Zeo Inc. is a company with a serious mission and that is to help people discover scientifically-based ways to improve the quality of their lives through the power of sleep. The founders were some students which looked for a way to fight grogginess and have discovered that the stage of sleep from which a person awakens has a very big influence on how that person feels in the morning.
People when sleep are passing through multiple phases: stages 1,2,3,4 and REM.
Stage 1 sleep is also called "light sleep"; at this time people are usually experiencing drifting in and out of sleep, are easy to wake up and the eye, body movements slow down. Sudden jerky movement of the legs and other muscles is also expected during this stage.
During sleep, about 50% of the time we spend in Stage 2. During the Stage 2 sleep, eye movement stops and our brain waves become slower. During this time, there may be also brief bursts of rapid brain activity called sleep spindles.
Stage 3 is called the first stage of deep sleep. During this time, it would be very difficult to wake someone up and if for some reason we are woken up, we'll most likely feel groggy and disoriented for many minutes.
Stage 4 is the secondary stage of deep sleep, also difficult to wake up from. These two stages of deep sleep are very important and depending on their length we may or may not feel refreshed in the morning (if the deep sleep stages are too short, the sleep will not feel satisfying).
REM (rapid eye movement) sleep stage is the one when dreaming occurs; when we enter this sleep stage, our breathing becomes faster, more irregular. Also, our eyes will move rapidly and the muscles become paralyzed, heart rate and blood pressure increases. Toward morning, the time which is spent in REM increases and the one in deep sleep decreases.
Zeo has developed two solutions through which we can study our sleep stages and understand how we really sleep, reveal which factors may help or hinder our sleep and also provide personalized guidance to help us improve our sleep. One of them is the Zeo Bedside and consists of the Zeo headband, bedside display and a SD card/reader to upload our data online. The second one is Zeo Mobile, which also consists of the Zeo headband, charge dock and a smartphone app. The headbands from the two solutions are not interchangeable since they function on different technologies to transfer data.
As we have described in the first paragraph, one way to lessen the impact of sleep grogginess or sleep inertia would be to wake up at the right time in our sleep phase. Zeo measures carefully the brain activity and can accurately detect when the deep sleep stages occur; this way it can avoid rousing when we will be most groggy. While the deep sleep stages primarily occur during the first half of the night, the people which are sleep deprived have these stages shifted near their wakeup time.
It seems that the best moment to wake up is the transition between REM and light sleep. This transition point has been chosen for avoiding the deeper portions of non-REM sleep as well as the middle of REM sleep where we could be jolted from and involved dream.
Zeo also tells us that in addition to measuring brainwaves, the included sensors on the headband also pay attention to eye movements and muscle tone, which help optimizing further the actual waking point. By using these factors, the SmartWake algorithm can find the right time to awaken us during the half-hour window, not later, before we set the alarm time.