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Headspace vs. Calm: A Detailed Analysis
Mental Health

Headspace vs. Calm: A Detailed Analysis

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on January 23, 2023
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10 min

Certain apps focus on improving your mental health. You can learn self-care techniques just by using your mobile phone. We compare the Calm and Headspace apps to determine their pros, cons, and benefits for mindfulness meditation.

Calm vs headspace
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There are many meditation apps that could improve your mental health.

You can find ones that clear the mind and promote good sleep. Practicing mindfulness is one way to prevent negative thoughts from returning. Of course, not all apps will work to reduce psychological stress, but there are some containing helpful features. 

Calm and Headspace are two potential candidates. They both promote sleep meditation methods that improve your mental state. Finding a suitable meditation app for your health could be rewarding, so which one offers the best mindfulness exercises?

In this article, we compare Calm and Headspace to determine which is more effective.

Summary

Calm is a popular mobile meditation app that contains audio and visual content for intermittent mindfulness practice. You can use several calming exercises to reduce emotional stress and sleep stories to gain feelings of comfort before you go to bed. 

Headspace is another relaxing app that focuses more on the social aspects of practicing meditation. People can use the Buddies feature to connect with friends and family or follow effective physical exercises that improve their emotional state over time. 

Here are the benefits, pros, and cons of using these apps: 

Calm

Calm
  • Calming exercises to improve your emotional state
  • Sleep audios narrated by famous celebrities
  • Personal guidance for practicing mindfulness
Our rating:
4.3
Learn More
Pros
  • Beginner-friendly interface
  • Regular app updates
  • Daily meditation reminders
  • Several mood-tracking features
  • Master classes taught by experts
  • Soothing recordings for better sleep
Cons
  • No social communication
  • Nature sounds might be distracting for some
  • Sleep stories are long

Headspace 

Headspace
  • Courses on mindfulness
  • Educational content about meditation programs
  • The reading material covers deep sleep
Our rating:
4.0
Learn More
Pros
  • Daily reminders for mindfulness practices
  • Simple progress-tracking features
  • The Buddies tab allows other friends to join
  • Designed for iOS and Android devices
  • Workout classes taught by Olympians
  • The content is easily accessible
Cons
  • Expensive subscription
  • Some repetitive features
  • Auto-renewal costs more money

What Is the Calm App?

Calm is a mindfulness meditation mobile app that contains calming exercises, breathing techniques, and sleep music with narrated stories. You can use these features to reduce stress or try the meditation experience when clearing the mind of negative thoughts. 

A study found that soothing music promotes improvement in sleeping patterns. The Calm app was designed to make you fall asleep easier. Plus, kid-friendly meditations are great for helping parents settle their children, especially when they don’t have time.

There are other features like meditation packs, daily meditation practice, breathing exercises, and sleep stories narrated by A-list celebrities. So, if you like autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), this app will benefit your mental well-being.

What Is Headspace?

Headspace is a mindfulness-based smartphone app that makes meditation seem less intimidating. The creators want people to enjoy daily meditation, guided audio tours for sleep, short workout sessions, ambient music, and other calming mental exercises.

Research has shown that implementing mindfulness into your daily routine can reduce paranoid thoughts. Headspace was made to support calmer thinking and help with other feelings like grief, depleted motivation, low self-esteem, and poor concentration. 

The app requires you to create an account before using any of the premium features. You can then navigate educational articles, mini-meditations, sleep hygiene topics, and stories that make you 14% less stressed in 10 days, according to their official website. 

Main Features of Calm vs. Headspace

Both Headspace and Calm have unique features that cater to everyone’s goals. You can use either meditation app to improve your overall mental well-being. Remember that it’s worth trying the free trial first before committing to a premium subscription. 

Main features of Calm

One of the main features of Calm is the Daily Calm meditation courses. You’ll get a new 10-minute meditation to try every day. This is supposed to reduce anxiety symptoms, promote better focus, ease depressive episodes, and reinforce emotional gratitude. 

People also get soothing sounds and bedtime stories. One day, you might listen to pouring rain before sleeping, while other days call for narrated audio recordings. It completely depends on your mood and whether you need help falling asleep. 

Some more effective features comprise master classes taught by world-renowned experts and routine exercises to get your body moving. Research proves that morning and evening stretches could relax the mind, especially during times of intense stress. 

Main features of Headspace

Dedicated meditation sessions are the main feature of Headspace. You get to choose from topics that center around depression, low self-confidence, and anxiety. The single programs are great for quick relief before big work presentations or job interviews. 

