Short version: great app, but beware if you’re buying this for your mobile phone.
Android: 4/4 (tablet), 0/4 (phone)
The long version:
Saagara’s Relax: for Stress and Anxiety Relief is a guided breathing app perfect for insomniacs, the panic-prone and anybody else in need of a quick hit of rest. Saagara has published an entire range of apps that aid in breathing and meditation. Relax is a stripped-down version of Pranayama, an app with a similar function but optimized for practitioners of yoga and meditation. For the lay public, Relax is perfectly suited for most needs, with a few caveats. It comes on both Android and iOS. As always dual compatibility on iOS and Android scores bonus points.
Relax guides the user through a guided breathing session in multiples of five (5, 10, 15, etc.) minutes. The user can select from several sets of audio cues and the time interval. Also the app tracks your minutes per day spent using the app. I use this app in two main scenarios: while trying to fall asleep and while taking a break from work. Those of us who work hourly know how important it is to make the most of the break we can eke out. Fifteen minutes using this app makes the rest of my shift much easier.
Interface is a big deal to me. Whether the philosophy is minimalism or data-cacophony, interface needs to implemented in an intuitive, consistent manner. Relax nails minimalism perfectly. Saagara did very well on iOS and Android tablets, but the interface renders the app useless on my Android phone (Kyocera Rise on Virgin Mobile). Fortunately there is a free version of the app to test before purchase. If Relax doesn’t work give the big sister app, Pranayama, a try. It has much of the same functionality, but the paid version is more expensive.
iOS: Free, 2.99
Android: Free, $3.50
Guided breathing is great for insomiacs and those of us with Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS). Guided breathing provides relaxation where the mind normally races, which is one reason I have a hard time falling asleep. It also provides a drop in blood pressure, helping your body get into sleep mode. The price of a paid app is certainly less expensive than another sleep medication in a pinch. Over the long term guided breathing and meditation have numerous stress-reduction benefits that are beneficial for those of us with chronic sleep problems.
Personally, I’ve found this app to be the perfect complement to my CPAP. While my CPAP pushes air into my lungs, Relax helps me regulate my breathing while falling asleep. There have been several occasions where I didn’t have my sleep medications, or they’ve stopped working, and Relax did the job instead. I can confidently give this app hearty recommendation. Test with free version on your phone before making a purchase.