Nara is your own personal breathing guide that lives next to your bed. It leads you through meditation exercises and helps you fall asleep by clearing your head and focusing your mind through the practice of breathing.
Jamaal Montasser and I embarked on a six-month journey to explore and address needs we identified at the intersection of the mental health and sleep spaces. After talking with psychologists, sleep specialists and meditation experts, we began developing a device that helps users practice breathing exercises before going to sleep at night and right after waking up in the morning. Our aim was to do for meditation similar to what’s been done for yoga and de-stigmatize some of the associated practices. There is no better way to start or end a day than by focusing on breath, clearing your head and relaxing. The video above shows our final prototype in action.
There is a growing body of neuroscience research on mindfulness meditation and its impact on mental health. The simplest form of meditation, focussing on and regulating breath, can build emotional resilience and decrease stress, making for happier, calmer people. Just as exercise is good for physical health, meditation exercises are beneficial to mental health. We found that metal health problems in America are most often treated with prescription drugs.
Prototype 1: Breath Mask
We created an interactive version of a sleep mask that helps regulate breathing by providing light and sound that corresponds to breath. Biofeedback has been clinically proven to help regulate breathing. We asked users to try the masks before going to sleep. They told us they didn’t want to wear something before bed and they also didn’t know what the target was.
Prototype 2: Pulse Lamp
The pulse lamp offers a target to regulate breath. It makes practicing breathing exercises before bed effortless. Testers told us that they enjoyed the transition to bed— that it created a barrier between all of their hectic thoughts and sleep. One user even told us that she had been having terrible stress dreams for the last month and over the 4 nights she tried the lamp, she slept peacefully through each night. A handful of folks told us they wanted some kind of feedback about their breathing progress.
Prototype 3: Wind Lamp
Wind Lamp offers the same target to follow but as you breath with it using a wired sensor, the light fades until it goes out. Its actually similar to a technique we saw one mother using to calm her child down by having him pretend to blow out candles on his fingers and take deep breaths. Testers enjoyed the lamp but saw receiving real time feedback as more of a challenge than a benefit. So we decided to offer feedback as needed through a connected app and leave the bedtime for relaxing breathing and sleep.
After synthesizing learnings from testing we produced a final prototype and called in Nara.
Nara uses breathing exercises to help you clear your mind and help you fall asleep faster, ensuring you get the rest you need. It will guide you through a breathing exercise using light and sound before bed. Nara knows your schedule and wakes you up using warm light within a 30 minute window at the best time in your circadian sleep cycle. It then guides you through a breathing exercise, starting your day with focus and clarity.