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Dodow review

This circular device could be the ticket to dozing off

the dodow illuminates a nightstand and bed Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

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We still don’t know how to pronounce “Dodow.” But if the “w” is silent and it shares its name with an extinct bird, rest assured that's the only thing that the handy, well-designed device and dumb bird have in common. This guided breathing device is about the circumference of a coffee mug and promises better sleep. We put the Dodow sleep aid to the test—while it may not be the solution for everyone, it could be a great addition to your nighttime routine.

What is the Dodow?

a person sleeps next to the dodow
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

Dodow illuminates the ceiling with an orb that expands and contracts to guide breathing.

The Dodow is a small circular device that you can place near your bed to guide your breathing as you doze off. It’s owned by French parent company Livlab, which also sells two other sleep-related products: the HoomBand and HoomBook (though at the time of publishing, it appears the latter is only available in France).

We've tested another mini meditation device called the Morphée. That’s a sound-centric product that's rechargeable. The Dodow, which comes with three AAA batteries, relies on a blue light that beams onto the ceiling. It expands and contracts so that you can synchronize your breath with it. The company claims this breathing exercise will help you fall asleep quickly and can address sleeping problems such as insomnia.

You control the device by tapping the top. It’s straightforward to use: Tap once to turn the device on for eight minutes, or tap twice to activate the 20-minute session. Turning it off is as simple as letting your finger linger for a slightly longer time on the device’s surface.

What we like about the Dodow

a person's hand touches the top of the Dodow
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The Dodow is easy to use—and more effective than we thought it would be.

It actually works

The device projects a blue light onto the ceiling to guide your breathing as you doze off. After initially taking it out of the package, I was skeptical about how bright and effective the light would be. The device isn’t much bigger than the size of my palm, after all, and the space containing the lights isn’t larger than a pencil eraser.

I wasn’t too optimistic that it would make a drastic difference in my sleep or relaxation, as the company claims. Nonetheless, the rhythm was peaceful and it did help me wind down as I lay in bed.

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The company says the device’s light has a hypnotic quality, and after trying it I can attest to that. Somehow the repetitive beaming of the blue light and synchronizing it with your breathing does help you zone out. I’m not sure how or why, but I, for one, noticed the effect.

As for an easier time falling asleep, that wasn’t the case for me. I don’t like to sleep on my back, but it did help me relax and settle into a sleepy, soothed state.

The light won’t disturb you if you fall asleep

I was concerned the Dodow wouldn’t illuminate my ceiling when I first opened it. That fear was quickly replaced by worries that it was too bright. (This was partially because I couldn’t figure out how to adjust the brightness the first time I tried it out. Turns out, there’s three settings so you can determine your own sweet spot.)

Yet when I lay there with my eyes closed, I couldn’t see the pulsating orb on the ceiling at all. Needless to say, I was amazed at the fact that I wasn’t able to detect so much as a trace of the blue light with my eyes shut. This is good news for folks who might doze off before the exercise is over. You don’t have to worry about rousing to turn it off; it’ll take care of that after the 8- or 20-minute session is complete.

The device also comes with a few different brightness settings. After touching the top for three seconds, it illuminates and you can tap its surface until you find the brightness level you’d prefer. Touch and hold for another three seconds to set it (and turn it off). For me, the brightest setting was a bit much—though it didn’t disturb me if I closed my eyes. I found the lowest setting struck a balance between illuminating my ceiling and not feeling glaring.

It’s small and lightweight

The Dodow is partially great because it’s compact. It doesn't take up too much space on a bedside table. And if you get accustomed to using it, and can’t fathom a night drifting off without it, you’re in luck. The device is sufficiently small to go virtually anywhere, and you can even purchase a separate Dodow travel case for $12. It’s also lightweight—a huge bonus if you want to throw it in a carry-on or checked bag.

The company offers a 100-night trial

While you may be accustomed to long mattress trials, that isn't always the case for sleep accessories. In fact, many purveyors don’t allow returns once you’ve opened the product. Dodow differentiates itself in that realm.

You have 100 nights to determine whether the Dodow is for you before you’re stuck with it. The trial begins the day your package is delivered, and only applies if you purchase the device directly from the retailer. If you don't like it, you'll be saddled with fees associated with sending the Dodow back—though if you pay with Paypal, you can use its "returns on us" feature to ship it back free of charge.

What we don’t like about the Dodow

the dodow on a nightstand
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

It was difficult to adjust the Dodow's brightness—until we realized the device has to be off.

It’s a bit tricky to use

Ease of use is always a minor quibble with something like this—largely because it can be chalked up to user error. (Cough, cough: me, in this case.) To be fair, the provided directions weren’t totally clear. I didn’t fully understand until I found a random Dodow sleep aid device manual online.

The light has three brightness settings. To adjust the brightness, you touch the top of the device for three seconds. I failed to realize the first night that this must be done when it’s turned off. If you touch the top for three seconds when it’s active, it will stop the session and turn off.

Realistically, it’s best for back sleepers

The Dodow projects a hazy light onto your ceiling. Of course, it’s easiest to focus on the Dodow’s light when you’re lying on your back. I didn’t bother to try it on my side, as I would’ve needed to twist my neck.

The whole point of the Dodow is to lull you into sleep. So, if you like to sleep on your back already it will be great. But if you, like me, strongly prefer sleeping on your stomach or side, don’t expect to doze off as you watch the light. Perhaps you’ll get tired as you watch it fade and illuminate again and again, but you’ll still need to readjust yourself.

Sudden movements might startle you

When I first tried the Dodow, and it was at max brightness, I was immersed in the pulsing blue light on my ceiling. That is, until my cat came over. As the light dimmed and I exhaled, he stealthily popped up on the side of the bed, a spectral figure basked in vibrant blue light looking right at me.

The adrenaline rush from being startled by his sudden appearance was, unsurprisingly, counterproductive. Once I settled back into the rhythm of breathing with the device, calm washed over me once again. But if you share a bed with your pets, or your kids join you in the bedroom, beware that they can sneak up on you. Quietly lurking in the night… they will find you.

Is the Dodow worth it?

a person looks up at the ceiling with the Dodow illuminated next to them
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The Dodow could be helpful for folks who like guided breathing exercises and want something that's screen-free.

The Dodow isn’t the cheapest device out there. At $60 a pop, or $98 for a two-pack from the retailer, it’s somewhat costly for something with relatively limited functionality. However, if you’re looking for a tool that can provide screen-free guided breathing, it’s a great option.

I knew I liked guided breathing based on the Fitbit Sense, which has an on-wrist breathing exercise that’s easy to do anywhere. If you already have a Fitbit Versa, Fitbit Sense or another fitness tracker like the Apple Watch, I’d suggest trying out the guided breathing on those before jumping to the Dodow. If you like them, then go for it.

The biggest downside is that the Dodow isn’t an on-the-go kind of tool—it’s purely designed for nighttime use in the bedroom. (I tried to see if its projected light passed muster during the day, but it wasn’t visible at all.) If you’re looking for something you can use at the drop of a hat or while out-and-about, there’s plenty of meditation apps such as Headspace. Nonetheless, it excels at what it does and if the company or Amazon ever offered it at a discount, I’d certainly consider the splurge. Your sleep is worth it, after all.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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