How do you feel in a morning when you wake up? Still tired or well rested? With a free sleep tracking app for your Android phone you can monitor your sleep cycles and wake up more gently.
Many people suffer from sleep problems and it can affect your mood, your energy and even your health. You might wake many times during the night or have difficulty falling asleep when you go to bed at night.
There are many causes of poor sleep and drinks containing caffeine are known to keep you awake. Caffeine is a stimulant and should be avoided, completely if possible, but at least in the afternoon and evening. It takes many hours for the body to get rid of this.
Problems at work and a stressful job can affect your sleep, eating late at night can make you uncomfortable, and being unable to stop thinking about things can keep you awake. The causes are numerous.
If you are having problems sleeping or if you are simply curious, there are apps for phones that are able to monitor you throughout the night.
Modern smartphones are packed with sensors and they can detect movement, tilting and rotating any direction.
If the phone is placed on the bed next to you, it can detect any movement you make during your sleep. It can tell when you are motionless and sleeping deeply and when you are only in a light sleep and are moving around.
The microphone can also be used to record sounds, such as snoring and talking in your sleep. This also helps to build a picture of your sleep patterns.
Let’s take a look at three free Android apps to monitor your sleep.
Sleep as Android
Price: Free | By: Ubandroid | Size: 25MB | Android: Varies with device
Sleep as Android (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.urbandroid.sleep) has an alarm facility that wakes you in a morning. Multiple alarms can be created and there are a couple of default ones for Monday to Friday and Weekends. To make sure you are fully awake, a CAPTCHA can be enabled with the alarm.
The app is placed on the bed next to you when you go to sleep and it records slight sleep, REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, and deep sleep. The result is displayed on a pair of charts that are easy to read and it also shows the percentage time in deep sleep and number of hours. You can give your sleep a star rating out of 5.
There are historic charts showing deep sleep, fall asleep hour, snoring, smart wake up and rating. The number of charts and ways of viewing your sleeping habits is extensive. After monitoring your sleep for some time, it can even offer advice (I didn’t use it for long enough to get this though.)
If you have trouble getting to sleep, the Lullaby feature can play whale diving, thunderstorm, mountains stream, white noise and many more sounds. You can also nap during the day and there are 15 and 30 minute options.
Sleep As Android is free, but installs as a trial. When the trial is over, it will track sleep only on a Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. The full version costs UK £3.99.
Sleep Better Tracker Runtastic
Price: Free | By: Runtastic | Size: 55MB | Android: 4.1 and up
The first thing you notice about Sleep Better Tracker Runtastic (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.runtastic.android.sleepbetter.lite) is that it does a bit more than just track your sleep. On the home screen are six tiles and you can record whether you have worked out, had a stressful day, if you are not in your normal bed (you might be in a hotel for example), whether you ate late, drank caffeine or alcohol.
This information could be very useful in working out why you are sleeping poorly. If you track your sleep and find it is poor when you eat late at night for example, you can then avoid this.
As with all these sleep trackers, the phone is placed on the bed next to you and it monitors your movement to see whether you are tossing and turning in light sleep, motionless in deep sleep, or awake.
The chart that is displayed is bright and colourful and is easily interpreted. Red is awake, green is deep sleep and orange is light sleep. Simple and clear. Icons below show your activities during the day. You can even store notes about dreams you had.
This is a great app, but it does have a couple of small irritations. After waking me up, it prompted me to post a message on Facebook or other social network. This can be disabled in the settings though.
The other irritation is adverts, but these can be removed and extra features unlocked by paying UK £1.99. This is cheap and worth it. Sleep Better is recommended.
Price: Free | By: PrimeNap | Size: 26MB | Android: 4.03 and up
Sleep Tracker (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.primenap) or PrimeNap as it calls itself on your phone, is a free sleep monitoring app for Android and it has some interesting features.
One is the activities that can be added. You must define activities yourself and each one has a title, description and icon. A large number of icons are provided and so you can create any activity and track it. Perhaps they influence your sleep.
The app enables alarms to be created and the options are quite extensive. You can choose how the alarm is triggered, such as by time, smart alarm at movement, cycle completion and so on. There can be a wake-up light, nature sound, ringtone or vibration.
As usual, the phone is placed on the bed beside you and it records your sleep. This is displayed as a chart and also in a text listing showing sleep time, sleep cycles, REM, light and deep sleep times.
If you want to track dreams, this is one of the best apps and not only can you record the dream title and content, there are sliders from 0 to 100% to set the pleasantness, recall, lucidity, control, vividness, and subjective duration.
There is an upgrade for UK £3.39. It doesn’t give any information as to what the benefits are, but presumably it removes the adverts.
The best sleep app is...
There are a gazillion Android sleep tracker apps in the Google Play Store, but of the three I tried, I like Sleep Better Tracker Runtastic the best. It seemed to give clear and easy to understand information without going over the top with endless charts and statistics. I’m not sure I’ll be using the social features (who posts how they slept?), but the rest of the features are good.
The main problem with these apps is that you must sleep alone and they won’t work if you share your bed with anyone. There will be opportunities though, such as if a partner works night shifts or is occasionally away. However, it means that some people can only use this app occasionally and not every night.
Another issue with these apps is interpreting the results. What is normal? Are your sleep patterns good or bad? What do those peaks and troughs on the charts really mean? Will you worry about your sleep charts - worrying is bad for your sleep, of course!
- Written by Roland Waddilove
- Created: 18 June 2017