StressEraser and SleepTracker: Tech that can make your life better Jason 29 Mar 2006

61 comments Latest by Chris S.

The tech world is notorious for claiming this gadget and that gadget “will improve your life” or “will make your life easier.” The promises often fall flat. However, there are exceptions.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been testing out two products. The StressEraser which helps you relax through focused deep-timed breathing, and the SleepTracker watch which helps you wake up at the right time based on your automatically detected sleep patterns.

Surprisingly, these products work really well. They deliver on their promises and really do help you relax and sleep better — two things that can definitely improve your life. Waking up at the right time is an amazing thing. It’s hard to believe how much difference it makes. I was skeptical at first, but I recommend both products highly. Do check them out.

61 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Warren 29 Mar 06

“It’s important to note that certain sleep disorders, sedation induced by alcohol, prescription medication, or other substances may affect the number of almost-awake moments you experience.”

Well thats me out then :(

Josh Wand 29 Mar 06

I really want both of these (a 37s recommendation means a lot… I admit I’d be highly skeptical otherwise), but yikes, those are expensive! Cheaper than a doctor visit or two, but that’s still a lot of dough to shell out for something you can’t readily try out first. At least they both have return privileges (60 days for StressEraser, 30 days for SleepTracker).

Mike 29 Mar 06

Your results remind me of my favorite chapter from “Management of the absurd: paradoxes in leadership” by Richard Farson. The chapter is titled “Everything We Try Works, and Nothing Works”.

It’s easy to see quick results from a change. Will that change last over time? Probably not.

MKT2 29 Mar 06

You know what the problem with techies is? That they think all problems in the world can be addressed with some kind of technology. I am sorry but gizmos are the last thing most people want to see when they want to relax. Walking, sex, music, a glass of wine, yoga, tai-chi - those are the “REAL” things you should be looking at rather than promoting some fake products purported to “work”.

JF 29 Mar 06

That they think all problems in the world can be addressed with some kind of technology.

I don’t think that at all. Some things work and some things don’t. I think these two products work for me.

It sounds like you are saying that NO problems in the world can be addressed with some kind of technology.

Steve Mallett 29 Mar 06

I’ve been conducting sleep and nutritional supplement experiments on myself looking for practical ways to be at your brightest, and have found a number of really interesting things with regards to sleep. Some of which you wouldn’t expect: the most interesting being scheduling sleep - getting to bed around 9:30-10:00 is crucial for optimal restoration physically and mentally. Practical? For some. I’m figuring out ways to help where this isn’t possible too.

Anyhoo, my sleeptracker is due to arrive today. My experiments have been largely anecdotal to now, based on how I perceive my cognition, but this will introduce some data tracking.

MKT2 29 Mar 06

It sounds like you are saying that NO problems in the world can be addressed with some kind of technology.

Fair enough. No, I do not think that. There is a time and a place for technology.

Having technology do an automatic airline/hotel reservation for me based on the fact I just signed up for a conference in Beijing (we are nowhere near that by the way) - this is a good use of technology.

Letting a gizmo tell me it’s ok to breathe - this is a perfect example of abuse of technology.

JF 29 Mar 06

Letting a gizmo tell me it�s ok to breathe - this is a perfect example of abuse of technology.

Abuse. Never mind.

MH 29 Mar 06


The word “technology” has been abused. People think it only means computers, the internet, faddish electronic gadgets. It really means “tools.” What is a tool but a way to address a problem?

The definition in the The Collaborative International Dictionary of English mentions spinning, weaving and metallurgy…

Another definition: “applying scientific knowledge to practical problems.”

Chris 29 Mar 06

This just rocks! I’m going to order a SleepTracker just because if it can prevent me from hitting the snooze I’ll make the money back in a day.

WmD 29 Mar 06

I’m sure these products are great. However, I’d rather wake up on time with the constraints of no caffeine and no late night meals.

Sam 29 Mar 06

no caffeine and no late night meals.

you bite your tongue!

WmD 29 Mar 06

you bite your tongue!


I know to computer people no caffeine is blasphemy, or maybe my advocacy is just a sign of me getting old.

