There's really no better feeling than going to sleep, but there's no worse feeling than waking up after 10+ hours in bed and STILL feeling exhausted. This annoying phenomenon is attributed to waking up in the middle of a rem or sleep cycle. It seems like an easy fix — just don't wake up in the middle of a sleep cycle, right? But, unfortunately, that's not super easy to achieve.

A sleep cycle is 90 minutes long, and it's pretty challenging to ration your time and figure out the exact moment that you're going to fall asleep and the exact moment you need to wake up, in order to succesfully complete a bunch of 90 minute cycles. Thankfully, it seems like there's an app (or a few) for that. I decided to test out a few of them and see if an app can truly help one to achieve better night's sleep.

How to use the app(s)

The premise of the app is pretty simple. You set a 30 minute window of when you want to get woken up, pick an alarm sound, hit start right before you fall asleep, and, hopefully, end up with the perfect amount of sleep

You place your phone next to your head (on a nightstand, or if you don't move too much in your sleep, on your mattress right next to your pillow), and the app uses your phone's microphone to track your sleep and figure out the best time to wake you up within your set window. 

App #1: Sleep Cycle


I had this app wake me up between 9:10 and 9:40 am. It woke me up on the earlier side of that window, and I genuinely went through the day feeling incredibly well- rested. I actually got right out of bed, instead of practicing my usual routine of lying in bed for a few minutes after my alarm goes off. This feeling continued throughout the rest of the day. I usually have two to three cups of coffee, and I only needed one this day.

I was also able to look at my statistics and see exactly when I was in a deep sleep versus a regular sleep and when I was just lying there awake. It also showed points throughout the night/morning that I woke up before my alarm. 


The app believes that one reason that people are so tired after sleeping is that they aren't using the right type of alarm and need to be "woken gently." Therefore, the only alarm sounds you can get without paying extra are all "gentle" wake up sounds, which doesn't really work for me since I usually set three alarms in case I sleep through one of them


I think, overall, this app actually did a good job of giving me the best possible night's sleep, but I'm not sure if it was genuinely me sleeping better, or if it was a placebo effect, and I just thought I was more rested than I actually was.

Also, while the statistics look pretty accurate, I also don't have a good spot near my head to put my phone, so I kept it at the foot of my bed, which means that it may have affected the overall data the app could track. All in all, I would definitely try the app again and feel like it did help me sleep better.

App #2: Good Morning


I set my alarm range for 9:10-9:40 am again, and this app woke me up on the later side of that (likely because I went to sleep later this night). It waking me up later made me feel like I was getting to sleep more, which is always a positive. I, again, was able to get out of bed right away and only needed one cup of coffee to get through the day. This app also told me the overall quality of my sleep (it was "good") and measured exactly how long I was in a light versus a deep sleep. 


"Good Morning" also only has "gentle" alarms available, which made it hard to find a good alarm sound to wake up to. I also happened to wake up right before the alarm sound went off, and listening to the sound, I'm really not sure if it would have woken me up, had I still been asleep when it went of. 


Once again, I think this app did a good job of helping me sleep better. I feel like its overall statistics were less accurate than the first app I tried, especially since it said I fell asleep after two minutes. I would try this app again, but I think "Sleep Cycle" beats it out.

App #3: Sleep Better


I used the same alarm range, 9:10-9:40 am, and this alarm woke me up exactly at 9:40 am, which again made me feel like I was getting to sleep in. This app also had louder alarm sounds to choose from, and the sound I picked actually did wake me up. 


I actually had a tough time getting out of bed after this app, and the statistics it gave me in the morning were pretty confusing. Most of the actual information was only available if I payed for it. 


Admittedly, the night I used this app was also the night I went to bed the latest, and I had been drinking coffee pretty late, but I did not think this app helped me sleep better. This was my least favorite out of the three apps. 


While none of the apps actually told me how many sleep cycles I slept through, which was what I thought they would originally do, they all told me some interesting things about how I sleep. In addition, two out of the three of them helped me sleep better and wake up easier, and that's good enough for me. 

There are loads of things that promise to help you sleep better — changing your diet, cutting caffeine, not staying up late watching Netflix, and sleep cycle apps are all examples of this. With all of these options, it's a wonder we all still end up feeling so sleep deprived.

Incorporating one, or even all, of these methods into your lifestyle might end up saving you serious money (if you, say, cut down on that coffee addiction), and you might just end up well-rested every. single. night.