HLN tries and tests: Apps to help you sleep

Struggling to find some headspace rn? Here are the top sleep meditation apps that we rate.

By Laura Kingston

Anyone else either sleeping like a baby or no matter how hard we try, tossing and turning all night long?

We used Instagram to survey our readers and found that more than 64% of us are sleeping worse during this lockdown than ever before.

Personally, for years I’ve been a huge fan of Stephen Fry’s Blue Gold sleep story on the Calm app. It’s literally never failed until lockdown 3.0, when even Stephen’s dulcet tones aren’t cutting it and I remain wide-eyed, staring at the ceiling wondering if I’ll ever lie on a sun lounger again.

So, I thought I’d cast my net and try some other apps, offering whale sounds, rain music and meditation. The results are in…here are my top three:


Simple but effective, this app offers a range of different sound backdrops, including water, fire, a train on tracks and even the buzz of a coffee shop. You can actually layer the sounds too and save your winning combos as well as set a timer. I’m actually finding it really effective whilst WFH to set a timer for a specific task. The noise helps me concentrate and the timer stops me from scrolling on my phone. Win, win.

To get to sleep specifically, I found not having to listen to words quite effective, especially when the reason I couldn’t sleep was because I had too much on my mind. The background buzz helped silence my mind and it felt like I was able to get to sleep within 15-20 minutes.

Price: £1.99

Available on iOS and Android


Probably one of the best-known apps to help with meditation and sleep, Calm has great reviews from users who have said it’s helped to improve focus, learn to meditate and sleep better.

It has a specific section for Sleep Stories with soothing voices (including lots of celebrities, hello, Matthew McConaughey) aimed at children and adults. There are a few which are available on the free version but if you’re looking to invest in using an app to help with sleep, it’s definitely worth upgrading to the paid version which includes specific sleep categories for if you’re feeling stressed or want to try ASMR (not for me, but people love it!).

Cost: £49.99 per year

Available on iOS and Android


The main thing I liked about this app was the fact that it’s updated really regularly with new sleep stories and meditations. It’s a great way to try different experiences to help you get to sleep – from bedtime stories split across a week to the sound of a hot tub.

I found these meditations to be the best for helping me get to sleep, as they are specifically created to induce slumber. You can upgrade to the premium version, but I actually find that the free ones are fine and there are plenty to try before you have to commit to full access.

Cost: Free for 7 days, then £37.99 per year

Available on iOS

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