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Tech review: Apps to help you catch Z's

AT&T launches push-to-talk service for the iPhone.

AT&T launches push-to-talk service for the iPhone. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

After spending hours a day pressing, swiping, emailing, chatting and gaming, many smartphone users are overstimulated at bedtime. Add in the stressful situations of a typical day, and a good night's sleep can be a pipe dream. These apps are designed to help you get some shut-eye after a day fending off angry birds or angry bosses.

White Noise(iOS, Android, $1.99)

If your sleep is disturbed by barking dogs, noisy neighbors or things that go bump in the night, this app won't shut them up, but it may shut them out. Along with several "white noises" -- all-frequency sounds that mask other sounds and noises -- it has soothing selections such as ocean waves, thunderstorms and, for those who find housework relaxing, a clothes dryer and a vacuum cleaner. Free "lite" versions with fewer sounds are available.

Breathe2Relax(iOS, Android; free)

Annoyed, infuriated and jumpy after a hard day? This stress-management tool was developed by the Department of Defense for military personnel. The app offers several lessons in diaphragmatic breathing. The technique has been shown to reduce anxiety and anger, two emotions that make it difficult getting to sleep and staying asleep.

Pzizz(iOS, $5.99; Android, $9.99)

This app plays a soundtrack of relaxing sound effects, calming "binaural" beating tones and music while a soothing voice helps you get your mind and body ready for sleep. The soundtrack is random: The developer says there are 100 billion possible combinations. There is a $1.99 "lite" version for iOS, but the more expensive Android app offers neither a lite version nor a free trial period. If it doesn't help you get to sleep, you could lose more sleep over how much you paid.

SleepBot(iOS, Android; free)

Helping you get a good night's sleep tonight is not the main goal of this app. Helping you figure out why you had a bad night's sleep last night is its mission. SleepBot tracks your movements and records your sounds during the night. Next morning, check the graphs to see when you were tossing and turning and match it with your sounds at the time for clues. Make sure to keep your charger attached or the app may drain your battery overnight.


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