A couple of years ago, I reviewed the Innovative Sleep Solutions Sleeptracker watch. This watch claimed to wake a person up at the optimal time in his or her sleep cycle, causing the person to awake refreshed and ready to face their day. Unfortunately, the watch didn’t work well for me and I have continued to bury my head under the covers every morning when my evil alarm clock rings. Since that review, I’ve kept an interest in these types of devices and was happy to try again when the folks at aXbo offered their Sleepphase alarm clock for review.
What is it?
aXbo is a small start-up company based in Austria, which has won several design awards for this product. Basically, the Sleepphase Alarm Clock monitors your body movements to figure out the different phases of your sleep cycle. Typically a person has 3 to 5 sleep cycles per night, which take about 90-110 minutes each. There are four phases to a cycle and they include the falling asleep / dream state / wake-up state, light sleep state, medium sleep state and deep sleep state. The whole trick is to have the alarm go off during the first state as this is the state in which you will more easily wake up and be refreshed and ready to hop out of bed.
2 wrist bands
AC adapter / USB cable for charging
Plug adapters for the US, Europe and Asia
Instruction manual (not pictured)
Unlike the Sleeptracker watch, this product has both a desktop / nightstand clock, as well as a module that is worn on the wrist. It actually has two modules as you can use this clock for two people. First let’s look at the clock.
The clock has a very slick looking modern design. It is made of White and Grey plastic with a see through backlit LCD display. The image above looks like the segments are Blue and Black. This is not what the display actually looks like. The digits are really Black or a very dark Blue. The clock has a footprint of 4.375 x 4.375 x 1.5 inches.
On the top Right corner you will find a rubber wheel surrounded by a button on either side of it. The wheel can roll in either direction to scroll through menu options, functions, etc. Pressing the wheel acts as select or OK function. The buttons on either side of the wheel act as home and back functions. The user interface is super easy to use and did not require me to read the manual.
The speaker is build into the Left side of the clock. Although not pictured, the back of the clock just has the connector for the AC adapter. An interesting feature of the Sleepphase alarm clock is the fact that it has rechargeable batteries inside. So, you can charge it up and it will then run wirelessly for 7-10 days before needing a recharge. This also means that if you decide to leave it plugged into a outlet, it will continue to run even if the power goes out. I appreciate this feature in an alarm clock as you will not have to worry about it losing your settings.
The LCD display is large and easy to read. It shows the current time along with with the set alarm time directly below the time of day (if just one alarm is being used). Also shown is the battery charge state. In the example picture above, I have set an alarm for sensor #2 at 8am. If I had an alarm set for sensor #1 and #2, it would show the icon in the top Left corner for the alarm, but would not show the alarm time under the time of day.
The LCD is backlit in Purple whenever you’re manipulating the settings or press a button. It also comes on when the alarm goes off. Otherwise, this clock does not have any illumination. That’s a feature that I know a lot of people prefer as it does not light up a room or disturb your sleep.
The clock as 6 different alarm sounds that you can chose from. Happily, they are not annoying variations of buzzers or beeps. They are actually pleasant sounding alarms such as birds chirping, big band drums tune, electronic music, etc. The only time you will hear a beeping alarm is if you forget to put on the wrist band. The clock will then wake you at the exact alarm time with beeps. Even then, it’s not a completely horrendous sound.
There is also a sleep feature that you can use to help you fall asleep. The clock can play different sounds until it detects that you’re asleep, and then it will turn off. These sounds include crickets, ocean sounds, birds, etc.
The wrist sensor
The Sleepphase alarm clock comes with two terry cloth sports style wrist bands that are used to hold the motion sensors.
The plastic sensor slides into a pocket inside the wrist band and is held there securely. The sensor has a built in battery that is rated for up to 4 years of life. The instructions do not mention anything about replacing the batteries in the sensors.
You wear the band so that the sensor is positioned on top of your wrist while you are sleeping. It’s not uncomfortable to wear and after a couple of days, you won’t even notice it.
How it works
You set the alarm time for the time you want to wake up. The wrist sensor detects your movements throughout the night and reports them back to the clock, so it can figure out what sleep phase you are in. Then within 30 minute window before your set wake up time, the alarm will sound when you are in the phase 1 (falling asleep/dream/wake-up) state. When you hear the alarm, you should get up immediately. This clock does not have a snooze feature as that would pretty much negate the whole idea of it helping you wake up at the optimal time for your body.
Did it work for me?
I wish I could report that this product completely solved my problem of getting up in the morning. Unfortunately, that is not the case. At least it wasn’t consistently the case for me… My previous wake up routine consisted of the Verilux Rise and Shine alarm clock turning on at 5:35am. Then a clock radio is set to come on at 5:35am. Then a beeping alarm on another clock would come on at 6am and go off on its own at 6:01am. Next (no, I’m not done yet), another alarm would go off at 6:15am and would require a button press to turn it off. I’ve actually been known to sleep through all of these alarms. Yes, I know it’s crazy…
The very first night I tried the Sleepphase, I set the alarm for 6am and shut off all my other alarms and wake up devices. At 5:45am, the Sleepphase alarm woke me up and I did feel surprisingly awake. I laid in bed for another 5-10 minutes and got up. I was significantly excited that this product might be a success. But then the subsequent week to two weeks of testing yielded mixed results. From then on, almost every night except for 2-3 nights, the alarm would either go off right at the wake up time, or I would already be awake and waiting for it to go off. Regardless, I was always too tired to drag myself out of the bed and would end up falling back to sleep. It’s almost as if my body knew I was doing a test and was trying to sabotage it.
I like the Sleepphase clock and the fact that two people can use it. Of course, those two people would need to have a pretty big gap in their wake up times for it to be useful. The first person’s alarm would most likely wake the second person and would require them to start their sleep cycle all over again.
I also like the fact that it will work even if the power goes out (if you have it plugged into an AC outlet) and even if you are not wearing the wrist sensor.
My biggest complaint about this device though is the price. Converting the 199 euros to US dollars comes out to just over $300. OUCH. That’s pretty spendy for an alarm clock… especially if doesn’t seem to work for you. I envy those people that are aided by devices like these. As for myself, I’ve come to the conclusion that my body / sleep patterns are not compatible with these types of alarm systems and that I am doomed to be a blurry eyed morning person for the rest of my days.