In my last column I mentioned a software application that would help you relax and fall asleep, or conversely, give you an energy boost when needed. The title of this application is pzizz.

When I was first approached to do the review I was a bit hesitant because I didnit see how a software application could be a sleep aid and because I, umm, donit have trouble falling asleep. Iim retired. I get to stay up as late as I want most nights and sleep as late as I want most mornings. I turn off the light, put my head on the pillow, and I fall asleep. I didnit see how I could really evaluate the application.

At this point though I remembered that I have a close family member who has a great deal of trouble falling asleep at night, to the point that her job was in jeopardy. She was having trouble getting to work on time and staying awake during her shift. Her physician couldnit find any physical reason for the problem. I asked her to give the application a try for a couple of weeks and give me her feedback. Since she is adamantly opposed to taking medication to help her sleep, she was happy to give it a try.

Review Version: pzizz

Developer: Matthew Ashenden

pzizz Customer Care
Island House, Arthur Street
Barwell, Leicester

Price: U.S.$29.95 per module or $49.95 for both (available as a download only) Students and teachers are eligible for a 60 percent discount.

Mac OS X 10.4 or greater (Power PC or Intel)
G4 1GHz / 1GB RAM

Trial download for both energizer and sleep modules available here

For this review we concentrated on the sleep module as this was the module we were most capable of evaluating.

In a nutshell, the application, with your direction, creates 20 minute sessions that mix calm ambient sounds, like the wind whooshing through leaves or just pleasing tones. A pleasant voice can also gives you advice on what to do to get an enjoyable and relaxing nap. Each session is different so you donit get hooked into knowing what is coming next. There are very clear, illustrated, instructions for use on the web site and it only takes a few minutes to become familiar with the operation of the software.

According to company literature the software works in the following manner:

pzizz sleep technology is based on cutting edge research into brain wave patterns and their effect on mental functioning. The more pzizz is used, the better it gets. The pzizz algorithm uses a structured random selection process. The voice, music, and sound effects are recorded in very small segments and then pieced together by the processor as the nap or sleep period progresses, to induce the most beneficial brain wave patterns at any given stage of sleep. With the Energizer Module, pzizz is able to deliver a nap of any length between 10 and 60 minutes, in minute increments. With the Sleep Module, the user can enjoy several hours worth of relaxing sleep, entered into with no tossing and turning or stress-created delay.

It combines Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) techniques along with specially composed music, sound effects, and a binaural beat to induce a wonderfully relaxed state, similar to that of the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of sleep.

To get maximum benefit from the application there are a few recommendations that the developer suggests. These include using it every day, around the same time for at least 20 minutes the first few times to integrate it into your subconscious. After that, 20 minute sessions are recommended for maximum benefit.

So did it work? It certainly helped. My family member continues to use it as often as possible and her sleep patterns have improved. She prefers to create sessions without the voice as she finds the voice distracting rather than helpful. She falls asleep faster, and sleeps 6-7 hours more often than not, helping her to establish a more normal sleep pattern. Her biggest complaint is that she has to take her notebook computer into her bedroom at bedtime to use the application because she doesnit have an iPod. pzizz is set up to allow easy transfer of the sleep sessions to an iPod. On the other hand, she states that she would not like to fall deeply asleep with ear phones on anyway, so perhaps the iPod is not the answer either.

Since there are trial versions of both the sleep and energizer models I would recommend that anyone interested in investigating this product further take advantage of the downloads and check them out for yourself. A good nights sleep is a wonderful thing indeed.