If you’ve been on social media over the past few years, then you’re probably familiar with the rise of meditation and mindfulness as tools to help cope with anxiety and depression. While those may work, there’s also more data(Opens in a new tab) as of late to show that breathing, particularly deep breathing exercises, may help improve sleep.
All you had to say were the words “improve sleep” and I was hooked. For some background, I’ve had a rocky road with sleep. There have been periods where I didn’t sleep at all, times where I slept too much, and then where I’m at right now which I think is a “normal” sleep routine. With that said, as someone with a history of bad sleep, I’ve always been open to trying new tricks to help get a better night’s sleep and fall asleep faster, which is why I decided to test out the Somnox 2(Opens in a new tab).
With a price tag of $599, the Somnox 2(Opens in a new tab) is advertised as a “snuggable sleep companion” with a memory foam interior for people who want a more energizing and peaceful sleep. As someone who has done breathing exercises before to help with sleep, I didn’t really understand the hype over having a physical tool to breathe with, especially one that’s $600, but here we are trying it out.
After conducting some research about Somnox 2 and hopping on a call with the creator to learn more about the product, I wanted to put it to the test myself to see how it worked, if it actually improved my sleep, and whether or not I feel it’s worth the investment. I used it both for sleep and managing my everyday anxiety to make the most out of the features.
The verdict? The Somnox 2 did help control my breathing and was a great anxiety companion. However, I didn’t love it for sleep. And at $600, I can’t necessarily say it’s worth it, but it depends on how much you want to take control of your sleep or are eager to try to reduce your anxiety.
Setting up the Somnox 2
The Somnox device is not ready to go straight out of the box. Credit: Casey Clark / Mashable
You do need to charge the Somnox prior to use — it charges via a USB-C port. When it’s plugged in a blue light pops up and will appear steady once it’s fully charged and ready to go. According to the brand, it takes about four hours to hit an 80 percent charge. I let mine charge overnight for eight hours so it was all ready to use the following night.
The assembly is pretty simple — all you have to do is download the Somnox app and follow the prompts. The app is compatible with Android 5.0 or higher and iOS 13 and is available in both English and Dutch (since the product is from the Netherlands.)
The app connects to your phone via Bluetooth which activates the Somnox. It won’t start moving unless you power it on and connect it through the app.
How does the Somnox sleep robot work? The device itself looks like a pillow in the shape of a kidney bean. It’s super soft and has an indent on the part that’s supposed to be placed on your chest. It uses an air bladder mechanism that inflates/deflates similar to how the body works and taps into exercises featured on the app.
According to the brand, Somnox utilizes breathing techniques “to reduce stress, lower your heart rate, and calm your body and mind. By holding the Somnox 2, you can physically feel the calm breathing rhythm and then (subconsciously) adopt it. This allows you to relax, so you can drift off to sleep faster and stay asleep for longer.”
Now, I’m not a scientist, but this seems like a pretty bold claim to make. Somnox has done clinical studies to show the efficacy of the product, but I think it’s always good to take those at face value and realize everyone has a different experience, especially when it comes to sleep.
The Somnox 2 app is intuitive and easy to navigate When you open the app, it’ll ask you to set up your Somnox 2. This requires finding the right breathing pattern for you. You can adjust it based on how fast and how slow it’s going compared to your normal breathing rate. Once you’ve found the right pace, you can set it.
Next you’re prompted to choose from one of four options: sleep, focus, rest, and relax.
For each of the settings, the first step is to confirm your breathing rate. I didn’t really know what this meant at first so I started at 15 breaths per minute. I couldn’t find any guidance in the app for this so I just maneuvered with the settings and went from there.
It’ll then send you to a screen where you’ll see your selected pace followed by the end pace (the rate you’ll want your Somnox to breathe at the end of your session). For mine, I had it set to 10 breaths per minute.
Next, you’re able to set the ratio of your inhales and exhales to your preference. There are three options to choose from here: equal breathing (1:1), average breathing (1:2), and longer exhale (1:3). I chose average breathing which is a 1:2 (in/out) ratio.
Choose from different exercises and programs within the app. Credit: Screenshot: Somnox
In the app you can choose your breath pace and breath ratio. Credit: Screenshot: Somnox
Then you can select if you want to turn on the Somnox Sense which uses its smart sensors to better adapt to your breathing rhythm. The sensors work by detecting your respiration rate and working to gradually slow down breathing in real-time.
Finally, you’ll select the intensity of the breathing from low to high and the duration of your sleep session which can fall anywhere between five minutes and two hours.
There’s also the option to pick from one of the pre-programmed exercises whether that’s 4-7-8, 1:2, coherence, box breathing, boost alertness, or pranayama — and you’re able to adjust each of these accordingly as well.
