Zeo: the personal trainer that keeps you fit while you sleep
By Karen Sprey
June 16, 2009
If you have trouble getting to sleep at night, and drinking warm milk or counting sheep doesn't do the trick, you might want to try the Zeo Personal Sleep Coach. The product works on different levels. On one hand, it is designed to educate you about sleep as well as monitor your sleeping patterns, using a headband that records information to a digital reader. But the Zeo goes further – it also shows you how to analyze the data and understand its impacts on your lifestyle. Through a personalized "sleep fitness" program, it recommends ways you can catch that much-needed 40 winks.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the number of Americans who sleep less than six hours a night jumped from 13 percent to 20 percent in the past eight years.
“Sleep is essential for productivity and alertness and is a vital sign for one’s overall health,” says David Cloud, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation.
It's well documented that sleep is as important to our health as eating properly and exercising. Yet, while many people will happily enlist the help of a dietician or personal trainer, far fewer seek help for sleep problems.
While Zeo isn’t a replacement for medical advice, if you suffer from sleep problems, it does aim to act a little like a personal trainer. It works as an educational and motivational tool, designed to help you to understand how you are sleeping, identify habits and behaviors that may be affecting your sleep, and show you new ways to get a better night's rest.
There are four elements to the Zeo Personal Sleep Coach. The Zeo Headband - not the sexiest item of sleep apparel you'll ever wear - measures electrical activity in the brain during sleep. As you pass through different levels, from lighter to deeper and back again, it tracks your unique sleep patterns and wirelessly transmits the data to the Bedside Display.
The Bedside Display presents a wide range of detailed information about your sleep over the course of the night, using algorithms and artificial intelligence, crunching different data, such as the number of times you wake during the night, how many hours you actually slept, and the total amount of REM, light and deep sleep.
The Sleep Graph then summarizes your pattern of sleep phases and provides you with a "ZQ" score, which lets you quickly gauge the quantity, quality and depth of your sleep. The Bedside Display stores up to two weeks of data so you can see how one night's sleep compares to another.
The unit also operates as an alarm clock, either in a traditional mode, where you set the time you want to wake up; or you can activate the optional SmartWake alarm feature. With SoftWave, sensors search for a "natural awakening point" so you're not jarred awake. Zeo will wake you up to half an hour before your set wake-up time, but never later, so you won't oversleep.
The third element is the myZeo website. Upload data from the Bedside Display via an SD memory card to your secure area and use the online tools to identify cause-and-effect connections between your lifestyle and your nightly sleep patterns, including the 7 Sleep Stealers. It's hardly a surprise they include things like health issues, anxiety and stress, an inconsistent sleep schedule, disruptive bedroom environment, stimulating nighttime activities, poor sleep diet and bedmates, kids and pets.
The final step is starting the customizable 7 Step Sleep Fitness Program, which will "help you better understand your unique sleep patterns and habits, take control of the factors that may impact your sleep, and learn new, innovative ways to get a better night's sleep". You set goals for your sleep and the program provides personalized strategies to help you to achieve them.
Does it work? If you believe the testimonials on the site, it does, and the members of the Zeo advisory board come from respected institutions like Harvard Medical School. There's also a scientific validations section with two presentations to download. One, Evaluation of a Portable, Dry-Sensor Based Automatic Sleep Monitoring System, concludes: "Ongoing and additional data collection and analyses are needed to further evaluate and validate the wireless system. The wireless system shows promise as a low cost, portable, easy to use, sleep monitoring technology that has advantages over existing ambulatory technologies to measure sleep."
But if you really want to know if it works, you may to have to try it yourself. And that involves shelling out USD$399 (there's a 30-day money back guarantee) for the Personal Sleep Coach system and the first six months of coaching.
If your problem isn't getting to sleep but waking up, you might prefer to order the aXbo alarm clock which just monitors phases of sleep and "wakes the user at the optimum moment to maximize their feelings of well-being and vitality."