10 Calming Mobile Apps for Sleep Meditation

Woman sleeping while listening to a sleep meditation

Usually, it’s recommended to put your phone away to sleep better, but calming mobile apps may lead to a better quality of night rest. These sleep meditation apps offer guided and unguided meditations that often have soothing sounds to help you drift off easier. The goal is to help you relax and leave the stress of the day behind.

1. Insight Timer – Best for Variety & Ad-Free

Price: Free with premium option

Platforms: iOS, Android

Insight Timer includes free meditation exercises, sleep sounds, and even sleep stories. There is some premium content, but most of what you use regularly is free. The more you use the app, the better your daily recommendations become.

Using one of the best sleep meditation apps, Insight Timer

Alternately, use the Explore feature to find sleep meditation exercises. What’s great is that you can filter by length of session. Of course, you can also use Insight Timer for daily meditation as well, making it a great all-in-one app for better sleep and to fight anxiety and stress.

The paid version gives access to premium courses, offline listening, higher-quality audio, and the ability to rewind meditation exercises. (You can only pause and restart in the free version.)

Exploring Insight Timer's Sleep meditations

Pros

  • No ads, even in the free version
  • Over 100,000 meditation exercises
  • Daily recommendations

Cons

  • No offline listening in the free version

2. Calm – Best Sleep Stories

Price: Free with paid options

Platforms: iOS, Android

Calm is one of the top calming mobile apps offering meditations for better sleep, reducing anxiety, building self-esteem, and more. However, the app’s sleep stories could easily become your favorite way to relax before bed. Most content is locked behind a paywall, but there are a handful of free meditations to try before you buy.

Exploring various sleep meditations on the Calm app

You also get a seven-day free trial to see if you like the premium features. If you upgrade to premium, you’ll get an original Daily Calm, over 100 guided meditation exercises, more sleep stories, and master classes. For many users, the sleep stories alone are worth the subscription.

I don’t like that you’re pushed to create an account, start a trial, and answer a questionnaire before you even get to explore the app. But if you skip all the prompts, you don’t need an account to get started.

Playing a sleep story on the Calm calming mobile app

Pros

  • Offers a variety of great sleep stories
  • Has different categories of meditation exercises
  • Premium version offers new content regularly

Cons

  • Difficult to really test the app without getting the free trial

3. Balance – Best Free Trial & Personalization

Price: Free with premium options

Platforms: iOS, Android

Balance offers an unheard of 365-day free trial, which is something no other premium or freemium sleep meditation apps can beat. The app starts by asking some questions to help personalize your experience. You can also access the full library at any time.

Balance's Sleep meditation section

Only a handful of meditation exercises are available in the free version. However, since 2020, Balance has offered users a free year, though you can contribute a small amount if you’d like to help support development.

The premium version gives you access to everything, including Balance’s personalized programs that adjust daily based on how you’re feeling. This level of personalization really helps set the app apart.

Choosing a type of meditation in one of the top premium calming mobile apps, Balance

Pros

  • Offers generous free trial
  • Personalizes your experience
  • Choice of a tailored journey or anything in the library

Cons

  • More limited library compared to other apps
  • Credit card required for free trial (can be easy to forget to cancel after a year)

4. Medito – Best Free Meditation App

Price: Free

Platforms: iOS, Android

Medito is one of the simpler, yet highly effective calming mobile apps to help you learn to meditate and build a regular meditation practice. What I love about the app is that while you can just jump into a daily meditation, it also includes packs of meditation exercises, including one focused on sleep.

Medito's Sleep section of meditations

There’s even a section on the app’s homepage for sleep, which takes you to meditations, sleep stories, nature sounds, and meditative music, all designed to help you relax. Many of the meditations let you choose the teacher’s voice, duration, and background sounds (when applicable). If you just want nature sounds, try these calming sounds apps.

If you’re not sure if sleep meditation is right for you, use Medito as a test run, or make it your nightly routine. I highly recommend starting with The Medito Course on the homepage if you’re new to meditation. It really helped me form a regular practice.

Exploring Medito's homepage for sleep meditation and much more

Pros

  • No payment required
  • No ads
  • Different categories of meditations

Cons

  • Smaller meditation library, though it’s grown over the last few years

5. Headspace – Most Sleep Options

Price: Free with premium options

Platforms: iOS, Android

Headspace’s sleepcasts are similar to stories and take you on mental journeys, letting you envision things, like taking a soothing train ride. While much of Headspace is behind a paywall, you can get a seven-day (with monthly signup) or 14-day free trial (with annual signup).

Exploring the Sleep section of Headspace

In the Sleep section of the app, you also get meditations, music, guides for parents to help kids relax, expert advice, soundscapes, sleep radio, and more. While other apps offer a lot of sleep content, Headspace has the biggest variety of options.

Another thing I like about this sleep meditation is the daily meditations. With the free option, you may or may not have access to them all, but it’s a new variety to get you started daily.

