Headspace App Review 2022: Guided Meditation for Sleep and Stress

Before discovering the joys of the Headspace meditation app, I scrolled through my timeline before bed, allowing the glow of the blue screen to lull me into a deep sleep. I was waking up intermittently throughout the night, freaking out about something embarrassing I said in a meeting four years ago, and waking up feeling like I had never slept at all.

I knew there had to be a better way. Luckily, I was able to use Headspace regularly while testing the paid version of the app for the past couple of weeks, and eventually regained some of my sanity. Turns out, I’m not just dreaming — meditation has real effects on your sleep cycle, mood, and stress levels, according to Dr. Joanne Frederick, licensed mental health counselor and author of “Copeology.” “Meditation and mindfulness help train the mind to focus on the present, making it less likely to ruminate on anxious thoughts that fuel depression,” she says.

The Headspace app is designed for people new to mindfulness and looking for guidance. As its tagline suggests, Headspace aims to foster a space where meditation is made easy.

The thing about meditation – or Headspace, in particular – is that you have to make it a habit for it to work long term. “When practiced correctly and consistently, it works by altering the way your brain responds to anxiety and stress,” says Dr. Haley Perlus, an advanced trainer with a Ph.D. in sport and exercise psychology. “During meditation, you can override triggers stimulated by the amygdala and prefrontal cortex.” Perlus explains that when stress levels go down, depression also goes down, creating a domino effect of psychological healing.

Let’s take a closer look at what Headspace is, how it works, and if it might be right for you.

The Headspace app is designed for people new to mindfulness and looking for guidance. As its tagline suggests, Headspace aims to foster a space where meditation is made easy.

Marissa Miller/CNN

After your free trial where you’re invited to try the basics, as the app calls it, you’ll have access to thousands of hours of longer, more in-depth content aimed at helping you relax, stay focused or move, or a combination of the three.

There are two plans to choose from: The annual plan (the best value) includes a 14-day free trial and is automatically billed at $69.99 per year, or $5.83 per month. The monthly plan includes a seven-day free trial with a monthly payment of $12.99. The app has a 4.9 star rating, over 70 million downloads across all platforms, over 600,000 reviews and users in 190 countries.

Headspace operates as a full-service relaxation solution. “[It] teaches eight helpful techniques derived from Burmese and Tibetan Buddhist traditions,” Frederick explains, “and each method is contextualized throughout the various meditations, accompanied by animations that provide clarity.

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Once you’re on the homepage, you can choose your preferred method of mindfulness, Meditation, which focuses on stillness and accepting thoughts as they pass; Sleep, which aims to calm the mental chatter before going to bed; Get moving, which gets your heart pumping for a rush of feel-good endorphins; and Focus, which gives your brain a reset when you feel sluggish like a mid-afternoon espresso without the jitters.

Each category offers even more subtypes, and you can use the filter in the upper right corner to help you browse through them. Type in your own search parameters or use those suggested by Headspace, from guided breathwork and cultivating black joy to mindful eating and navigating injustice. Sessions last between one minute and three hours. The best part? You don’t need much more equipment than your own body.

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Advantages and disadvantages of headspace

Headspace almost instantly improves my headspace within minutes of use, whether I’m feeling anxious, sad, or both (that’s really my specialty). But until she can make my bed and do my taxes, it won’t be a perfect app. Here’s a breakdown of his strengths and where he fell short:

The app tracks sessions and is progressing well. I like that it prominently features favorite and recent classes so I don’t have to sift through which ones I want to try again (this has never happened, FYI – there are practically too many sessions to feel the need to repeat it).

I like being able to measure my stress (I try to quantify it, quantify it and put it in a “box” to manage it more concretely), so I really appreciated the Reflect section which offers a monthly check-in detailed report of your current mental health (I scored 19 out of 40 on his stress scale – let’s see how I do in a month!), a “moment of mindfulness” with a brief but meaningful quote and statistics including meditation minutes and average session duration.

Marissa Miller/CNN

I like a few moments to breathe as much as the next guy, but anything longer than that makes me feel a little confined and stuck. I like that there are tons of longer sessions that I can play in the background while I go about daily tasks – it means I can stick to the schedule while still infusing more full techniques consciousness in my daily routine.

Because the app is audio first, I really have to adapt to the coach’s voice and delivery style. When I first used the app six years ago, I loved the soothing British accent of co-founder and former Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe so much that I couldn’t bring myself to deviate from it. time.

Marissa Miller/CNN

While Headspace’s mental health benefits are self-reported (and therefore your mileage may vary), our experts agree that using an app like Headspace to meditate produces an immediate sense of calm: “The mind has a Default Mode Network (DMN), which leads to wandering thoughts,” says Perlus. “These thoughts usually cause worry and rumination. A study conducted at Yale University found that meditation was able to decrease DMN brain activity. So when the brain begins to meander into anxious territory due to new connections forming through meditation, the mind can return to a quiet place.

Frederick adds that meditating through an app like Headspace can also reduce stress and cortisol levels, improve focus, lower blood pressure, and boost self-awareness and self-esteem by allowing one to examine one’s thoughts and feelings. without judgement.

Marissa Miller/CNN

Perlus cites recent research from Lancaster University that has boosted his confidence in Headspace. The study looked at the 280 most popular mindfulness apps on iTunes, narrowed them down to the 16 apps with the best reviews, and found that only one of them – you guessed it, Headspace – was studied. experimentally and has been shown to be effective in reducing depression and increasing positive emotions. after 10 days of use (why not try it for yourself on its free trial?). The caveat is that “this doesn’t mean the other apps don’t work, they just haven’t been studied,” says Perlus.

When you’re stressed, the last thing you want to do is browse through thousands of options (it’s like being starving at a restaurant and waiting to make a thoughtful decision on what to order). The 500+ session inventory is unbeatable with its dozens of subcategories in addition to the main four, but in a semi-crisis moment (which is when I’m most likely to access the app) , I want a more curated selection to choose from.

Marissa Miller/CNN

Meditation apps like Headspace just aren’t for everyone, according to Frederick. “People with multiple questions about mindfulness may find the apps frustrating and limited and may want to take more interactive classes,” she says.

Since sleep and stress levels impact almost every facet of our lives (mine included!), Headspace is worth it, period, because it can help you manage those areas. It’s a great pharma-free alternative to sleeping pills and a viable adjunct to therapy (Headspace is by no means a replacement for therapy, but given that our experts tout meditation as a viable way to calm your thoughts, it can help complement your existing mental health care treatment plan with little or no contraindications).

“Headspace can be a great choice for anyone looking to try meditation for the first time. It’s affordable, simple, and easy to use,” says Frederick, adding that seasoned meditation users can take their practice to the next level. meditating with their untimed sessions or wandering through fictional lands during the sleepcasts (or sleep podcasts).” If you’re new to the concept of meditation, the apps can help you learn without feeling like to have to question the process.”

As for whether I’ll keep the Headspace habit? It turned out to be a much more beneficial habit than falling into a deep sleep from the glow of my blue screen only to wake up a few hours later in a panic about something embarrassing that I said four years ago.

About Shirley A. Tamayo

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