The Best Meditation Apps 2021Updated on November 22, 2019
If you have trouble falling asleep each night, you are not alone. 27% of adults in the United States report regularly having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Many are turning to meditation to reduce the symptoms of anxiety and stress that are keeping them up at night. The calming effect of meditation can promote a restful, relaxed state.
Meditation can help you increase your overall mindfulness. If you are not sure where to start, a meditation app can provide guidance. These apps often have libraries of guided meditations, ambient noise, music, and stories to soothe your mind. Apps can also keep track of your progress by measuring the amount of time you have spent meditating, and taking note of your mood or emotions.
The following meditation apps are made with easy-to-use interfaces and intuitive designs. Each app offers a variety of guided meditations that cover a range of topics from stress management to practicing gratitude. They also offer a variety of resources, including educational information about meditation, meditation for kids, and features that let you share meditations with friends. These selections also include sections on sleep with music, ambient noise, and stories to help you relax and unwind at the end of the day. Meditation apps encourage making meditation a regular habit.
|Calm||-Guided meditations, ranging from 3 to 25 minutes long -Sleep stories to help you fall asleep -Breathing exercises for relaxation -Free 7-day trial||$69.99/year|
|Headspace||-Guided meditations that let you choose the length of time -Headspace Sleep helps you fall asleep -Free basics course with an introduction to meditation -Free 14-day trial||$69.99/year|
|Ten Percent Happier||-Personalized plan with recommended practices -Sleep section with relaxing meditations -Meditation coach responds to questions -Free 7-day trial||$99.99/year|
|Stop, Breathe & Think||-Daily check-in tracks emotions -Meditations as short as 1 minute -Guided meditation, yoga, and acupressure sessions -Personalized feed with recommendations||$58.99/year|
|Buddhify||-Upfront cost for the app with an optional membership for added features -Color wheel with personalized recommendations can be edited -200+ meditations and exercises, 4 to 30 minutes in length -Solo timer for experienced meditators||$4.99 for the app $30/year optional membership|
Why we like it:
- Breathing exercises promote rest and relaxation
- Ability to set reminders for mindfulness and bedtime
- Soothing sleep stories with well-known narrators to help you fall asleep
- 7-day free trial lets you access the library and try out the app before committing
The Calm app greets you with a reminder to take a deep breath before prompting you to set your goals. This easy-to-use app lets you customize the home screen with a calming scene and ambient noise. A 30-day program titled “How to Meditate” introduces the basics of meditation, while the “Daily Calm” meditation is updated each day with a new 10-minute meditation. These are easily accessed on the home screen. The app also has sections for sleep, meditating, and music. Guided meditations range in length, with 3, 5, 10, 15, 20, or 25-minute options.
With over 500,000 reviews and a 4.8/5 star rating, the Calm app is one of the most popular choices. The benefits of using the Calm app include reduced stress and anxiety. The app also promotes rest and can help you fall asleep with soothing sleep stories. Calm Body includes mindful stretching techniques.
There are 7- and 21-day programs available, which help encourage making meditation a habit. Progress is tracked in the Calm calendar and can be shared through social media. The library also has single courses and series arranged by topic, for those who want to select a new meditation each day. For those who want to deepen their practice, the Calm Masterclass provides educational resources.
Why we like it:
- Guided meditations let you choose a male or female narrator and the length of time
- Headspace Sleep includes meditations and ambient sounds to help you sleep
- 14-day free trial and free basics course with 10 days of guided meditations and helpful animations to introduce techniques
- Daily reminders for mindful moments, meditation, and bedtime
Headspace is a great option for those who are just getting started with meditation. The free basics course provided by Headspace includes 10 days of guided meditations that introduce basic techniques. The app also has short animation videos that explain concepts used in the guided meditations. Headspace can increase mindfulness and help with focus.
