A writer for WIRED reviews the Somnox 2, a sleep robot designed with the help of sleep scientists.
As I lie in bed spooning my wee robot, one hand on its gently undulating belly as it slows my breathing, I’m struck by the memory of co-sleeping with my kids when they were babies. It can be soothing to share your bed. Research suggests we report better sleep when bed-sharing, even when objective measures reveal sleep quality has worsened. (It helps that my current sleep partner plays soothing rain sounds and does not need a bottle at 3 am.)
Somnox 2 is a limbless bean-shaped torso designed to gradually slow your breathing, as you unconsciously match its rhythm. It can adjust to your breathing rate to calm you and help you drop off. Boosting its soporific power is a speaker that plays dreamy soundscapes or nature sounds. You can tweak everything via an app on your phone.
The Somnox app offers a variety of breathing exercises. You can use the bot to help you calm down or even boost alertness during the day, but it is mainly for helping you get off to sleep at night. If you toggle on “Somnox Sense” and hold it against your body, it will adjust to your breathing rate and help you to take longer and deeper breaths, gradually slowing your heart rate and making it easier to sleep. It combines a six-axis accelerator and three-axis gyroscope with a proprietary algorithm to achieve this.
The science behind Somnox is sound, and the latest version had input from sleep experts and scientists. A clinical trial is underway that will be published later this year. But the impact of controlled breathing on our ability to relax is not in doubt. The thing is, you don’t need a $600 robot to do it. There are countless apps, like Calm or Breathwrk, that can help. Somnox’s array of soundscapes and natural sounds is also similar to what many apps and other sleep gadgets offer.