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Headspace and Calm are two different meditation apps that can help with various conditions, including stress, sleep disturbances, and anxiety.
This article looks at what the two companies are and what they offer. It also compares Headspace and Calm and investigates how meditation can affect health.
Headspace launched in 2010 as an event company. However, the company became an online service when participants wanted to experience guided meditation at home.
At the time of publishing this article, Headspace has an average customer rating of 2.3 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot. The company does not hold accreditation from the Better Business Bureau (BBB). The BBB has given Headspace an F grade.
Authors of positive reviews state they find the Headspace meditation effective and enjoy the range of activities and meditation on offer.
People who left negative reviews say they had difficulty canceling their subscription and found Headspace too expensive.
Headspace offers guided meditation to address a range of areas, including sleep, anxiety, and stress.
One of the main goals of Headspace is helping people get a restful sleep. The company provides sample audio and video that people can try before signing up for a subscription.
Headspace has various sleepcasts the company claims create an environment for a healthy, restful sleep.
Sleepcasts are 45–55 minutes long and begin with a breathing technique or meditation exercise, followed by a narrator describing a sleepy landscape with an appropriate and relaxing background soundtrack.
Headspace also has sleep music that features sounds such as white noise and rain.
Anxiety and stress
Headspace offers guided meditation for anxiety and stress. It also has a series of meditations over 30 days with tips and techniques for managing and dealing with anxiety.
Moreover, the company provides guided meditation for stress that focuses on visualization techniques and helps engage and occupy the mind.
Additionally, there are various meditations available on demand that range from 1 to 5 minutes.
Headspace users can also access guided meditation that address the following:
- financial stress
- body positivity
At the time of publishing this article, Headspace offers a free trial for monthly and annual subscription plans.
The monthly plan comes with a 7-day free trial. After the trial ends, the plan costs $12.99 per month.
The annual plan comes with a 14-day free trial. When the free trial comes to an end, the plan costs $69.99 per year.
Headspace is available to download for iOS and Android devices.
Calm launched in 2012. The company claims it has had over 100 million downloads. Calm has won various awards, including Apple’s App of the Year in 2017 and Google Play’s Editor’s Choice of 2018.
The company provides mindfulness and meditation exercises to help people sleep better, relax, and focus.
People who wrote positive reviews state that Calm meditation and mindfulness services were effective, with several reviewers saying they slept better after using the app.
However, people who left negative reviews say they had difficulty canceling their subscription.
Calm offers meditation and mindfulness services addressing a range of areas, such as sleep, anxiety, and stress.
Calm provides many sleep stories, some of which are narrated by famous personalities, such as Kate Winslet, Idris Elba, and Stephen Fry.
The company also has soundscapes and various music options to help promote a peaceful sleep. In addition, Calm provides presleep meditations. These range from 2 to 30 minutes and may help people relax before going to sleep.
Anxiety and stress
People can listen to and watch daily meditation sessions that may help ease anxiety and stress. In addition, there are many hours of guided meditations available on demand.
Narrators of some guided meditations include famous personalities, such as Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes.
Calm also provides meditation for the following:
- inner peace
- personal growth
Calm offers a 7-day free trial for its premium content. This free trial automatically renews as an annual subscription unless the customer cancels this prior to the end of the trial period.
At the time of publishing this article, an annual subscription costs $69.99. A person can purchase a lifetime subscription for $399.99.
People can access Calm through a browser or download the app on iOS and Android devices.
Below is a direct comparison of the two apps:
|Free trial||7- or 14-day free trial||7-day free trial|
|Cost||$69.99 per year|
$12.99 per month
|$69.99 per year|
$399 for lifetime access
|Caters to beginners||yes||yes|
|Cater to children||yes||yes|
|Meditation topics||• sleep|
• anxiety and stress
• financial stress
• body positivity
• anxiety and stress
• inner peace
• personal growth
|Sleep features||• sleepcasts|
• bedtime meditations
• sleep music
|• sleep stories narrated by celebrities|
• bedtime meditations
• sleep music
|Accessibility||iOS and Android devices||• iOS and Android devices|
- Meditation: Concentrating on sound, imagery, or breathing can aid relaxation and encourage sleep.
- Breathing techniques: Focusing on slow, deep breathing can promote sleep.
- Visualization: The CDC recommends a person visualize themself in a peaceful location.
- Progressive muscle relaxation: Tensing and relaxing muscles one by one from the head to the toes can lead to complete muscle relaxation, encouraging sleep.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), there is some evidence that meditation helps certain conditions. Researchers have investigated the effects of meditation on the following health issues and diseases:
- Pain: Research into the effects of meditation on pain is inconclusive. It is possible that a combination of mindfulness meditation and pain medication can be effective in reducing pain.
- High blood pressure: The NCCIH researched the effect of transcendental meditation on students at risk of high blood pressure. The researchers found that this form of meditation may lower the likelihood of the condition.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): Studies have found no clear benefits of meditation for IBS. A small scale study following 75 females with IBS found that meditation may help reduce the severity of symptoms. However, there is not enough evidence to suggest meditation does or does not help IBS.
- Ulcerative colitis: A small scale study involving 55 participants showed no clear evidence that meditation helps reduce the symptoms of ulcerative colitis. However, study authors note that meditation may reduce flare-ups of ulcerative colitis resulting from stress.
- Anxiety and depression: There is some evidence that meditation can improve symptoms of anxiety and depression. There is no evidence, however, that meditation has an effect on stress-related behaviors, such as sleep or substance use disorder.
- Insomnia: The NCCIH notes there is evidence that mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and mindfulness-based therapy for insomnia (MBTI) are both effective at improving sleep duration and quality in people with chronic insomnia. Researchers found that MBTI was more effective than MBSR.
- Stopping smoking: According to the NCCIH, the evidence for meditation helping people quit smoking is inconclusive. Research indicates that meditation-based therapies may reduce cravings, encourage people to continue to not smoke, and reduce relapses.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) recommends downloading apps that provide relaxation and visualization exercises to help manage anxiety and stress.
The NIMH also recommends the following lifestyle changes that reduce anxiety and stress:
- keeping a journal
- exercising regularly
- eating a balanced diet
- avoiding consuming too much caffeine
- having a sleep routine
- identifying negative thoughts
- speaking with friends and family for support
People should contact a doctor if symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, or sleep disturbance are negatively impacting their quality of life.
Headspace and Calm are two apps that offer similar meditation services.
Both companies offer a free trial. However, people will need to pay for a monthly, yearly, or lifetime subscription to access any content after the trial ends.
Meditation may help alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, stress, and sleep disturbances. It may also improve symptoms of other chronic conditions, such as IBS and ulcerative colitis.