We have all experienced restless nights. We know how it feels to struggle to sleep. Whether it’s struggling to fall asleep or simply remaining asleep, it is something we have all gone through at one time or another and as a result, there has been plenty of research into how to make these rough nights just that little bit easier. One of the most common go-to’s for those that struggle to shut off at night comes in the form of white noise. The belief that these types of noises, often which occur naturally such as crashing waves and the sound of steady traffic provide a safe and healthy sleep remedy is something that many continue to explore.
For those that own an Amazon Echo device, you’re offered a fantastic way to play and loop white noise without the need for manual intervention. A ready-made sound machine, Alexa’s smart technology allows you to relinquish control and truly rest. So just what can Alexa do for you?
1. Sleep and Relaxation Sounds
“Alexa, open Sleep Sounds”
With this simple request, you will be well on your way to relaxation with this highly-rated app. If white noise is your go-to for a night of peace and tranquillity then this is an app that you cannot afford to miss out on. With over 50 free sounds available to choose from, including rain, babbling brook, fountains, underwater, ocean, and wind chimes, you will find yourself spoiled for choice.
Better still, you get to decide the level of control you give to Alexa, with the ability to set timers which will automatically shut off, or simply leave it to play, on loop until you manually turn it off yourself. With excellent sound quality and a plethora of gentle sounds, you are sure to have an improved night’s sleep.
Don’t worry, though. The kids won’t be left out. The app boasts an excellent set of ‘sleep stores’ which takes those 50 free sounds and turns them into a great child-friendly short story, guaranteed to send your little ones peacefully to sleep.
2. Ambient Sounds
“Alexa, open Rain Sounds”
One of the better Alexa skills is the ambient sound function which offers an array of fantastic white noise sounds including fog, rain, fireplace, cat, fan, and clock. It is incredibly easy to activate these functions with the user simply having to say “Alexa, open this sounds”, simply replacing ‘this’ with the sound of your choice. By default, the sound will run on an hour-long loop but if you would rather have a continuous sound all night, you’re able to request a loop that will cease when you choose to end it. The best part of this skill is that you will have no added context from Alexa, you will simply be able to listen to the sound of your choice undisturbed.
3. Night Light
“Alexa, open Night Light”
For many of us, regardless of age, we don’t always like to sleep in total darkness. This is where Alexa offers another fantastic skill that can be used for anyone; the night light. With this smart technology, you’re able to turn your Amazon Echo into a light, with a dull, pulsing glow atop the device. It’s bright enough to be able to see where you’re going and relax with the knowledge there is a light source but dull enough to not disturb your sleep. The best thing about this skill is that you’re able to leave it on for as long as you like.
It should be noted that there is more than one app similar to this, so you need to make sure you’re activating the skill with the star logo. If you receive a message saying “welcome to night light”, you have activated the wrong one so you must disable this one first before you enable the correct one.
4. White Noise
“Alexa, open White Noise”
Much like it says on the tin, this skill offers white noise, in its simplest form. It uses technology that we also see used in the aforementioned Sleep and Relaxation Sounds skill, meaning that you can feel confident in the quality of its offerings which includes additional sounds such as jungle night, forest bird, beautiful dream and music box. You’re very much in control of how long you allow this noise to play with the ability to set a timer. However, should you forget to do so that isn’t a problem either as it will play on a loop until you request otherwise.
This is one I’d highly recommend because I’ve never had a more peaceful night’s sleep than when I have used this skill.
5. Short Bedtime Story
“Alexa, launch Bedtime Story”
An absolute must for your little ones, the short bedtime story function is exactly as you’d expect; a great, personalized short story to relax you before you go to bed. The real appeal of this derives from the ability it has to customize your stories. What more could you want? A story, with your son, daughter as the hero in their very own adventure. A really good way to get yourselves ready for a night of solid sleep.
6. Sleep Buddy
“Alexa, ask Sleep Buddy when I should go to bed to wake up at 06:00 am”
One of the more eclectic offerings on our list is the much-hyped Sleep Buddy. This neat skill helps the user to take control of their sleep pattern, with simple recommendations as to how to get into a healthier routine. For those that are looking to fully utilize the time available to them each day, this is a perfect skill to refer to as it will pinpoint the best sleep and wake up times to manage your time better.
The skill uses REM sleep properties to calculate recommended timings which I must admit, seem to be, for the most part, a very accurate reflection. A very useful tool to use for those of us that like to have a little bit more control over our sleep routines.
7. Zen Sounds
“Alexa, open Zen Sounds”
The Zen Sounds skill offers a fantastic selection of relaxing white noises that are often recommended to form part of basic meditation techniques. This allows the user to utilize the idea of relaxation and apply it to bedtime. Some of the best sounds available on this app include delta sounds, future sounds, wolf sounds, Japanese garden sounds and spirit sounds. Similarly to some of the previously mentioned sound apps, it will automatically play your chosen sound for an hour unless you request it to play on a loop for an undetermined duration.
These sounds are a very different but fantastic alternative to traditional white noise as they play on the concept of relaxation using more complex sounds than you’d expect from white noise sounds.
8. Guided Meditation: Meditation of the Day for Calm
“Alexa, open Guided Meditation”
Another Alexa skill that plays on the relationship between meditation, relaxation and rested sleep is the Guided Meditation skill. This allows you to complete simple meditation practices in the comfort of your own home while being guided by the expertise of your Amazon Echo device. In quick 6-7 minute bursts, the user can select from an array of sessions designed to aid and promote a healthier lifestyle. This includes focusing on areas such as anxiety, focus, compassion, depression and, for this piece, sleep!
This is a great way to try new techniques to help you fall asleep at night and if that particular session isn’t ticking your boxes then don’t worry because Alexa offers you the ability to skip freely and explore a new session instead.
“Alexa, start Earplay”
This one is just for adults but plays on the premise built on the Bedtime Story skill, offering high-quality, experimental stories for you to listen to before you settle down for the night. Focused on interactivity, the stories themselves are incredibly interesting, capturing the user’s imagination, all while looking to relax your mind. With fantastic reviews, we would highly recommend giving this one a go when you’re looking to settle down for the night.
10. Fox News
“Alexa, what’s my flash briefing?’
Arguably one of the more interesting offerings on this list, the news doesn’t just have to be for the early risers. For overnight updates, this is a fantastic skill, allowing users to relax while listening to the latest the news has to offer. We would recommend using Fox News as they provide regular updates and cover a broad range of subject, however, you can, of course, refer to other news sources such as ESPN, CNN, The Daily Show, and CNBC.
Whether you’re looking to use this before bed or first thing in the morning, utilizing skills such as those listed is a great way to encourage a healthier sleeping routine, with enough to cover all of your nighttime needs and wants.