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How to use Alexa to help you fall asleep

When the time comes to wind down, relax, and fall asleep, voice assistants like Alexa can offer a few services to help — especially if you’re using an Echo as a bedside smart clock or a similar device within range of a few simple voice commands. Here are the best ways Alexa can enable a restful night of sleep.

Amazon Echo Dot with clock on stand.

Fall asleep to relaxing sounds

If you like to fall asleep to quiet background noise or white noise, or you have trouble sleeping when the room is a little too quiet, there are plenty of Alexa skills that can help with that. One of the most popular is the excellent Sleep Sounds skill.

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You can say, “Alexa, open Sleep Sounds.” Then say, “Play,” plus a type of noise that you want to hear. There are more than 125 sounds available, including thunderstorms, the rainforest, a fireplace, a cat purring, the ocean, cicadas, city rain, and much more. If there’s a particular mood you’re looking for, go ahead and try to search for it.

The sounds will normally play until you say, “Alexa, stop.” However, you can start playing a sound and then say, “Alexa, set a sleep timer for one hour,” or whatever time limit works best for you.

Beat insomnia with a guided exercise

Is your struggle with insomnia keeping you up? Relaxing sounds aren’t always a help here. However, there are Alexa skills that provide guided meditations that can help encourage you to relax and take your mind off things for a little while.

To begin, you may want to try something like the Help Me Sleep skill, which runs through a five-minute exercise to relax your muscles. The Sleep Sounds skill above also has a command for “Guide Sleep on” that will start a meditation with the background audio of your choice. If you want to engage more deeply, the Guided Meditation skill has more than 70 offerings that will help clear your mind and gently pass the time until sleep arrives.

Amazon Echo on a table by a lamp and book.

Help kids get ready for bed with bedtime stories

Alexa is also well-versed in stories for children, which is a great nightly routine to help kids relax and get ready for bed. One of our favorites is the Short Bedtime Story skill. This Alexa skill allows you to specifically name a child when activating it, and it will read out a brief story with the child’s name inserted as the main character. If this skill is a hit, you may want to visit the Bedtime website and write a story of your own for your family.

Or, for a more traditional take, the Bedtime Stories skill offers a variety of stories that have stood the test of time, from The Tale of Peter Rabbit to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. You can also subscribe to the full app to unlock a much longer list of stories.

Get an adult bedtime story with Earplay

Hey, it’s not just kids that can relax in bed with a story before they fall asleep! If you find that helps you get ready for a restful night, Alexa has a unique option called the Earplay skill.

Think of Earplay as a mix between an old-timey radio narrative and a choose-your-own-adventure book, where you can use voice commands to make your own choices as the story progresses.

Stories vary greatly in genre and possibilities, but they are generally designed to be mature works for adults and not really suitable for children. The next time you’re having trouble falling asleep, you may want to give it a try. The big caveat is that both you and Alexa are speaking aloud for these stories, so it may not be possible to use if someone is trying to fall asleep beside you (although earbuds with Alexa capabilities make this a bit more feasible).

Amazon Echo Dot (4th-gen) showing temperature beside a bed.
John Velasco / Digital Trends

Get some advice on when to head to bed

Do you have a new wake-up time that your body isn’t used to? Or maybe you work shifts that are often in flux and need to plan new bedtimes regularly. Save a little bit of time by invoking Alexa’s Sleep Buddy skill. You can give a command like, “Alexa, ask Sleep Buddy when I should go to sleep to wake up at 6 a.m.?” and Sleep Buddy will do the math for you to help ensure a healthy night’s rest.

You can also do the reverse with this app and ask when you are most likely to wake up if you go to bed at a certain time. Obviously, Sleep Buddy can only guess based on general knowledge about sleep cycles, but it’s nice to have some idea of what to expect out of a sleep schedule change.

Turn your Echo into a soothing night light

Night lights can be another important factor in getting a good night’s sleep — if a small, soothing light is part of your sleep equation, check out the Night Light skill on Echo devices. It turns on your Echo’s blue indicator light and sets it to gently pulse throughout the night while also muting Alexa notifications so your slumber isn’t interrupted.

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