Buyer’s Guide

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You Can Sleep Well Thanks to Sound Oasis

Review by Tinka Davi, Editor, World Sleep Foundation

Do you have trouble falling asleep? Perhaps you are always too busy before bedtime or your dinner is still digesting. Or you’re mulling over the day’s events in your mind. You’re not alone in your sleeplessness. The National Institutes of Health estimates that 50 to 70 million Americans are affected by sleep disorders and intermittent sleep problems.

You can swallow a sleep aid, buy a boring book, laugh with a late night comedian . . . or you can plug in The Sound Oasis and relax to soothing sounds specially designed to help you drift off to dreamland.

The Sound Oasis is a Sleep Sound Therapy System that was developed in conjunction with Dr. Lee Bartel, professor at the University of Toronto, whose extensive research in music and medicine includes rehabilitation of attention deficits, audiology, stress management and sleep therapy. Dr. Bartel has developed several relaxing sounds specifically for the Sound Oasis units.

I tested the Sound Oasis model S-650-01 at the end of a hectic day. I reviewed the “play lists” on four different sound cards and selected “Nature Journey,” a card that offers a range of sounds including forest rain, waterfall, jungle stream, wind and secluded lake. All are gentle and soothing, not at all jarring or loud. After all, this is a sleep-inducing machine.

I love Hawaii and the ocean waves hitting the shore, so my favorite sleep sounds are “Ocean Surf” and “Sleep Surf.” Ocean sounds are offered on every card, with collections geared to specific settings or situations, like the “Sleep/Relaxation/Wellness” card that comes with the unit. The sounds range from a forest with peaceful songbirds, a mountain stream, “Tranquility” with a calming and delicately rhythmic xylophone and “alpha clouds” with sounds of a soothing harp. The latter is designed to activate ALPHA brainwave patterns and promote a healthy state of relaxation. Other sounds on this card also encourage the brain and body to drift into a deep, restful sleep.

Most cards have “White Noise” – the steady flow of a waterfall that masks background or neighborhood noises. That’s extremely helpful for day sleepers.

The sleek-looking sound machine is similar in size to a small clock radio with buttons for various functions that control the clock, an alarm, the sounds and the light. The sounds can run continuously or be set to go off in 30, 60 or 90 minutes. The sleep enhancement feature provides a gradual slowing of sounds designed to gently lull you to sleep. Headphones or Pillow Speakers are optional.

The Sound Oasis is also a very, very pleasant alarm clock, gently waking the sleeper with a soft sound. I found the snooze button a handy amenity. The digital clock is backlit, but the light can be lowered or completely turned off, which is recommended for those struggling to sleep.

The backlight, however, is a bonus for little ones in the family, who need a night light in the room. And they can be soothed by the card containing “Sleep Sounds for Baby,” which offers lullabies as well as sounds of a heartbeat, the womb, a car ride, dolphins and more.

For night or daytime listening, I enjoyed the “Spa Retreat” sounds. They are so pleasant and relaxing that I plugged it in and sat down in a comfortable chair with a good book. The card contains several musical selections that would be nice to play in an office or business. And, yes, there’s a chance that listeners might doze off at their desks.

Those who are bothered by ringing in their ears, also known as tinnitus, can find relief with the “Ear Therapy” card. Some of the sounds, composed by Dr. Jeffrey Thompson, who established the Center for Neuroacoustic Research in Encinitas, Calif., have multiple high-range frequencies built into music for day or nighttime use. Tinnitus sufferers report good results from this sound therapy.

I like the Sound Oasis and I enjoy most of the selections, but not all of the music and sounds on the cards that I tested. For example, I didn’t want to hear crickets in the wilds, nor creatures in the jungle. I had difficulty sleeping the first night because I didn’t completely turn off the bright backlight, but that’s easily done by holding down the appropriate button. I also had to reset the digital clock from midnight each time I moved it. Happily, the battery back-up solved that problem and kept the clock running without resetting. That means I can occasionally move it into the guest room or put it in the living room by my favorite reading chair.

Would I use the unit? I found the sounds soothing and definitely a help in relaxing after a busy day. I just needed help in turning off my brain from too many activities. Perhaps a glass of warm milk would be a good accompaniment to the Sound Oasis, which now has a permanent spot next to my bed.