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How your phone can help you fall asleep

Carlton Boyce / 07 September 2018

If you're struggling to fall asleep, your phone could have the answer...

An older woman reads her phone in bed because she can't sleep

We’ve almost all suffered from insomnia at some stage in our lives. Lying wide awake at midnight, craving sleep but unable to switch off and relax enough to be able to nod off. For some of us, just getting up, making a cup of tea and listening to the radio for a while can help, but for others more drastic action in needed.

Like using your smartphone. Yes, I know, experts tell us that we should have a computer- and phone-free couple of hours before bed but desperate times call for desperate measures and sometimes you need to break the rules.

Ditch the blue light

Your phone’s standard screen colours aren’t conducive to helping you relax and nod off because the blue tones they emit are thought to prevent the release of melatonin, a substance that triggers our internal clock to tell us that it’s getting close to bedtime.

With this in mind, Apple has created Night Shift, which changes the colours of your iPhone’s screen to a warmer spectrum which you should find less harsh and more restful.

Android phones have a similar feature, but known as various different names – if you have an Android phone, go to Settings > Display and then look for something along the lines of ‘Blue light filter’ or ‘Night light’.

On an iPhone, there are two ways to turn it on: the first is via Control Center from your iPhone’s Home screen. When you’re in there, press the brightness control icon firmly, then tap the sun/moon symbol to turn Night Shift on or off.

The second is via Settings > Display & Brightness > Night Shift. You can either schedule it to change colour between set hours or rely on it to do so automatically between sunset and sunrise.

Cost: free

How to stay asleep longer

Bluetooth dimmable light bulbs

Speaking of calming colours, lightbulbs like this Bluetooth-enabled version can be set to emit a calming colour temperature at night and a clearer, bluer colour in the morning.

It can also be dimmed via an app on your phone, which might be useful if you want to be able to switch off or dim a lightbulb that isn’t fitted to a bedside lamp.

Cost: around £50

White noise

White noise has been found to help people fall asleep. There are plenty of apps online for you to download but one I especially like is called ‘Rain Rain Sleep Sounds’.

Available for iOS and Android, it offers a variety of noises such as rain, white noise, a crackling fire, or ocean waves.

You can schedule a reminder for you to use it as well as a timer so it fades away after a set period. Your phone’s internal speaker will probably be loud enough as you only need it to be a gentle, background noise.

Cost: free for the basic version

Unusual ways to fall asleep


Meditation can be an extremely effective way to help you fall asleep; the best app I’ve found is ‘Insight Timer’. It has 10,000 guided meditations and you can filter by length and type, which means you can easily find one that’ll suit you perfectly.

I’ve been using it for almost a year now and genuinely look forward to my daily meditation. I find it especially effective when I wake up in the middle of the night and need something to help nudge me back to sleep.

Download it on iOS or download it on Android.

Cost: free for the basic version

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The mySleepButton smartphone app works a bit like meditation. By encouraging you to think about simple, everyday items like a tree, teddy bear or birthday cake instead of focussing on whatever worries you’d normally obsess over in bed, you’ll be distracted and so able to drop off.

It’s very straightforward to use: just press the ‘Put Me To Sleep’ button and follow the instructions. It’s free, so definitely worth a try. Download it for iOS and download it for Android.

Cost: free for the basic version

Wake-up alarms

While not strictly related to falling asleep, waking gently can help you feel more rested; waking up to the blare of an alarm rarely helps you feel fresh, rested and relaxed!

And few things beat slowly waking to a lamp that simulates daylight – and one of the best is the Beurer 2-in-1 Daylight and Mood Lamp. It is set and controlled via a smartphone app and can be programmed to use one of ten brightness levels and up to 256 different colours.

It can also be used to help combat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Cost: around £120


Finally, while using your smartphone can help you sleep, reading the news, checking FaceBook or Twitter, or sending an email definitely won’t. The easiest, and cheapest, way to use your smartphone to help you get to sleep might just be to stop using it a couple of hours before bedtime.

And, when you do have to use it to access any one of the apps I mentioned previously, please don’t be tempted to use it for anything else; these apps are good, but they aren’t miracle workers!

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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