Category Archives: App Review

Sleep Well: The Best Free Self-Hypnosis Meditation App for Insomnia Relief

Insomnia can be triggered by both good and bad life events, and this sleep disorder can hit anyone at any time since it has multiple causes (discussed more fully here). Short term or “acute” insomnia can be caused by common illnesses such as colds or flu; chronic illness, disease, and various neurological disorders can cause acute insomnia to become chronic. Over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications, along with some herbal remedies, can bring on this sleep disorder, though not for everyone. In both men and women, trauma, whether physical or emotional, can have lifetime negative health effects, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and insomnia, while childhood trauma, including divorce or sexual abuse, contribute to insomnia in childhood and adulthood. The blue light from our digital devices, including flat-screen televisions, smartphones, and tablets ,can contribute to insomnia when used to close to bedtime, because they suppress melatonin, and researchers have learned that the brain seems to have its very own wake and sleep cycles, which can get stuck on “wake,” preventing sleep.

Since the quantity and quality of sleep affects our health, and since insomnia can lead to “decreased quality of life, increased rates of depression, and even increased risk of heart disease,” insomnia, especially when it becomes chronic, should not be dismissed. Chronic insomnia, medically defined as an inability to fall or stay asleep for at least three nights a week for three months or longer, is not just extremely unpleasant: it’s dangerous to our mental and physical well-being. Though I use both Sleep with Me Podcast (reviewed here) and Relax Melodies (reviewed here) to ease insomnia, Surf City’s free self-hypnosis meditation app Sleep Well Insomnia Relief was in my self-care kit for years before I found the previously mentioned apps, and I still use it regularly, with reliable success.

Sleep Well Insomnia Relief
Self-Hypnosis & Meditation
by Surf City Apps

If you’re not familiar with self-hypnosis, please be assured that it is nothing like what’s shown in horror or suspense films. No matter how skilled the therapist, meditation leader, or professional hypnotist, hypnosis meditations cannot make you do anything you do not wish to. I regularly use Surf City’s Migraine Relief and Chronic Pain Relief (reviewed here), and having successfully used them, I was happy to try Sleep Well.

Surf City Apps produces professionally scripted hypnosis-meditation apps with professional background audio. Each script is read by a certified clinical hypnotherapist and hypnotherapy instructor; the same person narrates the Migraine Relief, Chronic Pain Relief, and Sleep Well Insomnia Relief meditations: I find her voice and delivery calming and relaxing. The meditations in these apps are not hidden by music, are clearly audible at any volume, and the free versions contain the exact same narration as the paid (Pro) version. That means you can listen to the free version of Sleep Well Insomnia Relief and hear absolutely everything that is said in the paid version.

Surf City’s Sleep Well self-hypnosis meditation for the relief of insomnia has over 4.4 out of 5 stars with almost 660 user reviews on the App Store, and 4.1 out of 5 stars with over 1,800 user reviews on Google Play. I especially like playing Sleep Well with Relax Melodies, since it features various sounds and melodies in “background support” mode, so you can choose your own background — setting the Background in Sleep Well to “None” — to play behind the self-hypnosis meditation.

The controls are identical in all versions of the Surf City apps and are very easy to use. The settings are relatively self-explanatory, though some brief descriptions are sometimes included, as in the definition of what Hypnotic Booster does. Since you can listen to the entire self-hypnosis narration free, I advise you to listen to Seep Well Insomnia Relief as long as you want. These are only a few differences between the free and the paid versions of this app, and none of those differences concerns the actual content of the self-hypnosis meditation itself.

