I Struggle With Sleeping—This Habit Changed My Routine for the Better


(Image credit: @livpurvis)

I don't know about you, but I, for one, am always on the lookout for ways to improve my sleep pattern and generally feel more rested and refreshed when I wake up each morning. Thankfully, there are tons of devices, books, apps and methods that promise to do just that, and experts come forward on the regular with new and innovative ways to improve our sleep.

But the hard part can often be figuring out which one of these mediums actually works and, most importantly, what works for you and your lifestyle. The start of a new year often thrusts these topics into the spotlight, and there's a fair bit of trial and error at play, which can lead to frustration, wasted time and wasted money. We've all been there, right?


(Image credit: @lucywilliams02)

One medium you may or may not be familiar with is sleep apps. In a world dominated by social media and screens, it probably comes as no surprise that apps are leading the way in the wellness sector too. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of sleep-aid apps out there ready to be downloaded, and all claim to do different things in different ways. 

To cut through the noise, myself and some of the Who What Wear UK team have taken it upon ourselves to do the hard work for you. Over the last month, we've tested out some of the most notable apps to find out what they actually do and whether they would change our sleeping habits for the better. 

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, though, I thought it wise to tap an expert and find out why, as a society, we bother to think and talk so much about sleep. Here's what they had to say… 


(Image credit: @monikh)

1. Why is sleep so important?

"Sleep is important for both physical and mental well-being. A bad night's sleep can not only impact how you feel the next day, but chronic sleep deprivation has also been linked to mental health issues, problems with cognition, impaired immune function and other medical problems such as obesity and hypertension." — Dani Russell, MBBS, wellness and sleep specialist at The Bronte Clinic

2. What does healthy sleep look like?

"Healthy sleep is where a person falls asleep relatively easily, sleeps pretty consistently through the night, has adequate time to sleep and then wakes up feeling refreshed and able to function throughout the day." — Russell

3. How can we improve our sleep schedules?

"Routine is an important factor in good sleep. I recommend the same wake-up time every day (within an hour), no matter how you have slept the night before, with no daytime napping. Naps and lie-ins take away the sleep 'fuel' for the night, [which] can contribute to problems like insomnia. Do not go to bed unless you are tired. Otherwise, you may not fall asleep and lie there worrying about not sleeping." — Russell

4. How many hours of sleep should we be aiming for? 

"It is a myth that eight hours of sleep is needed! The right amount of sleep varies widely from person to person and can also change throughout life. Sleep architecture varies throughout life, and how much sleep you might need in your 20s will not be the same as the amount of sleep you need in your 70s. The right amount of sleep for you is the amount that is needed to wake up feeling refreshed and be able to function throughout the day." — Russell

5. What are some healthy sleep habits we can work on in 2023?

"Getting into a routine, having some wind-down time before bed, [avoiding] screen time/scrolling before bed, keeping the bedroom for sleeping and sex only (not having it associated with anything else), [avoiding] alcohol and caffeine close to bedtime and generally keeping healthy and active in the daytime are all factors that can help with good sleep hygiene. Good sleep hygiene is important, but it is also important not to get too caught up in rituals, as this can lead to more anxiety about sleep and what might happen if these rituals are not adhered to. If good sleep hygiene alone is not helping your sleep, then I would recommend you speak to a doctor to rule out a sleep disorder such as insomnia." — Russell

To book an appointment with Dani Russell, visit thebronteclinic.com.

The Bronte Clinic has collaborated with Anya Hindmarch on the new Anya'ZZZ concept store. Find out more at anyahindmarch.com

Now, read our reviews of the best sleep apps out there:

1. Best for Waking Up Better: Sleep Cycle


(Image credit: SLEEP CYCLE)

Like other apps, Sleep Cycle tracks and analyses your sleeping pattern, but it also works with the data it collects to wake you up at the perfect time—when you're in your lightest phase of sleep—with natural sounds and soothing music. Sleep Cycle will also give you weekly reports that include info on your best and worst sleep-quality days, a run-through of regular movement and noise picked up during sleep, heart rate and overall sleep quality. It also has a pretty sleek interface and a collection of sounds and recordings to help you unwind and fall asleep easily. Plus, if you pay for the full use of the app, you'll find a collection of programmes such as daytime hacks (things you can do while awake to help you sleep better) and relaxation exercises.

This genuinely left me feeling more rested and relaxed when I woke up, and I honestly looked forward to getting up every morning thanks to the smart alarm clock. The downside? It drains your phone battery pretty quickly and needs at least a week before it can start reporting, so only download this if you're in it for the long haul. 

Rating: 4.5/5

2. Best for Tracking Sleep Phases: Pillow


(Image credit: PILLOW)

Pillow is one of the most popular sleep-tracking apps available to download right now. It analyses your sleep duration and quality, and over time, it will deliver a pretty comprehensive assessment of your sleep pattern as well as a report on the motion and audio data it has collected while you've been sleeping. One of my favourite features is how the app splits the sleep phases into three categories: light sleep, deep sleep and REM sleep. Based on this, the app will offer up helpful suggestions on optimal bedtime and when to wake up.

