Apps to monitor and improve sleep were recently reviewed in the New York Times.
Using an app to try to improve your sleep is a strategy that many people try. Some have found that it can be helpful in the long run, and it helps to use a well designed program.
These applications track motion in bed, as a way of estimating sleep. SleepBot also tracks sound. They may provide you with information that can lead to changes in when and how you go to sleep.
The article also looked at two programs that try to help you get ready to sleep: Pzizz, an App which blends gentle sounds, music and voice instruction to help you relax and get to sleep (free on iOS and Android), and mySleepButton, which guides you through visualization exercises that are also designed to prepare you for sleep (a limited version is free on iOS and Android, each add on costs 3$).
One problem that needs to be considered is that your phone may not be a good thing to keep at bedside, and all of these applications require that the phone be close at hand if not actually lying with you on your bed.
We were talking about this dilemma with one of our clients. He is a young computer programmer working at an exciting startup. But he has been having more and more trouble sleeping at night… and now notices that his work is suffering as a result. He described the situation this way…
I am just not in the mood for doing sleep inducing activities at night before going to bed… For some reason I seem to be waking up in the middle of the night.
After he said that we both paused and, at about the same time, realized that the first sentence explained the second sentence. He wasn’t coming down at all. He would stay awake until he was exhausted and then, even after he went to bed, keep on texting and playing games on his cell phone until he collapsed into fitful sleep…
You will have more success using an app if you are someone who can limit your use of your phone at night to just one app. On the other hand, if having your phone close at hand is too much of temptation to check your emails or slip into an online chat, you may just want up put it aside before going to sleep.