The Differences Between the Free and Pro App
There are ads in the free version as well as limitations to the app controls. The Pro (paid) version (one-time fee of $3.99) allows you to turn off the audio instructions (which help you relax your body but do not specifically have anything to do with relieving insomnia) at the beginning of the narration, to disable Awaken at End (allowing you to stay asleep if you are using it at night and happen to fall asleep), and to repeat the narration 1-3 times or to loop it so it continues to play until you shut the app down. These controls alone are certainly worth the money if you want to play the narration all night long. The paid version also includes a variety of background sounds (including Brook, Beach, or Rain), and lets you continue listening to your background sound of choice after the meditation narration ends by delaying the ending of the app’s shut-off. You can choose from 5, 10, 20, or 30 minute delays, or hourly delays from 1-8 hours.

Self-Hypnosis Meditation Playlists
For iOS devices, Sleep Well Insomnia Relief is also available as an MP3 so that you can add it to playlists. If you have the Pro versions of any Surf City apps, you can Loop them so that they play all night long, although you can only play one meditation at a time. On iOS devices, at least, several of their apps are also available as MP3 versions so you can make playlists. That way you can queue up two or more different versions and alternate them all night long. I have a self-hypnosis meditation playlist which includes Migraine Relief, Chronic Pain Relief, and Sleep Well Insomnia Relief for when a migraine attack since the aura before the pain, along with the ensuing pain itself, both exacerbate my insomnia. I also have a playlist combining the self-hypnosis meditations of End Anxiety and Sleep Well for when outside — or internal — stress is making it difficult for me to sleep. Instructions on making playlists from their MP3 versions are in my review on the other Surf City apps.

Sleep Well Insomnia Relief
Self-Hypnosis & Meditation
by Surf City Apps

Sleep Well Insomnia Relief begins with an explanation of the different types of insomnia and its common causes (lack of exercise, alcohol consumption, fluctuating blood sugar levels) so that you can make lifestyle changes if necessary. An explanation of how self-hypnosis works is followed by an explanation of the app’s features (Background — music or nature sounds — Sleep Booster, and Awake at End) are explained in detail, including where you can change the settings (in Settings). To avoid interruptions, you are instructed to put your phone in Do Not Disturb Mode to silence any phone or text alerts. You can disable all of these audio instructions in the paid version of the app.

After guiding your through some imagery and breathing exercises to induce relaxation, the Sleep Well Insomnia Relief self-hypnosis meditation guides you through one of two relaxation exercises: Tension Relief or Relaxing Color. The first, Tension Relief,  talks you through a body scan in which you observe, without judgment, the various parts of your body, noting to yourself how your body feels. Starting with your feet, you are instructed to observe, wiggle (if applicable), tense, and then release the tightened muscles in various parts of your body so that you can become more aware of what relaxed muscles feel like. The Relaxing Color exercise guides you through a similar body scan but uses a “relaxing color” of your choice to metaphorically fill and ease your muscles into relaxation. Both of these relaxation exercises are available in the free version of the app.

You are then given some suggestions for becoming more aware of any good things in your life and for feeling more gratitude about them. This is where the self-hypnosis narration becomes a guided meditation to encourage mindfulness. After this, you are then instructed to picture yourself in a hammock, a rocking chair, or a gently moving train, where you are to observe the gentle swaying as your body follows the narrator’s voice into deeper relaxation, rest, and sleep.

*Please note that because all Surf City apps are self-hypnosis meditations which may make you fall asleep, you should never listen to these while driving or operating dangerous machinery.*

Download Sleep Well Insomnia Relief from Surf City Apps, from the App store for all iOS devices, from Amazon for Kindles, and from GooglePlay for Android devices. You can check out all Surf City’s free apps on its website. Their apps have been downloaded over 5 million times and average 4+ stars out of 5 for Sleep Well Insomnia Relief. In addition to in-app Support — under Interact > Feedback and Support, where you can read FAQs or send them a message — Surf City is on Twitter and Facebook: they are very responsive to customer questions on their social media accounts.


