According to the CDC, about one third of Americans are getting insufficient amounts of sleep. Many of the usual suspects are to blame, like hectic work schedules. But the hyper-connectivity of our lives contributes as well. Monitors, smartphones, tablets, and similar devices produce blue light. And in the human brain, blue light signals us to be awake and alert.
Lack of sleep causes accidents. It impairs your alertness and ability to learn. It can contribute to heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. It’s been proven to age your skin, worsen your memory, and impair your judgement. Perhaps worse of all, it feels terrible to be tired and listless. Any busy person with a full schedule is going to be agitated by not being able to fall asleep quickly.
Thankfully, there are quite a few different remedies you can try for sleep problems. But it’s important you understand that there’s no panacea for every type of sleep issue. What works for you may not work for someone else. In that regard, fixing sleep problems can involve a process of trial and error if you’re not certain about the nature of your sleep issue.
Dodow Sleep Aid Device
Dodow is designed to help people fall asleep faster using natural mechanisms. It’s essentially a pulsing nightlight that you’re supposed to follow along with your breath. Over the course of a handful of minutes, the pattern of the flashing gradually slows down. Your body enters a relaxed state, your heart rate and blood pressure decrease, and these relaxed conditions may ease you into sleep.
Stress and a busy mind can contribute to our inability to get adequate sleep. On a physiological level, stress has a fight-or-flight component that floods our bodies with hormones. Dodow is essentially built to help you fight those effects, allowing you to go to relax and sleep. In short, it’s a promising solution for a huge number of people who struggle with restlessness, insomnia, stress, and so forth.
How Does Dodow Work?
The Dodow guides a reduction in your breathing rate, from the heavy breathing we do during waking hours, to the shallow and relaxed breaths we take while sleeping. You begin at a pace of 11 breaths per minute, a fairly ordinary breathing rate for a healthy person in a wakeful state. As the flashes of the Dodow become further and further apart, your breathing is gradually slowed towards 6 breaths per minute, an exceptionally slow breathing rate.
When the body is comfortably breathing at around 6 breaths per minute, something called the baroreflex mechanism kicks in. Your body is taken from an alert state to a resting state. In other words, it helps you feel sleepy. You could think of the Dodow sleep aid device as a kind of warm-up for sleep.
The entire process is supposed to take about eight minutes to achieve the intended state of relaxation. But for people who find themselves needing more than 8 minutes, you can tap twice for the same guided process spread gradually over 20 minutes.
Build & Design
The physical build of the Dodow sits at 4.5 x 4.5 x 2-inches, comprising a highly compact disc-based design. It roughly resembles an alarm clock that’s been set on its side, fitting in with the décor of any bedroom relatively unobtrusively. Empty of the necessary batteries, it weighs about 7 ounces, which makes the Dodow quite portable.
I general, the Dodow is smartly designed. For example, as a sleep aid device, it runs completely silently at all points of operation. The tap-sensitive surface means the entire console is essentially one large button. Consequently, ease of use is exceptionally simple. Just place the Dodow next to your bed, in any place where you’re able to see the illumination. A nightstand would be perfect for the Dodow.
Once in position, tap the surface of the Dodow one time for a standard 8-minute cycle. For the longer 20-minute cycle, you just tap twice. The Dodow will come online and begin its slow breathing light. As you follow along with your breath and continue to relax, the Dodow will automatically shut off after the cycle is complete.
With that said, the Dodow isn’t an invulnerable fortress of new-age engineering. It’s built to survive a short tumble off your nightstand, and should even make it through spilt water. But it’s clearly not intended to take a beating, so don’t start using it as a doorstop while you’re awake. Left by the bedside, its durability is completely sufficient.
The Dodow Sleep Aid is powered by 3 AAA batteries. Fortunately, that means you don’t have to deal with adding a bunch of wires around your bed. Paired with the small lightweight design of the Dodow, being wireless allows it to be exceptional for taking with you on the road. Those you have problems sleeping on business trips or vacations might want to take notice.
