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Do you only get organized after dropping $300 at the Container Store? Do you work out because you paid your gym membership in advance? If so, Zeo could be your ideal new obsession. This sleep-monitoring tool is supposed to chart your nightly patterns and offer advice to improve your slumber. We think it works for the right audience. But those improvements come from Zeo’s common-sense tips (and that slightly guilty sense of needing to get a return on its hefty price) as much as they do from the technology itself.
To use Zeo, you wear a wireless headband sensor that rests tolerably on your skull, then snooze while Zeo transmits data to the base station about your state of sleep: awake, REM, light sleep, and deep sleep. In the morning, the Zeo crunches those details into a nonsensical ZQ score. A higher number means a better night’s sleep.
You can improve your sleep with the Zeo, but change will come from you as much as its technology. Plenty of them will end up tossed in the closet next to the Thighmaster and those subliminal learning tapes.
The headband transmits data to the base unit as you sleep.
Zeo tells you how many times you woke up, what percentage of time was deep sleep, and more--a stats nerd’s dream. We kept trying to earn higher scores, and we did feel more rested after achieving a new record.
But the Zeo’s best trick is its ability to chart details over time. Logging into the Zeo website, you answer questions about the prior night and your mood throughout the day. Did you drink caffeine late at night? Did you have a hard time going to sleep because a pet bothered you? Were you in a good mood during the day? The bundled Guided Coaching through the Zeo website compares these sorts of factors and offers tips. It’s kind of interesting, but much of the advice falls into the realm of “well, yeah, no kidding.” Don’t drink alcohol near bedtime if that disrupts your sleep--that kind of thing. So the Zeo isn’t magic. Its real power comes from feeling like you have to get something out of it; any actual sleep improvements come from your own efforts at personal change.
And the Zeo’s technology disappointed us in a few ways. You have to manually swap an SD card from the base station to your Mac to send data to the website--automatic uploading via Wi-Fi would have made a lot of sense. And I began to doubt the Zeo over time because it often missed times that I awoke, falsely reporting an undisturbed snooze the next morning.