No counting sheep necessary.

By Macaela Mackenzie
September 19, 2018
Photo: Wavebreakmedia / Getty Images

If you're having trouble falling asleep, most sleep experts will recommend not bringing your phone into bed with you (the blue light from your screen interferes with your body's production of melatonin, aka the sleep hormone). But this is 2018 and, we get it, unplugging is easier said than done. (If you could use a little digital detoxing, try this seven-day plan.) But now, thanks to new sleep-specific meditations from Headspace, you might be able to use your phone to actually help you get a better night's sleep after all.

As you can probably guess, a lot of us are chronically sleep deprived. Experts officially recommend getting at least seven hours of sleep each night, but according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this isn't a reality for many of us. The health consequences of sleep deprivation-anxiety, increased risk of disease, and obesity-are enough to keep you up at night (see: What Really Happens When You're Sleep Deprived), so finding a trick to help you drift off faster is important.

When you're lying awake staring at the ceiling, listening to a podcast can seem like a good idea to help you drift off. In theory, it is. The soothing voices of your favorite podcast or audiobook are basically grown-up bedtime stories. (And listening to a podcast in the dark is certainly better than scrolling through Instagram and staring at your screen for an hour.) But there's one potential hitch with a podcast bedtime story: The story itself might keep you up. And if you're not falling asleep, it can give you even more anxiety about your insomnia-the further you get into the story, the longer you know you've been lying awake. Cue vicious cycle. (Related: The Best Health and Fitness Podcasts to Listen to Right Now)

Headspace's "sleepcasts," which launched earlier this week, are specifically designed to lull you to sleep with a podcast-meets-guided meditation. Rather than tell a story or discuss a certain topic, the long, "non-linear narratives" simply provide a soothing voice to help you drift off. Don't worry, it's not just random stream of consciousness babble. Each sleepcast describes a different landscape complete with peaceful background noise to help you drift off. (The meditation platform also recently launched a series dedicated to mindful eating.)

The sleep meditations can be particularly helpful if you tend to go over your day or obsess over tomorrow's to-do list as you lie awake in bed. Research shows that mindfulness meditation-simply focusing on the present moment rather than on what happened earlier or what's on deck for the a.m.-can help you fight off insomnia and improve your overall sleep quality.

To try it, sign up for Headspace, hit play, and prepare to have sweet dreams.