
  • Dialing back light intensity in your home leading up to bedtime
  • Listening to calming music and reading a book
  • Using an eye cover
  • Removing all electronic lights from your bedroom (alarm clock, etc.)
  • Sleeping with the temperature between 65-68 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Using an air purifier in your bedroom

Q: When should I see a doctor about my sleep quality?

A: Concerned about what your sleep apps tell you about your sleep quality? It might be worth a visit to your primary care doctor to talk about your symptoms. I would recommend talking to a doctor if:

  • Your dentist notices signs of bruxism, like worn-down teeth
  • You’re unable to mouth tape at night, which is a sign of a possible breathing obstruction
  • You’re always tired throughout the day despite trying to improve your sleep on your own
  • Your sleep apps indicate you’re waking up several times every night
  • A sleep app shows you snore frequently
  • A sleep tracker suggests you never or rarely enter deeper levels of sleep on a regular basis

Q: Do white noise generators actually help you sleep better?

A: Yes! Different types of ambient sounds can have positive effects on the quality of sleep.

“White noise” is specifically the noise you might hear from the static of a television, which stays at a single frequency pattern. Many noises produced by phone apps, like nature sounds, are actually called “pink noise” because they used more mixed frequencies and less higher-end frequencies.

You may also use “brown noise” sounds, which are rougher and broader than pink noise, in the lower frequency spectrum.

Several studies have been done on the impact of these different ambient noises on sleep quality. They find that white noise from apps: (5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)

  • Stabilizes sleep cycles
  • Reduces the complexity of brain wave activity during sleep
  • May reduce REM sleep and instead cause more time in deep sleep levels one and two
  • Cuts down on the number of times your brain is aroused overnight (e.g., sleep interruptions)
  • Helps babies fall asleep faster
  • Increases your tolerance to unexpected noise while you sleep
  • Improves overall quality of sleep

In general, using a white noise app is an excellent supplement to improving sleep along with other “sleep hygiene” measures and circadian rhythm adjustments. (11)

Key Takeaways: Best Sleep Apps + Wearable Sleep Tech

Keeping track of your sleep quality is one way to keep a handle on your good health (for your teeth and beyond). For most people, the best sleep apps and wearable sleep technology can be of great help on that journey.

Do you have any other apps or products you’d like to see here? I’d love to hear about them. Send me an email.

Read Next: Home Sleep Study: What to Expect + Alternatives

11 References

  1. de Zambotti, M., Rosas, L., Colrain, I. M., & Baker, F. C. (2019). The sleep of the ring: comparison of the ŌURA sleep tracker against polysomnography. Behavioral sleep medicine, 17(2), 124-136. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6095823/
  2. Stippig, A., Hübers, U., & Emerich, M. (2015). Apps in sleep medicine. Sleep and Breathing, 19(1), 411-417. Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24888483
  3. El-Amrawy, F., & Nounou, M. I. (2015). Are currently available wearable devices for activity tracking and heart rate monitoring accurate, precise, and medically beneficial?. Healthcare informatics research, 21(4), 315-320. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4659890/
  4. Chen, Z., Lin, M., Chen, F., Lane, N. D., Cardone, G., Wang, R., … & Campbell, A. T. (2013, May). Unobtrusive sleep monitoring using smartphones. In Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Pervasive Computing Technologies for Healthcare (pp. 145-152). ICST (Institute for Computer Sciences, Social-Informatics and Telecommunications Engineering). Full text: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Tianxing_Li2/publication/261054378_Unobtrusive_Sleep_Monitoring_using_Smartphones/links/5755907708ae10c72b66a804.pdf
  5. Zhou, J., Liu, D., Li, X., Ma, J., Zhang, J., & Fang, J. (2012). Pink noise: effect on complexity synchronization of brain activity and sleep consolidation. Journal of theoretical biology, 306, 68-72. Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22726808
  6. Suzuki, S., Kawada, T., Ogawa, M., & Aoki, S. (1991). Sleep deepening effect of steady pink noise. Journal of sound and vibration, 151(3), 407-414. Abstract: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0022460X9190537T
  7. Stanchina, M. L., Abu-Hijleh, M., Chaudhry, B. K., Carlisle, C. C., & Millman, R. P. (2005). The influence of white noise on sleep in subjects exposed to ICU noise. Sleep medicine, 6(5), 423-428. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16139772
  8. Spencer, J. A., Moran, D. J., Lee, A., & Talbert, D. (1990). White noise and sleep induction. Archives of disease in childhood, 65(1), 135-137. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1792397/
  9. Scott, T. D. (1972). The effects of continuous, high intensity, white noise on the human sleep cycle. Psychophysiology, 9(2), 227-232. Abstract: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1469-8986.1972.tb00757.x
  10. Williamson, J. W. (1992). The effects of ocean sounds on sleep after coronary artery bypass graft surgery. American Journal of Critical Care, 1(1), 91-97. Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1307884
  11. Forquer, L. M., Camden, A. E., Gabriau, K. M., & Johnson, C. M. (2008). Sleep patterns of college students at a public university. Journal of American College Health, 56(5), 563-565. Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18400669

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