Jimmybeano 29 Mar 06

I think the big thing with gadgets like these is that they price them so high so when you buy them you want them to work, else you feel like you wasted yer money. So really they could just be filled with garbage but chances are you’d still *think* they are working because your subconscious wants them to.

James 29 Mar 06

These are high priced gadgets. Funny how we spend our way out of problems these days. Need to spend money to make money I guess.

Geoff 29 Mar 06

I have used the Sleeptracker (an early version — I think it’s been updated since), and to my shock and surprise, it really, truly works. It does exactly what is says it will do. I have a 20 month old alarm clock at home, so I only rely on it when I travel.

Ian 29 Mar 06

I have tried the StressEraser, and it does work in relieving stress on a short term. I also started taking Yoga, and it has the same effect, but much deeper. Not everyone has the time for Yoga though, I guess.

I am fine with these as quick fixes in a time of need. But once you start to depend on them, you not only weaken the body’s natural ability to cope with life, you are probably covering up larger problems that are causing lack of sleep and chronic stress.

I’m sure the watch works, I just don’t want to become dependent on it.

Anonymous Coward 29 Mar 06

Funny how we spend our way out of problems these days.

Funny how we discount things before trying them. That seems like a bigger problem to me.

Mark 29 Mar 06

SleepTracker Question:

How flexible is that window that you can set, while still being effective? 5 minutes? 10 minutes? 1/2 hour?

For those of us that are waking up to an alarm to make it to a scheduled train stop or whatnot.

UziSh 29 Mar 06

No sense.

Sleeptracker checks your most awake time and then wakes you up.

The question is: how would he know? If I set a 1 hour window and after 5 minutes I am let’s say 7 out of 10 awake - how would he know if to wake me up or if i am going to be 8/10 awakw 20 minutes later?

JF 29 Mar 06

How flexible is that window that you can set, while still being effective? 5 minutes? 10 minutes? 1/2 hour?

I believe the windows are 10, 20 and 30 minutes. I set mine for 30 minutes.

David 29 Mar 06

These sound like interesting products. I already use controlled breathing/meditation to relax after a stressful day, but I didn’t know about the SleepTracker. I wonder if the alarm would bother my wife. :)

kirstin rhys 29 Mar 06

We’re using Rails as the web application framework for the StressEraser site, and it’s really been a thing of joy. Thank you!

Brad 29 Mar 06

Does it work for 1 year olds? How about 2 year olds? What about 3 year olds?

My three kids prevent ANY technology from improving my sleep. But I could use for some deep breathing.

David Heinemeier Hansson 29 Mar 06

Kirstin, that’s very cool. If you feel like showing your appreciation by sending a StressEraser my way, let me know ;)

Mike Doan 29 Mar 06


Amen! The only way I can get a full night’s sleep is to be out of town or dead.

Where’s the snooze button on the watch?

street 29 Mar 06

StressEraser should be taken off the market. The batteries become depleted, and people suffocate to death.

MH 29 Mar 06

What is it with all these companies selling products with depletable batteries? That’s not right!

Joe Kwon 29 Mar 06

I’ve had the SleepTracker for about a year now. Though I’m not using it currently, I used it for ‘bout 2 months straight and it pretty much did as was described.

It’s important to note that while the SleepTracker assists you by waking you up at your lightest stage of the sleep cycle, it does NOT mean that you can go to bed at 5am, and set the alarm to 7am and expect to be fully refreshed.

SleepTracker prevents you from oversleeping and unnecesssary grogginess. It is not a substitute for inadequate amounts of sleep.

Bob Aman 29 Mar 06

I’m a big fan of Awaken for iTunes. I keep an alarm clock by my bed, set for 7:30am, and I set Awaken to go off at 6:45am. Since Awaken ramps up the volume gradually from 0, it doesn’t wake you up immediately, it just sort of gradually slides you into awakeness, while the alarm clock is sort of the backup plan to make sure you actually get out of bed. This setup alone has dramatically improved how I feel in the morning when I wake up.

Mark 29 Mar 06

Joe, as you appear to be the longest user of the tracker here, can I ask why your not using it now?

Alexander 29 Mar 06

Owning the Sleeptracker myself (bought it about 3 months ago) I must say that it to me it didn’t make any great difference. Not worth the 100 euro I payed for it. Not useless, but for the price - no.

