I’ve always had trouble falling asleep at night. Once I’m asleep, I’m usually fine until morning, but it’s that first hurdle that I just can’t seem to get past. Every night, I lay in bed–relatively sleepy and ready for my usual barrage of bizarre dreams (cave paintings seem to be a common motif these days)– but my mind decides this would be the best time to start bombarding me with worries. I toss, turn, think, try not to think, think some more, and finally fall asleep hours later. I hate relying on sleep aids all the time because they make me feel cruddy the next day.

I recently had a chance to try out the NightWave Sleep Assistant from Best Buy. I wasn’t sure what to expect when the small box arrived and I pulled out an even smaller black box. The unit fits in the palm of my hand, measuring 2 1/2 –inches wide and 3-inches long. It is a deceptively simply little machine, with nothing more than a single button to control operation. When you push the button, the little crescent-moon design on the front vanishes and blue light comes pouring out.

The concept behind the NightWave Sleep Assistant is pretty simple. The light pulses in a rhythm that is supposed to help slow your breathing and allow you to drift off to sleep. It runs for either 7 or 25 minutes, depending on which setting you put it on. I found the 7-minute setting soothing, and it helped me focus on breathing, but once it went off, I was back to thinking about everything under the sun that could possibly bother me. I tried the 25-minute cycle, but again, once it was over, I was still awake. While it didn’t really help me fall asleep, I do think it is useful for meditating, especially since I have a really hard time with that in the first place.

The NightWave has another setting that is supposed to help calm you down. Basically, the same blue light pulsates in a specific rhythm, but instead of projecting it onto the ceiling, you’re supposed to look at it. As it pulsates, your heart rate is supposed to slow and become more regular. For some reason, this setting gave me a massive panic attack. I actually asked my boyfriend to measure my pulse while I tried it, and my heart rate sped up quite a bit. I think this has more to do with my brain physiology than anything, I am very prone to panic attacks, but I thought it was important to mention for others who may deal with similar issues.

In addition to the sleep aid and relaxation functions, the NightWave also has a flashlight setting. This is very handy when you’re can’t find the light switch on your bedside lamp, and prone to knocking over everything in sight on your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night. To reach this function, you just press the button five times. The unit uses a 9-volt battery, and mine came with one, which is a good thing because I don’t think anything else in my house takes that size, so I didn’t have any on hand.

Overall, I think the NightWave is neat and useful as a relaxation tool on certain settings, but apparently I’m just not meant to fall asleep easily. I do wish the unit had some sort of display to let you know which setting you’re on. I didn’t keep the manual close by when I was using it and kept forgetting how many times to press the button to get to the different modes.

“I have received the reviewed product from Best Buy for free”.