Headspace vs. Calm: Which Is the Best Meditation App?

Woman With Digital Tablet Using Meditation App In Bedroom.
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Meditation is the ancient practice of quieting your thoughts or feelings and calming your mind to increase your state of awareness and focus. There are several mental and physical benefits associated with meditation, especially when it comes to combating stress. It’s no wonder that the practice is so popular.

Headspace and Calm are two of the most popular meditation apps available today. If you’re wondering which one is right for you, GOBankingRates has you covered. Keep reading for a rundown on the benefits of Headspace and Calm.

Headspace vs. Calm: How Do They Compare?

Both Headspace and Calm offer guided meditations that you can stream or download to your computer, phone, or just about any other device. The two apps have different designs and styles, though.

Here’s a quick look at what Headspace and Calm have to offer and how the apps compare:

Headspace Calm
Price $12.99 per month

$69.99 per year

$9.99 per year for a student plan

$99.99 per year for a family plan

$14.99 per month

$69.99 per year

$399.99 for a lifetime membership

Meditation Length 3-20 minutes 3-30 minutes
Type Guided Guided or unguided
Key Features Themed meditations, mindfulness workouts, and sleep stories Daily Calm, Calm Masterclass, and sleep stories

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What Does Headspace Offer?

Headspace has a fun, quirky look featuring cheerful animations and beautiful designs. Its site is full of helpful articles about managing your emotions, improving your sleep and boosting your mood.

On the app, Headspace offers a 10-day basic meditation course that introduces you to the app, as well as the world of meditation. For this reason, the app is perfect for beginners or anyone who hasn’t tried meditation before.

It also offers the following sections, discussed below, to its users.

Mindfulness Exercises

These gentle, guided mental workouts help you improve your mental focus, calm your nerves, and bring your mind into harmony with your surroundings. Headspace points out that increasing your mindfulness can make a difference in just about every aspect of your life, from your relationships to your athletic ability.

SOS Section

Whether you’re feeling burned out at work or you’re panicking about an upcoming event, Headspace’s SOS section can help. Depending on the time you have, you can either choose guided or semi-unguided meditation sessions.

Themed Meditations

Headspace offers several guided meditations to help you with specific areas like creating calm, navigating relationships, or dealing with anxiety or financial stress. You can choose one that’s right for you at the moment or treat all the meditations on a theme as a step-by-step series.

Sleep Meditations

The app has stories designed to help you fall asleep. It also offers breathing exercises to help you unwind during bedtime. You can even listen to hours of soothing audio created to help you stay asleep all night long.

What Does Calm Offer?

The Calm app has an elegant and warm interface that is very different from the Headspace look. Calm tends to have a more intuitive, hands-on approach than Headspace.

The app offers quality daily meditations and up to eight hours of music, master class, and specific meditation techniques — such as body scans, breathing exercises and walking meditations. Calm generally is a well-rounded app.

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You can divide what Calm offers into a few basic areas, as discussed below.

Mental Fitness

There’s a series specifically designed for beginners, and there’s a separate series featuring basketball legend LeBron James. You can think of this as the how-to section, but it’s precisely nuts-and-bolts — it’s more like a series of different ways people have approached mindfulness.

Daily Calm

This section features short, guided meditations — they’re just 10 minutes long — on key issues like anxiety, stress and sleep. Start with whichever issue is most pressing to you today. It’s a great way to build a regular meditation practice.

Sleep Stories

Calm’s bedtime stories are narrated by the likes of Harry Styles and Matthew McConaughey. In this section, you’ll find different categories, including music, nature, fiction and nonfiction, among others — you can choose whatever may help you drift off.

Calm Masterclass

Calm has hired some of the world’s most famous mindfulness experts, like Tara Brach and Tamara Levitt, to lead these classes in different aspects of mindfulness.

How Much Do Calm and Headspace Cost?

Calm offers a seven-day free trial, while Headspace lets you choose between seven- and 14-day trials. The trials automatically turn into paid subscriptions unless you remember to cancel them on time.

How Much Does a Calm Subscription Cost?

Calm Premium costs $14.99 per month or $69.99 a year. You can also buy a lifetime membership for a one-time fee of $399.99.

How Much Does a Headspace Subscription Cost?

Headspace Plus costs $12.99 a month or $69.99 for a year. A student plan costs $9.99 a year, while a family plan — which gives six accounts access — costs $99.99 per year.

Tips To Get Started With Headspace or Calm

It’s easy to customize both Calm and Headspace. You can design your own meditation practice using either app, picking freely from whichever meditation or sleep story appeals to you. Both apps also have easy, natural starting points if you’re new to meditating.

Calm’s series of Daily Calm meditations are a great entry point. From stress, focus, anxiety to relationships — you can pick one and start there, or you can work your way methodically through the whole series.

Headspace’s Basics course is also a great place to get started with your meditation practice. It lets you learn the basics of meditation in easy, bite-sized lessons that don’t take up much time.

Which Is Better: Headspace or Calm?

While both apps can help you live better by lowering stress, providing better sleep, and improving overall well-being, you might still be wondering which is better for you.

If you love cheerful and gorgeous animations, Headspace might be the meditation app for you. On the other hand, Calm is a great option if you love the beauty that nature offers.

Both apps offer guided meditation, but with Calm, you have options for unguided meditations, which Headspace lacks. When it comes to pricing, Headspace is relatively cheaper for monthly subscriptions. However, the cost per annum is the same for both apps, unless you qualify for Headspace’s student plan or opt for its family plan.


Meditation can improve concentration, boost athletic performance, make you feel calmer and happier, and lead to healthier relationships and more enjoyment in life. It might even make you more productive at work. Using a popular app like Headspace or Calm can help you stay motivated and enjoy the benefits that come with building up a regular habit.

About the Author

Lydia Kibet has been writing professionally since 2017. Her passion for helping brands in all aspects of content marketing flows through in the expert industry coverage she provides — personal finance, investing and healthcare. Her work has been featured in The Motley Fool, Investor Junkie, Green Market Report, and Medical News Today. When she’s not writing, she’s either reading, playing guitar or catching up with nature. Follow her on Twitter.

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