We’ve all been there. It’s midnight, and you can’t fall asleep, but you know you have to soon because you have an important day at work tomorrow. Or worse yet, it’s 3 a.m. and you’re wide awake, anxious about the impending alarm that will sound off in just a matter of hours. Before you know it, you’re stressing out about falling asleep, and any effort to catch some Zzz’s becomes counterproductive. What on earth can you do to still your mind and ultimately your body?
There are three apps I alternate among during such moments of panic. Here’s what I like about each of them:
Calm. My doctor recommended this app to me during a period of immense stress (and distress) in my life. I was working ridiculous hours, trying to meet insane expectations, and barely keeping my head above poisonous waters both at the office and at home. I was desperate for anything and since portions of Calm were free to use, I followed my doctor’s advice and used the app’s free seven day trial period. I was amazed. It really did work! The guided meditation sessions were enough to knock out my overactive, hypersensitive mind and lead me to hours of restful sleep. I learned how to prepare my mind and body for meditation, how to become aware of my surroundings, including those parts I couldn’t control, and learned how to breathe intentionally, eventually lulling myself to sleep. I began to look forward to my Calm sessions and after seven days, was disappointed that I had to pay money to continue the exercises. While I have opted not to pay to experience additional meditations through this app, I have found great benefit from using another of the app’s features—its free library of calming sound effects—which help me relax and fall asleep. My favorite sound these days is the crackling fireplace and the cozy feeling it brings with it. I literally hypnotize myself to sleep listening to the crackling licks of the virtual flames.
Simply Being. This is my favorite of the three apps that I use. I can’t recall if it is free, but if it’s not, it’s still peanuts and worth the tiny investment. What I like about Simply Being is that you can opt to enjoy a guided meditation session with various sound effects in the background (my favorite is the light rain), or you can choose to experience the meditation without any sound effects and just the voice (and vice versa, listening to just the sound effects without the guided meditation, which is what I often choose to do). The nice thing about Simply Being that you don’t get with Calm is that you can set a timer for when the app will automatically shut down, which is especially nice when you are anticipating falling asleep, which often happens to me. For times when I’ve used the guided meditation option, I have found the guide’s voice to be very soothing and relaxing. I have the highest success rate with this one out of the three apps featured on this blog post, especially when it comes to falling asleep and totally de-stressing and unwinding.
Buddhify. I use this app the least, but I have often found some success with this as well, which is why I’m including it on the list. This is a free app, and the neat thing about Buddhify is that you can find a guided meditation session for almost every situation out there, whether it is falling asleep, taking a work break, walking in the busy city, waking up, eating, traveling, etc. Not surprising for me, I usually use the “can’t sleep” meditation sessions with this app. What I don’t like about Buddhify however, and which is the main reason why I use this app the least, is that the guides’ voices don’t seem to generate calm and relaxation for me. For one thing, you don’t have the same guide for each exercise, so there is no consistency when going from one session to another, which I don’t like, and the speakers have a very distinct accent that isn’t conducive to relaxation—at least not for me. But the rare times I do use this app, I have been able to find exercises of varying length, which is nice depending on my needs, and even the shorter ones have done the job in terms of helping me slow down.
In a world where insomnia and stress have created a market for some and a demand for others, there are more and more app choices for consumers to consider. These happen to be my three faves, but what do you use that has helped you completely unplug? Share your recommendations in the comments section for others to benefit from.