How well do sleep apps really work? Local doctor explains

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OKLAHOMA CITY - From Fitbits to iPhone apps, many people are turning to technology to help them get a good night's rest.

But do they really work?

Kristin Richter will use any help she can get falling to sleep.

"I was at the ocean at the beach last night,”  Richter giggled.

Richter loves any help she can get with her sleep including the white noise app.

It turns an annoying sounding alarm into a tranquil wake up call.

"You set the time you want to wake up, and it stops," she said.

It's a nighttime ritual.

She uses her Fitbit sleep tracker to stay on top of her daily routine.

Richter has two children and runs a business out of her home.

For her, a normal work day is nonexistent.

"There are some nights where I'm awake and I make the mistake of rolling over and using my phone and then I'm awake," Richter said.

It is a big "no no" according to Dr. Schwartz, the medical director for the sleep disorder center at INTEGRIS.

"Light wakes us up. Light is a very strong stimulator to our brain," Dr. Schwartz, said. "Shut off your phone unless you're on call. Shut off you iPad, your TV, no electronic games."

While using technology at bedtime can hinder sleep, some of these sleep apps are doing their job of tracking your habits.

"The idea is that if you're not moving, you're probably asleep and if you're moving you're awake. And that does correlate very well with actual sleep studies," he said.

Dr. Schwartz said what they're not doing is tracking how deep you're sleeping.

"These are useful if you know what you're doing with them, and if you're looking at movement, how much time you're in bed, but don't get too worried about how much deep sleep or REM sleep you're having," he said.

Click here for more information on the Sleep Center at INTEGRIS.

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