Best Video Games for Insomnia

Video gaming can be therapeutic, and not just for dealing with work stress or bonding with your fellow gamers. There's a growing push for developing games that can help players deal with issues like depression and anxiety. Not that we're suggesting you skip work and play a dozen matches of Dota 2 to deal with stress, but games can help people cope with the mental health issues plaguing their life, including insomnia.

Insomnia is "a disorder defined as chronic complaints of unsatisfactory sleep, despite having an adequate opportunity to sleep," according to the National Sleep Foundation. Insomnia is different for every person, but common issues range from waking up too frequently to experiencing restless sleep that isn't refreshing to being unable to sleep while trying to go to bed.

Granted, video games won't help you deal with your insomnia altogether. We highly recommend seeking out help from a therapist or sleep doctor if you're struggling to get the rest you need. However, there are quite a number of games out there that can help you mitigate systems or lull your brain into falling asleep while you're getting your problems taken care of with a professional. If you're interested in using mobile and handheld titles to help you cope, here's our top recommendations for the best games to help with insomnia.

Viridi

Grow your own plant and relax in Viridi.
Image via Ice Water Games

At a glance

  • Genre: Plant simulator
  • Developer: Ice Water Games
  • Platforms: PC, iOS, and Android
  • Original Release Date: Aug. 20, 2015
  • Price: Free-to-try
  • Where to Download: Steam, iOS App Store, or Google Play Store

Viridi calls itself a "safe haven" and a "place you can return to for a moment of peace and quiet whenever you need it," and the New York Times hails it as a game to help achieve a "Zen-like moment" in your life. We can see why. This simulation game lets players grow their own plants in little pots over time, returning to the game daily to tend to their growing friends. Gameplay is as simple as picking a plot, grabbing a plant, and watering your chosen buds now and then. Combined with a soothing soundtrack and beautiful graphics, Viridi is a great way to calm yourself to sleep, and it's free to try too. You can head to the game's official site to learn more.

Unwind Me

Steven Waterfall's Unwind Me is perfect for dealing with insomnia or intense stress.
Image via Steven Waterfall

At a glance

  • Genre: Relaxation game
  • Developer: Steven Waterfall
  • Platforms: iOS
  • Original Release Date: May 2018
  • Price: $0.99
  • Where to Buy: iOS App Store

Unwind Me bills itself as a "relaxation and mindfulness game," one designed entirely around helping users destress after a long day. It's a pretty ingenious idea, and it works great for dealing with insomnia too. Unwind Me features six simple games that are easy to play but present slight challenges nonetheless. As players continue in their chosen game, white noise, rain, and other background noises soothe the user, and the games themselves begin to slow down, encouraging the player to relax in the process. Perfect for dealing with stress and fighting back against insomnia, Unwind Me is a solid choice that every mobile user should download to their phone.

Lunis

Lunis provides excellent relaxing gameplay for players struggling with insomnia.
Image via ESCAPP

At a glance

  • Genre: Relaxation game
  • Developer: ESCAPP
  • Platforms: iOS
  • Original Release Date: 2016
  • Price: $0.99
  • Where to Buy: iOS App Store

Like Unwind Me, ESCAPP's Lunis was specifically designed to help users go to sleep and relax, and it's a pretty solid choice for that reason. Gameplay is simple enough: Players align a sun dial with a growing red sun and repeat, falling into the rhythm of the game as their mind grows more focused. Granted, Lunis may not have the cool features that Unwind Me sports, but for a quick fix to go to sleep, it's a solid choice, and one that's pretty fun to play too.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf

Animal Crossing: New Leaf is perfect for relaxing after a long day.
Image via Nintendo

At a glance

  • Genre: Life simulator
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Platforms: Nintendo 3DS
  • Original Release Date: Nov. 8, 2012
  • Price: $19.99
  • Where to Buy: Nintendo eShop

Ask any Nintendo fan who grew up in the early 2000s, and they'll have plenty of memories to share about falling asleep while playing Animal Crossing on their Nintendo GameCube, Wii, or DS. Known for its laid-back and relaxing premise, Animal Crossing lets you do as you please in an open world forest, whether that's paying off loans to expand your house, gardening around your neighborhood, practicing some interior design skills, or simply hanging out with your anthropomorphic neighbors. We recommend Animal Crossing: New Leaf thanks to its chill approach, adorable music, and approachable gameplay, which are sure to help you relax if you've been struggling with insomnia.

MySleepButton

While not a game in the traditional sense, MySleepButton is the perfect anti-insomnia app around, one that its developers call "playful."
Image via CogSci Apps Corp.

At a glance

  • Genre: Relaxation game
  • Developer: CogSci Apps Corp.
  • Platforms: iOS and Android
  • Original Release Date: 2014
  • Price: Free on iOS, $2.99 on the Google Play Store
  • Where to Buy: iOS App Store and Google Play Store

MySleepButton is best described as a smartphone app that combines traditional insomnia word games with modern audio technology. Available for mobile device, this game recites different words out loud and invites the user to imagine them vividly. Doing so lets distracts the player's mind, letting them fall asleep over time. You can even choose what kind of words or phrases to hear, from simple nouns to short phrases. While MySleepButton isn't a game in the traditional sense, this app still considers itself "playful," and we're inclined to agree that it's one of the best games out there for dealing with insomnia to date.

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