Exploring more of what Headspace has to offer

Pros

  • Offers soothing sleepcasts for mental journeys
  • New sleepcasts uploaded daily in paid version
  • Large variety of meditation exercises

Cons

  • App can sometimes become unstable

6. BetterSleep – Best for Sleep Tracking

Price: Free with paid option

Platforms: iOS, Android

BetterSleep records sounds while you’re asleep to better understand when you’re sleeping, surrounding distractions, and more. It gives you personalized advice to help you sleep better.

BetterSleep's home screen featuring sleep tracking

In addition to sleep tracking, the app offers meditations, soothing sounds, bedtime stories, and even a section just for kids. There are even sleep exercises to help you wind down with movement before bed.

While you can use the app for general meditation, the main focus of this app is sleep, which helps make BetterSleep one of the best overall calming mobile apps just for a more restful night. If you want a great way to wake up after a great night’s sleep, learn how to set a Spotify song as your alarm on Android.

Enabling BetterSleep's Sleep Recorder

Pros

  • Offers sleep tracking
  • Takes you through sleep exercises
  • Focuses mainly on sleep

Cons

  • Not made for general meditation
  • Too many intro screens during the first use

7. Loóna – Best Sleep Journeys

Price: Free with paid option

Platforms: iOS, Android

Loóna starts off by personalizing the app for you. From choosing what keeps you up at night to your favorite colors, the app seeks to create a soothing atmosphere from the start. What the app does best, though, is create sleep journeys for you.

One of the top calming mobile apps, Loona

In Escapes, you get to color a moving diorama while listening to calming sounds. Stories fully immerses you with engaging sounds to make you forget about your stress. There are also breathing exercises and sounds to help you drift off.

If you want your nightly routine to feel more like a relaxing journey, versus just meditating, Loóna is perfect. A few stories and sounds are free, and there’s a seven-day free trial.

Sample of a Loona escape with interactive elements

Pros

  • Creates a personalized experience
  • Uses visuals in addition to sounds for meditation
  • Works as an alternative to typical breathing or gratitude meditation

Cons

  • Some users may not appreciate the visual effects

8. Smiling Mind – Best for Families

Price: Free

Platforms: iOS, Android

While many apps just focus on adults, Smiling Mind offers meditation exercises for adults, kids (from infant and up), workplace, school, and more. The free app was created by experts to help provide Australia’s youth with free mindfulness programs.

Smiling Mind's Sleep meditation section

However, the idea took off, and has become a popular app for mindfulness meditation around the world. While there aren’t nearly as many meditation exercises as other apps on this list, the content offered by Smiling Mind is carefully created to help users relax and find peace of mind.

Everything is free, though you can donate. The app’s also ad-free, making it one of the better calming mobile apps for kids to use, too.

Smiling Mind's recommended programs from the start.

Pros

  • Offers specific programs for adults, kids, and different scenarios
  • Also helps combat stress and anxiety

Cons

  • Meditation exercises are limited
  • Requires a free account

9. UCLA Mindful – Best for Beginners

Price: Free

Platforms: iOS, Android

The entire UCLA Mindful app is geared toward beginners, but the meditations are relaxing, no matter how experienced you are with the practice. There’s a Getting Started section to help complete noobs understand meditation.

UCLA Mindful's main screen

You can also jump into the basic and wellness meditation exercises, some of which focus on sleep. While it doesn’t have many sleep meditation exercises, Hammer Podcasts & Drop-Ins lets you listen to podcasts and access themed meditation exercises.

Many of the meditation exercises are available in 14 languages, so it has more accessibility. There’s even a timer feature to let you meditate on your own. Also, some of UCLA’s meditations are now available in the Medito app.

Exploring sleep podcasts in UCLA Mindful app

Pros

  • Provides introduction to meditation courses
  • Includes basic and themed wellness meditation
  • Ad-free

Cons

  • Meditation exercises are limited
  • Some meditation exercises are only available by searching in podcasts

10. Unplug

Price: Premium options only

Platforms: iOS, Android

Unplug is one of the highest-rated calming mobile apps – and with good reason. Yes, it’s premium-only, but comes with a full seven-day free trial with no credit card required.

Sleep meditations on one of the best premium calming mobile apps, Unplug

What I love most is the wide variety of meditation types, such as sound, movement, breath work, visualization, and even a Unique and unusual category. Of course, the growing library of sleep meditations will definitely help you rest more deeply.

If you’ve ever struggled to meditate, this could be the app to help you succeed and stay focused. Plus, the monthly challenges make meditating feel more like a game.

Unplug's home screen and monthly challenge

Pros

  • Over 100 expert instructors
  • Huge variety of meditations and meditation types
  • Designed for all skill levels

Cons

  • Only seven days for free
  • Monthly subscription is high

You don’t need to be a meditation guru to benefit from calming mobile apps. Sleep meditation helps you relax, improves focus, and much more. If you’re trying to improve your brain health, try these brain-training apps. Or, if you’re having trouble focusing, check out these Pomodoro Timer apps for iOS.

Image credit: Unsplash. All screenshots by Crystal Crowder.

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Crystal Crowder

Crystal Crowder has spent over 15 years working in the tech industry, first as an IT technician and then as a writer. She works to help teach others how to get the most from their devices, systems, and apps. She stays on top of the latest trends and is always finding solutions to common tech problems.

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