This app works best on a smartwatch, but you can also place your phone on a bedside table or near a pillow. It is incredibly straightforward to use and will give you a general sleep-quality score each morning, which is an easy way to get an idea of how well you've slept. Plus, it asks you to rate your mood after waking up, which is a nice touch. Pillow is a great option for those of us that wear a smartwatch to bed, but if you'd rather not wear a watch or prefer to have your phone away from your head, I'd suggest opting for something different. 

Rating: 3/5

3. Best for Unwinding Before Bed: Slumber


(Image credit: SLUMBER)

Slumber is a sleep and relaxation aid only (not a tracker), so if you want more for your money or are looking for data on your sleeping habits, this most likely isn't the one for you. However, if you need some help unnwinding before bed, it's well worth the download.

"As well as the plethora of bedtime stories—which include train journeys on the California coast and a cosy snow day in 1982—Slumber has a multitude of background effects that you can play to create your own soundscape. You may have heard the sounds of the rainforest, the ocean and a thunderstorm, but Slumber's offering goes above and beyond. Crickets, fire crackling, a fan and even leaves rustling are just a few of the available sounds, and you can edit the volume of each to suit your sleep mood. This is next-level bespoke! However, the app is expensive once the free trial ends and doesn't give you any information on how you actually sleep or how to improve sleep quality." — Rebecca Rhys-Evans, editor, branded content

Rating: 4/5

4. Best for Falling Asleep and Staying Asleep: Pzizz 


(Image credit: PZIZZ)

If you mention the words "sleep app," the name Pzizz isn't far behind. Described as "sleep at the push of a button," Pzizz is home to a series of dreamscapes (stories with soothing background music and sounds) which have been carefully created by experts to help you fall asleep quickly and stay asleep, and you'll wake up feeling even more rested. Each dreamscape has been created by a team of audio engineers and is based on a collection of clinical sleep-study results in order to be as effective as possible. There's also a handy nap mode if you just need to catch 40 winks and a focus mode for the daytime.

Not only are the Pzizz dreamscapes really soothing, but over time the app will also learn what kind of sounds are actually working for you and will tailor its offering to give you the best experience possible. It's also very easy to use and really does help you to feel more relaxed before bedtime. With this app, I fell asleep the fastest and woke up in the middle of the night less, which is a big win for me. 

Note: This app is best used with headphones to get the full effect of the 3D audio spaces it aims to create for users. 

Rating: 3.5/5

5. Best for Pre-Bedtime Mindfulness: Headspace


(Image credit: HEADSPACE)

You might already be familiar with Headspace, an app that is well known for aiding people with meditation and mindfulness. But did you know it also has specific tools to help you get a good night's sleep? The app is home to a wide collection of bedtime stories, each of which gradually help to clam your brain by using soothing tones and calming scenarios. You can also use the app's beloved meditations to help de-stress and unwind before bedtime. My favourite feature? The quick sleep sessions, which help you fall back asleep easily when you wake up in the middle of the night. 

Headspace will always be one of my favourite apps, and while it doesn't track my sleep habits and patterns, I will definitely reach for it when I'm struggling to nod off. 

Rating: 4/5

Shop the Who What Wear team's favourite products for a good night's sleep:

Up Next: Trust Us—These 7 Well-Being Tips Are Guaranteed Mood Boosters

Opening image: @shaliniacharyaofficial

Poppy Nash
Managing Editor

Poppy joined the Who What Wear UK team as managing editor in 2022. After graduating from university with a degree in English literature, she worked for a number of print and digital publications, including Women's Health, The Times, Hello! and Marie Claire. In these roles she assisted the fashion teams with print content as well as digital shopping features, shoots and celebrity news.

Prior to Who What Wear, Poppy worked at SheerLuxe as the commercial content manager. There she oversaw all paid-for site content and inclusions, managed the visual assets and briefs for branded content, and ensured all content—whether editorial or commercial—was in line with overall brand guidelines and tone. She also supported the editorial team by looking after visual merchandising on site and reviewing the brand’s daily newsletters.

As WWW UK’s managing editor, Poppy spends most of her time looking after the content calendar and all output across the brand, in addition to working with contributors, supporting with social media planning, assisting with branded content and contributing to brand strategy. Poppy prides herself on being organised, and a keen eye for detail means she oversees the production of tentpole moments such as Who What Wear’s quarterly celebrity covers, the Wedding Issue, team shoots, events, industry-facing moments, gift guides and more. In addition to this, Poppy ensures processes across the brand are efficient and effective, and is always on the lookout for ways the team can work smarter, not harder! As someone who works behind the scenes (Poppy loves a spreadsheet!), you won’t find many articles by Poppy on site, but when you do there’s no doubt they will either be focused on dresses, handbags or classic high-street buys. Or better yet, all three!

Born and raised in London, Poppy is a true city girl. When she's not thinking about clothes (or raiding her mum’s wardrobe), Poppy fills her time walking along the river with her 11-year-old labradoodle, getting stuck in a good book and enjoying as many of the city’s amazing restaurants and bars as her purse will allow! Her favourite London spots are Caravel for dinner, the Ham Yard Hotel for a fancy pre-theatre drink, Daunt Books for a new read, 26Grains for breakfast and Coal Drop's Yard for a spot of shopping.