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Filed under App Review, chronic pain, healing, health, Health and Wellness, hemiplegic migraines, Insomnia, Meditation and MIndfulness, migraine, migraine self-care, Migraine with Aura, Migraine Without Aura, migraines, Review, Self-Hypnosis Apps, Self-Hypnosis Meditation Apps

Relax Melodies: A Great Free App for Insomnia Relief and Meditation

Whether caused by good or bad life events, insomnia can hit anyone at any time and is due to multiple causes (discussed more fully here). Short term or “acute” insomnia can be caused by common illnesses, while chronic illness, disease, and disorders can cause acute insomnia to become chronic. Over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications, along with some herbal remedies, can bring on this sleep disorder, though not for everyone. Trauma, at any time in life, can cause long-term negative effects including insomnia, as can blue light from our digital devices. Even the brain seems to have its own wake and sleep cycles, which can get stuck on “wake,” preventing sleep. Though Sleep with Me Podcast is the best free app for insomnia relief that I’ve ever found, Relax Melodies is another free app that significantly helps reduce insomnia.

Lapierre and Bérubé. Photo © Ipnos

Relax Melodies was made by Simon Alex Bérubé and Philippe Lapierre after the latter was troubled with chronic insomnia triggered by tinnitus. Lapierre tried different sound-apps to mask the ringing in his ears, but found the sound choices limited. With another software engineer, his friend Bérubé, the two developed an app that includes 52 free sounds and melodies (the paid version has 122 sounds and melodies). Some of the soothing sounds in the Relax Melodies include white noise, rain, flute, campfire, windchimes, humming, cat purring, city ambience, monk chant, tribal drums, forest, and city day (nice bird sounds). The Discover tab allows you to listen to some of the most popular combinations of sounds and melodies created by app users as well as by its staff. Some of these have a few too many sounds for my liking, but most of them are absolutely wonderful. The app also allows you to create your own melodies: simply tap on one, two, or three of the icons to hear how they sound together. There is no limit to the sounds you can combine., but if you combine add too many, you may have nothing but noise, which may not help if you’re trying to sleep or playing it behind either of the best free apps for migraine and chronic pain relief.

The Brainwave melodies include Isochronic tones (no headphones required) and Binaural Beats (headphones required), and all of these range from range from 2.5 Hz (Dreamless Sleep) to 20 Hz (Focus). Each of the brainwaves is explained under the app’s Learn More.

One of my favorite things about Relax Melodies is its background sound support: you can play it while using other apps and that includes Sleep with Me Podcast and the Migraine and Headache Relief or Chronic Pain Relief self-hypnosis-meditation apps. I love having the Relax Melodies grandfather clock or rain playing behind these pain relief tapes, especially when I have a migraine attack and play them all day long at a low volume. And the app’s sounds are just as comforting when painsomnia — insomnia caused by both acute and chronic pain — keeps me awake in the long dark night.

Free vs. Paid Version of Relax Melodies
The app’s free version includes its most important features for combatting insomnia. Relax Melodies may not take your away your insomnia permanently, but it does significantly reduce insomnia for most of its listeners. Even when I’m in pain from a migraine attack, they help me drift off to sleep, if only for 10-15 minutes at a time. Combined with Drew Ackerman’s Sleep with Me Podcast, I’m bound to feel some relief for my nagging chronic insomnia, even when its caused by a migraine attack.

The paid version, which is $4.99 for a one-month access to all features, or $27.99 for a lifetime license, features additional sounds, guided meditations, and guided movement meditations designed to get you ready for bed or to help you reduce stress and body tension. These are some of the paid features:

• Sleep Moves has moving meditations designed to relax you before your nightly sleep.

• Guided Meditations include Sleep (to help you fall asleep), De-Stress (to reduce stress and anxiety), Life Coach (to reduce stress, improve your relationships, and improve focus), and Reduce (to reduce tinnitus), and more, with additional guided meditations on napping and dreaming.

• Breathe has both daytime and nighttime Sound Breathing: counted inhale/exhale to specific sounds, like water or Om. for daytime, and the yogic breathing techniques like De-Stress, where you inhale, hold, and exhale breath to the count of 4-7-8, respectively, while the app plays a different sound for each section, providing both visual and sound clues on-screen. The 4-7-8 Breath is recommended for stress relief by many leading health authorities, including Dr. Andrew Weil and Healthline.

