How I lie in bed clinging to my little robot, with one hand on his gently wavy belly as he held my breath, I am amazed at the memory of having slept with my children when they were babies. It can be relaxing to share the bed. Research suggests that we report better sleep when the bed is shared, even when objective measures reveal that sleep quality has worsened. (Helps my current sleep partner play soothing rain sounds and doesn’t need a bottle at 3 in the morning).
Somnox 2 is a beanless torso without limbs designed to gradually slow down your breathing as you unconsciously adjust to your rhythm. It can adjust your breathing rate to calm you down and help you quit. Boosting its soporific power is a speaker that reproduces dreamy soundscapes or sounds of nature. You can adjust everything using an app on your phone.
The original Somnox was born out of a Kickstarter campaign in 2017, and this improved model has been working for four years. Smaller and lighter, the new version has a larger breathing area, longer battery life and an improved speaker. But other major upgrades, such as Bluetooth audio streaming and sleep tracking, are still “soon,” making the $ 600 price much harder to swallow than a sleeping pill.
Somnox 2 is just over 12 inches long and weighs less than 4 pounds. It is covered in a soft fabric with memory foam underneath and has a simple control panel to turn it on or off and adjust the volume. A pneumatic system inside fills and empties a bladder in a stunning simulation of natural breathing. It is eminently easy to hug, make a spoon or rest a hand.
The Somnox app offers a variety of breathing exercises. You can use the bot to help you calm down or even increase your alertness during the day, but it is mainly to help you sleep at night. If you activate “Somnox Sense” and hold it against your body, it will adjust to your breathing rate and help you breathe longer and deeper, gradually lowering your heart rate and making it easier to fall asleep. It combines a six-axis accelerator and a three-axis gyroscope with a proprietary algorithm to achieve this.
The default setting worked well for me, and I relaxed and fell asleep faster with Somnox 2 than without. Somnox starts at a breathing rate of 12 breaths per minute and steadily decreases to six. It uses a standard 1: 2 ratio, so the exhalation is twice as long as the inspiration. If you feel the need, you can set a specific breathing frequency, adjust the proportion, and change the intensity of your sleep’s breathing (how much intensity and depth you breathe).
The science behind Somnox is solid, and the latest version has the input of sleep experts and scientists. A clinical trial is underway and 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 that. There are countless apps, such as Calm or Breathwrk, that can help. Somnox’s range of soundscapes and natural sounds is also similar to what many applications and other sleeping devices offer.
It’s nice to hug someone or something when you’re in bed, but physical presence is all that makes Somnox unique. Whether this is sufficient to justify the high price is debatable, especially if the other drawbacks are taken into account.
Dreaming of Dystopia
While Somnox 2 helped me fall asleep, it didn’t help me fall asleep. My sleep tracker, Withings Sleep Tracking Pad ($ 99), showed no change in the average duration or quality of my sleep. I found it a little unpleasant to wake up with a dead weight by my side. Sometimes turning in my sleep made him fall out of bed to hit the ground.
We had connection issues with the original Somnox and was disappointed to see that its successor, while more reliable, sometimes does not connect to the app for no apparent reason. The need to use a login process every time I open the app is annoying.
Once set up, you can activate your sleep program with the Somnox 2 start button, but it only plays one program at a time. To change or change the settings or sounds, you need to make selections in the app and upload them to your Somnox. The process is complicated and takes longer than it should.