There are also guided audios to prevent sleep disturbance. People who can’t sleep through the whole night could listen to these 45–55-minute recordings. It’s believed that sleep radio can soothe the mind effectively and encourage your brain to rest.

Headspace also contains features like low-impact workouts, breathwork exercises, curated music, meditation playlists, social connection, and meditation for kids. There is plenty for you to explore and experience for the first time when using this app. 

Pros of Calm vs. Headspace

Learning about the benefits of each app can help you determine which is best. Both the Headspace and Calm apps have unique qualities that improve your mental well-being. Remember that everyone will have a different experience or opinion of these apps. 

Pros of Calm 

Calm has many benefits when it comes to focus meditations and sleep stories. Below are some pros of using this app and how it can be suitable for beginners. 

#1 Sleep stories

There are many sleep stories narrated by A-list celebrities. You can listen to their voices when settling down to rest for the night. Most of these stories are designed for people who suffer from negative sleep-related symptoms like chronic fatigue and poor focus. 

#2 User-friendly app

The interface of this app is easy to understand and navigate for everyone. This means the features are user-friendly and perfect for everyone who enjoys practicing meditation. Apps that cater to different audiences will most likely gain positive reviews and experiences. 

#3 Meditation reminders

You can receive meditation reminders to stay consistent. There’s no chance of you missing daily tasks or single programs that refresh every 24 hours. For people who have busy work schedules, it’s easier to use an app that holds them accountable. 

Pros of Headspace 

Headspace also has benefits when it comes to improving your well-being. Keep reading to find the pros of using this app and how it can help you create meditation goals.

#1 Guided meditations

Guided meditations are narrated by another person’s voice. You can follow the meditation teacher when opening up your mind. Studies show that these calming methods are a great way of treating anxiety and reducing high stress levels. 

#2 Suitable for beginners

Beginners can use Headspace when figuring out what they like. There are plenty of single meditations that improve your focus, motivation, and confidence. However, just be aware that many features cater to experienced meditators and professionals. 

#3 Buddies feature

The Buddies feature allows you to add friends and join the social community. You’ll share a link with people you know to give them some further encouragement. Plus, it’s better to acknowledge your achievements with another person on the app. 

Cons of Calm vs. Headspace

There are bound to be some disadvantages when it comes to the best meditation apps. You should always consider these before purchasing a premium subscription. Not every mobile app will cater to your needs and suit any long-term health goals. 

Cons of Calm 

Calm won’t always suit those looking for meditation. Some people may need something simple and easy for practicing mindfulness. Below are some cons of using Calm. 

#1 Free version is limited

You can’t get many effective features when using the free trial period. This could be a disappointment when you want the full Calm experience. Limited features is something to consider before signing a subscription or automatically paying for premium. 

#2 Not beginner-friendly

Not everyone has the knowledge to use Calm properly. Many features promote consistent practice with daily meditation. Because of this, beginners may struggle with taking each step at a time, which might put people off from buying the app. 

Cons of Headspace 

Headspace is another app that can’t cater to everyone’s goals. You may need something more professional in your daily routine. Keep reading to find the cons of this app. 

#1 High price point

People may gravitate toward another app when discovering the high price point. Paying money for something you might not enjoy can get frustrating. If you’re on a budget and need something inexpensive, the Headspace app might not be a suitable option. 

#2 Can be repetitive

Many of the audios and guided meditations can get repetitive. You might want to experience something different after using the app for a while. Because of this disadvantage, people may stop using the app or cancel their subscription instead. 

Cost of Calm vs. Headspace

The cost of each app could help you decide which subscription is best. You should also think about the long-term prices and how it affects your budget. Below are the costs of Calm and Headspace, including other pricing plans you might consider getting. 

How much is the Calm app?

Calm is free to download and has a 7-day trial for anyone purchasing premium. Once the trial has ended, you can pay $69.99 a year or $14.99 a month. A lifetime membership costs $399.99 for those who don’t want monthly payments. 

How much is the Headspace app? 

The Headspace app is also free to download with trials and limited features. You need to pay $12.99 a month with a 7-day trial or get 14 days free while paying $69.99 annually.

Which Is Better: Calm or Headspace?

Calm is a better option due to the wide variety of features. There are great mood-tracking tools and daily reminders for meditation. Beginners can also use this app when taking professional mindfulness classes or reading fun educational content. 

Headspace is still a great app, but it only contains more advanced courses. People who are just starting meditation may get confused easily. Those with more experience can head to this mobile app to encourage consistency and gain social community benefits. 