You can join over 30 million other users by downloading the popular Relax Melodies app, available in 10 languages, with a 4.5 out of 5* rating (with 700,000 reviews), from Ipnos after selecting your type of smartphone, from Amazon for Kindle, from the App Store for iOS devices, and from Google Play for Android devices.

Relax Melodies is on Twitter, though the account seems to be relatively inactive, and Facebook, where the posts are more current and where they are quite responsive (replies within 24 hours), if you have any questions.

Sleep well, my Lovelies.


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Filed under App Review, chronic pain, healing, health, Insomnia, migraine, PTSD, Review

SurfCity Apps: The Best Free Self-Hypnosis Meditation Apps for Migraine and Chronic Pain Relief

If you’re not familiar with self-hypnosis, let me assure you that it is nothing like what’s shown in horror films. No matter how skilled the therapist, meditation leader, or professional hypnotist, hypnosis meditations cannot make you do anything you do not wish to. I’ve heard of self-hypnosis for many things — weight loss, quitting smoking, reducing anxiety — and I’ve used self-hypnosis CDs for increasing creativity and maintaining an exercise program. It wasn’t until the advent of smartphones, however, that I found self-hypnosis meditations which actually reduced my chronic migraine pain. Two of the finest self-hypnosis meditation apps for pain relief which I use regularly are Migraine & Headache Relief  and Chronic Pain Relief, both by Surf City Apps. These two apps are the best I’ve found for reducing chronic pain.

Founded in 2012, Surf City Apps produces professionally scripted hypnosis apps with professional background audio. Each script is read by a certified clinical hypnotherapist and hypnotherapy instructor; the same person narrates both the Migraine Relief and the Chronic Pain Relief meditations: I find her voice and delivery calming and relaxing. I often fall asleep when listening to these meditations, but even when I cannot sleep because of insomnia, either as a symptom of the migraine itself or from its accompanying pain, I play these apps on a low volume continuously, and they help significantly reduce the pain level.

The meditations in these apps are not hidden by music, are clearly audible, and the free versions contain the exact same narration as the Pro versions. That means you can listen to the free versions and hear absolutely everything that is said in the paid versions. Since you can listen to the entire self-hypnosis narration-free, I advise you to listen to both Migraine Relief and Chronic Pain Relief as long as you want to determine which best helps reduce your pain. These are only a few differences between the free and the paid versions of these apps, and none of those differences concerns the actual content of the self-hypnosis meditation itself.

*Please note that because these are self-hypnosis meditations which may make you fall asleep, you should never listen to these apps while driving or operating dangerous machinery.*

Migraine & Headache Relief
Self-Hypnosis & Meditation
by Surf City Apps

After guiding your through some imagery and breathing exercises to induce relaxation, the Migraine & Headache Relief self-hypnosis meditation tells you to image the pain in your head as a color, which you choose yourself. Then, you image a faucet at your ear closest to the pain, and the meditation guides you through turning on the faucet and letting the pain drain safely out through the faucet. You are then given some suggestions for safely “disposing” of the pain and encouraged to replace the now-empty space previously occupied by the pain with the color you image from another body part that does not give you pain.

Download Migraine & Headache Relief free from Surf City Apps for iOS or Android devices, from Amazon for Kindle, from the App Store for iOS devices, or from GooglePlay for Android devices. Though I’ve never used Migraine & Headache Relief on an ordinary headache, I always use it during a migraine attack. It significantly reduces the pain, especially when I combine it with Surf City Apps’ Chronic Pain Relief.

