11 min read
An Overview of Sleep Depth and Tracking Apps in Mobile App Development
Sleep, in particular, offers a huge opportunity in the mobile app industry.
Between work, family duties, and an ongoing pandemic, 1 in 3 American adults don’t get the sleep they need, according to the CDC.
As a result, sleep depth and tracking apps are becoming more innovative and technologically advanced than ever before.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the sleep app market, the types of sleep apps available, and what the limitations are so you can get started in creating your own sleep app.
Table of Contents
- Types of Sleep Apps That Are Trending
- Meditation and Mindfulness Apps
- Sleep Tracking Apps
- Sleep Depth/Cycle Apps
- Sleep Music Apps
- Top Sleep Apps on the Market
- Limitations of Sleep Tracker Apps
Chapter #1: Types of Sleep Apps That Are Trending
It’s hard to function and be productive without getting the rest we need.
As new technologies are emerging in mobile apps across various industries, it makes sense that tech is being leveraged to improve and revolutionize the sleep app industry.
While many sleep apps started off by offering similar capabilities, like soothing music, mediation, and basic sleep tracking, they’ve come a long way by not only improving on what already existed, but by using new technology to further sleep app innovation.
If you have an idea for a sleep app, think about how it differs from what’s on the market and how it can improve what already exists.
Let’s take a look at what types of sleep apps there are and how they work to improve the way users are sleeping.
1.1 Meditation and Mindfulness Apps
Mindfulness is a form of mediation and involves concentrating on what’s going on both inside and outside of your body.
It focuses on awareness of everything, from your heartbeat and breathing to the humming of your air conditioning.
Many apps offer mindfulness and meditation techniques that help train your body to tune into your physical sensations and sensory perceptions as well as your thoughts and emotions.
These apps are incredibly popular because they allow users to better manage their stress and reduce anxiety, which of course, can lead to improved health and quality of life.
1.2 Sleep Tracking Apps
Activity tracking in mobile apps, including the activity of sleep, is a useful way to learn more about ourselves by tracking the following:
- Sleep duration: Apps can record and keep track of when we fall asleep and when we wake up.
- Sleep quality: Apps can detect when your sleep is interrupted or when you wake up in the night.
- Sleep stages: Some apps also have the ability to track the stages of sleep and even allow you to set an alarm to go off at a specific stage when you’re not in a deep sleep state, making it easier to get up and feel rested.
- Outside factors: Sleep apps can record outside factors like the temperature or the amount of light in your bedroom.
- Lifestyle factors: Apps allow users to enter information about themselves which can affect their sleep, like how much caffeine they’ve consumed, stress levels, when they last ate, and so on.
While not perfect, these types of apps work by recognizing sleep patterns and sleep habits to help users make adjustments that will improve their sleep.
1.3 Sleep Depth/Cycle Apps
When it comes to sleep, there’s no on/off button. Sleep has cycles which have been divided into five phases.
- Phase 1: This is a light sleep phase where you’re just starting to doze off. You might twitch or shift around.
- Phase 2: This is a deeper sleep. Your breathing and heart rate have slowed down.
- Phase 3: This is an even deeper sleep.
- Phase 4: This is a very deep sleep.
- Phase 5: This is the deepest sleep phase where REM and dreams occur.
Each sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes and, ideally, you’ll wake up during a lighter sleep phase to feel the most rested.
When you wake up during a deep sleep phase, that’s when you tend to feel groggy and sleepy.
Sleep depth and sleep cycle apps help get the timing right so you can wake up during the light sleep phase and feel refreshed.
These apps use indicators, like detecting sleep length and breathing depth using the smartphone’s microphone, to wake you up during a specified window of time that’s best.
1.4 Sleep Music Apps
Music can have a great effect on our ability to feel relaxed and sleep well.
Apps use lullabies, gentle rhythms, soothing ambient sounds, and other calming sounds as a form of sleep aid.
Music triggers the pleasure hormone, dopamine, to be released, which helps boost good feelings when trying to sleep.
This type of app is popular because it helps reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep and overall, help users feel more relaxed.
While sleep music apps are common, there’s always room for more on the market, especially if you have something even slightly unique to offer, like a better UX/UI or a wider selection of sleep music and sounds.
Chapter #2: Top Sleep Apps on the Market
Sleep apps aren’t exactly a new thing. They’ve been around for a while.
And yet still, there’s always room for improvement and innovation.
Let’s take a look at what the top sleep apps look like today in app stores and what they’re offering to get the most users.
Calm is a meditation and mindfulness app that also serves as a great sleep solution.
This app offers masterclasses on how to train your mind, guided meditation and breathing exercises, calming sleep stories, music and nature sounds, light body relaxation exercises and more.
Calm works to improve sleep quality, reduce anxiety and stress, improve focus, and help with self-improvement.
SleepWatch is a sleep tracking app that monitors various aspects of sleep which can affect your health and well-being.