Joe Kwon 29 Mar 06


Well I got the Sleeptracker a little before I got engaged. So when all the wedding planning came up I just got really busy and actually had no choice but to wake up early to get the planning done.

Now, my wife is a school teacher, and she wakes up everyday at 6am, so I just wake up with her now.

Although I’m planning on using it again when my wife goes on Vacation.

Hope that helps.
- Joe

RyanA 29 Mar 06

The two products look very useful. Healthy Sleep and Controlled Breathing I’m sure have been employed for their benefits for centuries… I doesn’t hurt to have actual data on them.

These devices are what’s known as biofeedback devices, medical professionals have been using biofeedback for decades to help people. It’s only recently that consumer devices are available to the public. Biofeedback is defined as:

“the use of electronic monitoring of a normally automatic bodily function in order to train someone to aquire voluntary control of that function.” (from the Oxford American Dictionary).

It’s all about instant feedback. Feedback is useful. It’s like measuring the effect without being able to measure the cause. I think these devices are very useful.

John 29 Mar 06

I’ve found meditation helps with both stress and sleep - and doesn’t cost anything either :-)

Kathy Sierra 29 Mar 06

I’ve had the Sleeptracker for a month now — and it works WONDERFULLY except for one problem—at least for me—the alarm is just too quiet. I sleep on my side with my
hands under one of those big memory-foam pillows, and it blocks the sound of the alarm pretty effectively. I would gladly pay a lot more to have one that vibrated or something.

When I hear it, though, it’s amazing. I had been wanting something that would do this for years—having the alarm go off when you’re in your deepest sleep stage is like being a little drugged all day.

Thanks for posting about the StressEraser—I hadn’t heard about that.

JF 29 Mar 06

Kathy, I agree with the soft alarm problem. I have the same kind of pillow and the sound often doesn’t make it through. A vibrating version would be welcomed.

I know this is pushing it, but an external speaker would be very nice. The watch would send a little RF signal to a speaker on your nightstand that would sound a louder alarm.

Tony 29 Mar 06

I read this when I got to work today, and thought “I don’t get it.” This evening, I came back and re-read, along with the comments, and thought, “I have to get that watch.” I’m really looking forward to it now. I have a bad habbit of waking up naturally, and then going back to sleep until my alarm goes off, and feeling terribly once it does.

Laura 30 Mar 06

Someone told me once to sleep in 1 1/2 hour increments, and I notice a big difference when I do that…. 3 hr increments is even better. (And it’s free.)

Mark 30 Mar 06

Laura, you mean 6 or 9 instead of 8 then? I’d always heard getting too much sleep was detrimental and that 8 hours was a reccomended minimum?

E 30 Mar 06

This is a very interesting product. I don’t mean to be rude and I hope you won’t mind me asking, but could you please let us know if you received it for free in return for a review or if the review is “sponsored”. I’m not accusing you of anything dishonest but I would really value your recommendation if you were to tell us your opinions are genuine. I’m sorry if I’ve caused offence by this.

Steve Mallett 30 Mar 06

Jason, Kathy, Other users,

Are you tracking your “Data A” & # of “Almost Awake” moments?

If so what was your baseline Data A, what is it now, are you trying to get a better night’s sleep, what have you done to improve it?

Joe Kwon 30 Mar 06

E, I paid a full $150 for mine. No sponsorship here.

Mark 30 Mar 06

Interesting to know Joe but I think he was asking Jason :)

Eddie 30 Mar 06

The manual doesn’t define what it means by window.

If you set the window to say.. 10 minutes before and 10 minutes after the alarm time? Or does that mean 20 minutes before the alarm time..(the alarm is the latest it will go off) It implies the latter by saying: “There may be times when no almost-awake moment occurs during the ALARM WINDOW. When this happens,SLEEPTRACKER�’s alarm goes off at the default alarm time.”

Jeff Ward 30 Mar 06

My 11-month old controls when I wake up.

Mark 30 Mar 06

Eddie, I’m assuming they believed it was implied through the fact that if you paid $150 for a watch to wake you up and it woke you up late, you might be, well, annoyed.