FAQs

Which is better for beginners: Calm or Headspace?

Beginners can use Headspace when finding quick meditation videos and mindful workouts that focus on improving their mental health. That doesn’t mean Calm is unsuitable, as it still contains plenty of actionable and educational content.

Is Calm Premium worth it?

Yes, Calm premium is worth it for people who need guided meditations and courses for dealing with anxiety. There are many features that focus on self-improvement, high stress levels, sleep quality, and panic episodes that require breathing techniques.

Are meditation apps helpful?

Meditation apps are helpful for those wanting to improve their mental health in the long term. These dedicated apps may also be a great form of digital therapy. Features like guided meditation, soothing audio, and breathing exercises will hugely benefit your life.

Is Headspace free?

Headspace is free to download and contains a free trial with limited features. You need to pay for a premium subscription to access the entire library. It’s worth testing the free features beforehand to determine whether Headspace is a suitable mental health app.

Calm and Headspace vs. Alternatives 

Sensa
Calm
Headspace
4.5
4.3
4.0

Custom exercises to suit your needs

Daily lessons

Personalized workout plans

Quick relief techniques to reduce stress

Reading material for beginners

Easy daily tasks

Tips for building healthy habits

Simple interface

Regular updates

The sleep stories are recorded by celebrities like Harry Styles

Daily reminders about meditation

Master classes taught by experts

Easy mood-tracking features

Suitable for iOS and Android devices

Daily reminders to help you practice more meditation

Progress tracking

The Buddies feature allows other people to join your journey

Simple content accessible to everyone

Workout classes taught by professional Olympians

Paid app

No audio or videos

You can’t add friends on the app

Sleep stories can be too long

Nature sounds are distracting

Quite expensive

Some features can be repetitive

Auto-renewal subscription may cost more money

Brand
Sensa
Calm
Headspace
Overall Rating
4.5
4.3
4.0
Pros

Custom exercises to suit your needs

Daily lessons

Personalized workout plans

Quick relief techniques to reduce stress

Reading material for beginners

Easy daily tasks

Tips for building healthy habits

Simple interface

Regular updates

The sleep stories are recorded by celebrities like Harry Styles

Daily reminders about meditation

Master classes taught by experts

Easy mood-tracking features

Suitable for iOS and Android devices

Daily reminders to help you practice more meditation

Progress tracking

The Buddies feature allows other people to join your journey

Simple content accessible to everyone

Workout classes taught by professional Olympians

Cons

Paid app

No audio or videos

You can’t add friends on the app

Sleep stories can be too long

Nature sounds are distracting

Quite expensive

Some features can be repetitive

Auto-renewal subscription may cost more money

Review

How We Tested Calm and Headspace 

Testing Headspace and Calm ensures you choose the right meditation app. You can determine which app closely relates to your personal goals. We reviewed the benefits, pros, and cons before rating the meditation apps based on the below factors. 

Quality

A high-quality app will always do well in the current market. Most of the quality stems from the user interface and overall system. Both of these apps don’t have many users reports when it comes to bug-related complications or confusing meditation courses. 

Effectiveness

You can only judge the effectiveness by testing apps yourself. There are several positive reviews that state the benefits of each meditation app. Learning how to meditate by listening to sleep audios and guidance videos is a great way of clearing your mind. 

Price

The high price point of each app can put people off buying the subscription. You may have a budget when it comes to purchasing premium subscriptions. Both apps cost $69.99 a year, so keep this in mind before choosing your preferred mobile app. 

Brand reputation

Both brands are passionate about providing customers with the best experience. Headspace wants to “improve health and happiness,” while Calm focuses on “life-changing meditation that aims to help people sleep, relax, and focus.” 

A Word From a Nutritionist

There are some people who don’t get apps. This might be due to the limited features or lack of personal connection during times of stress. You may be one of those people who need real-life therapy to calm the mind and practice mindfulness meditation.

Consider going for morning walks or short runs to relieve anxiety. Regular exercise is one way to improve your long-term mental health. Popular meditation apps aren’t always necessary for supporting emotional wellness or helping you sleep better.

Just remember to consult with your doctor or therapist if any mental health concerns worsen. A medical professional is there to support your journey. They might offer a good meditation practice or mindfulness techniques that cater to your personal needs.

Conclusion

So, is Headspace or Calm better for your mental well-being? 

These two popular meditation apps have unique features that could cater to your personal goals. Calm is more focused on physical exercise and sleep, while Headspace uses educational content to teach beginners about the benefits of meditation.

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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