Sleep is something I used take for granted. With three teenagers in the house, two dogs — including one who is totally freaked out by rain and thunder (in an area that’s a Canadian epicenter for both) — and a work schedule that often starts at 6:30am, I don’t any more. In fact, anything that can improve sleep quality is a huge win these days. Yay for technology, because I found a product that really helps.
ASTI originally sent me a LectroFan. This is a small, octagonal device with a speaker grill on top and three buttons on the front. It’s sole job is to produce white noise or fan sounds to mask background noise and make it easier to sleep. There’s a power button, a 60-minute shut-off option, volume control and a button that cycles through variations of white noise and fan noise (10 of each). The sounds are all synthesized and non-looping so there are no annoying patterns.
It worked well enough and I have friends who I know love these things. But I have always lived in suburbia. I’m used to leaves rustling, birds singing and the sound of rain hitting the roof. White noise and fan variations just don’t do it for me.
ASTI sent a second unit, this time the Sound + Sleep SE. This is a larger unit, shaped sort of like a three dimensional teardrop. It has more powerful audio with a 3-inch driver (you can plug in a smartphone if you want to use it to play tunes) and also offers a pair of USB out ports for charging your devices.
More importantly, the Sound + Sleep SE has far more options. There are still white noise and fan sounds (as well as pink noise and brown noise — although I don’t pretend to understand the difference between the sound colors). But there is also a range of natural sounds including rainfall, ocean and my favorite, meadow. Turn the dial to choose your preferred sound. Each has four different variations that you cycle through with a pushbutton selector. In all, there 64 unique “SoundStories.” Each uses naturally recorded, high definition sounds that never loop. With meadow I can fall asleep to the sound of wind blowing rustling grass with crickets and various birds piping up now and then.
It’s almost like camping, and yes, it definitely helps to relax and fall asleep.
The Sound + Sleep SE also has an adaptive sound technology. Turn the feature on and a microphone samples ambient noise and automatically adjusts the volume to the appropriate level. It also has a four cycle timer, with auto shutoff in 30, 60, 90 or 120 minutes. You can even turn off the various LED indicators with a single button, so there is no light to distract you.
If electrical outlets are in short supply, it’s worth noting that both of these devices have power adapters that can take up two outlets on a power bar (depending on how the outlets are oriented)… That’s not an end of the world thing, though, just something to be aware of.
I highly recommend the Sound + Sleep SE. At $149.95 it isn’t cheap (although at time of writing, you can save a chunk by buying it on Amazon for $116.99), but it definitely works and it’s a lot less fuss than using a relaxation app on an iPhone and piping that through headphones or a speaker. If you have the room for a standalone device (that does offer USB charging and speaker capability as well), and could use some assistance relaxing and/or falling asleep, check out the Sound + Sleep SE. If you just need some fan or white noise in the background, the LectroFan is a much more affordable $49.95.
Disclosure: ASTI provided review units but had no editorial input.