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The best sleep apps and gadgets for a better night's sleep

Let technology help you snag more z’s.

MicrovOne via Getty Images

Good sleep sets the tone for the day, and if you're looking to get more of it, some of new gadgets out there could help. Technology can also ruin your sleep, so the first step towards better shuteye is taking advantage of the bedtime modes on your iPhone or Android device, which mute nighttime notifications and remind you when it's time to put your phone down. Beyond that, sleep trackers can give you insights to your quality of rest and sleep machines may help you doze off. Weighted blankets and blue light glasses have worked for some of us at Engadget, and we even tried a temp-adjusting mattress. Here are the sleep gadgets and apps that we've tried that could work for you too.

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Oura Ring

Oura’s smart ring tracks your activity during the day and your sleep at night (or whenever it is you go to bed), giving you an overall score from one to 100 each morning. Using temperature, movement, blood oxygen and pulse sensors, Oura gains insight into how long you stay in the various sleep stages and uses that sleep data to offer suggestions on ways to get better quality rest. When we tested it out, we called it the “perfect wearable for people who don’t like wearables,” appreciating the data it provides while slipping seamlessly into everyday life. After a few days of wearing it, our reviewer quickly started to ignore its presence, which means you’re probably much more likely to wear it to bed than a fitness band.

Since it doesn’t have a screen, all of Oura’s information comes to you via the companion app. That lack of screen is also the reason you can squeeze up to seven days of battery life out of it, an important feature since no sleep tracker can help if it has to spend its nights on a charger.

$399 at Oura

Fitbit Inspire 3

If you prefer a wearable with a screen, a fitness tracker is arguably better than a smartwatch when it comes to sleep tracking since they tend to be less obtrusive and have longer battery life. That means you’re more likely to wear it to bed many nights in a row, until it eventually has to be recharged. Far more affordable than the Oura, Fitbit’s Inspire 3 is our budget pick for the best fitness tracker right now, and it does a good job tracking your Zs.

It runs for around $100 and has similar sensors to the Oura, including heart rate, temp, movement and blood oxygen. The company has put a lot of effort into expanding their sleep metrics, and the app can offer you detailed insights into how long you’re spending in each stage of sleep. Even without the premium membership, you’ll get a sleep score each morning. With the $10-per-month membership, you get a more detailed breakdown of the score, so you can better track your sleeping trends over time. Along with that, the alarm on the Inspire 3 can wake you up when you’re in a lighter sleep stage so coming back online isn’t as jarring.

$100 at Amazon

Eight Sleep Pod 3

Photo by Sam Rutherford / Engadget

If you don’t want a wearable at all, the Sleep Pod 3 from Eight Sleep will track your metrics and give you a sleep score. It also heats or cools your side of the bed and wakes you up with a subtle rumble beneath your chest. The mattress-and-cover combo goes for between $3,000 and $4,400, depending on the size and thickness of the mattress, which puts it well above any traditional wearable in terms of affordability. The bulk of the cost is in the cover, which conceals tubing through which warm or cool water flows from an external base, regulating the temp, while sensors in the cover monitor your sleep.

You can buy the cover alone and that will save you between $900 and $1,900 off the sticker price, but it’s still not cheap. You’ll also need a $19 per month subscription to access all the sleep tracking features. But in our review, with a score of 81, our reviewer (and new dad) Sam Rutherford said the Pod 3 has delivered some of the best sleep he’s ever had.

$3,395 at Eight Sleep

Hatch Restore 2

Like the previous generation, the Hatch Restore 2 is part sunrise alarm clock, part sleep-sounds speaker. This new version adds a fabric overlay atop the sunrise light and comes in more subdued colors. It also has a new shape with large, tactile buttons that are easy to feel in the dark. The concave button starts your sleep music/sounds and the convex one controls your morning routine. 

Everything else is programmed and controlled via the Hatch App, which has a vast library of bedtime stories, meditations, music and white noise to help you fall and stay asleep, as well as a big selection of wake-up pep talks and stretches to get you energized in the AM. The catch is that only a small portion of the library is free — full access costs $5 per month. When I reviewed the device, I thought I’d pay for the duration of my testing and then cancel. But many months later, I’m enamored enough of the nighttime “Ambient Overlook” tunes and Dane’s morning “Jump Start” that I’m happy to keep paying.

