Swift: Can't sleep? The French designers of this 'non-digital' device swear this gizmo can bring on the zzz's
The Morphée is a cute little plastic disk that nestles inside a wooden bowl for no apparent reason. Chronic insomniac/columnist Tammy Swift tried it out to find out if it really works.
Ask any insomniac.
When it comes to the elusive search for sleep, we will try anything.
Buttermilk and black pepper ? Ewwww, that sounds hideous! (Then we race to the store to buy some, because no one in their right mind keeps buttermilk around for casual nighttime sippin’.)
Over-the-counter sleep aids with diphenhydramine? They say longtime use can cause trouble with word-finding , but I still keep it next to my bed on the whatchamacallit because I can’t function when I can’t whatchamacallit.
So when a PR group sent me information on the Morphée, a “non-digital” gizmo that is supposed to help with everything from sleep to meditation, I decided to order a sample.
Apparently named after Morpheus, the god of sleep, the Morphée follows on the sleepy heels of My Little Morphée, which was introduced to the world as a way to help children fall asleep. (This seems to work better than the nightly prayer we said when I was a kid, which involved uttering, “If I should die before I wake,” and then expecting a tot to blissfully nod off with that terrifying thought in their wee head).
At some point, the creators realized that adults not only have their own struggles with sleep — what with worrying about everything from the ozone layer and butter prices to the fate of democracy — we also need to do things like perform brain surgery or drive semi-trucks after we wake up.
And so they invented the grown-up device. The all-ages Morphée is a cute little black plastic sphere, about 3½ inches wide and 1½ inches thick, which nestles inside a little wooden bowl for no apparent reason.
Then again, it was invented in France — which is known for its love of aesthetic beauty — so who am I to complain? The wooden bowl also gives the Morphée an old-school, organic vibe, which is a nice reprieve in our screen-filled, tech-addled world.
The device is marketed as “non-digital,” although you do need a USB cable to charge it. Otherwise, its design is deliberately analog: Users click three large, gold-colored keys (reminiscent of the keys to wind up old-school alarm clocks) to select which of the eight “themes” they would like to explore: body scan, breathing, movement, visualizations, napping, relaxing music, nature sounds or cardiac coherence.
(For the record, “cardiac coherence” helps you fall asleep by slowing the heart rate.)
These eight themes each have eight different sessions, so you can mix it up a bit and don’t get bored with the same sessions.
The third key lets you choose the length of your session — eight minutes or 20.
You also can select whether you want “Jessica” (a breathy woman’s voice) or "Tim" (a male voice) to lead your guided meditation into lullaby land. I've never listened to "Tim," although I assume he sounds something like "Dateline's" Keith Morrison after an Ambien.
As for Jessica, I can say she is the audio version of a truckload of Sominex. There is a soothing, hypnotic quality to her voice that helped me unwind quickly as she guided me through the meditations. I just hope Jessica never gets a job as an air traffic controller.
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Hi, I'm Tammy Swift, a longtime columnist for The Forum. Over the years, I've written about everything from growing up on the farm and life as a single woman to marriage, divorce and the "joys" of menopause. I'm also slightly obsessed with my dog. Check out my latest columns below. Reach me at email@example.com.
It’s hard to summarize all the themes and sessions here, although I can give you a sample. Under visualizations, there are actually 16 scenarios, ranging from a guided tour encountering dolphins to explorations of pleasant settings like the seaside, a lake and even a massage room. (Sadly, there are no visualized tours through cupcake factories.)
The narrative is detailed, intuitive and easy to follow.
The movement theme guides you through relaxation exercises such as self-massage of the face and scalp, stretching exercises or “tense-relax” — an exercise in which you synchronize inhalations with contracting muscles and exhalations with releasing muscles.
I have tried the Morphée several times to unwind after waking in the middle of the night and being unable to nod off again. It has worked most of the time although, on two occasions, I wound up angrily plucking the earphones out of my ears and simply watching “Is it Cake?” on Netflix until I became so infuriated at the irritating host that sleep seemed like my only option.
Beyond that, my biggest struggle with the Morphée has been searching for an android USB cord to charge it. Unfortunately, the device died in the middle of the night, which meant I spent an infuriating amount of time running into furniture and cursing while using my scant iPhone light to dig through my junk drawer for a Morphée-friendly cord.
After that, I was feeling more Angrée than Morphée.
The Morphée costs $99 and can be found at us.morphee.co/products/morphee.
Stay tuned: Next week, I will review another product that is supposed to promote relaxation, the Sensate.