If you’re like me and countless others, you may have trouble falling asleep at night. Dodow wants to change that with his sleep aid that focuses on calm breathing.
The device is designed to help you relax and clear your mind as you prepare to fall asleep. It is shaped like a small disk and tapping on the top activates a slowly pulsing blue light. This faint light projects onto your ceiling to help you get your breathing faster.
When it expands, breathe in, and when it contracts, breathe out. As you follow this slow breathing, you allow your body to relax and help it move into a calmer neurophysiological state. This is often referred to as “rest and digestion,” where the muscles relax, the heart rate slows, and the body generally conserves energy. You can use either an 8-minute or 20-minute light cycle and three levels of brightness.
The Dodow device costs 59 US dollars at getdodow. The company also offers bundles that reduce the individual unit prices.
The sleep aid has a simple, elegant design. The white disc measures a little less than 3.5 inches in diameter and about three-quarters of an inch thick.
There is a pattern of small perforations on the top that contains touch controls for starting a light cycle, turning it off, and changing settings. There is also a small set of LEDs on the top that emit the blue light, and around the edge of that surface is a thin lip that slopes upwards.
There is a light blue disc on the underside of the device that serves as a base with a handle. It has the Dodow logo engraved on it, and underneath there are two pictures that show you how to activate the eight- or 20-minute light cycles.
Underneath is a horizontal indentation that you can rotate to unlock the battery compartment. The device is powered by three AAA batteries that you insert into this compartment, which can be easily unlocked with a coin or a screwdriver. It’s a nice, minimalist design with a pleasant color scheme.
Benjamin Levin / CNN
After you’ve inserted the batteries, you’re good to go. It is hard to overestimate the ease of use of this device. Just tap the top once for an 8 minute cycle. Tap it twice for a 20 minute cycle.
From then on, all you have to do is focus on the light and tune your breathing to it. If you want to manually turn off the lights before the end of the cycle, you can hold your finger on the surface for three seconds. It will also automatically turn off the lights once any of the cycles are completed. A booklet contains detailed instructions.
Although the light is not very bright, you can easily switch between three levels of brightness. With the device turned off, hold your finger on the top for three seconds. Once the light turns on, release your finger and then tap the surface to toggle between brightness levels. When you’re happy with the level, hold your finger on the surface again for three seconds to turn it off and save your setting.
I’ve been using the Dodow for over two months and haven’t had to replace the batteries. And considering how little electricity it uses and how seldom I use it, I don’t expect it to go out for a long time. Plus, because it’s battery-powered (and it’s so small), you can take it with you anywhere with no need for a cord.
Benjamin Levin / CNN
Staring at a pulsating light and breathing in time with the rhythm may sound like an odd ritual, but I found it more getting used to than I expected.
The light is soft in color and less than a lux so it doesn’t strain the eyes. And it’s easy to get used to the breathing pattern that the light dictates. It’s not going too fast or too slow, just slow enough to relax you. I found it most helpful not to worry too much that you are spot on – just do your best to follow the pattern. You may want to use the 20 minute cycle when you start. After a while, it should become easier to sync with the light and fall asleep more easily. After just a few nights, I used the eight-minute cycle and dozed off before it ended.
When I said earlier that I was having trouble falling asleep, I meant it. In addition to being a light sleeper, I often have trouble falling asleep with a constant schedule. Using the Dodow has noticeably improved my ability to sleep.
In the brochure, Dodow suggests focusing on your body in addition to the light and trying to breathe with your lower abdomen. I found that this technique, when combined with the light, enabled me to take full, deep breaths and allow my mind to focus and block out distracting thoughts. You can even try to recite “inhale” and “exhale” as you inhale and exhale, as suggested in the booklet. It’s about relaxing your body and calming your mind.
Dodow also advises against falling asleep. If you focus specifically on falling asleep, you can preoccupy yourself with that thought and sabotage yourself. Instead, try to focus on the techniques and sleep should come on its own. Don’t be discouraged if your first few tries don’t work very well. You should improve with practice.
Benjamin Levin / CNN
If you’re wondering if this is all mumbo jumbo, the science behind it is solid. Deliberately slowing down your breathing can even put your body in a relaxed state. This condition, based on circuits known as the parasympathetic nervous system, slows your heart rate, relaxes your muscles, and stops the release of excitatory chemicals in your brain. Breathing from the abdomen is also an efficient way of breathing. And finally, focusing on synchronizing with the light and your body can help you block out other thoughts and distractions from around you.
The Dodow sleep aid is a unique and useful device. It helped me fall asleep faster and more consistently. Learning to synchronize your breath with the light is not difficult and once you get used to the process you will feel the results. Just breathe in when it expands and out when it contracts.
And there’s no harm in trying to breathe from your stomach and following the other advice in the booklet.
Try one for $ 59 from Dodow’s website. If you love it, you can buy a bundle from the website that will cut the cost of each unit and share your secret for better sleep with family and friends.