New Alarm Clock Tracks Your Sleep

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July 27, 2009

Zeo Personal Sleep Coach

In general, alarm clocks only do two things: They keep the time and they generate a loud, obnoxious noise to remind you to get up. But a new alarm clock reviewed in the New York Times has an additional function: It monitors your sleep. On a typical night, you alternate between REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep in a cycle that repeats itself about every 90 minutes. NREM sleep is generally when relaxation occurs, leading to REM sleep — or "active" sleep — which provides energy to brain and body and supports daytime performance. The Zeo Personal Sleep Coach, which costs around $400, comes with an elastic headband that measures your brainwaves as you sleep, tracking the amount of time you spend in each different stage of sleep. You can then upload these stats to your computer for a better idea of how much sleep you're getting and the quality of your Zzzs.

Why should you care about your brainwave stats? New York Times writer David Pogue notes that the device can lead to what he calls the "Personal Trainer Phenomenon." In other words, if you spend enough money and effort on something — like a personal trainer or a $400 device that measures your sleep — you're more likely to take the training seriously. The Zeo also sends e-mail updates that include important sleep tips, but you can already find information like that online for free — like on a certain Web site run by the National Sleep Foundation.