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The 10 best sleep apps and gadgets for a better night's sleep in 2024

Let technology optimize your sleep so you can snag more z’s.

MicrovOne via Getty Images

Whatever challenges come your way in a day, you’ll be better prepared to deal with them if you’ve had a restful night. According to the NIH, sleep experts recommend no fewer than seven hours of sleep each night, but some tech, like scrolling through social media or obsessively checking your email, can actually impair your down time — so take advantage of the bedtime modes for iPhone and Android. Other technology, however, can actually help maximize shut eye. Sleep apps and devices like fitness trackers, sleep machines, blue light glasses and smart light bulbs can help you fall asleep and stay there. We’ve tried out a number of gadgets that have worked for us, and we gathered them here so you can see if they’ll work for you, too.

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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 iOS and Android 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

Like the previous generation, the Hatch Restore 2 is part sunrise alarm clock, part sleep-sounds speaker and is programmed through an app filled with continually renewing sleep content. 

This new model 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 controlled via the Hatch App, which has a vast library of sleep stories, meditations, music and white noise to help you fall and stay in 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 included with the free version — 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
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$200 at Nordstrom$200 at Best Buy

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 sleep. 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

In our guide to budget fitness trackers, the Xiaomi Mi Band 8 beat all the others because it has an easy-to-navigate interface while also being one of the most comfortable bands to wear while sleeping. Unlike an Apple Watch and most other smartwatches, which you may need to charge each night, fitness trackers can go for a week or two before needing a refill. And in the case of the Mi Band 8, we got about two weeks of use on a 30 minute charge.

We were impressed with the level of detail the sleep insights delivered. Plus, unlike Fitbit devices, the Mi Band 8 provides that feature for free instead of requiring a subscription to access all of your data. The sub-$50 price tag makes it even more attractive — and could make a contender for a sleep-only device, especially if you have another smartwatch you already like for daytime use.

$41 at Amazon
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
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
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$129 at Macy's$129 at World Wide Stereo

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

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 quality and 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.

$148 at Felix Gray

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.

$200 at Beraraby

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