Sleep. It can be both an elusive animal and a persistent guest that pokes at your eyelids at the most inconvenient times of the day. We all know the feeling of anxiety that accompanies the alarm creeping into your morning snooze and the perplexity of waking up somehow more tired than when we fell into bed the night before.
While many factors contribute to poor sleep quality, including lifestyle, stress, diet and your environment, there is one thing that has the potential to make a huge difference – and it can take as little as 5 minutes of your day. That thing is meditation.
This purposeful practice, also known as mindfulness, is said to have a positive impact on sleep quality. Corresponding Sleep Foundation, “On a biological level, meditation slows heart rate and breathing and lowers levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.” It also theorizes that “mindfulness can improve sleep quality” and that practicing mindfulness and meditation will arm you with the resources to “quiet the nervous system in preparation for sleep.”
To help you create a successful morning, we’ve tried some of the most hyped meditation apps out there. Read on to find out which app is right for your own mindful mood.
If after our research phase a good measure of whether we vibe an app or not pops back up, then this app is for you. We have visited Smiling Mind several times since downloading it and can already confirm positive changes. It might look like it’s aimed at a young adult audience, and it is, but it has a wealth of adult content too. It also features native Australian voices, which is a treat among the market leaders in the US and UK.
We recommend the NAIDOC Week Meditation, led by the legendary activist, actor, author and Indigenous Elder and recipient of the 2022 NAIDOC Male Elder of the Year, Uncle Jack Charles. If you’re looking to use your commute time to gain a little mindfulness, dive into the Daily Commute series. We also have our eye on the 21 Night Sleep Program, a series specifically designed to utilize a variety of tools and techniques to help you build healthy habits for a healthy mind and sleep better.
Free, easy to use and a wide range of local talent – we highly recommend it.
Price: 7 days free trial, $79.99 for 1 year, $549.99 for lifetime membership
If the idea of Simon, the Duke of Hastings trickling his soft Bridgertonesque diction into your ears is an ideal moment of mindfulness, then ideal Calm is definitely the app for you. With sleep stories told by the likes of Regé-Jean Page, Jesse Mei Li, and Cillian Murphy, this app understands the snooze task. Let’s not even get started on the Bob Ross-led ASMR tracks because of the soothing factor.
Not just for those hoping to catch a few more Zs, Calm has an extensive selection of meditation tracks, comprehensive Beginners, work, anxiety, self-care and a range of breaking habits. If you are interested in sustained well-being and developing new habits, this series covers a range of aspects including Thinking, Comparison and Busyness. If your frequency is a more soothing guided meditation with ambient sounds, we love the Sigur Rós Sound Bath Experience.
Price: 7-day free trial, $12.99 per month or $69.99 per year
This app is popular for a reason. Featuring a stack of guided meditations ranging from Five Mindful Minutes to the longer 10-20 minute tracks, Headspace is expansive and has a sense of playfulness that keeps it fresh. Learn breathing techniques from the Master of Tranquility, Yoda himself. Or, take it more seriously and start right at the beginning with easy-to-follow steps, from the basics to self-reflection to stress relief. Specific Themes provide a series of tracks that focus on issues such as dealing with financial stress, dealing with the complexities of sexuality, and dealing with external and internal pressures.
A great app to embark on a mindfulness journey if you are a beginner or if there are specific areas in your life where you would like to develop healthier habits.
Price: Free content with premium access option, $9.99 per month or $59.99 per year
Peppered with recognizable voices like Goldie Hawn and meditation guru Lama Rod Owens, Insight Timer offers an extensive selection of guided meditations and tracks on an in-depth range of topics. From interviews to relationship, sleep and performance specific tracks, there is something for everyone.
If you’re already a bit of a meditation fanatic, the eponymous timer is great and allows you to create your own guide with interval bells and personalized sounds. It also offers a community aspect with the option to engage with a public profile. If you just want to focus on your own thing, there is also a private option.
Great for those new to classical meditation who want a little help structuring their practice without necessarily being guided. However, we found the app to be a bit clunky.
SBS Great Minds Podcast
If you feel like you’ve tried every meditation app under the sun and nothing seems right, this podcast might be for you. The SBS Great Minds Podcast, hosted by Leah Vandenberg, provides access to a range of meditation practices from around the world. Learn about Filipino hilot, Japanese forest bathing, and Hawaiian ho’oponopono in bite-sized 15-minute episodes. In the 18-episode series, you’ll travel the world with Vandenberg, drawing closer to your homeland with a wellness practice called Wayapa Wuurrk, based on First Nations connection with Country and developed by Gunai Kurnai man Jamie Marloo Thomas.
Great for delving deeper into the art of mindfulness and what it means around the globe, or to reignite your interest if you’re suffering from mild meditation fatigue.
This app is amazingly simple and does what it says on the box. iBreathe is based on simple breathing techniques that allow you to immerse yourself in mindfulness from a physical location. There are four main breathing techniques that the app follows, including 4-7-8, Ujjayi, Box, and Custom. 4-7-8 and Ujjayi are breathing techniques based on the ancient practice of Pranayama Yoga aimed at calming the mind and body. Box breathing is a super easy and repetitive method that’s a great technique to have in your bag for when you’re on the go and life surprises you with a cheeky bout of stress. Using simple 4-second cycles of inhalation and exhalation repetitions, the app can help establish a technique that you can repeat as needed.
It’s free, which is amazing, but there are a few annoying ads that pop up between sessions, but they won’t break your breath time. You can also pay a small fee to upgrade to ad-free access.
It doesn’t have a name, but it’s a hot, hot tip
Controversial, but before you download any of those apps that tickle your fancy, we’d like to share a review of something that’s sort of the opposite of an app. The good news is that it’s completely free, still involves your phone and is something we’ve been testing for a week at the time of writing with great success.
That thing turns off notifications on our phones during work hours. Yes Messenger, Instagram, Tiktok, you name it, we’ve muted it (except for text messages because if we leave mom unanswered for too long she’ll worry, you know).
Long recap short, this change made one great impact on our focus and mindfulness throughout the day without group chat notifications gnawing at our curiosity and FOMO.
If a classic meditation app isn’t for you, it doesn’t mean the end of your mindfulness journey. There are many ways to engage in mindfulness and Support your body to promote reduced stress and improved restful sleep. Active meditation and making time to engage in activities like cooking, hiking in nature, and swimming are also great ways to reconnect with yourself, and simple things like taking a multivitamin daily can make a noticeable difference have on your general well-being.
Check out Reason Season’s second morning module here, which is all about creating a morning routine you can actually stick to.
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Photo credit: Urban List
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