Chronic Pain Relief
Self-Hypnosis & Meditation
by Surf City Apps

After guiding your through some imagery and breathing exercises to encourage relaxation, the Chronic Pain Relief self-hypnosis meditation instructs you to image a pain-relieving liquid, which acts like novocaine, coming from a faucet. You are instructed to determine the color, viscosity, and temperature of the liquid. You are guided through the steps of placing your hand under the running faucet and feeling the numbness and relief caused by the liquid. You are then told to put your hand on any part of your body that is in pain. You image that liquid penetrating all the tissues of your body in order to relieve pain and promote healing. Afterward, you image the liquid returning to your hand so that you can return it to the basin below the faucet where you “release” it. If you experience pain in large areas of your body, you are guided through imagery where you bathe or shower in the pain-relieving liquid and are thereby comforted.

Download Chronic Pain Relief free from Surf City Apps for iOS or Android devices, from Amazon for Kindle, from the App Store for iOS devices, and from GooglePlay for Android devices. The Chronic Pain app relieves a great deal of chronic pain, and it definitely helps with the severe pain of migraine attacks as well, which is why I alternate the apps when I’m in severe pain.

SurfCity App Controls

The controls are identical in all versions (free and paid, across all app topics) of the Surf City apps and are very easy to use. The settings are relatively self-explanatory, though some brief descriptions are sometimes included, as in the definition of what Hypnotic Booster does.

 

The Differences Between the Free and Pro App
There are ads in the free version as well as limitations to the app controls. The Pro (paid) version costs a one-time fee ($1.99-3.99, depending on the particular app), and the paid version allows you to turn off the audio instructions (which help you relax your body but do not specifically have anything to do with relieving pain) at the beginning of the narration, to disable Awaken at End (allowing you to stay asleep if you are using it at night and happen to fall asleep), and to repeat the narration 1-3 times or to loop it so it continues until you shut the app down. These controls alone are certainly worth the money if you want to play the narration all night long or during a migraine attack to keep the pain level down. The paid version also includes a variety of background sounds, (rain, water on the beach, etc) and lets you continue listening to your background of choice after the meditation narration ends by delaying the ending of the app’s shut-off. You can choose from 5, 10, 20, or 30-minute delays, or hourly delays from 1-8 hours: during these delays, the self-hypnosis meditation is not playing but the soothing background sounds are, and this might be helpful for promoting sleep and rest during a migraine attack or pain flare-up).

I have the Migraine Relief and the Chronic Pain Relief sleep versions in one playlist, alternating one with the other until I have about 10 hours of playing time, to make sure I don’t get woken up by the hypnosis-meditation shutting off. The day version of this playlist, which alternates Migraine Relief + Awaken with Chronic Pain Relief + Awaken, is only about 5 or 6 hours long, but that’s because I’m awake already and playing it at a very low volume so that I hear it subliminally. Once you’ve listened to the session a few times, you don’t have to actively concentrate on the meditation-hypnosis for it to reduce your pain.

Note: These are self-hypnosis meditations, even in their MP3 versions, and they can make you fall asleep, so don’t listen to these while driving or operating dangerous machinery.

You can check out all Surf City’s free apps on its website. Their apps have been downloaded over 5 million times and average 4+ stars out of 5 for these particular apps. In addition to in-app Support,  Surf City Apps is on Twitter and Facebook: they are very responsive to customer questions.

These pain relief self-hypnosis meditation apps may not take away your migraine or other chronic pain completely, but they do significantly reduce pain for most of their listeners. Even better, since the full meditation is available on the free versions of their apps, you can see which you prefer or simply listen to them both. Either way, you’re bound to feel some relief.


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(A slightly different version of this post was
originally published on MigraineMantras.)

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Filed under App Review, chronic pain, Chronic Pain Treatment, healing, health, Health and Wellness, hemiplegic migraines, Meditation and MIndfulness, Memoir, migraine, migraine self-care, Migraine Treatment, Migraine with Aura, Migraine Without Aura, migraines, Review, Self-Hypnosis Apps, Self-Hypnosis Meditation Apps, SurfCity Apps