The app monitors sleep rhythm, sleep disruption, time to fall asleep, morning restedness, heart rate dip, sleeping heart rate, sleeping HRV, and midday fatigueness.
SleepWatch also comes with an AI-powered personal sleep assistant to learn about your unique sleep patterns which can help provide a personalized path to improved sleep.
As you can guess from its name, SnoreLab is a sleep app that tracks and records snoring to help users understand their snoring problem and find the best solutions to improve their sleep.
This app uses algorithms to give measurements of snoring duration and intensity.
You can hear samples of your snoring and breathing, compare your snoring over time, and evaluate the effectiveness of various remedies and lifestyle changes.
Depending on your snoring patterns, some possible remedies and recommendations the app will make include using a humidifier, a neti pot, sleeping backpack, nasal strips, anti-snoring wearables, and more.
2.4 Sleep Cycle
Sleep Cycle is an app that tracks and analyzes your sleep patterns to help you wake up during your lightest sleep phase.
Waking up during a light sleep phase can help you feel naturally rested.
The app accomplishes this by tracking your movements during sleep, which will vary depending on the sleep stage, and wake you up softly within a specified time frame.
The intelligent snooze feature lets users snooze through the wake up phase, with each snooze duration shorter than the previous one.
This works to gently waken you at your desired alarm time.
2.5 Relax Melodies
Sleep less, sleep better—that’s the motto by sleep app Relax Melodies.
This app focuses on offering a wide range of sounds to help users achieve peaceful sleep.
There are over 150 soothing sounds you can mix and match for the perfect soundscape, like white noise, nature sounds, and ASMR.
Relax Melodies also uses binaural beats for sleep.
Binaural beats are an auditory illusion that happen when you have two slightly different frequencies playing in each ear, which are then perceived as one sound.
Binaural beats is an emerging form of sound therapy that can help reduce stress and anxiety and promote improved sleep.
In addition to sleep sounds, Relax Melodies also offers relaxation techniques, breathing techniques, meditation for beginners, meditation for tinnitus, and lucid dream meditation.
SleepScore is another popular sleep monitoring app.
It uses your smartphone’s microphone and speaker to track and measure your body movement and breathing to provide valuable insight into your sleep with an in-depth sleep analysis.
This breakdown of your sleep includes information about sleep duration, the time it takes you to fall asleep, and more detailed information about each sleep phase.
You can use the app to track your sleep score over time to see trends and improvements, and you can compare your nightly sleep to an ideal night’s sleep for your specific age group and gender.
Chapter #3: Limitations of Sleep Tracker Apps
While sleep apps and trackers offer a wide breadth of sleep solutions that work, the technology behind them still has some limitations, which you should be aware of when developing your own sleep app.
For example, sleep trackers often use motion-sensing technology, like a gyrometer or accelerometer, to detect how often users are moving and waking during sleep.
Movement, however, isn’t a perfect reflection of sleep, and so when it’s used as the primary parameter by apps, the results may not always be so accurate.
Some apps will combine motion sensing with other technology, like heart rate monitoring, to better gauge results, and that can certainly help.
Despite every sleep app’s best efforts, ultimately, the greatest method for accurately examining an individual’s sleep is through a sleep study, also referred to as a polysomnogram.
This is a comprehensive test that monitors several key sleep indicators, like heart rhythm, breathing, brain waves, muscle tone, and oxygen levels during an overnight sleep session at a lab.
Sleep apps can sometimes overestimate or underestimate sleep patterns, and can overall be less accurate than a true sleep study.
Here are some more limitations of sleep apps:
- They don’t always provide an accurate measurement of sleep stages. This level of accuracy can only be achieved by measuring brain waves, which isn’t possible for sleep apps.
- They aren’t able to diagnose sleep disorders. Sleep-related diagnoses require detailed physiological data that a sleep tracking app isn’t equipped to provide.
- While wearables can offer deeper insights into our sleep patterns, they aren’t always comfortable and can have their own impact on our sleep.
- The accuracy of sleep tracking apps can be affected if you share your bed with someone else.
Despite their limitations, sleep trackers are very beneficial and in-demand because they offer surface-level information that can help users be more mindful of their sleep so they can adapt better habits.
You can’t put a price on a good night’s rest, which is why there’s so much opportunity in the sleep mobile app industry.
Everyone is different and so there’s always room for new ideas and improvements when it comes to sleep solutions.
And as technology improves, so too will the quality and innovation of these apps.
Let us help fine-tune your sleep app idea with our Simple Starter Package.
How it works is we craft a clear and actionable plan for your app idea in a technical writeup followed by building wireframes that brings those ideas to life so you can see how your app will look and function.
Last, we help you discover who your users are, what challenges they face, and how your sleep app can benefit them.
Have you ever used a sleep app? Which one worked best for you?
Your inbox wants some love.
So, what's the next step?
Talk with a real app developer