The Headspace library is organized by category, with a search bar to find a specific topic. Many meditations are offered with the choice of a male or female narrator, and the length of time can be customized with 3, 5, 10, 15 or 20 minute time frames. Headspace Sleep includes “sleepcasts”, 45-minute long stories to fall asleep to. This section of the app also includes sleep sounds with ambient tones and guided exercises for falling asleep.
Headspace is a popular option due to its easy-to-use interface and beginner-friendly approach. Reminders can be set to nudge you to take a moment to be mindful, meditate at a regular time, or get ready for bed. It also tracks your progress. The app has a 4.9/5 star rating with over 500,000 reviews. The 14-day free trial lets you access the entire Headspace library and try out the app before paying for a subscription.
Ten Percent Happier
Why we like it:
- Personalized plan and recommendations based on goals, experience level, and stress
- Guided sleep meditations to help you relax and fall asleep
- Meditation coach is available to answer any questions you have
- Free 7-day trial lets you try out the app before subscribing
Ten Percent Happier offers a personalized meditation experience. Once downloaded, the app guides you through questions to customize its recommendations, gathering information on your experience level, goals, feelings, and how you manage stress. It then creates a plan to get you started and tracks your progress as you go. You can also set reminders to meditate.
The app’s library includes an introduction to basics, single meditations, and courses. The library is organized by category, with multiple teachers and techniques to choose from. New meditations are added each week. The sleep section includes guided meditations to help you sleep, ranging in length from 5 to 45 minutes long. The app also features a dark mode, which keeps the screen dimmed as you fall asleep.
The Ten Percent Happier app is designed with skeptics in mind. The app, as well as the corresponding podcast and book, was developed by journalist Dan Harris. After experiencing a panic attack in the public eye, Harris turned to meditation to manage his anxiety and stress.
Access to a meditation coach lets you ask questions and receive personalized answers. The Ten Percent Happier app is more of an investment, but the free 7-day trial lets you try out the app before making a decision.
Stop, Breathe & Think
Why we like it:
- Tracks emotions with regular check-ins and charted progress
- Personalized feed with recommendations
- Customizable timers for breathing exercises and meditation
- Choose between a male and female voice for guided meditations
The Stop, Breathe & Think app encourages awareness of your emotions and thoughts. When you open the app, you are prompted to check in with yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. You select your top five emotions for the day, with a variety of options ranging from positive to negative. With your selected emotions in mind, the app provides recommended meditations. You can also use the explore tab to find new sessions, organized by category. Sessions can be as short as one minute. For those who want to meditate on their own, the app includes timers for breathing and meditation.
The personalized feed within the Stop, Breathe & Think app includes a daily meditation with a corresponding infographic. The app tracks your progress and charts your emotions for the week on a graph. It is a great option for those who want to see a visual representation of their progress and the overall effect of meditation. You can also collect stickers within the app to measure milestones along the way.
The Stop, Breathe & Think app is available for free, with the option to become a premium member for an annual fee. Premium membership includes unlimited journaling with writing prompts to get you started, 100 premium meditation tracks, additional yoga and acupressure guides, and premium presenters.
Why we like it:
- Personalized color wheel with recommendations and option to edit
- 200+ meditation exercises ranging in length and expertise
- Solo timer for experienced meditators
- Upfront cost for the app, with optional membership for additional benefits
The Buddhify app is designed to help you understand meditation and improve your practice. The app fosters independence by prioritizing education and practice. A personalized color wheel includes multiple categories, ranging in topics including waking up, using your phone, eating, and going to sleep. You can edit the wheel to remove topics that you are not interested in, or to add in topics you want to explore further.
Each Buddhify category has guided meditations that vary in length from 4 to 30 minutes. There are multiple teachers, resulting in a range of styles and voices. You can also share meditations with friends.
Since you pay for the app upfront, there are no monthly charges and you immediately have access to the Buddhify library. For those who want to deepen their practice, Buddhify offers a paid membership that includes formal meditations, transmissions that let you read popular meditations out loud in your own voice, and access to the community of Buddhify members.
