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I tested out a bunch of sleep tracker apps and finally found my favorite

I tested out a bunch of sleep tracker apps and finally found my favorite

Many people are unaware of their sleep quality and duration. The CDC reports that 50-70 million Americans have chronic sleep disorders. Sleep-tracking apps can monitor sleep hours, quality, and more. While smartwatches often have these features, many smartphone apps also offer detailed sleep insights to share with physicians.

Sleep Cycle is the best sleep tracker app out there

Credit: Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

If you’re a visual person who appreciates a minimalistic interface, Sleep Cycle (available on iOS and Android) could be a valuable sleep tracker, albeit in a different way. Unlike some sleep trackers out there, Sleep Cycle doesn’t offer customized sleep advice or detailed explanations for its graphs and terminology. During my tests, it provided less data regarding specific sleep stages compared to other apps. However, its intuitive setup and easy-to-understand sleep reports might appeal to many users.

Sleep Cycle shines in its presentation of sleep-lifestyle correlations. With a simple tap on the Trends button, any factors you logged the night before, along with Apple Health data, are automatically correlated with your sleep in a clear, easy-to-digest format. For example, the app showed how I slept differently in various locations, highlighting the impact of travel and environment on my sleep quality.

The app uses sound-sensing technology to monitor your sleep, relying on your phone’s microphone to detect movements. This method means you don’t have to be as precise with your phone placement; having it on a nightstand is sufficient. This approach contrasts with apps like SleepScore, which requires sound waves reflecting off your chest, necessitating a more exact phone position. Sleep Cycle’s broad compatibility with all iPhones and Android phones adds to its convenience.

In my tests, Sleep Cycle detected fewer of my recorded awakenings compared to other apps but still provided a reasonable assessment of my overall sleep quality. It accurately reflected my poor sleep on nights I felt unrested. 

The free version of Sleep Cycle includes four soothing alarm sounds and tracks your sleep indefinitely. For $30 per year, the premium version offers 17 additional alarm sounds and access to the Sleep Aid feature, which includes guides, stories, bedtime rhymes, audioscapes, and ambient sounds like “rain on a car roof” and “ocean waves.” Premium users can also log their wake-up mood to correlate lifestyle habits with sleep quality.

Credit: Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

One drawback is Sleep Cycle’s snoring detection, which isn’t very sensitive. When compared to a dedicated snoring app, “Do I Snore or Grind?”, Sleep Cycle often missed detecting heavy snoring. However, it generally recorded my snoring, particularly on nights I didn’t use nasal strips.

Privacy concerns may arise due to Sleep Cycle’s use of the phone’s microphone, but the company states that it records only movement and snoring, not voices. The sounds are processed locally and discarded after a user-specified period. Users can adjust this setting in the app’s menu after creating an account, though it would be more user-friendly to have this option available during setup.

Communication with Sleep Cycle’s support team could be improved; unlike SleepScore, which provides detailed research articles and scientist bios, Sleep Cycle lacks academic transparency on its technology.

Recently, Sleep Cycle introduced an Apple Watch version of its app. This simple interface allows users to set their wake-up time on the watch, which then monitors sleep. The data syncs with the smartphone app, offering a convenient solution for those who prefer not to sleep with their phone nearby.

Overall, Sleep Cycle is a user-friendly app that offers clear insights into sleep patterns, with a focus on simplicity and ease of use.

Are there any good alternatives out there?
Credit: Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

Although I recommend Sleep Cycle, I understand it might not suit everyone’s preferences. Therefore, I’ve compiled a list of alternatives to ensure there’s something for everyone:

Alarm Clock Xtreme: Alarm Clock Xtreme is an alarm clock app with sleep-tracking features. It offers various alarms to help those struggling to wake up and records your sleep times. It analyzes both sleep quality and quantity, providing a decent alternative to traditional sleep tracker apps.
BetterSleep: BetterSleep excels in holistic sleep tracking, recording sounds like talking, coughing, and environmental disturbances. It helps users fall asleep faster with sleep sounds, stories, and hypnotic content. Users can mix their sleep tunes within the app. However, it is more expensive than other options.
ShutEye: ShutEye is a sleep-tracking app offering essential features like sleep duration, stages, analysis, goals, reminders, and custom sounds. It includes relaxing sounds, meditation aids, and pleasant wake-up tones. A survey at start generates an initial sleep report. The premium version adds more sounds, detailed analysis, snore recording, and a smart alarm.
Google Fit: Google Fit tracks activity, steps, calories, and sleep. It’s simple to use: input your data, and it shows your progress. It integrates with many services like Runkeeper, MyFitnessPal, Lifesum, Sleep as Android, and fitness trackers, including Wear OS devices, making it a top choice for sleep tracking.
Sleepwave: Sleepwave, a sleep-tracking and alarm app, uses PureTone motion technology to detect movement via ultrasonic sound waves from your device’s speakers. While requiring a phone placement on a flat surface 2m away, it offers sleep tracking, calming soundscapes, a smart alarm, and a daily “Wavescape” puzzle for better rest.
Sleep as Android: This sleep tracker app, compatible with Wear OS and Galaxy Watch, integrates with Google Fit and Samsung Health. It tracks sleep cycles, plays binaural tones, and serves as an alarm with a captcha to turn it off. The free version offers a two-week trial before requiring payment.
Sleep Monitor: Sleep Monitor is a comprehensive sleep-tracking app for Android. It features an intelligent alarm, sleep stage recording, snoring detection, and trend graphs to visualize sleep cycles. A sleep sound player is included for those who struggle with silence. Core functions are free, but advanced analysis requires a subscription.
SnoreLab: SnoreLab is a specialized sleep tracker app focused on snoring. It detects, logs, and records your snoring, measuring intensity and frequency. You can log activities like drinking to see their effects. It emails sound files for reference. While it doesn’t track N3 deep sleep cycles, it’s excellent for snoring.

After testing various sleep tracker apps, I found one that stands out above the rest. Sleep Cycle’s comprehensive features, user-friendly interface, and accurate data make it my top choice. Sweet dreams and happy tracking – here’s to better sleep and improved health!

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