Unfortunately, being powered by batteries means sooner or later you’re going to have to swap them out. Fortunately, the Dodow isn’t exactly a lighthouse. You can squeeze hundreds of sleepless nights out of your life on a single set of batteries. It’s a shame that Dodow hasn’t decided to include some kind of low-battery indicator to help you better prepare for when replacements are needed. Like other types of bulbs, LEDs begin to dim slightly when you’ve consumed about half of their maximum battery power. Thankfully, that gradual dimming provides at least some indication of the status of the batteries.
Does Dodow Work?
Nobody has done a clinical evaluation of the Dodow Sleep Aid, but tens of thousands of people have tried it. Some people report success, some people don’t. Sleep problems can occur for any number of reasons. That’s why there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all sleep aid. People who struggle to sleep due to tinnitus are unlikely to find much use from Dodow, but may find relief from a white noise machine.
Not all sleep problems are something that can be addressed with relaxation, sometimes there are underlying physiological problems. People who spend their evenings watching TV in bed are training their brains to see bed as a place to watch TV. That can lead to sleep issues. People who stare into a computer monitor late into the evening may be exposing their brain to excessive amounts of blue light. That can prevent the formation of melatonin, which helps you feel sleepy. It’s not clear that Dodow is the solution to problems like these.
But some people do have success with Dodow, and that shouldn’t be surprising. The Dodow device is essentially a robot to help you practice a sort of guided meditation, and there are decades of research showing meditation can fight off insomnia and help you get better sleep. Just as much research has been done into the effects of stress, and meditation as a treatment for chronic stress. The findings are clear. Stress has disastrous health consequences, and meditation is one of the best things you can do about it. In principle, the Dodow uses a sound design that will certainly help some people.
People who have success with Dodow report falling asleep more than twice as fast. Anyone who’s struggled to fall asleep from stress should be able to appreciate that. If you try Dodow and it doesn’t work for you, some people may still find use for it as an anti-stress meditation aid.
Two versions of the Dodow are now in circulation, which has many people understandably confused. The second version has a handful of minuscule changes to the build, but none of them are essential to the operation of the unit. For example, the battery lid on Version 2 is slightly easier to open and shut. The result is a marginally sturdier design, but there’s essentially no reason to go out of your way to find one version or another.
Let’s face it, you could use the underlying technique behind the Dodow without the help of the device. But unless you’re a lifelong meditator, you’re going to find it difficult to keep your attention on your breath for 8 minutes. You’re not going to properly time the gradual reduction in breathing, and what’s worse is you’ll feel anxious about doing the whole thing wrong. Anxiety isn’t going to put you to sleep. And more than anything, the anxiety of inexperience is what makes the Dodow useful for people who aren’t experienced lifelong meditators.
The Dodow gradually reduces your breathing in a way that makes it easy to follow along. Its presence on your nightstand is deeply nonintrusive, and a steady reminder of the appropriate breathing rate to slowly ease your body into a state of deep relaxation. All in all, the Dodow will help some people fall asleep, and that’s really what counts.
Who Should Choose the Dodow Sleep Aid Device?
Some people have sleep problems which won’t be affected by the kind of guided meditation the Dodow provides. For example, autistics sometimes struggle to fall asleep because of an imbalance in melatonin. Other people may struggle to fall asleep because of too much screen-time with blue-light devices. When sleep problems originate from sources like these, the Dodow may be relaxing, yet ineffective as a remedy for sleep problems.
But some people will find relief. If you have trouble falling asleep because you’re worried about work, anxious about life problems, or otherwise stressed out, then it’s worth giving Dodow a try. Its unique approach to helping us naturally fall to sleep is perfect for people who face insomnia because of a busy mind and a busy life. It won’t magically put you to sleep if you just guzzled four pots of hot coffee, but what it can offer has clearly been able to help many people.
Sleep problems can impair every part of our lives. Improving your sleep can help improve your entire life, including your performance at work, your personal relationships, and even your health. It’s worth taking any reasonable chance you can to help fix those problems. Unless you have a specific reason why you think the Dodow isn’t going to help you improve your sleep problem, it’s definitely worth a shot.