Getting To Sleep With Your iPhone

Posted by at 10:20 pm on May 25, 2009

For those of you out there who are part-time insomniacs with iPod Touches or iPhones, a quick cruise through the App Store will show you that there are any number of apps designed to turn your iPhone into a sleep aid.   During a chain of sleepless nights I  compared three of the apps and well they worked according to my non-scientific test methodology.

The first application I tried was WhiteNoise Light by Soft.   It works based on the idea that listening to a repetitive noise will help you relax and fall asleep.   After you start it up, each screen consists of a snapshot representing a particular sound.   Arrows navigate you back and forth thru the selection of sounds including:   Crickets Chirping, Thunder Storm, Fan and White Noise are a few of the selections.   The screen has a volum control and a time control that lets you set the duration of the sound too.   WhiteNoise Light is a free version of the application that has a small ad strip running at the bottom of the screen, for $1.99 you can upgrade the app to a catalog containing 40 ambient sounds and pictures.

Verdict: This was the first of the sleep apps I downloaded.   I liked the quality of the sounds, each one was distinct and did not distort when I turned up the volume to full drown out some loud noises in the room where I was sleeping.   The accompanying pictures are pleasant, but not important for me since when I’m trying to sleep I usually lay with my eyes closed.   Overall, a good basic free app with 16 quality sounds that is easy to use.

The next app I tried is called iBrainWave.   IBrainWave SE is a version of the binaural brain stimulator iBrainWave.   The makers of the program claim that by listening to the sounds iBrainWave provides you can tune your brain activity for enhanced fuctionality.   You can be more energetic or relaxed, depending on your preference.   The program woorks by sending a base tone to one ear and a slightly different to to the other ear, which causes your brain toresonate as the tones go in an out of phase.   The tones are masked be a choice of either a river sound or white noise.

The main screen shows a picture of a head with a visible brain and a slider control that goes from sleep on the left to active on the right with several states in between.   Simply choose you desired state with the slider and let the brain tuning begin. There is a sleep timer and a setting page where you can choose between river noise and  white noise.  The free version of this app also has a small ad strip at the bottom.   You can upgrade the app with a pruchase from the app store to make the ads go away.

Verdict: I liked the water sound on this app also.   It was also high quality, crisp and did not diort when I turned up the volume.   I tried differ settings on the tuning scale over the course of one sleepless night and did not really notice a significant difference in the way my brain felt.   If I had to wait to see the effect over the course of several sessions, I think I would get bored with having a coice of only two noises to cover the phased tones. This was my least favorite of the apps.

The last app I tried was my favorite of the three.   eSleep is not only a noise generator it is specifically aimed at inducing sleep.   The main screen has choices of music and sounds that you can combine to create you own custom sleep soundscape.   You pick a music loop first, all the loops are calm and soothing with slow chord progressions.   Then you pick any number of other ambient sounds for the program to layer over the music.   The sound selection is quite diverse and includes both natural sound like streams, crickets, forest noise or oceans and man-mad sounds like trains, planes and fans.   You can adjust  both the volume and the looping of the sounds to give what is essentially a limitless  number of combinations.

Verdict: The sounds and music on this app were also very high quality with no distortion or background noise.   What really sets it apart is the variety of combinations you can come up with between the music and ambient sounds.   My only complaint would be that it would be nice to have a few tunes with a more distinct melody line in them since sometimes following a melody thru a tune can be a relaxing exercise.   eSleep is available in the app store for $1.99.

Next time you find yourself wakeful as the night hours tick by, hit the app store for one of these apps and let your iPhone help you drift off to dreamland.

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