Eddie 30 Mar 06


Yeah- I realize the absurdity of that question- but to me, window implies a buffer on both ends.. and well, I’d like to justify my question somewhat by pointing to the “snooze” button on my alarm- illustrating the fact that often (more often than not in my experience), the time the alarm is set for is well before the time you *have* to get up. I thought the tail end “buffer/window” would serve to replace the idea of snoozing.

But Yeah- I regret posting that :)

Mark 30 Mar 06

I see what you mean with snoozing :) Never the best thought out idea. At least only let it work a limited number of times, or do a light alarm a certain period before the main alarm that you can snooze and a full alarm you can’t.

(Skimming your blog - though I’ve never gelled with Opera - you have some interesting posts :) not doing the feed reader thing at the moment but I’ll try and follow you for a while until I do)

Joe Kwon 30 Mar 06

Mark, whoops, that’s what I get for late night surfing.

Bill Tait 31 Mar 06

If you’re groggy when you wake up, or at other times throughout the day, you may want to get checked out for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

If you’re not familiar with OSA, it’s sort of the convergence of these two topics — breathing properly while sleeping.

The primary symptons are snoring and irregular breathing while asleep. Essentially your airways become blocked and you stop breathing while asleep. This prevents you from reaching a deep, restful sleep and has other bad side effects because your heart stops getting oxygen and becomes overworked (which can result in an enlarged heart, high blood pressure, etc).

It’s hard to diagnose yourself (because you’re “sleeping” when this is happening), so it’s often the spouse or partner that notices the problem.

If you think you might have OSA, please get checked out. There are effective treatments and the immediate benefits include increased energy and weight loss.

I suffered from this for several years and was constantly tired. I almost feel asleep while driving a few times, and realized something was wrong. My wife finally convinced me to get checked out for OSA and it probably saved my life.

As an aside, OSA was mentioned as one of the major contributing factors to the early death of football player Reggie White a year or two ago.

Brian 31 Mar 06

Anyone on this thread who dismisses the StressEraser as a useless gadget most likely has never tried one (or legitimately doesn’t need it). I personally don’t use it (work-at-home programmer… read: no stress :), but my wife is an attorney (read: always stressed out) and started suffering from regular migraines a while back. I bought her a StressEraser for Christmas and she saw immediate benefit from using it. In fact, she has sleeping problems too, and it helped in both areas. As someone pointed out above, you can acheive the same results through meditation or concentrated breathing exercises, but many people (like my wife) benefit from having a tool that takes the thinking out of it. That’s pretty much the definition for how technology (or “gadgets”) can improve peoples’ lives. They aren’t cheap, but they work.

Deirdre Saoirse Moen 31 Mar 06

As someone with two sleep disorders, I may get the SleepTracker. I have sleep apnea — getting it treated meant the difference between groggy all the time with chronic headaches — and not groggy with occasional headaches. Yoga (which I’ve been doing for three months) has helped improve the depth of my sleep and made it a little easier to fall asleep.

I don’t use an alarm clock because it quite literally means the difference between a pain-filled day and not (because alarms seem to invariably go off at the worst time for me). Maybe the SleepTracker could help with that.

Steve Mallett 31 Mar 06

I’ve started up a blog about sleep hacks at (not hyperlinked so I don’t look like a spammer) & would really love to hear from people who are or are interested in hacking their sleep.

Chris D 31 Mar 06

Almost 10 years ago a workmate tried to end her days. Management subscribed us all to a stress management class. One experience I still remember involved technologie.

We weared goggles that had LEDs that flashed at an Alpha or tetha interval, don’t remember which.

The “light goggles” were just one part. We also had a new age music track playing. After the whole experience, we were told that the track was mixed with subliminal “comforting phrases” such as “my mother loves me”.

I have little interest in the sound aspect of the whole experience, but the light blinkings at just the right interval to change the state of one’s mind blew me away.

I found this site that explains how to DIY. Not sure I’d want to fool around with that… If not, I’ve seen a store in Montreal, Canada that sold such machines.

Chris D 31 Mar 06

Ooops, here’s the link:

Chris S. 10 Sep 06

Chris D, you know the name of the store in Montreal that carries this product?