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Overhead view of woman lying in bed sleeping
Credit: Sofie Delauw/Getty Images

One of my worst habits on sleepless nights is reaching for my phone and scrolling through Amazon, making somewhat random purchases that I only half remember ordering when they promptly arrive two days later. But one night, in a rather serendipitous turn of events, I found the item that would cure my late-night struggles: a curious-looking, French-made sleep aid device called Dodow.

Dodow Device
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

After years of leaning on melatonin and sleep supplements (my favorite was Restful Sleep by OLLY), even I find it hard to believe that something so simple could help me fall asleep in 20 minutes — even with the added stimulation, discomfort, and jet lag that often comes with traveling across time zones. But once I gave into the idea, I realized this tiny device can pack some serious relaxation power. (And it doesn't hurt that it's incredibly easy to fit in a carry-on.)

It wasn't success at first sight for me and Dodow. To let it do its job, you need to push distractions aside and focus solely on the light it projects in a loop on your ceiling, syncing your breathing to its rythm. If you're into meditation, this may come naturally to you. Admittedly, I am not, and it took a few nights before I gave it 100 percent and stopped replying to text messages or letting my mind wander.

Unlike medication, the more I use it, the better it seems to work. And also unlike medication, it doesn't leave me feeling groggy in the morning. Now, I often find myself turning to my preferred sleep position (which isn't lying on my back, staring at the ceiling) and drifting off before the light has finished its cycle.

How it works:

Developed by former insomniacs who learned to rely on meditation, Dodow taps into a breathing technique commonly used in yoga. Simply place the device on your nightstand and touch the surface. A soft blue light will appear, waxing and waning, on your ceiling. Focus on breathing in as it grows, and out as disappears. It will continue on loop for eight or 20 minutes, depending on your preference (tap twice to set it to 20). When the cycle is over, it will shut off on its own.

Why it works:

Dodow is sort of like meditation with training wheels. Concentrating on the light has a hypnotic effect, distracting your mind from the thoughts that are keeping you awake. It also gradually slows your breathing to six breaths per minute, making exhalations 50-percent longer than inhalations. This temporarily slows your metabolism and puts your body into rest mode.

Where to get it:

Dodow is $59 at amazon.com.