all wakemate

Published on May 31st, 2011 | by Greg


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.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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