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Some People Using Smart Phone Apps To Get A Better Night's Sleep

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Forget counting sheep! You can now use your smartphone to help you get to sleep.

There are oodles of apps that claim to help you snooze or even track the quality of your rest.

Voice actor Scott Reyns said he used to take sleep aids to help him drift off to sleep between recording sessions.

"As an actor I'm basically on call. Sometimes the hours get a little crazy," said Reyn.

Now he turns to technology when it's time to turn in.

"Apps help me with my sleep in a couple of different ways. You know, the one that I use mainly, it has a feature that is a kind of a gradual alarm. It also has a way to estimate my sleep quality based on, you know, okay how much I'm in deep sleep," said Reyns.

Smartphone apps for sleep, the ones used by Reyns, are designed to help with relaxation techniques, provide white noise or even measure how well you rest.

"The sleep aid apps can actually track your movements by using your smartphone's built in accelerometer, and what the accelerometer does is detect motion. So it's become so easy and cheap to track your sleep that more and more people are jumping on board with the trend," said Sharon Vaknin, a CNET Senior Associate Editor.

Going by the numbers, more and more people could use the help getting some rest. The Centers for Disease Control has called insufficient sleep a public health epidemic. As many as 70 million Americans suffer from sleep problems.

"We live in a toxic environment for sleep and people really don't prioritize sleep," said Dr. Nathaniel Watson with the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Watson said not getting enough sleep is associated with cardiovascular disease, obesity and even a shorter life.

While apps can be useful tools to help you doze off or learn more about your sleep, Watson said they're not able to diagnose sleep illness; they're certainly not able to treat it. He recommends going to bed in a dark room with no electronics. In world where so many people are reluctant to unplug, Watson said a smartphone can be a distraction.

"When you bring this technology into the bedroom environment it might introduce temptation to get on a social networking site, or to text your friends, or you might receive phone calls at night," said Watson.

Reyns said he can't afford to miss client calls so he has no plans to completely power down before bed time. Besides, he added, his sleep app helps him focus on quality rest.

'The main thing for me is just making sure I get enough sleep, and sleep when I have to so that I'm ready to get behind the mic when I have to," said Reyns.

If you decide to try a sleep app remember to keep you phone plugged in because tracking apps can use up to 30% of the battery's power. Also, keep the phone in a place where air will circulate, not under a pillow, to prevent it from overheating.

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