Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Software Review: Pzizz
When I first saw the Pzizz booth at Macworld 2007, I wasn't really impressed with the product. I got a demo, tried it, wasn't interested and moved on. The produce sounded too new age: help you sleep and help you be more alert. Isn't that like when Unilver bought Ben and Jerry's and Slimfast the same day? Yawn, literally. Then they sponsored a full naptime area at MacWorld 2008 and I decided to give the product another try after meeting with the developer and getting some tips on usage.
The concept of Pzizz is fairly sound - if you pardon the pun. The brain reacts to sounds in certain ways and you can gently nudge your brain into certain patterns. This isn't anything like subliminal messages or hypnosis. You won't suddenly bark like a dog or cluck like a chicken on command.
The program has two basic modules: energizer and sleep. You can tweak the length of time of the modules, the sound levels, and the voice levels, but for starting out the default levels are fine. When you export the mp3 modules Pzizz customizes the soundtrack on both a random and predictable levels. The general concept remains the same in each export: a gentle announcer walks you through relaxation techniques and gives you positive encouragement. Each time he might put the phrases in different order. In fact, I've noticed sometimes the modules bump against each other which can be a bit distracting as he won't finish his sentences.
I suffer terribly from insomnia and would prefer a natural solution solution instead of popping a pharmaceutical with side effects. I don't have any particular medical condition, I'm just way too busy and wired to go to sleep at night sometimes. After meeting with the developer of the product, he said there are a few key things to do to get the maximum benefit out of the product.
First, he suggests trying the energizer module during the day. Just export a 20 minute energizer session and close your eyes and let the sounds wash over you. Don't even worry about feeling energized. Just listen with your eyes closed and relaxed position where you are at the maximum comfort you can be in. Try not to sit upright while using it.
Second, don't try to figure it out. Just listen to the sounds with your eyes closed and headphones in. Ignore the narrator if you want. He says it works better with headphones than with speakers. The sounds must be in stereo format to the get the full effect of the product. My Etymotic earphones worked very well in this setting. They allowed me to move my head and I wasn't distracted by any band over my head.
My results were surprisingly good. I didn't feel particularly "energized" after the energizer module, but I did feel less stressed. The sleep module worked much better for me. Even if you ignore the binaural science behind the product, putting on a set of headphones and tuning out the world for an hour makes a heck of a lot of sense. I tried another binaural beat product and didn't like it. Because Pzizz is different each time, you don't get bored with it. The unique soundtrack gives you something to listen to. It's hard to listen to the soundtrack and think about the problems of the day. I thought I'd get annoyed by the narrator, but his chatter kept me from creating my own.
I found it worked much better using the headphones. It annoyed my bedmate a bit, but it was better than my constant tossing and turning because I couldn't get to sleep. Occasionally I'd fall asleep with the headphones on, but more often I'd be at some point in the 60 minute soundtrack and I'd pull off the headphones and shuffle and then fall sleep. I can honestly say after about 4 months of using it, I haven't heard the end of the soundtrack: I've fallen asleep before the end. That's pretty amazing for me considering I often see my bedroom clock hit 1am, 2am, 3am, 4am...you get the idea. Yes, I know I shouldn't have it viewable from my bed, but I still get up and peak. The times I had trouble sleeping and my shuffle wasn't fully charged, I'd notice the difference. I didn't use it every night...probably less than once or twice a week. If I couldn't sleep after about 30 minutes of being in bed, I'd put on the headphones instead of using the computer or reading a book. Again,the mere fact I chose to listen to Pzizz instead of doing another thought provoking activity in and of itself promotes good sleep habits.
I highly recommend Pzizz to anyone who has problems sleeping. Be sure to follow the suggestions on how to properly use it and don't expect miracles. What you will get is a way to help you sleep in a drug-free natural way. As the narrator tells me, it's important to have a ritual before you sleep and if you have trouble sleeping make Pzizz part of it.
Pros: Helps you relax and get to sleep, drug and side effect free, not having talk to your bed partner?
Cons: Requires some planning, not having to talk to your bed partner?
Five out of Five Dogcows
Article was republished by the Lawrence Apple User's Group 2.0 here as well as other groups listed on the right