Expanding your app-titude

A monthly look at apps and websites that can make the CPA’s job and life better.
By Greg LaFollette, CPA/CITP, CGMA

Busy season brings a bevy of burdens into the lives of public accountants. Not the least of these is lack of sound sleep. Please note that being completely exhausted and collapsing into bed for yet another five-hour night does not result in a restful sleep. For that, it is helpful to have a plan. This month's featured apps are designed to help you squeeze as much quality sleep as possible out of this taxing time of year.

SLEEP MACHINE PROVIDES SOUND OPTIONS FOR SLUMBER IMPROVEMENTS

The Sleep Machine app exists to help you fall and stay asleep before it wakes you gently at the time you choose. While the free version includes a nice variety of ambient sounds, the paid version expands that number significantly and allows multiple sounds to be combined. Upon opening Sleep Machine, you're prompted to select up to four sounds and adjust the relative volume of each. I chose crickets at low volume, frogs a bit louder than the crickets, a far-off babbling brook, and a medium rain. I could have selected just one sound, but if you're going to try out an app, you may as well go all in, right? Each sound is controlled by its own slider, and I quickly found a pleasant background combination. Next, I chose a clock face and color and adjusted the screen backlighting. Finally, I set an alarm that required more decisions—time (obvious), sound, volume, fade in, and whether I wanted snooze enabled. The result of my two-minute setup exercise was a pleasing background noise that I heard for the few minutes it took me to fall asleep. The next thing I knew my iPhone was fading in my alarm—Louis Armstrong crooning "What a Wonderful World." Waking up should be like that every day!

  • Website: sleepsoftllc.com
  • Cost: Freemium/$1.99
  • Operating system: Free version: iOS 4 and later; premium version: iOS 8 and later


SLEEP BETTER ON THE ROAD WITH JET LAG ROOSTER

Like many apps we cover, Jet Lag Rooster solves a specific problem—how to sleep more efficiently on a trip. The app opens by asking you for information regarding your upcoming trip—the departure city, departure time, arrival city, and arrival time (thankfully, the app input accepts times in local time zones, so the information from your airline ticket is perfect). The app also wants to know your sleep regimen. What time do you usually go to bed and how long do you sleep? By combining the provided data with some built-in base knowledge, the app builds a detailed sleep plan for the next five days. My "New York to Sydney" hypothetical trip report included suggestions such as "Avoid light for these two hours before going to sleep at this specific time." It also detailed the ideal sleeping and waking times for each day and showed the times that I should seek light (or avoid it) to reset my body clock. Developing this plan isn't exceptionally difficult, but if "there's an app for that," why do it manually? Sweet dreams.

Greg LaFollette (greg.lafollette@hq.cpa.com) is a strategic adviser with CPA.com, the commercial subsidiary of the AICPA.

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