I’ve been meaning to write about the innovative Zeo personal sleep monitor device for some time. Since it’s on sale for 20% off until Father’s Day on June 19, 2011, I’ll write up a quick article about it and you can check out the 20% discount pricing via the banner link below.
Zeo works by using a wireless headband to monitor brain waves during sleep. It breaks up your sleep into 2-minute periods categorized by waking, REM, light sleep, and deep sleep. Zeo has been tested and compared with medical instruments that are used for sleep studies as well as versus professional human sleep monitors. The results are fairly similar meaning that Zeo is a good inexpensive way to get a better idea of how you are sleeping. The sleep coaching tips that Zeo’s web site providers to its users also alerts you to common mistakes people make that worsen their sleep.
Zeo has been intentionally kept more affordable than medical instruments by not putting it through an expensive FDA certification process. That means it can’t be sold or advertised as a “medical instrument” in the conventional sense. However, that shouldn’t keep you or your doctor from using Zeo as a means to assess whether you need an expensive sleep study or to inexpensively monitor changes in your sleep while you are trying to find ways to improve it.
What’s great about Zeo is that you can afford to use it every night for months as you try to understand why you are sleeping poorly and how to improve your sleep. Portions of the headband (the sensors and strap) will need periodic replacement probably between one and four times per year depending upon how you are using it. Zeo recommends replacing them every 90 days of usage for best results. These parts are designed to be low-cost and easily replaced, running about $50 per year if you followed their recommendations on replacement after every 90 days of usage. The cost to do long-term sleep monitoring any other way with medical instruments or professional human sleep monitors would be staggering. Perhaps worse for some, you might not be able to sleep in your own bed as many professional sleep studies are done in clinical settings.
If you’ve suffered from the typical symptoms of poor sleep such as low energy, depression, confusion, dizziness, fatigue, and trouble staying awake when you should be awake, Zeo could help you gain some insights as to what is wrong. For instance, you might find that you get very little deep sleep or that you are waking up several times each night but are so tired you don’t even remember doing so.
As great as Zeo is, it isn’t enough to cover all the possible angles for sleep problems. That’s because looks at brain wave activity only and it is not designed to detect and report short duration changes in brain waves. Probably even more importantly, it does not monitor oxygen saturation levels and pulse which are additional parameters related to sleep quality. To do that, you need another monitoring device known as a logging pulse oximeter that fortunately can often be purchased for under $100. Pulse oximeters are used widely in hospitals and also for sleep studies to identify patients with a common breathing disorder known as sleep apnea.
Sleep Apnea Causes Frequent Waking and Poor Sleep Quality
Many older people, particularly those who are overweight, suffer from poor sleep caused in part by sleep apnea. Sleep apnea results in interruptions to breathing dozens or even hundreds of time per night. The chronically low oxygen levels caused by breathing problems result in the body startling them awake to restart breathing. As a result, they get very poor sleep and feel tired almost as if they didn’t sleep much at all. At a deeper level, their bodies cannot perform their usual repair and recovery functions due to a lack of oxygen during sleep.
Zeo doesn’t monitor oxygen levels or pulse rates at all. Additionally, because it looks at brain waves in two minute blocks, if a person suffering from sleep apnea is waking for several seconds or even half a minute several times an hour, it is likely the Zeo will not show these events as awake periods. So if your sleep is horrible but your Zeo results don’t show lots of waking periods, it is possible you could have sleep apnea. A good way to check this is by recording frequent measurements of your oxygen saturation and pulse throughout the night and then analyzing the data to determine if either show abnormal changes.
For monitoring SpO2 oxygen saturation and pulse rates, you need to turn to a pulse oximeter such as the excellent and inexpensive logging pulse oximeter Contec CMS-50E. This is widely available for under $100.
There are other pulse oximeters as cheap as under $30, but those don’t have oxygen saturation and pulse logging that are essential to understanding if you have sleep apnea. The Contec CMS-50E is particularly great for a logging monitor because it has a USB port and includes computer software for Windows PCs that allow the user to upload each night’s oxygen and pulse data to the computer and to have it evaluated looking for abnormal oxygen saturation and pulse events. The reports are similar to those you’d get from medical instruments costing upwards of $500 that are used by doctors and hospitals. Like the Zeo, this is a much less expensive way to check out the cause of a sleep problem than paying for an overnight sleep study. Better still, if you are found to have sleep apnea, you can then use the device to monitor the effects of therapy such as a CPAP machine to see how it improves your oxygen saturation during sleep. This can be helpful as CPAP settings may need to be adjusted for best effect, compromising between adequate pressure to keep the airway open and too much pressure or noise for comfort.
With the Zeo and a logging pulse oximeter, you’ve got two devices that can do a good job of determining if you need to seek medical care from your doctor for your sleep problems and to help your doctor and you monitor your progress after any necessary treatment is started.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products mentioned in this post and on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The information presented here is for educational purposes and does not constitute medical advice. Please obtain medical advice from qualified healthcare providers.