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It’s that time of year when most people start watching what they eat and turn up their exercise regimes to get in shape for summer. Perhaps it’s also a good time to improve the quality and quantity of sleep you’re getting. Everyone from Cristiano Ronaldo to Beyonce has highlighted the importance of sleep. Without it we become irritable, unproductive, fuzzy-headed and susceptible to weight gain.

While it’s often been reported that mobile phones are to blame for bad sleeping habits, there are, in fact, ways they can improve your chances of a good night’s rest. Here’s how.

Many of the new smartphones on the market have built-in features to help you fall asleep. Putting your phone on Night Shift filters out the blue light, which is responsible for keeping your brain active before bedtime. The blue light reduces the production of melatonin, the hormone that prepares your body for sleep. Some phones allow you to set a timer that applies the filter later in the day when your body should start slowing down in preparation for sleeping. Enabling auto-brightness can also protect your eyes from bright light as your surroundings get darker.

iPhone users who’ve installed iOS10 have the Bedtime feature, accessed from the Alarm Clock. It will tell you how many hours of sleep you can expect to get, sends you reminders that bedtime is approaching and gives you gentle, soothing alarm sounds to wake up to. Android phones also tell you how long until your alarm goes off when you set it.

Apps for better naps

Should your phone not have the option to filter out blue light, or if you want more help from your device, there are a number of apps available from the App Store as well as Google Play.

Twilight (available for Android) adapts your screen according to the time of day. It filters the blue light after sunset with a soft red filter, which adjusts according to the sun cycle using the sunset and sunrise times of your location.

Meditation before bedtime has been shown to improve sleep. Headspace: Guided Meditation (available for Android and iOS) and Calm (available for Android and iOS) are popular apps that offer guided meditations to bring stillness to a busy mind.

If your mind is still too busy to drift off, try drowning out external noises and thoughts by playing soothing sounds such as white noise. Pzizz (available for Android and iOS) has hundreds of thousands of fans worldwide, including author JK Rowling. Other options available for Android and iOS include White Noise, Relax Melodies and Noisli.

Similarly, bedtime stories can be as effective. Remember how well they relaxed you as a child? Calm (available for Android and iOS) features Sleep Stories, which are described as 'soothing tales read by well-known voices to help people unwind and fall into a deep sleep'. There is even a special bedtime setting that automatically switches the app off. You could also opt for a podcast. Some, like Sleep With Me, are specifically intended to help you nod off.

Looking at your sleeping patterns, breathing, noises, cycles and so on could also help you better you sleep going forward. Sleep Cycle (available on Android and iOS) monitors your sleep and also wakes you up at the best time (during the light sleep phase) to prevent the feeling of grogginess in the morning.

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