When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Products or services may be offered by an affiliated entity. Learn more.
If you have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep, finding ways to relax before bed might be an effective solution. Calm is an app designed to help you do just that. From soothing music and sleep stories to guided meditation programs, Calm’s vast audio library has something for just about everyone — including kids.
I recently used the Calm app for 21 consecutive nights. In this review, I’ll discuss my experience with the app and share some insights about which programs were most effective at improving my sleep. I’ll also cover the nuts and bolts of purchasing, downloading, and using the Calm app.
How to Use the Calm App
First off, I found the Calm sleep app incredibly user-friendly and easy to operate. The interface is simple. After downloading Calm, you’ll be asked to complete a quick survey about your reasons for acquiring the app. Your options include:
- Improve your sleep
- Manage stress or anxiety
- Learn to meditate
- Invest in personal growth
If you select “improve your sleep,” as I did, you’ll answer a couple questions about how frequently you experience sleep problems, and whether you struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep (or both). From here, you’ll be prompted to select programs that interest you most.
- Guided meditations: Calm’s meditation options include programs tailored to improving your sleep. More than a dozen meditations are preloaded into your library, and you can download additional programs after setting up a subscription.
- Breathing exercises: The app comes with a few guided breathing exercises. These include deep exhalations, deep belly breathing, and box breathing that consists of drawing in and holding your breath for brief periods of time.
- Mindful movement: Many of Calm’s guided movement programs are rooted in yoga and tai chi. A “daily move” is added to your library every day. Most of the mindful movement programs run 10 minutes or less.
Relaxing music: Calm’s built-in music library is fairly extensive, and you can add more tracks after subscribing. The library allows you to search by genre. Most music programs fall into categories like ambient, classical, new age, and electronic.
- Sleep stories: Calm includes a handful of narrated stories that are both soothing and compelling. Readers include actors such as Nick Offerman, Matthew McConaughey, and Cillian Murphy. In addition to adult-oriented sleep stories, many of the entries are geared toward young children.
- Soundscapes: Calm’s selection of ambient recordings is arguably the app’s most impressive feature. You can choose from more than 90 tracks, including both rural and urban offerings, as well as white noise and brown noise. Calm also has programs intended to induce autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), which is the pleasant tingling sensation people feel in response to certain stimuli.
What Does the Calm App Do?
The app’s home page is where you’ll access programs based on the interests you select during setup. After creating a profile, you’ll be able to track how often you use Calm’s various programs and share your stats with fellow app users. You can also participate in check-ins, during which you’ll describe your mood, things you’re grateful for, and other aspects of your daily life.
Another helpful tool is the sleep check-in. You’ll enter how well — or poorly — you slept the previous night, how long you slept, and which factors affected your sleep. The latter is divided into two categories:
- Before sleep: These factors include exercise, stress, anxiety, caffeine, screen time, and medication.
- During sleep: Factors here include trips to the bathroom, tossing and turning, sleep disruptions, pets, and health conditions.
With daily check-ins, you’ll be able to record your sleep patterns and pinpoint issues that directly impact your sleep. Calm isn’t a sleep tracker, so you won’t be able to view any sort of data apart from the number of hours you sleep each night, but even this alone can be helpful for improving your nightly rest.
If you’re new to the app, Calm recommends starting your nightly regimen with “7 Days of Calm,” a program that introduces the basics of meditation. Seven sessions are included with the program, with each one running about 10 minutes. After the week has passed, you can move on to the more advanced “21 Days of Calm” with three weeks’ worth of daily meditation sessions.
If other members of your household may benefit from using the app, you can purchase a Calm family plan subscription.
The main Calm program is designed for individual users. Calm Business is geared toward organizational leaders who want to share the app’s benefits with their employees. There is virtually no difference in using and operating the app with a company plan. Each person who creates an account gets access to the same soundscapes, guided meditations, and other downloadable programs.
You can purchase plans for your entire company or for specific members of your team. The team plan accommodates up to 20 users and includes premium Calm access, engagement resources, and reporting and analytics. If you want to provide the app to 21 or more employees, the more expensive business plan includes all elements of the team plan as well as account management tools and access to digital events and webinars.
Calm Business is free to demo if you would like to check out the experience before investing in a plan. Prices for the team plan increase for each employee you add, but you’ll save more on individual subscriptions with each user included in the plan. For the larger business plan, you’ll need to chat with Calm’s sales staff.
Discount and Deals
Buying and Downloading the Calm Sleep App
As I said earlier, Calm’s streamlined structure makes the app very easy to use. The same is true for purchasing and installing the app. Next, I’ll cover the ins and outs of buying and downloading Calm for first-time users.
|Subscription Options||The Calm app is free to download. First-time users receive a free 7-day trial, but you’ll need to pay for your subscription to unlock the deal. Individual subscriptions are $70 per year. Family plans with up to six accounts are $100 per year.|
Team plans start at $292 for five users, with individual accounts priced at about $58 per year. For 20 team members, you’ll pay $1,076 annually, which equates to roughly $54 per individual account.
Subscribing gives you full access to the Calm library. You won’t need to pay any additional fees for programming. Discounts are frequently available, allowing you to save as much as 40% on your annual plan.
|Compatibility||Calm is compatible with most current iOS and Android phones and tablets. You can also download the app for Apple Watch, Amazon Kindle, and Apple TV. The content library is also accessible through the company’s website.|
|Availability||The app is available from Calm. Singtel and Verizon customers may also receive complimentary access with their account. You can download Calm through Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store.|
The Bottom Line
Calm is the ideal app for anyone exploring alternative ways to relax before bed and sleep better. I enjoyed being able to browse programs based on my individual needs, and the app is a breeze to navigate. Some of the audio programs were more enjoyable to me than others, but that’s the beauty of an app like Calm. Everyone should be able to find a program that appeals to their specific tastes and needs.
The biggest downside to Calm is the pricing. You truly get what you pay for with this app, including premium audio content and videos led by expert guides, but the expensive subscription cost might be a barrier for some people. If the price tag isn’t an issue for you and you’re looking for different ways to relax in the evening, then I wholeheartedly recommend Calm.