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ZEO Sleep Monitor

Last updated 2012-08-30 - Send Feedback
Related: gear, Maintenance
Zeo Personal Sleep Manager bedside display

A good night’s sleep is essential to recovery from workouts, and for health in general.

Sometimes I just don’t feel rested in the morning. I’ve wondered why.

So I decided to try out the Zeo Personal Sleep Manager to see what it might have to say on the matter.

I had read about the Zeo in the Wall Street Journal, ever a bastion of shoddy journalism and cretinous analysis when it comes to product reviews, but I ignored my gut feeling and ordered the Zeo to try anyway.

Setup

The ZEO comes with a headband that the user must wear at night.

Strangely, the manual never explicitly mentions that the headband is a wireless transmitter, and that it must transmit to the bedside display, and that’s where the data is actually recorded (on an SD card inserted into the bedside display). In short, the bedside display is required to be powered on.

First concern: wireless transmission all night from the little pod on the Zeo headband, which is smack dab on my forehead. Is this a health concern? That’s for scientists to say after years of study perhaps, but all night wireless transmission right next to my head does not sound like a winning combination on the face of it. Then again I wear my wireless heart rate strap for 1-3 hours each day on long bike rides. But 8-10 hours and my brain are hardly the same as 1-3 hours on my chest.

One accepts certain unknowns, but a proper design would eliminate this concern by recording the data in the little pod on the headstrap, then have the pod download to the bedside display, eliminating the concern entirely. And it would allow the display to be turned off except when wanted, more on that headache below.

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The room was dark prior to the Zeo

The user is required to place the Zeo bedside display near the sleeping area so that the headband can transmit data to the unit.

Now here’s the irony: it is well established that a good dark room is important for proper sleep. Yet the Zeo bedside display lights up my whole bedroom with its LED display.

I’m shaking my head “no, no, no” in disbelief— a sleep-diagnosis device to monitor the quality of sleep. While reducing the quality of sleep by making a dark room bright enough to see things in.

This design flaw vaporizes any credibility the Zeo had to start with. How did such a design even get into a prototype stage, let alone a shipping product?

There is no button I can find to blank the display, and no mention of controlling the brightness anywhere in the manual. Hence a pair of black cycling shorts fitted over Zeo bedside display remedies the brightness problem. Brilliant.

To be continued

If the headband fits comfortably, I’ll report more after using it for a week or two, but given the obvious design flaw and the “one number to measure the quality of your sleep” claim, I’m inclined to be skeptical as to its merits. If only life were so simple, we could all have one number for many metrics, but it is rare that things are so simple— raises a red flag for me.

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