Here’s a quick look at what those exercises are, according to Julian Jagtenberg, founder and CEO of Somnox:
4-7-8 is a breathing technique for falling asleep. Four seconds in through the nose, sevem seconds of holding the breath, eight seconds of exhaling through the mouth.
1:2 ratio of inhalation versus exhalation (exhaling twice as long), by prolonging the breath you calm down the vagus nerve and shift toward the parasympathetic part of the autonomous nervous system.
Coherence, also known as circular breathing 1:1 ratio, will bring your heart in coherence with breath. When breathing in, your heart rate quickly increases and when exhaling, it decreases.
Box breathing: square breathing 1:1:1:1 — Equally inhale, hold, exhale, hold as if you are following a square shape.
Boost alertness is a breathing exercise that provides energy as it is fast paced. It’s recommended to do first thing in the morning to “wake up” the body and mind.
The journal and sound effects make the experience more interactive and enjoyableWhat I really liked was the journal feature on the app. There’s a section where you can jot down your sleep quality, emotions, and thoughts to see how they relate and perhaps even change over time.
You’re able to pick from one of five emoji and then add thoughts about the sleep you had from the previous night. I filled out my journal in the morning when I knew exactly how I felt from the prior night’s sleep.
As for music, the Somnox 2 is equipped with a Bluetooth speaker which can be used to play meditations, noise, and music from the app and other online applications like YouTube, Spotify, etc. There are volume buttons on the side to raise and lower the volume as desired.
My favorite meditation was the Japanese Gardens because I found it super relaxing and it helped to clear my mind. Plus, the white noise was helpful for me to fall asleep to since I always need some constant background noise at night.
Somnox 2 performance As of writing, I’ve used the Somnox 2 for about two weeks. The device itself actually works and the app seamlessly works in tandem with it. However, in terms of results, I have a few thoughts:
SleepFor sleep, I don’t think it’s been very beneficial for me. I wasn’t able to find a position while I was trying to fall asleep where I could feel the device working. This may be different for you depending on how you sleep, but I can’t really have anything on me while I sleep or I just get frustrated. Since you have to have the Somnox near your chest in order to reap the full benefits, I didn’t really find it super useful at night since I don’t like to cradle anything while I sleep. But if you’re a cuddler, this could work for you.
AnxietyI think it’s a really great tool for anxiety. I’d even go as far to say it’s more of an anxiety relief device than a sleep device — at least for me.
As someone who tends to get anxious throughout the workday, I thought the Somnox was a great grounding tool. Whenever I had racing thoughts, I’d grab my device, sit on my bed with my hand on the device and just breathe with it. I’d set it to box breathing for 10 minutes and would solely focus on my inhale and exhale. Usually when I’m having a panic attack it’s hard for me to actually guide myself to breathe, however; having a more tactile device makes it easier to focus my attention directly toward it. Plus, the meditation music was very relaxing and allowed me to engage more of my senses to help ground and reduce the severity of my anxiety.
Is the Somnox 2 Worth It? Do I think Somnox 2(Opens in a new tab) is worth the value? This is a difficult question because it depends. If you plan on using it solely for sleep, I don’t think it’s worth it. However, this is really an individualized question. If your sleep is horrible and you’re really looking to try another method, then it might be worth it for you. Achieving a good night’s sleep is priceless and I firmly believe that — so it’s really going to depend.
Additionally, I think if you use it at other points in the day to work on your breathing and grounding, it adds more value to the product. Instead of only using it at night, you’ll be able to get more use from it throughout the day and get your money’s worth.
It’s not a cheap breathing device so it makes sense that the price tag reflects that quality, but $600 is a lot and not something you’ll want to purchase unless you’re really sure you’re committed to using it and improving your sleep.
We tested the Somnox 2(opens in a new tab) because it sits at the crossroads of sleep and technology. We wanted to see if the device’s breathing exercises could actually help with sleep and anxiety.
The Somnox 2 was used daily for two weeks at night time before bed and during the day to manage the anxieties of everyday life. Before each use, the Somnox was charged the day before to ensure a full battery and the same program was used every night to stay consistent.
Some other factors we took into account while we were testing were:
Design: Since sleep can already be stressful enough for some people, the last thing we wanted was for this sleep robot to be difficult to use. We tested not only the features and self-intuitiveness of the app, but also how the actual device itself was made for sleep (ie. was it comfortable to sleep with, could you feel it work, etc.)
Price point: We wanted to see if the product was worth the $600 price tag. We utilized all of the functions to make sure we got the most out of the Somnox 2 before writing up for final thoughts.
Extra features: Aside from its breathing capabilities, we tested out the other features of the Somnox 2 including the Bluetooth speaker, journal, and music. We wanted to see if these features added to the overall experience or were just there for show.
By signing up to the Mashable newsletter you agree to receive electronic communications from Mashable that may sometimes include advertisements or sponsored content.