World Sleep Day: Sleep App downloads soar during pandemic


It’s been a full year since we first felt the impact of the pandemic, and it has had an adverse effect on our sleeping patterns too.

New research from Uswitch to coincide with World Sleep Day has revealed that Brits are facing more sleepless nights than they were a year ago, and as a result, the demand for ‘sleep apps’ downloaded from the App store has soared. 

And while smartphones may actually be detrimental to our ability to sleep, it seems people are turning more to sleep apps and courses more than ever.

Searches around terms to do with insomnia, struggling to sleep or inability to sleep have increased on average by 22% since March 2020, with all terms reaching their peak in searches around 3-4am.

Insomnia affects roughly 31% of the population in the UK, but the development and release of apps and improvement programs such as Sleep Cycle and Sleepstation have seen many night owls searching for help. Searches for ‘sleep apps’ has risen by a huge 104% in 12 months, and Brits have also been researching which of the widely available apps and programmes are best to help them get a good night’s kip.

Sleepstation is a six-week online course that can be paid for or accessed through a referral on the NHS. The course has seen a staggering 136% increase in demand over the past twelve months, far more than other sleep and wellness apps.

Searches for the terms ‘sleep app’ or ‘sleep apps’ have also increased by around 100% in the past year. The evolution of health technology that allows apps to track user’s sleep patterns and sleep cycles means apps can not only track your sleep, but wake you up when you’re in your lightest cycle, leaving you more refreshed and less fatigued.

The popularity of these features has also seen apps such as Sleep Cycle increase by 28%. One of the first apps to introduce these features, it’s been a leader in the space for some time.

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You don’t have to spend to sleep better

The most popular courses of sleep therapy – Sleepstation and Sleepio – are available for free through certain NHS referrals. Without this, they are the pricier courses out of the best sleep apps available but come clinically recommended.

However, free apps such as Sleep Cycle allow you to track and monitor sleep patterns for free, whilst a premium service is available – you can benefit from this without having to part with any cash.

But although searches for ‘help sleeping’ and ‘sleep apps’ are on the rise, interestingly calm and wellness apps such as Headspace have actually seen a decrease of 26% since March 2020.

Headspace, which promotes mindfulness and meditation was the program that saw the largest decrease in interest over the past year, as users turned to more specific forms of sleep guidance and treatment.

Ultimately, it’s clear Brits are turning to more direct methods to help with sleep issues and moving away from practising mindfulness as a coping mechanism.

Brits seeking sleep therapy over mindfulness practice

Rank Focus      Search term      % Change (12mnth)      Price (£)
1 Sleep Sleepstation      136%      £95 (or free with NHS referral)
2 Sleep      Sleepio      57%      £200 (free on the NHS in certain areas)
3 Sleep      Sleep Cycle App      28%      Free (premium subscription – £39.99 a year)
4 Mindfulness      Calm App      5%      £29.99 a year
5 Sleep      Pzizz      -15%      Free (premium subscription – £49.99 a year)
6 Mindfulness      Headspace      -26%      Free (premium subscription – £9.99 a month)


Chris Price
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