$200 at Amazon

Wiim Light

Photo by Amy Skorheim / Engadget

The Wiim Wake-up Light is also a sunrise alarm and noise machine, but it’s cheaper than the Restore 2 and doesn’t require a subscription. The rounded design has a high-gloss finish instead of the more muted aesthetic on the Restore. As a sleep machine, the Wiim gives you about four dozen sounds including naturescapes, music and white/pink/brown noises. 

It’s also a smart speaker, so it can tap into music services like Spotify, Deezer, Tidal and others. Alexa is built in and, though I prefer to keep listening devices out of my bedroom, it’s pretty nice to ask for the PJ Harvey song that’s stuck in my head or request the weather forecast as I get dressed. The on-device buttons can be a little confusing and I wish there was a way to set a podcast or an individual track to work as the alarm, but the provided sounds combined with the slowing-brightening light are a pleasant way to start the day.

$129 at Amazon

Headspace App

Headspace

Personally, the best thing I’ve done for my sleep is banishing my phone from the bedroom, so it may seem ironic to add a smartphone app to this list. Headspace, however, has the opposite effect on sleep that social media does. Like the Hatch Restore, this app has an extensive library of meditations and exercises to help you relax and fall asleep.

I prefer the shorter, wind-down segments that last a few minutes and help you do a full body scan to relax. Longer “Sleepcasts” run around 45 minutes and tell you stories in calm voices – there are even a few Star Wars-themed tales, but those just made me want to get up and watch more Mandalorian. Sleep music and soundscapes combine ambient sounds with tones and melodies, lasting up to 500 minutes. And perhaps most critically, there’s a “Nighttime SOS” page, with guided exercises to help you get back to sleep if you wake up with bad dreams, work stress or something else.

The yearly subscription is $70 or you can pay $13 a month. In addition to sleep content, you also get daytime meditations and sessions that help you breathe, manage stress and focus, which can also help with sleep. If you do decide to bring Headspace into the bedroom, make sure you have your phone’s sleep focus or bedtime mode turned on before you do, otherwise nighttime spam emails and Messenger alerts will undo all of the good work your sleep app just rendered.

$13 at Headspace

Philips Hue Smart Lights

We think Philips Hue White + Color are the best smart light bulbs you can buy, and certain features can even help with sleep, such as programming them to change to a warmer color when it's getting close to bedtime. You not only get a subtle hint that it’s time to wind down, but the warmer tones have lower levels of sunlight-mimicking blue light and can help your brain prepare for sleep. You also have the ability to control them using your voice, so instead of getting out of bed to shut off the lights, you can ask Alexa or the Google Assistant to do it for you.

$50 at Amazon

Felix Gray blue light blocking glasses

Speaking of blue light, it’s not great for sleep. But the habit of staring at screens isn’t going anywhere, which is why blue light-blocking glasses exist. I’ll admit I first thought they were a gimmick, but have since come to rely on the pair I bought from Felix Gray. The science seems to check out and do I notice a difference with my sleep patterns when I wear them versus when I don’t. I initially only wore them in the evening hours, when I was working past 5PM or otherwise still using my computer. Now I wear them basically all day because I feel like they help my eyes feel far less tired. They come with or without your prescription and in enough styles to make them your own.

$145 at Felix Gray

Bearaby weighted blanket

You’ve probably met someone who swears by their weighted blanket. Our colleague Nicole Lee is one of them. As someone plagued by insomnia, she finds she’s “nodding off faster and staying asleep longer” with the Bearaby weighted blanket and recommends it as one of our top self-care gifts. Unlike other weighted blankets that are filled with glass or plastic beads, Bearaby comforters are hand-knit from a heavyweight cotton, Tencel or eco-velvet, looking more like enormous scarves than a bland sleep aid.

$250 at Beraraby

Manta sleep mask

While blue light is bad before bed, any type of light hitting your eyelids can keep you from reaching those deeper levels of REM sleep. Along with blackout curtains and shutting off the nightlight, we recommend this sleep mask from Manta. There are a ton of sleep masks out there, but Engadget's Igor Bonifacic finds this one to be better than the rest and recommends it for travelers in our guide. It has removable, repositionable eye cups for a customized fit and they stand up to their claim of blocking out 100 percent of ambient light. You can also buy additional eye cups that you can microwave to provide a warming effect, or eye cups wrapped in silk that will be gentler on your skin and others.

$35 at Amazon