Published on May 31st, 2011 | by Greg0
Two For The Night: WakeMate and NightWave
There are plenty of insomniacs out there- folks who can’t quite get a good night’s sleep. And then there are the poor souls who fall asleep but don’t feel fully refreshed despite a seemingly full night’s rest. Today’s two small tools are fairly inexpensive solutions for these issues- because there is no better time than Memorial Day, a traditional start to summer, to start sleeping well.
We’ll start with the WakeMate first. Originally, we were going to test this unit alongside the BodyMedia Fit- but it turned out that the two don’t quite play nice. We’ll be posting a more fitness-focused piece on that other neat piece of gear soon. But in the meantime, we found someone who had already been using one, and got the scoop. Much like the several different systems we’ve tried, the WakeMate requires you to wear an armband at night, and allows you to set a special kind of alarm. Instead of merely going off at a set time, their “analytics platform” wakes you at the best moment before a set period of time- the moment when you are closest to waking.
Unlike competing systems, this unit uses an iPhone, iPod Touch, Blackberry, iPad or Android mobile device and free application to actually display the information, control the alarm, and track your sleep behavior. This means it’s about the cheapest system out there, and as long as you already own one of those devices, actually quite convenient. We saw it running on an iPhone 4, and it looked good and was fairly responsive. Setting an alarm is easy, and we liked the detailed charts and graphs- much easier than SleepTracker or aXbo or myZeo. It charges via mini-USB, and one small issue is that the battery only lasts a couple of nights before needing a recharge. Best of all, the wristband itself is comfortable- barely noticeable and easy to forget, it stayed in place and seemed pretty durable. At $60, and widely available online, we definitely recommend it, especially for travelers. It takes a good idea and improves it, and the technology really can help.
But what if it isn’t waking up that is the problem? For those who need assistance falling asleep, we present a device that bills itself as replacing the need for a “personal sleep coach”. We aren’t sure precisely who would need such coaching, or what they would do. But the NightWave Sleep Assistant (warning: audio automatically blares on their homepage) basically produces a soft, calming blue light and varies the intensity. After a bit of time, it shuts off. That’s it- no sound effects, no medicines. The idea is easy enough to understand, synchronizing your breathing to the rhythm and even just paying more attention to your breathing pattern.
Our two test users reported mostly successful results. There are a few different modes to play around with, and it uses regular 9V batteries so that it is easy to travel with. Setup is simple, though it might not work in all environments. Our only real issue was the price- it seemed a bit high for what is, essentially, a glorified flashlight. There is an even an inexpensive application available for smartphones that offers much the same effect. And, of course, your mileage may vary- at first, we found it more distracting than helpful in a few cases, but after a couple of nights it seemed to take effect and get us past counting sheep a bit more quickly. Available widely for $56, it’s worth a try- but other options might be even less expensive.