How to Choose a Meditation App
Before choosing a meditation app, it may be helpful to understand what meditation is and how it can help you sleep. Meditation has a rich history in both Eastern and Western traditions and religions. The practice has been used for thousands of years to facilitate breathing, set intentions, and create a calming environment.
A meditation app can introduce you to meditation techniques and help you develop your practice. It can also encourage regular meditation to improve your health and wellbeing. There are several factors to consider when it comes to meditation apps, including the ease of use and the price of membership. This guide will help you understand meditation and what to look for in a meditation app.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a sense of self-awareness and mindfulness. Typically practiced in a seated position, meditation encourages you to get comfortable and focus on your breath and being present. It has been shown to improve mental state and promote relaxation.
The documented history of this practice spans over 5,000 years, beginning in India with the Hindu religion. The Eastern practice of meditation extended to Taoists in China and Buddhists in India, coming together with spirituality and yoga practices. It can be used as a method of prayer. The tradition was passed down through generations. In the 18th century, the practice of meditation extended to Western nations but did not gain popularity in the United States until the mid-1900s. Increased travel and exposure to new ideas led to the further spread of meditation.
Used in both religious and secular practices, meditation increases mindfulness in an increasingly busy world. It can allow you to get in touch with your body and mind, raising awareness and encouraging focus. The visualization techniques used in guided meditations can help you set intentions. It can also be used to reduce stress and manage symptoms of anxiety. Many also turn to meditation to help them fall asleep. While meditation can be practiced alone, it is also used in group settings to foster a sense of community.
How Can Meditation Help Me Sleep?
Meditation can help you sleep by encouraging relaxation, especially if you have difficulty sleeping due to anxious thoughts. Giving your mind something to focus on can reduce anxiety and stress. If you are restless while trying to fall asleep, guided meditation can soothe your mind and promote a restful state.
In addition to helping you fall asleep, meditation has also been shown to improve the quality of your sleep. Those who meditate have been shown to have a higher number of sleep cycles with enhanced REM sleep. Meditation has also been shown to increase melatonin levels. Melatonin plays an essential role in falling asleep and regulating circadian rhythms. Better sleep at night can improve focus and attentiveness throughout the day.
Since meditation can affect your physical, mental, and emotional state, it can impact your sleep on multiple levels. Regular meditation may help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. It is a natural technique that could be a valuable addition to your bedtime routine.
What to Look For in a Good Meditation App
Since meditation is a personal experience, everyone will have unique needs when it comes to selecting a meditation app. There are a variety of apps available that cater to different experience levels and preferences. The following factors should be taken into consideration before purchasing a meditation app.
- Price: Most meditation apps offer a yearly subscription, which gives you access to the app’s library of guided meditations and other resources. As these can range in price from $30 per year to $100 and up, budget can be a determining factor. Some apps offer monthly and unlimited options.
- Level of Guidance: Depending on your experience with meditation, you may want to select an app geared towards beginners. Some apps have introductory courses for novices, and timers for those who prefer to meditate solo. The level of guidance can often be customized.
- Options: Meditation apps often include options to personalize the experience. Some meditations can be downloaded and listened to on-the-go. Certain apps promote sharing on social media platforms. Progress trackers and calendars can also encourage daily habits.
- Music Options: Many apps offer a music library for unguided meditation and ambient noise. These tracks tend to encourage mindfulness and relaxation. Not every meditation app includes music, so keep this in mind if music is an important feature for you.
- Audio or Visual: Many meditation apps focus on the auditory experience, with guided meditations you can practice with your eyes closed. If you benefit from visual aids in your meditation practice, look for apps that include infographics, animations, and calming scenes to look at as you meditate.
- Customization: Many meditation apps offer a personalized experience with customized recommendations. You may also be able to customize the background. Other apps have a set interface with fewer options for personalization.
- Trial Periods: Since many meditation apps are a paid subscription service, free trial periods often give you a chance to access the app and give it a try before committing. If you are new to meditating, you may want to try a couple of different apps before deciding which one is right for you.