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Dossier: App check

Sanitas app review: three digital sandmen

Stress at work and young kids testing my boundaries– everything would be easier with a bit more sleep, but the long to-do lists keep me awake at night and make it hard to switch off. Apps such as Calm and Sleep Better are supposed to help.

Text: Katharina Rilling; tested by: Sandro Weber and Katharina Rilling

How does it work? Sensors integrated into my smartphone record my sleep cycle based on the noises and movements I make during the night. After downloading the app, I enter that I’ve exercised, drunk more coffee than water as usual and eaten late in the evening. This helps determine how my daily routine affects my sleep efficiency.

Then I place the smartphone next to my pillow. Next morning I’m woken gently by the Good Mood tune. According to the statistics, I was awake for 10 minutes, slept lightly for 1 hour 45 minutes and slept deeply for 6 hours 20 minutes. That represents outstanding sleep efficiency of 98%.

Summary

The Sleep Better app is a really simple way of analysing and improving sleep patterns without the need for any additional devices.

Pros:

  • Easy to operate
  • Statistics function with graphs and charts
  • Smart alarm wakes you up at the ideal time
  • Handy function for recording dreams
  • Wake up feeling refreshed

Cons:

  • My smartphone sometimes fell off the bed

Calm app
How does it work? Time and again, studies claim that meditation can help if you have problems falling asleep. On starting the app, I’m asked what I want to do: sleep better, reduce stress, develop gratitude – if the app can help me achieve just one of my goals, I’ll be happy.The neat design and dark user interface appeal to me. Although the first image I see is a mountain lake bathed in moonlight, the app doesn’t strike me as esoteric– which is a positive surprise for me as a newbie to meditation. Next I can choose from a series of guided and unguided meditation exercises of various lengths. There are also goodnight stories for adults, breathing exercises and calming music. I choose a short meditation. The voice is pleasant. And it works great: in just a few minutes, I’m asleep.

Summary
The app promises that you will “Sleep more, stress less and live better.” A pretty ambitious goal, which can’t be achieved overnight. But I can imagine that Calm will help me to switch off more effectively and take more time for myself. Anyone wary of trying an entire meditation course but who would like to dip into the topic should give Calm a try.

Pros

  • Encourages you to try meditation
  • Different lengths of meditation exercises to fit your schedule
  • Modern design
  • Suitable for beginners and advanced users
  • Wide selection of meditation exercises, etc.
  • Weekly programmes dedicated to special topics such as anxiety, self-worth, etc.
  • Mood diary and progress tracking

 Cons

  • I fell asleep so quickly each time that it’s hard for me to judge the quality of the texts
  • Free version is very limited. However, if you want to try the app, you can test it for free for 7 days.  

Pzizz app
If I sleep badly at night, I need to take a nap during my lunch break. But sometimes I wake from a power nap feeling more tired than before. This is where Pzizz is supposed to help.

How it works: Pzizz claims to use the latest psychoacoustic principles to create sounds that help you fall asleep fast. The sounds change each time so the brain doesn’t get used to them, but only slightly so that it recognizes Pzizz and associates the sounds with “relaxation”. This way, the app is supposed to be effective in the long term.

I can choose from three modules: Sleep, nap or focus. “Focus” plays music designed to help you concentrate while working. However, I choose the nap function and would like to sleep for half an hour. I listen to sounds of the sea and strange sounds that could be from another world. The mood is dramatic and I find it hard to switch off at first. But then I do nod off and am woken gently and on time.

Summary
The sound is optimised for use with headphones, so you need to listen with headphones to enjoy the full effect. With a little practice, I can imagine that you’d fall asleep quickly.

Pros

  • Simple and intuitive
  • Sounds can be configured
  • You get a lot of functions with the free version

Cons

  • Best to use headphones with the app, which can be annoying when you try to sleep at night, However, there are tips on how to get around this problem on the manufacturer’s website.
  • Quotes with trite worldly wisdoms pop up constantly