Sleep Science Reviews: Dodow
Statistics show that sleep disorders have increased dramatically over the last 30 years, especially in Western countries.
Indeed, who – at least once – has never experienced the tossing and turning for endless minutes, perhaps hours, without being able to fall asleep? Often, this is caused by the anxiety, deadlines we must meet, the hectic pace of daily life, or even meals that are not easily digestible.
A tool to improve cardiac coherence
One of the solutions that have recently received scientific approval is undoubtedly the practice of meditation. Patients suffering from mild to moderate insomnia have often corroborated the benefits of meditation in facilitating falling asleep. We detailed this practice in our article “Sleep Meditation: Secret To Better Sleep”. One of the main mechanisms through which meditation works is through the focus on the breath. Deep, rhythmic breathing is, indeed, a great way to improve relaxation, peacefulness, and a sense of leisure.
This practice has its theoretical basis on the so-called cardiac coherence. Biofeedback is the process of deliberately utilising electronic or other devices to manipulate the body’s systems at will. Notably, this can control the variation in heart rate via cardiac coherence training. Specifically, a person may learn to make his or her heart rate variation more rhythmic or coherent with the help of different kinds of tools or expert guidance. Furthermore, biofeedback skills may be utilised at home for relaxation and stress management aid in everyday activities.
Indeed, the product we will review today claims to help you fall asleep faster by improving cardiac coherence and breathing.
The name of this device is Dodow. It is also possible to download a full 16-pages manual where all the related scientific evidence of its effectiveness are listed on the official website.
At first glance, it looks like a thick hockey puck.
- The device,
- a detailed user guide; and
- three AAA batteries are all included in the package.
As soon as you insert the three batteries inside the device, it is ready to go.
The idea on which it is based is straightforward: a flashing blue light dims and glows. The user should slow the breathing until achieving six breaths per minute – in line with the cardiac coherence theory.
Moreover, it is possible to control the device between two set-ups: touching the front part once for the short program (8 min.) and again for the longer one (20 min.) Adjusting the brightness by pressing and holding the top for three seconds before toggling your chosen setting is also possible.
The Dodow is produced by a French company called LivLab that also produces another sleep-related gadget – the HoomBand.
One element that is indeed surprising is the blue colour of the light. We know that numerous scientific studies have shown that devices that emit blue light can negatively affect sleep quality. Searching on the product’s official website, however, we immediately come across this question: “Why blue light?”. Their answer claims that blue was chosen after testing, based on the generally accepted perception that blue is a calming frequency. Blue light can potentially harm your sleep, waking you up by inhibiting melatonin secretion. We also explained this in the article “The Role of Technology in Helping and Hurting Your Sleep”. But Dodow producers claim that the brilliant halo is more like a colour than light. Indeed, If we compare the very high intensity of a computer, the light signal projected on the ceiling by the Dodow has a very low intensity. Furthermore, the exposure period is short (between 8 and 20 minutes). So, Dodow’s influence on the circadian rhythm is virtually negligible or, at the very least, much too little to delay falling asleep and counterbalance the above-mentioned beneficial results.
Did it work?
Initially, I wanted to try the product on myself to see how effective it was. While inspecting the product’s official website, I read the claim “developed by insomniacs for insomniacs”. It is possible to find this quote also on the front of the product’s box. For this reason, I thought I could better assess the effect by testing it on people who struggle with sleep.
I was able to get two of my colleagues to try Dodow. I gave both testers the product without giving them any information about its functioning. Indeed, I was sure that it would be easily understandable by anyone. Furthermore, both testers were equipped with a sleep tracker (Fitbit and Apple Watch). We measured six days of their normal sleep (i.e. without using the Dodow) which represented the baseline and another six days during which the product was used before sleeping.
The first one to test this product did not have a good experience. His trial period lasted only one night. The following day, he brought the product back to me, saying that, generally speaking, the light was the biggest enemy to his sleep. He pointed out that, for example, he cannot sleep even in the presence of the small led on his television!
The second tester, on the other hand, had a very positive effect. He precisely described how he used the device. After wearing his pyjamas and performing the last ritual gestures of his sleep routine, he went to bed. Once in bed, he would start the device and follow the simple breathing exercise. The product was used for six nights in total, and during four of them, it was used in its shortest, eight-minute mode. He repeated the exercise only on two occasions (the second time using the 20-minute set-up) because he was distracted by using his mobile phone.
The data from the sleep tracker shows that Dodow has a practical effect in reducing the time spent in bed without falling asleep. The tester also expressed his opinion on how this works: according to him, the simple fact of concentrating on a repetitive and habitual element can facilitate falling asleep and the feeling of relaxation. This idea is in line with the claims made by the Dodow manufacturers themselves. Indeed, they emphasise that synchronising one’s breathing with a slow and constant light pulse is comparable to hypnosis and can help you fall asleep faster.
As can be seen from the data obtained from his apple watch, the Dodow was generally able to reduce the timeframe between the time he went to bed and the time he fell asleep.
The data obtained were collected in the following graph:
One negative aspect underlined by the second tester is that sleeping on one’s back is the only position in which one can easily use the Dodow. This is since the Dodow can project the light beam only perpendicular to its surface. Unfortunately, the person who tested it usually sleeps on his side and did not appreciate this limitation. However, the product’s official website shows that you have to perform the exercise lying on your back. Still, once the activity is over, you are free to put yourself in your favourite position.
|Compact and easy to use.||It’s not suitable for every kind of insomniacs.|
|Its claims are based on scientific research.||It’s not suitable for every kind of sleeper (i.e., side sleepers).|
|From our test, it delivers on its promises.||It uses AAA batteries and not an in-built rechargeable battery.|
|Its price is affordable.||It is entirely made of plastic.|
If your light sensitivity is exceptionally high, we advise you to avoid using this product. On the other hand, if you don’t like sleeping in particularly dark places and suffer from anxiety or stress, this product is definitely for you.
Thanks to its compact size and ease of use, switching it on and starting to breathe following its pace will not be a problem and help you fall asleep faster.